Finding Accommodation in London: Hotel Alternatives

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Due to airlines being weird and round-trip flights actually being cheaper than one-way ones, I headed back to London once again on my way to Hong Kong.

I LOVE London; it's probably my favorite large city in the world. But loving London does not make it any cheaper.

London Eye

When it comes to finding accommodation in England's capital, it can be tricky to find something that is in a good location but won't totally drain your wallet. For me, normal hotels in London are pretty much always out of contention; there's no way that you will find me paying $200+ per night for a standard hotel room.

So, after a couple years of trying out various places to rest my head in London, I've come up with a list of accommodation options in the city that DON'T include a pricey hotel stay:

Stay with a friend

The cheapest option, of course, is to make friends with someone who lives in London. I'm lucky to have a couple of good friends in the city who are usually gracious enough to offer me a couch or bed when I'm in town, but I know that not everyone has this option available to them.

Similar to this option would be to try out Couchsurfing. Personally, though, as a female who usually travels alone, I tend to shy away from any option that involves me staying for free in a stranger's home.


Dublin Homestay

Slightly less creepy to me is the idea of a homestay — staying with a family or couple in their home while they are around. Since this option usually means you're just renting a room, it's generally way cheaper than a hotel, and sometimes even cheaper than hostels.

I tried out a homestay recently in Dublin and really enjoyed it. It was much “homier” than any other accommodation option I've tried, with my host giving me tips for the city and even making me breakfast and lunch while I was staying with her.


If you want to meet other travelers or just have a bit more independence, hostels are a great option all across Europe. In London, however, there are not as many great hostels as one would hope, and the ones that DO come highly recommended (like Safestay and Palmer's Lodge) usually still aren't particularly cheap. Another downside for me is that most London hostels I've researched only offer dorm room beds. And, as someone who likes her personal space, this doesn't really appeal to me if I know there are other options out there.

Budget hotels

The good thing about traveling to a big city like London is that there's a lot of competition when it comes to the accommodation business. Recently, “budget” hotels have been popping up all over — very basic hotels where you get a very small room and pay extra for things like a TV or wifi access. Kind of a cross between a private hostel room and a normal hotel, properties like Tune Hotels are becoming more and more popular for short stays.

I haven't tried any of these budget properties yet, but it's nice to have that option available.


AirBnB is a great concept — people with extra rooms, empty flats, or who are going out of town for a while rent out their space to you, usually at pretty affordable rates. If you're renting a private room, an Air BnB experience can be very much like the homestays mentioned above, though you usually won't have meals included. In many instances, though (and especially if you are renting out a whole apartment), you are on your own.

I've had great Air BnB experiences in the U.S. before, though this usually isn't the cheapest option unless you are traveling with other people.

Apartment rentals

Lamington Apartments

Lastly, there are straight-up apartment rentals to consider. These are especially great for long-term stays because you can relax in your own private space and feel more like a local than a tourist. There are a TON of short-stay apartments in London, as well as a few options for longer-term travels, too. I've rented an apartment on two separate occasions in London, and really enjoyed it both times. Just be sure to pick a place that's close to a tube station or bus stop so that you can get around easily, since many apartments for rent are outside of central London.


No matter what your preferences or budget, one of these options will probably work for you in London — and probably work better for you than your average (and expensive) hotel stay.

(This post is a spin-off from my Ways to Save Money in London post, which you may also enjoy!)


Which option would be YOUR choice in London?



*Note: This post was written by me, but was brought to you by a third party.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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21 Comments on “Finding Accommodation in London: Hotel Alternatives

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  1. My accommodation of choice in London on both occassions has been Clink 78. It’s only a 10 minute walk from the Eurostar and from a large underground station. Not to mention the bus stop right in front of the hostel. So even when you go back on your own in the middle of the night, you can just take the bus. The staff is nice, breakfast has many options and the beds are comfy.
    Just a suggestion in case you’d consider a hostel for your next visit 😉

    Hey, well I’m lucky enough to have a friend who lives practically on Tower Bridge, so a central location is never a problem- but on the odd occasion that I need to go out on the other side of town, I stay in hostels. St Christopher’s have a few around the city, I stayed in the one in Hammersmith last November and the bed was sooo comfy and I booked late and paid £19 for a bed in a mixed dorm.

    Another thing to look out for is travelodge or premier inn’s, often they have £29 per night rooms, if you’re staying for 2 nights. they’ve got a lot of central locations, too, and altho the more central ones aren’t always £29, they usually have deals on too.

      Great tips, Sammi! I’ll have to keep them in mind for the next time I’m in London.

    If you’re willing to stay a bit longer and take care of some furry friends, house-sitting is also an option!

    Staying with a friend is the best option! Never make enemies in a city like London. 🙂 Nice tips, Amanda!

      Haha, agreed! Having friends in any big city is always a plus!

    Having a friend in a big city is indeed an advantage! If not I prefer homestays! Nice post Amanda 🙂

      Thanks, Arti! It’s great that there are so many accommodation options these days.

    The first time I stayed in London I stayed in a BnB type place. The room was called a “student room” and had a shared bathroom, but I remember it being significantly cheaper than two hostel beds. Apartment swapping is also a great idea for London for people who happen to live in other desirable cities.

      Speaking of “student rooms” – sometimes in the summer months you can rent out university dorm/apartment rooms in the UK. I did it in Edinburgh once. It was basically the same price as a hostel, but I had my own room with shared bathroom.

    Great options! This is actually very helpful for first timers in London but still good for revisiting travelers.

      Thanks! I’m glad people are finding this so helpful!

    My dream trip is two weeks in London. I think I am going to rent an apartment outside of the city it is seeming to be the best option. Great advice and great post!

      If you’re going to be there for that long, renting an apartment is a great option!

    Having a friend in a big city is indeed an advantage!

    Solid tips, Amanda! Debating where to stay when I visit London next month. It’ll be my first official hostel visit.. any recs on that end?? I’ll be traveling through the UK/Ireland for about a month and spending almost two weeks in London (with day trips tbd) so would love to meet some people and get to know the city a little more than the average tourist.

      Generator hostels are usually good, and I’m pretty sure they have one in London. Palmer’s Lodge is another that I hear recommended a lot. And many of my blogger friends really love Safestay near Elephant and Castle.

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