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Impromptu return- advice needed on budget choices

So, the good news is I may be heading back to London for a short stay (5 days) this October. We’re working on inexpensive flights and accommodation. I’ve done the initial scouring of premier inns and also the Celtic hotel in Bloomsbury. My daughter has an affinity for Bloomsbury, but I have read mixed reviews on the PI at Euston. Waterloo and County Hall have comparable rates for the period we are hoping to go, but with a couple of differences that I would like your opinions on.

We can get only a standard room in Waterloo, which is actually a bit more expensive than the standard at County Hall. I read online that the standard rooms sometimes have a king or double. We’d be sharing the bed, so maybe a choice for the standard would be nice for the larger bed. I didn’t see that written for the premium rooms. The premium room bed, is it a larger sized double? Good for two averaged sized ladies? If so, maybe paying a bit more for a larger room is a good option.

The airfare piece is a work in progress, too. About a two hundred dollar difference in price for basic economy vs. standard economy on British Air. Have any of you flown Basic economy over to London on BA? I know I would prefer a nicer seat choice, but as this is a kind of bonus / surprise trip before our big trip next May, we are trying to cut costs as much as possible. There’s a United flight, same economy type choices, too. If anyone has thoughts on better seats on those two carriers, I would love to hear them!

I am so unused to doing something this spur of the moment, but she is initiating it and is so excited! Any help you can render is always appreciated!

Posted by
1003 posts

The PI at Euston is a little older and more dated than the norm. Have you priced up the PIs at St Pancras and King's Cross, which are newer and just down the road? The PI at Blackfriars also has a very good reputation and an excellent location. Aldgate and Tower Hill are also in good locations and often a but cheaper.

Posted by
348 posts

I just looked at those suggestions John. Thank you for sharing them. The Blackfriars PI is better priced on both type rooms than the others I mentioned. You are right; it gets great reviews as well! I would not mind being in a different part of London for this trip, either. Seriously looking at that choice now!

Posted by
27417 posts

All the PI rooms I've been in (only the County Hall hotel of those mentioned in this thread) have had a rather large bed. They've also had a day bed (not a convertible sofa bed) that could be made up for sleeping, which is what I have them do when I'm sharing a room with a travel mate. I sleep on the day bed, which has always been perfectly comfortable for me. The large beds are nicer; they're unusually comfortable.

Posted by
348 posts

Continuing to compare the Premier Inns. Any information on the new property of theirs at Hammersmith (Talgarth Road)?
It apparently just opened in February of this year. Is that a good area to come into the city from? I know it’s not as convenient as being in closer, but was just curious if the rates might be worth a little time on the tube. Plus seeing a different part of London might be interesting.

Posted by
8638 posts

Get a twin room at Waterloo. One of you will have a double bed and one will have a twin size day bed.

Posted by
348 posts

Thanks for the suggestion Carol. I think a few of the other locations might be a bit less expensive, but we’ll see. It took us a bit of scrolling to figure out the twin room designation vs. the double and see the differences. I’m working on an iPad- I’ll blame my difficulties on that ! We’re texting back and forth on these. Lots of good options! More encouraged now as we originally thought we had only an option with a double bed with a regular sofa type place to sleep separately. We’re just so happy to be going back!

Posted by
348 posts

The airline tickets are purchased! A five day excursion to London is happening in early October! Yay!

We have both been reading and discussing where to stay and would like to hear your thoughts about them if you have time. Being that this is my daughter’s third visit to London and my second, we have different intentions than our previous trip(s). Last summer we were like Energizer bunnies, trying to see as many of the major landmarks and attractions as possible. That was on me, I had my itinerary and tickets booked and we accomplished a lot and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This time, though, we want to just chill a bit. See some of the things we missed- British Museum, British Library, Camden, East End, V &A, Richmond. There’s still probably enough to fill five days, but I am going to rein myself in and if we don’t get to these, so be it lol.
We just want to walk and explore, soak in London’s neighborhoods more this time without as much of an agenda.

So, where to stay. Based on our budget restrictions and from reading (a lot) of former threads, we’re centering on Premier Inns now. We considered a few of the small b and bs in Bloomsbury, but my daughter thought it would be fun to stay somewhere new to her. So, here are the options we have thus far:

PI London City Aldgate - best choice for staying close in, more difficult to get into from LHR
PI Hammersmith Talgarth Road- brand new hotel, close to Heathrow for our early arrival flight (can check in early for 10 pounds- freshen up on arrival- easy return on Piccadilly Line)
PI Richmond- (maybe Chiswick) wanted to possibly go to Richmond on one of the days to enjoy the Park, village. I read the thread from a few years ago (started by Claudia in 2020 I think) about the joys of staying in Richmond or Chiswick and it piqued my interest. Sent it on to my travel mate. There was another one from last year for mardee’s upcoming trip. Has the Ted Lasso effect caused the village to change too much? More tourists, commercialization? I also just don’t know if with our shortened day light in the fall and with the shorter stay, would be acceptable to stay in a suburb. Hoping for guidance on that.

