London's really in its own league when it comes to hotels. What can you expect from a London hotel? Here's our overview of what you're in for!
All About Hotels in London
The dashing Stylotel is one of our favorites in London.
Hotels in the London context
London is really in its own league when it comes to hotels. The sheer volume of tourists visiting London has produced a seller’s market. As a result, the proprietors of many, many hotels don’t need to offer much in the way of amenities, atmosphere, proper maintenance, or even friendliness to draw travelers in. These hotels bank on waves and waves of tourists and business travelers to continue to fill their rooms.
And even among the cheap London hotels that we profile favorably here, many, when push comes to shove, are quite anonymous. All too often, budget and midrange hotels in London meet their standard rather joylessly and mechanically.
There are, of course, tons of great budget hotels in London. Many, like the gorgeous Mentone Hotel and the sleek Stylotel are listed in our London Editor’s Picks. But traveling Cheapos should approach the London hotel scene knowing that renovations and customer service are not always big priorities in this city.
Many B&Bs in London, such as the Arosfa Hotel, sport lovely gardens or other charming features.
Hotels vs. B&Bs vs. Hostels
Hotels in London tend to be larger than B&Bs. Some hotels are owned by large multinational corporations; others by families. B&Bs in London tend to be family-run or owned by individuals. Many (like the adorable Arosfa Hotel) also have lovely common areas and even gardens.
Most hotels and B&Bs provide a number of standard amenities (see “What to Expect in Your Room” below). Most hotels and all B&Bs provide breakfast in the morning, and, in the vast majority of cases, breakfast will be included in your nightly rate. Both hotels and B&Bs typically have rooms in single, double, triple, and quad (or family) configurations.
Hostels in London are a different matter altogether. Hostels only rarely have televisions or telephones in rooms, and most bathroom facilities will be shared. Most hostels have pay telephones, television lounges and guest kitchens on the premises. Hostels also typically have a handful of smaller rooms and many rooms with dormitory-style configurations of six, eight or ten beds.
There are also a few “rare gem" hostels, like the laid-back YHA St. Pancras, that give even the cutest B&Bs a run for their money.
With space at a premium in London, many hotel rooms—such as this double at the lovely Ridgemount Hotel— are not much bigger than the bed in the room.
What to expect in your room
Most London hotel rooms at the budget and midrange parts of the spectrum are equipped with a telephone, television, kettle for tea and heating. Most will have a small bathroom with a shower, but it is not uncommon for the cheapest rooms to share facilities, especially in the smaller properties.
Very few rooms have air conditioning (don’t worry—you won’t need it) and only a handful have bathtubs. Space is at a premium in London; you'll all too often find yourself in a cramped room.
Bed and breakfasts, such as the MacDonald Hotel, will include breakfast in the room rate, often served in a separate breakfast room.
Breakfast is included in the nightly rate at most of our Editor's Picks. What counts as breakfast varies markedly. Some hotels offer a “continental” breakfast consisting of cereals, toast, tea, coffee, juice and possibly also fruit, porridge and slices of meat and cheese.
Most hotels we profile in London, however, will provide a cooked English breakfast, often to order. The English breakfast option—sometimes called a “full English”—will usually include eggs, bacon, sausages, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, toast and baked beans. We know, not the healthiest slop to shovel down. But when it’s done right, it’s oh-so-good.
Another designation we came across often during our hotel visits is the "buffet breakfast," which is like the lighter continental breakfast, but with greater variety.
Occasionally there will be a different approach to breakfast in London. One hotel we visited (the Cherry Court Hotel) doesn’t offer a traditional breakfast at all. Rather, it provides small fruit baskets for its guests every morning. This sort of arrangement is quite unusual.
A few hotels charge for the full breakfast but not their continental offerings; others charge for all breakfast options. Although this is the exception to the rule, you should always inquire in advance. At some hotels, you might even be able to obtain a discount in your nightly rate if you opt for no breakfast at all.
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