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Need Help W/ London Lodging

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We just booked a cruise that leaves from Southampton on Nov. 30th. We are flying into LHR either one or two days prior to the cruise. Our flight would arrive at 7:05 am. We have never been to London before so am trying to sort everything out.

We are looking for a hotel in a reasonable price range (less than $300 per night, if possible). I am not sure what would be a good location for us to stay. We would like to do the Ho Ho bus tour of the city as we feel that is the best way to see the city w/ a limited amount of time.

I am looking for assistance in departing the airport to whatever hotel we book.

The next question I have is concerning how to get to the Southampton port for our cruise. I know that National Express runs to the port as well as trains but not sure which would be the most expedient way to get there. How early should we leave London for the trip to the port? We probably can't check in on the ship until at least 11 am or later.
Several people have suggested the train.

I am looking for advice from all you Fodorites who have been to London. Many thanks for your help.

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