Anyway, if anyone has stayed in these places recently or cares to share their experiences or advice for us this trip, we’d love to hear it! Thanks so much!

Posted by
3821 posts

There are numerous hotels along the Piccadilly line coming in from Heathrow.

We stayed one time in South Kensington at the Radisson Blu and it was right across the road from the Gloucester Road tube station, which has many tube lines running through it. A very handy location for museums, too, such as the V&A which is walking distance away. You might check their prices.
It was easy to get in to our hotel from Heathrow and easy to use the tube lines to reach attractions.
Another stop on the Piccadilly line that is convenient is Earls Court. There's a Premier Inn there. Take a look at these stops here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piccadilly_line#/media/File:Piccadilly_Line.svg

For your trip to Richmond, the District line runs there and ends there. You would walk from the station to the riverfront or into the park. See the District line here; you can catch it at Earl's Court, South Kensington and other locations:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_line#/media/File:District_Line_&_London_map.svg

About staying in Richmond; the hotels there are pretty expensive. There is the Premier Inn you mentioned, but to "chill out" and really enjoy the neighborhood, you'd really want to look at one of the better hotels near the riverfront.
If your emphasis this trip will be on "chilling out" then Richmond might be good for you.
If you want to see some of the things on your list (British Museum, British Library, V&A Museum) then Richmond will not be a convenient location. You can indeed get to those things; they just won't be right on your doorstep.

If Richmond is what you want for a stay, look at AirBnB, Booking, or other rentals for your stay. A small apartment might be affordable there. Yes, more tourists now are coming through to see the pub associated with Ted Lasso. But Richmond is a large area and includes Richmond Park, so tourist crowds won't be everywhere.

A more central London location than this is needed if you want to hit a lot of the London museums and sights.
There is actually a Premier Inn you haven't mentioned yet very near Borough Market. You might look at that one, as it is centrally located and walking distance to many of the sights.

Posted by
348 posts

Thanks Rebecca for your feedback. I think when I say we want to “chill”, we mean to find a balance between not going at such a “have tickets for this place, need to get there” pace, slower, yet still being motivated to see some of the places we haven’t seen yet. After reading your response, though, I’m thinking Richmond may be a bit too far. We stayed in a flat about a ten minute walk from the South Kensington station last summer. Very convenient, but the prices there are too high for this trip. Hammersmith is looking like a good option - a little closer in. I will check out Earl’s Court, too. Thank you for you help!

Posted by
6708 posts

There are also frequent main line trains from Richmond to Waterloo- 20 minute journey time.

Posted by
1179 posts

I wouldn’t be too keen on that Hammersmith location. It’s right next to a very busy road and a train line.

For a budget stay the Ealing Broadway PI is great. On the Elizabeth Line from Heathrow and in the other direction only 4 stops to Bond Street. Ealing is a residential area but it is very busy in the town centre, not some quaint suburb.

I think do Richmond is too far out especially as you want to explore East London. From Ealing Broadway you can get the Elizabeth Line direct to Liverpool Street and walk to Shoreditch, Brick Lane etc.

I really think you should seriously consider whether you’d rather pay the extra £2-300 and be more central for the experience or if budget considerations come first. I love staying in central London if i can justify the expense.

Posted by
348 posts

Helen, that is a concern. Because the hotel is new, there aren’t many reviews, but I read a few of them discussing- complaining- about your observation. The trains running right behind the hotel are problematic for the back rooms’ noise levels. I don’t know where a twin room would be for us.

I would like to hear more about the PI London City Aldgate road. It’s got great reviews, is within our budget, and is in a part of London we haven’t seen much of. Does it have a neighborhood feel? Quiet street? The downside is it’s not on the Piccadilly line, so the commute to/from the airport is harder. We’re only carrying on luggage, so we wouldn’t have a lot to lug around.

With this trip being in the fall, our daylight hours for sightseeing are shorter than what we had in late May/ June, too. That is also a plus for staying in closer to the city with a briefer stay. Lots to chew on! Thanks for all of your thoughts!

