Have you got your tickets for UV locked down? Maybe you are like me – tickets bought but not all other details finalised. Priorities, right? The most important consideration is to make sure we get to see RA on stage. Flight? Accommodation? Can be dealt with later. On the latter, I’ve had a few questions bts about hotel recommendations. Now, I do not want to presume better local knowledge than all the English/British fans. However, as a frequent visitor, and particular while I was still working for my London client, I was put up in hotel accommodation on many occasions. In that sense, I may have seen more London hotels than our actual London-based fan sisters *waves at Hariclea and tinyclanger and anyone else whom I am shamefully overlooking here* and can possibly make some recommendations.
A quick note on location and transport
All hotels are fairly centrally located – if you are a walker and do not mind 45 minutes walking, they would even be in walking distance of the city centre of London. Transport, on the whole, is not a problem in London. The tube is never far away. I recommend you buy a so-called Oyster Card upon arrival in London. This is a commuter card that you load credit onto. You can buy it at any (larger) tube station (ticket counter). You can get the £10 deposit back when you return the card before you leave London. You charge your card via the ticket machines located in every tube station. Paying for the tube is via flashing the card at the gates for entry and exit. A display at the gates will always tell you how much money you have left on your card. An Oyster card is a must, even if you only stay for three days. The difference in price between buying single tickets and using your automatic card credit, is significant: A single journey will set you back £4.90 whereas the Oyster card is £2.40!!! Also, the Oyster card has an automatic cap. That means you will pay a maximum of £8.20 (zones 1-3) versus single journeys or a daily travel card at £13.10 (zones 1-4)!!!
However, the best tip when it comes to London public transport, I received from local Hariclea: Bus fares are much cheaper than the tube. A single journey will set you back only £1.50. The daily cap for Oyster Card here is £4.50. So if you can, take the bus. Or walk, that is *my* personal tip. For a long time on my travels to London, I did everything by tube, thinking that London was a huge city and everything was very far apart. It took me 3 years to realise that Piccadilly Circus was only 250 meters away from Leicester Square! Doh. So make use of Google Maps and walk. You will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the city, too, because London treats you to a journey through all architectural ages in almost every street.
Guylty’s Hotel Insights
I’ll give you a little review of all the hotels I have stayed at in the last four years. A caveat at the beginning. At least half of them were paid for by my client – and they didn’t skimp. I would not have paid £350 for a hotel room myself. My budget – even while still employed by them – would usually not stretch to that. However, I am including it here, too. Who knows, maybe you have a significant birthday/anniversary, or you want to treat yourself to an extraordinary London experience. Or maybe you just appreciate a lovely boutique hotel, just like I do. Where possible, I will add my own pictures – and occasionally even videos – for a little more insight into the hotel. Links to the hotel website under the name. In no particular order…
The Rookery – my absolute favourite, but the above mentioned luxury option. Located in Farringdon, opposite Smithfield Market – a boutique hotel completely furnished with antiques and with every room looking different. Close to two tube stations, near the Barbican centre, too. It really looks like the photos on the website – or in my videos. Yep, I have three of them, just because the hotel was so beautiful, I had to document it every time. But I’ll only bore you with one of them. (If you want to you can see the other two if you click on my name on the video below!) This hotel has beautiful common rooms but no breakfast room. So if you want dinner, you need to eat elsewhere. Breakfast is available – but only served in your room. However, it was not any more expensive than in other hotels, and at the same time so good that I always set the alarm for two hours early so I could have long, leisurely breakfast in my fluffy bed before I went to work.
Citizen M in Southwark (Bankside) is completely at the opposite end of the style spectrum. Ultramodern hotel. Every room has a kingsize bed (no single rooms available) and lots of tech gimmicks. Has a fantastic entertainment offer with wide screen TVs in every room. You can operate different lighting scenarios with an iPad in the room, and the blinds are automatically adjusted depending on whether you have set the room settings on “romantic” or “business” 🤣. Located behind the Tate Modern, but still very central. I loved this place and stayed there a couple of times privately, too – my son called it the “cyber hotel” and specifically asked me to book us in there when I gave him a trip to London as a gift. He (age 18 then) even shared the kingsize bed with me – that was the price for being in the cyber hotel… Buffet style breakfast is available in the hotels bar area. I loved the cool style and design of this hotel.
- The Park Plaza County Hall is also situate d on the Southern bank of the Thames. I was upgraded to a suite there – with a separate sitting room and a small kitchenette. Comfortable, modern, light-filled rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. The kitchenette would be really useful if staying for a few days and trying to budget a little bit because eating out in London is expensive. It doesn’t mean you have to cook – but just having a fridge for a pint of milk for your cornflakes in the morning, would already save you a good bit of money. I did like this one very much and remember making a little video – can’t find it anymore, unfortunately. It is part of the Radisson chain, so good quality.
Z Hotel City Another very modern hotel, centrally located in Fleet Street. The rooms are very modern, but also fairly small. I had a room that was billed as a “family” room with two double beds. But even though the room was tiny, they solved the problem really well: One double bed was like an enclosed alcove (fitted with a big TV) while the second double was built on top of the alcove and you accessed it via small steps. The second double also had a TV screen. The drawback was that the hotel did not offer breakfast, and even though it operated a café next door, it did not provide a discount to residents. However, as you can see from the photo, this kind of room would really lend itself to sharing if you are coming with a friend. Share the costs – still get privacy. And style, too.
The Malmaison on Charterhouse Square. Another boutique hotel in Farringdon (like the Rookery above) (near Barbican), located on beautiful Charterhouse Square where you get London at its historic best: There is the eponymous Charterhouse from the 14th century, then there is Georgian architecture, the Victorian hotel building, and an Art Deco block of flats (which was used as location for Hercule Poirot’s flat in the Poirot TV series with David Suchet). Every room differently decorated – modern eclectic. The rooms were small but beautiful and all decorated differently. The first time I stayed there, I had an “inside” room with a kind of blind window into a lightwell. The room had really funky decoration with a graffiti-sprayed wall. Breakfast was not included but available in the basement restaurant – really nice, though.
The Premier Inn County Hall is probably on the affordable end of the scale. Centrally located, directly behind the London Eye and more or less directly on the banks of the Thames. The rooms were not particularly cosy or original, but clean, light and big. Probably more on the practical side. Prices are pretty good for London – and for the location. Breakfast available in the hotel – nothing special, but good price.
The Marlin Aparthotel was an affordable option when I took my mum to London last year. This hotel is fairly well connected, just behind Waterloo Station. In walking distance of the Old Vic Theatre and Westminster on the other side of the Thames. The rooms were bright and modern – and they came with a kitchenette. We ate breakfast in our own room every day and saved on another tenner for meals that way. This hotel is easily accessible by bus – which will also get transport costs down…
- Lastly, The Grange Strathmore Hotel is the last hotel I stayed in when in London in April this year. The building is the former residence of the Earl of Strathmore (the Queen Mother’s father), and as such an imposing Victorian residence in a very pretty part of London. The room was small and looked out onto the mews at the back. Kensington is a very nice area for walking and looking at the grand white townhouses, but it’s not as central as the other hotels listed above. Also, I didn’t find the transport options quite as close as the other hotels.
So, here is an overview of the hotels and their relative location. It’s an interactive map – you can click on the markers and see which hotel it is.
That’s it for my own experience with hotels in central London. As I said – not necessarily the cheapest *thanks to my former employers*. I am sure there are other, if not better options available. If anyone has some recommendations, please add them in the comments! And for further questions – I’m delighted if I can answer, although I am sure that the resident Londoners are probably better equipped than I am.
Leaving you with a little London Lucas for good measure.