Our fair capital is known for many things: thriving art and culture, great dining and more old buildings than you can shake a stick at – but it’s not normally heralded for being cheap.
That said, the Big Smoke is stacked with great-value digs if you know where to look – and those looking to save on accommodation don’t need to compromise on style, either.
As someone who’d rather flash their cash on a night on the town – complete with scandalously overpriced cocktails – than a fancy room, here’s my pick of London hotels that won’t break the bank but will give you a fabulous night’s sleep.
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Best for sleek style in the heart of the action: Z Hotel Tottenham Court Road
Boasting a price that’s more suburban than city centre, the latest branch of Z Hotels – which opened in August 2018 – is slap bang in the middle of the action in the West End and the shops of Oxford Street. Despite its on-point location, the 121-room former office block hasn’t sacrificed style, with chic, contemporary rooms furnished in white and charcoal. Although on the cosy side, all rooms come with an ensuite shower room, crisp bed linen and a Samsung 49 inch HD Smart TV with a full selection of Sky channels and BT Sport. Food and drink come courtesy of Z Café, which serves a buffet breakfast until 11am – 11.30am on weekends – and costs £9.50.
Doubles from £70, room only
Best for affordable hospitality: Point A Liverpool Street
Neighbourhood: Liverpool Street
With an aim of “putting hospitality back into the budget space”, Point A is a small, family-run chain with six London properties. The Liverpool Street branch is 10 minutes’ walk from Sushi Samba and Duck and Waffle, and just five minutes from nightlife hotspot the Queen of Hoxton. Compact, minimalist rooms come with everything a discerning traveller could need – Hypnos bed, power shower, 40 inch Smart TV, hairdryer and mood lighting – and the addition of an ironing room makes it easy to stay smart. Those who join the Point A loyalty scheme also get free access to a high-spec nearby gym during their stay. A full continental breakfast is served until 10.30am – 11am on weekends – for £9.
Doubles from £69, room only
Best for cutting edge cool in hipsterville: Ace Hotel London
This hip outpost of Ace Hotel, whose other properties can be found in destinations including Portland, Downtown LA and Kyoto, hosts regular events – many of them free – in its lobby and its rooftop bar. Enjoying a plum position on Shoreditch High Street, within spitting distance of a staggering range of bars and restaurants and shipping container pop-up mall Boxpark, Ace Hotel London offers seven room types. Even the standard comes with vintage furniture, original artwork, flat screen TV and a Revo radio with Ace-curated radio stations.
Doubles from £152, B&B
Best for millennial-friendly luxury: The Hoxton Holborn
Millennial favourite The Hoxton manages the impossible – providing genuinely cool digs in central London for a decent price. The boutique chain now has five outlets, two of which are in London; the Holborn branch provides an ideal base for exploring Covent Garden and the West End. The décor balances classy with cool in battered, brown leather headboards and armchairs, quirky printed wallpaper and impeccable furnishings. Rooms range from “shoebox” to “roomy”, but all come with an hour’s free international calls and a light breakfast bag delivered to your door, plus a fridge stocked with free water and fresh milk. Main restaurant Hubbard & Bell offers all-day dining while casual eatery Chicken Shop does “Dirty Burgers” for £6.
Doubles from £99, B&B
Best for mixing business with pleasure: Citizen M London Bankside
This Amsterdam-headquartered chain is aimed firmly at the younger generation, and makes a point of promising “absolutely no trouser presses, bellboys, or stupid pillow chocolates”. What it offers instead is an XL king-sized bed, wall-to-wall window, rain shower and free films for every room. There are also free to use iMacs dotted around the lobby, making it an ideal spot for remote working. Guests will find a powerful hairdryer in their room, plus specially tailored am and pm toiletries to suit their body clock. Bedrooms are all minimal chic while the lobby is kitted out with trendy Vitra furniture. Best of all, Citizen M is perfectly located for everything London Bridge has to offer, including Borough Market, the Globe and the Shard. Breakfast, at the 24-hour Canteen M, costs extra.
Doubles from £99, room only
Best for shop-til-you-drop convenience: Moxy London Stratford
Marriott’s cool youth brand Moxy has three UK locations, with the Stratford branch next to the sprawling Westfield shopping centre and Stratford station nearby, to whizz visitors into the city centre. The bar is open 24/7 and rooms come equipped with 42 inch TVs that can sync up with a smart phone to stream your favourite shows, plus upscale bathroom amenities and chairs and desks. The design is contemporary and understated, with grey walls and pale wood panelling – until you get to the lobby, where colour abounds. The front desk and bar is backlit with Moxy’s signature bright purple, and the “living room” is dolled up with a whacky array of objects, squishy sofas and a giant Jenga set. Continental breakfasts cost from £12.
