London on a budget: The cheapest ways to stay in the city
Staying in London can get very expensive very quickly. Staying in a hotel in central London costs on average around £136 a night but you don’t have to spend a fortune to live a life of luxury in London hotels. With plenty of alternatives, see London on a budget while being comfortable, without breaking your bank balance leaving you with money to purchase tickets for some of London’s attractions and shows.
London budget tips and tricks
Are there budget hotels in London?
A recent Guardian report stated that over 20% of hotels in London are now budget hotels, and this is set to rise. Being a cheaper alternative to a lavish hotel, budget hotels can be a steal, especially if you book in advance. There are also flash sales throughout the year, with popular budget hotel chain Premier Inn starting rooms from just £39 a night!
Other popular budget hotel chains in the UK include Travelodge, Ibis, Holiday Inn and Best Western. But, as budget hotels are becoming more popular with those spending time in the city, a new wave of budget hotels are taking over the market that are fancy, modern and innovative.
Budget hotels also offer reward systems for staying in their hotels multiple times. For example, Holiday Inn and Best Western offer free nights in their hotels once you have banked enough points to earn your free night.
Are there hostels in London?
The hostel scene is booming with vibrant places to stay right in the heart of the city for a fraction of the cost. With many hostels offering free maps of the city to take away as well as free walking tours for its guests, hostels provide a cheaper way to take in the city and explore everything that’s on offer. Out of the many options in London, here are a few hostel recommendations.
Youth Hostel Association
Since 1930, the Youth Hostel Association has provided numerous travellers with cheap accommodation in hostels up and down the country. In London, they have eight hostels in prime locations including Oxford Street and St Pancras. But don’t be fooled by the name, their hostels are not just for young people. Anyone can stay in their hostels, and with prices from as low as £18 per night, the hostels run by the Youth Hostel Association are great places to stay in.
With two hostels in Kings Cross, Clink Hostels are an up-and-coming place to stay that’s popular with those who have stayed there. Stay in Clink78, a 200-year-old courthouse that has been renovated into a hostel or Clink261, an affordable hostel right in the heart of central London. Both hostels are packed with amenities including hairdryers, luggage rooms and guest kitchens as well as offering breakfast from just £1 a day! Costing an average of £19 a night, Clink Hostels is a wonderful location to stay in without breaking the bank.
With hostels across Europe, Wombats is renowned for hosting the travelling trip of a lifetime! Soak up the party experience in Wombats with a great choice of drinks at the bar and events constantly happening in the local area. Based to the east of the city, Wombats has options for every type of traveller. Private rooms allow guests to have their own space, but with dorms sleeping up to 8 people including girls-only dorms, Wombats is sure to suit everyone’s needs.
Palmers Lodges hostels are rated as some of the best hostels the capital has to offer. The hostel in Swiss Cottage offers free lockers and 24 hour CCTV in its grand surroundings, where rooms can sleep up to 24 people. They also have Hillspring, a hostel that’s great for travellers heading to Wembley Arena. Both hostels are around 20 minutes from central London, but they offer a relaxed stay. Palmers Lodges have won many awards including a “Certificate of Excellence” from TripAdvisor and Expert Choice awards.
Are there cheaper alternatives where I can stay in a private room?
Definitely! One of the cheapest ways to do this is by staying in a university-owned room during the vacation period. Instead of being left empty during the holiday season, guests can book university rooms online across the city. Choosing to stay in London in university rooms is an affordable way to stay in the city while having your own private space to relax in at the end of a busy day.
Often coming with similar amenities that a hotel provides, staying in a university-owned room is a great way to spend a few nights in the city without spending lots. You don’t have to be a student to take advantage of this deal either, anyone can stay in university rooms across central London and beyond.
Couchsurfing is an alternative option. It may initially seem as though you’re just staying in a stranger’s house, however Couchsurfing.com verifies every member and you can leave reviews, which means everything is checked out. By couchsurfing, you’ll be able to visit places that are off the beaten track.
There are also many Airbnbs that are available for travellers to stay in, with around 20,000 rentals happening in London each week. Airbnbs are flexible to anyone’s needs and price ranges, so whether it’s just a private room you’re after or an entire property to yourself, make yourself feel right at home in an Airbnb in London.
How can I make sure I’m getting the best deal?
If you’ve found one price on a comparison site and a more expensive price on the hotel’s official website, it may be worth calling up the hotel directly to see if you can land the cheaper price. Make sure you keep your eye out on voucher sites, as they may have coupons for booking your dream hotel at a discounted price.
If you’re looking for a hotel with free wifi, make sure to check what’s on offer in your hotel, hostel or other accommodation. While some come with free unlimited wifi, others require you to pay for how much you use. It’s best to check this before you book rather than leave a hefty bill at the end.
If you’re looking for the perfect theatre break, we offer bespoke theatre and hotel packages that will guarantee a great trip to London. Pick the show you want to see, the seats you want to sit in and the hotel you want to stay at. By booking with us, you’ll get a good night’s sleep knowing you’ll have an affordable, relaxing time in London.
Can I travel around London cheaply while in the city?
While you’re in the capital, take advantage of the many attractions and events that are taking place throughout the city. If you’re struggling to decide where to go in advance or just want to decide while you’re in London, why not book a London Pass in advance? Offering entry to over 60 popular tourist attractions in the city, as well as unlimited travel, you’ll be able to see the sights as you explore London to your heart’s content!
Trying to work out what to do when you’re in London? Take inspiration from our model 72 hour getaway for a trip to the city.