London without breaking your budget
By Emma Wallis
Budget hotels in London are probably going to appeal mostly to the younger traveller amongst you. People who are up for meeting other fellow visitors to the capital, and who want to have fun and see the sights. If that describes you then you might want to try St Christopher's Hostel in Greenwich, which has a pub below it, to make sure that you can party all night and then only have a few stairs to walk up before rolling into bed. For people looking to stay in a beautiful area, near tranquil parks and lots of history, then Avoca House Hotel in Hampstead might be the place for you. Even if you're not staying in the lap of luxury, you can spend your days walking the streets around you and spotting celebrities who live in luxury all day every day. Hampstead, although an expensive part of London has two beautiful parks to enjoy completely for free, keeping your budget to the minimum whilst still revelling in London's beauty.
YHA London St Pauls
One of the YHA's other London hostels is close to the famous St Paul's cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, which withstood the blitz (bombing raids) during the Second World War, and was the cathedral that Prince Charles and the late Lady Diana chose for their nuptials. This hostel is perfect if you want to see the quieter more literary parts of London, as it's just a short walk from Holborn, and Bloomsbury, right near the City and the financial centre, and close to the river, the Millennium Bridge, and just across the water, the Tate Modern. Brilliant location, and the building was once the school for St Paul's choir boys.
YHA Hostel London Earl's Court
The YHA, Youth Hostel Association, is a great organisation, and runs a series of hostels across London. You are guaranteed to meet lots of like minded travellers, predominantly young, as the name suggests, but not only, as the YHA has done a lot in recent years to cater for all ages. Earl's Court is a vibrant centre in itself, full of Kiwis and Australians predominantly, but also people from every part of the world. You're close to Notting Hill, and all the delights of West London here too, parks on your doorstep and plenty of shops. Hard to beat, with good security ratings too.
Some people say that this hotel is clean and basic, and you get what you pay for. Others have written that they had money stolen from their rooms and that the rooms are dirty, dingy and not worth the cost, which even though it's budget, is not going to be 20 pounds a night. As with any hotel it's good to shop around a bit and see what you think of people's reviews before deciding whether or not to stay here, as some people have had varying experiences on arrival and even different occasions they've stayed here. The location is right for some people as it's in Bayswater, a popular tourist location and just off centre enough to be a bit quieter, but near enough to walk to Notting hill and Paddington quite easily.
St Christopher's Hostel Greenwich London
For a hostel, in London this place gets great reviews. You probably have to be relatively young, or wear ear plugs to enjoy sleeping above a noisy music pub, but if you want a sense of community, a cheap, basic place to stay, and to be in the heart of one of London's liveliest and most historic boroughs with a thriving nightlife and plenty of students around then this could be the place to be for a few nights. Some travellers talk about how the friendly staff remember their name, even if they've never met them before. Others warn that luggage is not always totally secure, and when you're staying somewhere like this, in central London remember that this is not the kind of place with personalized safes in your room, so don't leave anything valuable anywhere unattended, and hopefully you can just enjoy the craic that this place seems to provide.
European Hotel London
As with many budget hotels, this hotel has also got mixed reviews from fellow travellers. But for a short stay, many value its location, right near Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston, a brilliant transport hub for the whole of London, near the Eurostar departures and arrivals, and great for exploring Islington, Camden, Bloomsbury and around Euston. If your budget is really tight then check out Drummond Street for some great Indian eats, just behind Euston Square Tube. Rooms are generally on the small side here, some travellers complain about strange odours on the stairs, but others say that it was basic, clean and the staff friendly and efficient.
This hotel gets mixed reviews by fellow travellers, but most agree that you get what you pay for and whilst the rooms are small, they're decent enough and better than some reviews lead one to believe. It's a fairly central location, in Pimlico and as long as you're not expecting any kind of luxury then it could free up your money to be spent having fun in the capital. From here you can go for nice walks along the river Thames, down to the South Bank, Parliament Square and in to central London. It's also not too far from walking West into Chelsea, always along the river and seeing the house boat communities and yachts and dreaming about one day owning a plush house of your own in London.
Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel
If you're on a real budget, the kinds of prices advertised at the Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel could be tempting. In August 2012 they said their prices started at 12 pounds a night, about $15 which seems like exceptional value. They also offer free showers, but towels are for hire, so bring your own if you want to keep your budget to a minimum. Breakfast too is available but at a cost, so again, if you're really keeping things basic, then make sure you go to one of the many local supermarkets to stock up on your favourite snacks for breakfast before heading out for the day. They have secure luggage stores, and a 24 hour internet cafe too so you can keep in touch with all your friends back home.
The Wellington prides itself on being one of the best budget hotels in Victoria. Close to many of the central sites, including Buckingham Palace, and one of the biggest transport hubs for London and the rest of the country, by train and bus from Victoria coach station, this is a good place to be if you're on a budget. That way you can walk around town and get fast all night buses back to your hotel without having to keep money back for expensive taxi fares. This hotel is on a green square and sells itself on its Edwardian style and elegance. The staff promise a warm and personalized welcome as soon as you step through the door.
Avoca House Hotel London
One traveller wrote that this hotel is a jewel in London's budget crown. It's a great location, in Hampstead, North London, a very expensive area normally to stay on. You have a grand old house, with grand old rooms, and a clean, comfy place to stay. Hampstead is full of history, beauty and great shops. You can take walks or runs on Hampstead Heath and its well connected with transport links to the rest of London. For cricket lovers, you're not that far from Lord's Cricket Ground, a long stroll from Abbey Road recording studios, and that zebra crossing made famous by the Beatles, and just around the corner from a great independent cinema, and the creme de la creme of London's celebrities in nearby Primrose Hill. For those looking for a quiet but interesting part of London to visit and a cheap but comfy place to stay, this could be it.
Generator Hostel London
The Generator Hostels in London are great for seeing London on the cheap. Situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, this chain of hostels offers free wifi, a free walking tour, and free bed linen. Breakfast if you want it is provided for a small fee, or you can cater yourself and go and pick up your favourite treat from a nearby cafe, supermarket or takeaway sandwich store, all of which provide delicious and nutritious breakfasts all around the centre of London. The hostel advertises itself as great for groups and even caters for hen and stag parties. The party atmosphere pervades throughout the clientele and so it's a good place to go too if you're on your own and want to meet friendly young people looking to have fun around London. The best thing though is the walking tour which will give you a start seeing the sites without paying, and help you orient yourself in what can be an overwhelmingly big mega city.
About Emma Wallis
London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to London town. All that travel means she knows what she looks for as a visitor to a new city: insider knowledge, tips, and the feeling that she's found something that few travellers get to experience. Emma enjoys keeping her fingers on the capital's pulse, in order to make sure that everyone enjoys her favourite city, as much as she does.
Read more about Emma Wallis here.