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London: A cheapo guide to Paddington’s hotels, restaurants and bars

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Paddington Station
The Paddington Tube station is at the heart of this London district filled with cheap stays, eats and bars. Photo: Oliver Mallich

It’s easy enough to find your way to Paddington—it’s a station served by several underground lines, as well as the Heathrow Express. However, it’s harder to pin down as an area—we’ve used it to describe the cluster of budget hotels around the station that, on a London map, would probably be marked as Bayswater. Aside from the convenience of the station and the plentiful budget accommodation, one strength of this area is its diversity—as well as the usual chains, there are plenty of interesting cheap eats to discover: we’ve highlighted a Burmese, an Iranian and a Moroccan restaurant just for starters. And, even though Bayswater doesn’t score too highly on actual ‘sights’, its location is pretty fantastic—Portobello Market, upmarket Marylebone and Kensington Gardens are all within walking distance—both saving you the expense of a travel card and making it extra easy to explore the city.

Where To Stay

The sleek rooms of the Stylotel are a great bargain for this excellent location. Photo: EuroCheapo

The sleek rooms of the Stylotel are a great bargain for this excellent location. Photo: EuroCheapo

Stylotel
160 Sussex Gardens
Doubles from $156

This hotel may look fairly traditional from the outside but don’t be fooled—inside it’s more resembles a spaceship with sleek metallic finishes than the traditional London hotel room. Other than the décor, there are plenty more reasons to stay here—rooms can sleep up to four and complimentary tea and coffee are served throughout the day in the hotel’s lounge.

The Oxford offers quaint rooms near Hyde Park. Photo: EuroCheapo

The Oxford offers quaint rooms near Hyde Park. Photo: EuroCheapo

Oxford London Hotel
13–14 Craven Terrace
Doubles from $112

Though this hotel is on the pricier end of the Eurocheapo scale, it’s got plenty to recommend it, not least its location near Kensington Gardens. It scores high on its amenities for travelers too, with a mini-fridge and microwave in each room as well as a phone and satellite TV. Make sure you call ahead—rooms in this hotel can’t be booked online.

Royal Court Apartments
51 Gloucester Terrace
Doubles from $74

These apartments offer an affordable alternative to a hotel room. Each of the one to three bedroom apartments has its own kitchen, and are consistently praised for being super clean as well as cheap.

Where To Eat

Mandalay

Affordable and tasty Burmese food is the focus of this low-key eatery. Photo: Kake

Mandalay
444 Edgware Road

Edgware Road offers an almost overwhelming number of cheap eateries. It would be easy to overlook Mandalay from the outside, but you’d be missing out on unique Burmese food. The owners describe their food as a combination of Chinese and Indian flavors with a slight Thai influence. With all main dishes priced at under £9, they’re definitely worth trying for yourself. Mandalay is so popular that it’s worth calling ahead to secure one of their ten tables and—in fact—to check they are still open on the Edgware Road, as a move to larger premises is immanent. We’d hate for you to miss out.

Couscous Café
7 Porchester Gardens

With main dishes at around the £15, this might stretch the budget slightly but it’s well worth it for tasty Moroccan tagine and couscous dishes all served within a cute, cozy and atmospheric setting. While the premises might be small, the servings are generous and the restaurant allows you to bring in your own booze—in fact all the ingredients for a great meal.

Patogh

The busy Iranian kitchen at Patogh. Photo: Su-Lin

Patogh
8 Crawford Place

Another cheap and cheerful Bayswater special, this café specializes in Iranian dishes, from the traditional Persian stews to kebab style dishes. Diners are crammed onto communal tables in a tiny room, complete with a busy grill, but it’s worth it for the convivial atmosphere and mains for under £10. It’s also worth noting this is another BYOB (‘bring your own bottle’).

Where To Drink

The Victoria

The Victoria is a neighborhood favorite dating back to 1838. Photo: Matthew Black

The Victoria
10A Strathearn Place

The area around Paddington has some great traditional pubs to discover, with a particular favorite being The Victoria. It was built in 1838 and is so-called because apparently Queen Victoria once stopped here on her way to Paddington station. It’s also known that Dickens also put pen in paper in this establishment. The interior retains its historic interest while having been brought up to 21st century standards, and The Victoria consistently wins fans for its food as well as its friendly staff.

The Monkey Puzzle
30 Southwick Street

The Monkey Puzzle manages to retain a community feel while being a welcoming place for travelers to stop and enjoy a pint, especially if you want to sample some of their award-winning ales that are always on tap. There’s a menu of traditional British pub food, such as fish and chips, and if you are lucky enough to be in London on the one day of sunshine each year, this pub also benefits from a nice beer garden.

Bonus Attraction

Alfies Rooftop Cafe

The beautiful rooftop cafe at Alfies is an under-the-radar gem. Photo: Rain Rabbit

Alfies Antique Market
13–25 Church Street

If you like vintage or antiques, Alfies is a definite must. It’s a sprawl of 75 different dealers set over four floors. Each dealer has their own specialty—be it posters or lace—and, although you are unlikely to unearth a complete bargain, it’s a fascinating place to browse and learn from the expertise of the different traders. There’s a relatively unknown rooftop café with the bonus free WiFi, which makes it the perfect place to come and recharge and get a different perspective on this bit of London.

About the author

Frances Ambler

Frances Ambler has been doing her best to live in London on the cheap since 2003. She works as an editor in one of London’s best – and free – museums, as well as writing for various websites including domesticsluttery.com. An avid second-hand shopper, ten years of "research" culminated in her most recent project: writing for the soon-to-be-published "Rough Guide to Vintage London."

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