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Cheap Hotels and Accommodations in London

January 11th, 2010

london-hotel-accommodations.jpgEngland’s historic capital of London is one of the most visited destinations in Europe, but it is also one of the world’s most expensive cities. Fortunately, many of the great museums, monuments, and gardens still have no admission charge — and you can walk the streets of one of the world’s greatest cities for free. It’s also possible to eat and sleep adequately in London without breaking the bank, if you don’t mind a basic room with no luxuries.

Unless you are lucky enough to know somebody in the city, your first priority will be finding some affordable accommodations. The cheapest hotel room in London will cost around $150 for a single or double room with a wash basin and a shared bathroom. If you want a room with its own bathroom, or something a little more luxurious, expect to pay from around $150 to $250. If you opt to go with the least expensive option, be aware that some of these rooms are relatively small and may not have such basics as air conditioning, telephone, or cable TV.

The best areas for inexpensive hotels are around the main-line rail stations of Victoria, Kings Cross and Paddington; all of these areas are central and have good connections by bus or tube to the rest of London. Russell Square and Marylebone are both fairly quiet areas with plenty of budget hotels; Earl’s Court is a little bit further away from central London and is a lively area popular with backpackers. If you do arrive in London without any accommodation booked, the tourist information centers at the main railway stations and airports can assist you. Cheaper hotels can also be found in some of London’s suburbs; you will be saving money on accommodation, but will be spending more time on travel.

An alternative to overpriced hotels is one of London’s several youth hostels, which despite the name, welcome travelers of any age. Expect basic facilities and mostly shared accommodation, although hostels are also a great place to meet fellow travelers and to exchange information. The big attraction is the price — around $30 to $50 per night. The best located youth hostel is close to Oxford Street and the shops and nightlife of the West End. You can even camp on the outskirts of London at one of several campgrounds, although any money saved will then be spent traveling into London.

An alternative to hotels and youth hostels is a room at one of London’s universities or colleges. While students are on summer break, their rooms are rented out to travelers; you don’t have to be a student to use this service. The accommodation is basic, although most colleges do offer single rooms. The two big advantages of student accommodation are the low price and the central location. This is understandably a popular option, so be sure to book your accommodation as far ahead as you can.

Most of London’s major museums and galleries still offer free admission, despite a recent trend for many big museums to charge visitors. The National Gallery, the British Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum are still free. Although you could easily spend a week in each of these museums and still not see everything, you also should not overlook some of London’s smaller and lesser-known museums and galleries, many of which are not only free, but are less crowded. Most of the larger museums also offer free regular guided tours or lectures by experts.

If you are spending at least a few days in London, consider buying the ‘London Pass’ which includes admission to various attractions and is valid for different lengths of time. The pass also offers a timed admission at some attractions to avoid standing in a long line. Other passes include the British Heritage Pass and National Trust Pass — try to plan on the places you may want to visit before choosing a pass. Students also get discounts (sometimes called ‘concessions’) at many places; if you are a student, always carry your student card with you and ask for any applicable discount.

Some other London institutions are also free — it will cost you nothing to enjoy the daily changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, or to listen to people addressing the crowd at historic Speakers’ Corner, where free speech is allowed and heckling is expected. Covent Garden is known for its indoor craft market, although there is also usually plenty of free entertainment on the square outside St Paul’s Church. It also costs nothing to visit the fascinating and atmospheric Highgate Cemetery, window shop, or people watch in fashionable King’s Road, or enjoy a spectacular view over the city from the expanse of Hampstead Heath.

Eating out in London can be expensive, although there are some cheaper options. If you are in the West End, inexpensive and filling Chinese meals can be enjoyed in and around Gerard Street — the center of London’s vibrant Chinese community. Many of the supermarkets in the center of London sell good quality sandwiches and snacks; and Berwick Street market, right in the center of the theater district is also a great place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for a bargain price. Virtually all of London’s 7,000 public houses, or ‘pubs’ serve inexpensive food at mealtimes.

One of the things any visitor to London should do is to enjoy an evening at the theater; inexpensive tickets can be bought at one of two half-price ticket booths on the day of the show. Unless it’s a sell-out show, you can probably get seats — but be prepared to stand in line. Apart from the major West End theaters, there are dozens of smaller venues offering live or experimental theater; many of these smaller theaters have no admission charge, or you can enjoy the show for the price of a drink.

Finally, for an attraction that is both free and unique, the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London takes place every night. This is the nightly and ceremonial locking up of the Tower by a Beefeater and is a chance to experience one of the traditions that makes London truly unique.

Related Article: Places of Interest in London

This article was supplied to us by “Mancunian” from Constant Content.

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