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Where to Stay in London
London is made up of dozens of neighborhoods, most of which have unofficially defined borders, but only a few of these are well-oriented toward tourist accommodations. Most of these hotel-packed neighborhoods are located in a general area called the West End, which is also where many of London’s most famous landmarks are located; Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus and the British Museum are among the many highlights.
Within the West End, Bloomsbury has the greatest concentration of hotels, as well as the widest variety of accommodations. Affordable London hotel deals can be very difficult to come by, but comparing room rates in this district is a good way to start. Marylebone, home to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and Portland Place, is a little farther away from the heart of the West End but still within its confines. Well over a dozen reputable hotels are situated there, including some very modestly priced options.
The City, London’s original square-mile settlement and current financial district, also has a few notable hotels, but this neighborhood has little nightlife and its lodging is primarily designed with business travelers in mind.
London Hotel Tips
Because some of London’s hotels are housed in structures that are quite old and others are very new, you’ll find great variety in terms of amenities. Some of the older hotels may have plenty of unique charm, but drafty corridors and a lack of air conditioning. It’s best to assume nothing and research thoroughly when choosing from among unfamiliar hotels.
While accommodations range from sparse and basic to luxurious, lodging in London is expensive all-around. Be prepared to pay more than you might expect, regardless of the level of accommodations you choose. If saving is a must, look for nearby B&Bs and compare their rates with the hotels you’re considering. London even has some B&B agencies that can help you find something in your range.
London Hotel Recommendations
When seeking out comfortable accommodations in the West End, consider the Renaissance London Chancery Court. Its convenient Bloomsbury location is close to the Holborn tube stop, putting guests minutes away from all of the top West End attractions, and the impeccably updated property features exceptionally clean rooms, a modern fitness center and a variety of options for on-site dining and drinking. In the Marylebone neighborhood, the Dorset Square Hotel feels more like home. It consists of eight spacious rooms divided among two traditional townhouses, offering the feel of a B&B, but with the privacy of a hotel.
A surprising gem in the hip Soho neighborhood is the Haymarket Hotel, conveniently located next to the popular Haymarket Theatre. While it’s one of the more expensive places in the West End, it’s a great value given its premier location, contemporary and creatively decorated rooms, and excellent dining options. But the highlight may be the 60-foot indoor pool, which is surrounded by dramatic colored lighting and a sleek cocktail bar.
If you’d prefer something in the quieter financial district, The Grange City Hotel is also an excellent value with five star status. On-site amenities include two bars, two restaurants, a spa, a swimming pool, a fitness center and numerous other features that help make this a favorite among business travelers and tourists alike.
London’s underground tube system is famous for its design and efficiency, and is generally the easiest way to traverse long distances within the city. Maps and fare schedules are available online, but you can pick up maps and other information at London Transport kiosks in the airport when your flight to London arrives. You should have plenty of time to study them as you make your way from the airport to the city, which is best done via express train.
From Heathrow, the Heathrow Express is the best compromise between cost and efficiency, as cab fare can be exorbitantly expensive and the tube may take a full hour. This ride takes 15 to 20 minutes and deposits you in the Paddington neighborhood, where you can transfer to the tube to complete your trip. From Gatwick, the Gatwick Express takes a half hour and ends at the Victoria Rail Station in central London.
Buses also run throughout the city, and you can find information on routes and fares at London Transport kiosks as well. The advantage of traveling by bus is that you get to see more of the city as you go, but drawbacks include frequent overcrowding and traffic delays.