By Ellin Stein
A stay in a London hotel, never a bargain at the best of times, is set to be even pricier during this summer's Olympics with room rates likely to double. And that's assuming you can even get a booking at this late date. Add to that the cost of always eating out and you may feel you deserve a gold medal in financially keeping your head above water. But there are a handful of great alternatives that offer better value-for-money from luxury serviced apartments to comfortable home swaps.
Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living
These 133 luxurious new apartments, ranging from smart studios to penthouses with views over Hyde Park, combine the privacy of a home with the convenience of a hotel, thanks to an in-house restaurant, concierge service, and fridge stocking. All have fully-equipped kitchens, wet rooms, safes, and complimentary wi-fi.
The Details: Rates start from £450/night (plus VAT), min. 7 nights during the Olympics; book via GHAreservations@jumeirah.com.
Insider tip: Book before May 20 for heavily discounted rate. Penthouses include a butler and use of an Aston Martin.
Love Home Swap
This membership organization entitles you to browse listings of stylish private properties that are available for swapping. London homes range from a Bloomsbury penthouse to a Georgian villa in a leafy suburb. Swaps don't have to be simultaneous, but, as with dating sites, what you're offering should look as good as what you want.
The Details: Rentals free, £99 annual membership; 4-week trial membership, £1; to book visit LoveHomeSwap.com.
Insider tip: Luxe membership (£199/yr) provides use of a concierge service.
Spitalfield Lofts Apartments
These serviced apartments with loft-like exposed brick walls and open-plan living areas are located in London's trendiest neighborhood, which is also close to Liverpool Street station and transport links to the Olympics. The same company has properties in other London neighborhoods including Mayfair, Chelsea, and The City.
The Details: Top price for a one-bedroom apartment is £160/night, 7-night minimum. To book visit SilverDoor.co.uk
Insider Tip: Prices go down with longer stays.
The Bed and Breakfast Club
Rooms in pleasant private houses, mostly in London's more salubrious neighborhoods, are rented out on a B&B basis. Because you're in a private home, don't expect hotel-like services (the latest entertainment technology, in-room phones, 24-hour check-in, etc.) but the personal touch more than makes up for it.
The Details: Room prices from £50/night. Visit TheBedandBreakfastClub.co.uk to book
Insider tip: Some properties have self-contained apartments suitable for families
The Apartments at the Athenaeum
One of London's best hotels also offers short stay apartments in a Mayfair Victorian townhouse. The hotel next door provides twice-daily maid service and 24-hour room service, plus use of the spa. Free wi-fi is included.
The Details: Apartments from £450 (plus VAT). Visit AthenaeumHotel.com to book
Insider tip: A family apartment includes a free toybox, bedtime milk and cookies, and the services of a Kids' Concierge who will find books, bikes, or event tickets.
Thinking of a trip to London?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, plus the best planning advice, check out our London Travel Guide.