Looking for affordable lodging in London? Good luck. Chances are if you look hard enough you’ll find something, but then you’re likely to be nickeled-and-dimed to death for every little extra. The best way to avoid Lodging Sticker Shock in London is to give up the hotel idea altogether and live like a local, which you can easily do for a week or more for half the cost of a London hotel.
Start by familiarizing yourself with some of the city agencies in London that provide information on apartment rentals, home exchanges, and exchange clubs. See Fodor’s Lodging Alternatives to learn more.
You should also consider B&Bs. There are scads to choose from, and the benefits of renting one are substantial. They’re cheaper than a hotel room of comparable quality, and you have access to the kitchen so you don’t have to eat every meal in a restaurant. The limitations are minimal. There is no staff to wait on you, and most B&Bs and private homes are not in the center of town (though some are). Still, this is an excellent option. Attractive rooms in privately owned homes start as low as £60 per night. Search the Web and call around to find the place that’s right for you. Here are a few agencies we like.
At Home in London
This service offers rooms in private homes in Knightsbridge, Kensington, Mayfair, Chelsea, and West London. Prices are competitive and include breakfast, and rooms are all approved by the agency. Prices start at £28 per night. 70 Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith, W6 9BE.
The service offers delightful little London flats in sought-after neighborhoods. A three-year membership is about £25, with most properties available for about £105 per night. Full English breakfasts and other goodies are often provided. 14 Dewhurst Road, Kensington, W14.
Coach House London Vacation Rentals
Stay in the homes of Londoners who are temporarily away. Apartments and houses are mostly in Notting Hill, Kensington, and Chelsea. The extra touches — airport pickup, complimentary breakfast provisions, and a welcome drink — make this service personal. 2 Tunley Road, Balham, SW17 7QJ.
Host & Guest Service
This service can find you a room based on a huge selection of B&Bs in London as well as the rest of the U.K., even in rural areas. A great way to find excellent bargains. 103 Dawes Road, Fulham, SW6 7DU.
A long-established family run agency, London B&B has some truly spectacular — as well as modest — homes in central London. You can see most of the properties on the company Web site. The staff is personable and quite helpful. 437 J Street, Suite 210, San Diego, CA 92101.
Primrose Hill B&B
A small, friendly B&B agency genuinely committed to the idea that traveling shouldn’t be a rip-off. Expat American Gail O’Farrell has family homes in or near village-y Hampstead, all of which are comfortable. This used to be one of those word-of-mouth secrets, but now that everyone knows, book well ahead. 14 Edis Street, Regent’s Park, NW1 8LG. 020/7722-6869.
As the name implies, this B&B service accepts only the more upscale addresses and specializes in finding hosted homes or short-term apartments for Americans, often executives of small corporations. Nearly all the 85 homes on its register are in Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Kensington, and Chelsea. Box 50407, Chelsea, W8 5XZ.
Photo courtesy of Bulldog Club