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London Hotel Hot Tips

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I have a flurry of new clients right now for September travel. When I work with clients, I try to get a feeling for what vibe they're looking for in a London hotel including, budget, neighborhood, style, etc. Then, I try to be the matchmaker and get them into an area I think they will love.

But, one thing that strikes me every time as I look for hotels is the cost differences between neighborhoods when you are booking nearly last minute.

First of all, let's clear something up. Trafalgar Square is really the definition of "Central London". It's nearly the geographic center of all the things you want to see. But, the commonly accepted definition of "Central London" is pretty much anywhere inside the Circle Tube line. It basically circles the city. I say that anywhere from Notting Hill to The Tower Bridge and from the south bank of the Thames to Regent Park is Central London. You can easily get around in that area and will either be very close or not so close to things most people come to London to see. So, don't get hung up on a "buzz word" TikTok location like "Covent Garden" or "Trafalgar Square" or "Tower Bridge". The travel translation of those buzz words is sometimes "higher cost". Unless.... (and I'll follow this up later).

Trafalgar Square

I did a quick comparison of areas in London and some hotels I would put clients in. As I expected, the more "in the middle of everything" you get, the more money it costs. But, it's not like you have to stay in Slough (rhymes with Cow) to save money. You can save money staying almost next to Kensington Palace and that's still very much Central London.

Here's the run-down. I selected hotels that had high similar ratings and hotels I would literally book for clients so it's not like I'm comparing Travelodge to the Ritz. These are the per night prices for a standard double room for 2 travelers Sept 10-17. Prices will be higher because it's less than 4 weeks away, but it's also a good lesson in booking way earlier than a month from your trip.

  • Convent Garden $425

  • Trafalgar Square $442

  • SOHO $609

  • Westminster $494

  • South Kensington $400

  • Shoreditch $313

  • Paddington $282

  • Kensington $256

  • Bayswater $259

The top four are literally where many people think they MUST stay but are often surprised at the prices or they have an unrealistic budget for. The bottom five are areas that still pretty much qualify as Central London but look at the shift in prices.

A hotel room

Bayswater is a 10-minute tube ride and an 11-minute walk to get to Covent Garden. South Kensington is a 7-minute tube ride to Westminster, and you emerge from the station and have Big Ben right in your face (I know, don't correct me, Americans call it Big Ben) - hardly the edge of the world, but saving almost $100/night on the hotel. And, actually, South Kensington hotels are often in the high $200 range. There just wasn't much available for the dates I'm looking at.

My sweet spot for clients is Paddington/Kensington/Bayswater. You are in FANTASTIC areas and will have a nice hotel at a decent price and still be able to get anywhere you want to by the underground or a bus.

Now for the "UNLESS" part from earlier. I'm going to say this LOUDLY for the people in the back. DO NOT GET YOUR PLANE TICKETS 6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR TRIP AND THEN START LOOKING FOR A HOTEL ROOM 2 MONTHS BEFORE YOU GO. Here's why: These are the prices for some of the same areas March 1, 2024. Time is a great equalizer.

  • SOHO $280

  • Covent Garden $270

  • City Center $214

  • South Kensington $219

  • Bayswater $201

  • Shoreditch $237

  • Canary Wharf $206

Look at the difference in prices when you have a long lead time! You can stay in those buzz word areas for nearly the same price you can stay in a quieter neighborhood (although I'm Team Quieter Neighborhood). And, let me tell you that OTHER PEOPLE are booking for March 2024 right now. One of my favorite hotels in Kensington is already fully booked for that week.

So, as you look at going to London, get your plane tickets and your hotel nearly together. Don't delay the hotel because you don't want to deal with it right now. Understand that all the neighborhoods I have listed are JUST FINE for "Central London". They are just neighborhoods IN London (London was once many villages) but are still absolutely fine for safety and access to everything you want to see.

Book that hotel quickly. And, if you need help and will let me book it for you, reach out and we'll find the perfect place together. If you want to do it yourself, you can search for properties through our self-service booking engine HERE

London doesn't have to be expensive. You just have to be a savvy traveler or work with a travel agent who specializes in London and can give you all the best tips on making your trip as relaxing and budget friendly as possible.

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