Doubles from £80, room only
Best for design-hotel chic away from the crowds: Hotel 55
Just one minute from North Ealing tube station, Hotel 55 is well-connected while being apart from the hustle and bustle of zone one. This non-chain boutique hotel packs a design punch way above its price tag; the rooms have original artwork, trendily mismatched furniture and – unlike so many monochromatic hotels – boldly painted walls in hues of green and blue. The “cozy” room comes with a king size bed, large screen TV, hairdryer, L’Occitane toiletries and complimentary magazines – and a continental breakfast is included when you book direct through the website. Restaurant Momo serves up modern Japanese dishes and offers views over the hotel’s landscaped garden.
Doubles from £99, B&B
Best for home-from-home decadence: Rockwell East
Blurring the line between self-catering apartments and a full hotel, this brand new aparthotel – open from September 2018 – offers flexibility, with 57 studios, one-bed and family-sized apartments up for grabs. The décor is chic yet fun, with bold splashes of royal blue and saffron. Each self-contained apartment comes with a fully fitted kitchen, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer and HDTV. But it’s the extra touches that set Rockwell East apart – Merino wool blankets, Egyptian cotton sheets, towelling dressing gowns, White Company toiletries, a Nespresso coffee machine and a welcome breakfast pack by Abel and Cole all come as standard. There’s an all-day café and bar, open from 7am to midnight, and it’s a short walk from Tower Bridge.
Apartments from £150, including breakfast pack.
Best for booze before bed: the Culpeper
Neighbourhood: Aldgate East
The Culpeper is a pub with rooms, rather than a full hotel – but this is no sticky-floored, old man boozer. The pub is all bare brick and flattering lighting, with a drinks list that includes natural wines, local ales and cocktails made using herbs grown on the roof garden. The first-floor kitchen dishes up reassuringly normal pub food – albeit with the ubiquitous gastro twist – including deep fried black pudding balls, aubergine parmigiana and beer-battered haddock. Head up to the second floor and a selection of five beautifully furnished bedrooms awaits, blending the modern – buffed concrete walls – with the more traditional, featuring bespoke wooden headboards, for instance. Aldgate East station is just down the road, making it an ideal springboard for wandering Whitechapel and Shoreditch.
Doubles from £120, B&B
Best for bohemian chic: My Hotel Bloomsbury
My Hotels is an affordable boutique chain with three properties – two in London, one in Brighton – that nails it, on the design front. The Bloomsbury location is bang on, between Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road stations, and offers 86 rooms offset by co-working space Central Working, award-winning artisan bakers Gail’s and Gail’s Kitchen, and a Body Kalm treatment room for guests who want to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Bedrooms are enlivened by an eclectic range of plush furnishings from brands including Conran Design and Heal’s. Modern bathrooms are stocked with eco-conscious Anyah bathroom amenities and each room boasts a multi-channel flat screen LCD TV and workstation.
Doubles from £119, room only
Best for food and drink: Hoxton Southwark
The Hoxton boutique hotel chain is so good we've included it twice. This outpost, on formerly dowdy Blackfriars Road, is a lively addition to the hinterland between Southwark and Blackfriars. It follows the same Hoxton formula of having a vast, buzzy lobby filled with movers and shakers doing anything from working with tiny coffees to ordering after-work cocktails, as well as plenty of mid-century velvet furniture and view-obstructing plants. Pop in on a Friday evening and it's hard to believe people come here to sleep. Staff greet you at check-in wearing grey marl branded Hoxton sweatshirts as a DJ booms out house music to the cocktail bar and downstairs restaurant, Albie, which serves cosy French-Italian fusion plates. This party vibe continues upstairs, past the art-filled gallery wall on the stairs to the "Apartment", where parties and non-boring corporate meetings take place. Even further up is the rooftop restaurant Seabird, with a raw bar and oysters to match the views. The (thankfully soundproofed) rooms follow the same Hoxton design scheme of pseudo-industrial, with Crittal windows and smooth walnut floors. They're small but personal, with a selection of books – including great American novels such as Bonfire of the Vanities and Capote's In Cold Blood, standing on the shelf. Hoxton signatures such as branded mugs and retro Marshall radios come as standard. This is the hotel to come to if you want to feel 25 again.
Rooms from £139, including a breakfast bag
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