Posted by
3821 posts

Tower of London area might be good for you.
Try the CitizenM Hotel, right now showing $157. per night.
https://www.citizenm.com/hotels/europe/london/tower-of-london-hotel?utm_source=google&utm_medium=Yext&y_source=1_NDkyNzM5MzYtNzE1LWxvY2F0aW9uLndlYnNpdGU%3D

I think you will be pleased with the price, location and reviews.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g186338-d10410272-Reviews-CitizenM_Tower_of_London_Hotel-London_England.html

From Heathrow: Take the Piccadilly line to Gloucester Road station or South Kensington station, switch tube lines to the Circle line; this will take you to Tower of London/Tower Hill. Step out of the tube station; you're looking at your hotel.

It's a short walk to Brick Lane and many of the areas you want to explore from there.

Posted by
348 posts

Rebecca, Thanks for all the links about the CitizenM hotel, but it will need to wail till another visit when we aren’t pinching our pennies as much. I plugged in our dates on their website and a fully refundable rate per night is over $250/ night excluding taxes and fees. Their breakfasts are an additional $24 which puts this one out of our league right now. It is a beautiful hotel, though! I could see why the reviews are so fantastic.

Posted by
3821 posts

That is disappointing that the rates are so high for your exact dates at CitizenM! Moving on....
Premier Inn Aldgate is not far from the Tower of London.
Tube directions are the same as I gave for CitizenM, except don't get off at Tower Hill station; continue on to the Aldgate station.

Posted by
3821 posts

Switching neighborhoods.....
Many forum members on a budget have stayed at Number 63 on Bayswater Road and raved about it.
It's a short walk (10 minutes) from Paddington Station, and across the street from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Lancaster Gate tube station is a block away, making it easy to take the tube all around London from there.

https://hotel63.co.uk/

Posted by
1179 posts

Mustlovedogs - the CitizenM might still be too expensive but any price quoted on a British website has to include all taxes by law. The price you see is the full price you pay.

Posted by
3821 posts

Ironically, one of the best choices for you might be the one you mentioned in your initial post.....
the Celtic hotel in Bloomsbury.

For a recent review:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england-reviews/the-celtic-hotel-in-london-comfort-and-convenience-at-145-per-night

Piccadilly line in from Heathrow, get off at Russell Square....couldn't be easier.

"My daughter has an affinity for Bloomsbury"--go with The Celtic. It's in the heart of Bloomsbury and fits your budget.

It's in a nice neighborhood with good restaurants across the street. The British Museum is right around the block. Perfect.

Use the Russell Square tube station to travel to other parts of London.

Posted by
348 posts

I checked Hotel 63. I remembered it being such a popular choice on this forum from our last search. It is popular still; no availability for our dates. Oh well. The Celtic was on the high list early, but she said she also really wants to check out new neighborhoods. She was in the Bloomsbury area for about six weeks for school. We may circle back, though, depending on what we find out here about the other suggestions.

Posted by
348 posts

Premier Inn London Southwark Bankside Hotel just popped into the conversation…anyone have opinions/ prior stay experiences at that one vs. London City Aldgate and can speak to convenience, quietness, area surroundings? Those are both very reasonable and reviews are good. I think we’re down to one of these and County Hall (which is a bit more, but doable).

Posted by
6708 posts

For the Aldgate PI Aldgate East station is significantly closer than Aldgate.

When you switch trains switch (on the same tracks as the Circle Line) to a District line train which will be bound for Upminster or Barking.
The exit at Aldgate East is at the rear of the train.

Switching to the District you can do further out at one of the cross platform interchanges like Barons Court.

The hotel is in one of the side streets behind what used to be Aldgate bus garage and bus station, so is away from the hustle and bustle of Whitechapel High Street, but still close enough to get all the benefits. The bus garage site has been totally redeveloped, as has the general area. But most of the new building looks to have been done quite sympathetically.

Posted by
1179 posts

I nearly always stay at the PI Southwark when going with family. It’s a brand new hotel pretty much opposite the tube (Jubilee line) or you can walk to Waterloo for more lines. The one at Tate Modern is good as well. Loads of restaurants nearby and kids love the Southbank area for the street entertainment etc. The Borough area has a huge selection of restaurants that you can walk to easily as well as there being a good selection very close by.

You can walk to Covent Garden in half an hour across the Thames.

Posted by
16899 posts

There are at least 3 PI’s in the Aldgate area! But the PI London City (Aldgate), which is the one I believe you mentioned above (on Alie Street), would be easy to reach from Heathrow with the Elizabeth Line straight to Whitechapel Station. The hotel is a 15-minute walk from the station, or you could grab a cab if you prefer. During your stay you would use the Aldgate East Tube stop, which is very close.

The Elizabeth Line is a much more pleasant ride from Heathrow than the Piccadilly—-newer, nicer cars with a more open feel, and less crowded (at least the one time we rode it).