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London with no hotel reservation?

A friend and I will be flying to London in March on standby so we won't be able to make a hotel reservation in advance. Has anyone had experience traveling like this? How hard is it to find a place to stay after you arrive? I've always booked accommodations months in advance when we've travelled to Europe so this will be a new adventure.

Posted by
7188 posts

Yes no problem if you got a smart phone thing it is the low season just download the ap or something like that and use the airport wifi to book something. You'd be surprised. Also some flights have wifi you can buy and book in the air or at the boarding gate etc. It is easy get anywhere nowadays with google maps etc and a smart phone.

Also they may even still have that book hotel lodging service at Heathrow or Gatwick. I used that about 15 years ago

Posted by
6478 posts

Personally I would find that hard to deal with. I would try my best to find a hotel that I could cancel with little or no fee, just to have something booked.

Posted by
1341 posts

Seat of the pants may work...but I would research hotels while waiting to get on the standby flight. Find 2 or 3 that I’m happy with. Book once onboard or shoot a text to someone with a link to the hotel. Ask them to book for me. The later case would require prior coordination as they would probably need your credit card info.

Posted by
2390 posts

Second what Nancy said. I would look for hotels with liberal cancellation policies and book ahead.

I love your user name!

Posted by
901 posts

I'm with @Rocket - I would heavily research the areas you might consider staying in, and then pick 8-10 hotels (preferably with online booking capabilities) that you would happy with and rank-order them. Upon landing, start trying to book in your preferred order using the airport wifi, or heck, buy wifi on the plane and book on there. Since you are traveling in March you may have a higher probability of making it on a standby quicker then say, if you were traveling in July.

Posted by
7188 posts

of course pre-research your selections to get an idea of the stock level; that is no-brainer.

Posted by
3993 posts

I would think there would be little to no problem finding a hotel at the last minute in March unless there’s some major event taking place. Near the Gloucester tube station (on the Piccadilly line) for example, there are no less than 7 hotels within a 3 minutes walk of the station and a bunch more between that station and Earls Court station. Chains like Radisson have a number of hotels in the city, so if one doesn’t have a vacancy it can check the others for you.

Posted by
11238 posts

Download the following apps:

Hotel Tonight

Premier Inn

If you don't gave a chance to book a room prior to your flight and don't want to pay for wifi on the plane, use these apps. The first will show you hotels available for that night. The second is a large moderate priced hotel chain with numerous properties in London.

Posted by
21049 posts

If you make a flexible reservation with Premier Inn, I believe you can cancel until 1 PM on the day of arrival. However, I don't know how one does that. You'd want to be able to do it online. The corporate website has been a problem for me in several different ways. So far I've only stayed at the Heathrow T4 Premier Inn, and it was perfectly fine. It's just the website that's lacking.

Posted by
3336 posts has a very generous cancellation policy. So if you do book ahead you can cancel / change it up to 24 hours before arrival with no penalty.
In March, though, you will have no problem getting a hotel last minute. I frequently do this using and have always found a place to stay even in busy European cities in high season. There are so many hotel rooms in London that you will find something nice that I'm sure you'll be happy with.

Posted by
5540 posts

You should be ok in March. Use or The latter is a British company that I have used many times, usually around the Lancaster Gate area. This usually works out far cheaper than booking a Premier Inn close to the travel date. PIs are good value if you book months ahead, less so at short notice.

Posted by
592 posts

Have a look at the Late Rooms website. It defaults to today's date, but you can change it to any dates you want, and shows the price available now. You can search using a list or a map. I have just done a trial search for Bath for tonight and found a good range of options at various distances from the city centre.

Late Rooms is at

Posted by
970 posts

Obviously, London is packed with hotels and there are a couple dozen or more at Heathrow, if that's where you'll arrive. Will there be one vacancy for one night someplace? Sure.

But, it might take you some time to find it, and you might not like it, etc., etc.

If you'll be booking an extended stay, the odds against you go up.

I'd go to the airport with at least a few acceptable alternatives stacked up in your phone. Once you are confirmed for the flight, you will have time to make a booking after boarding. Don't forget you can always call the hotel, too.

Posted by
2910 posts

And if your smart phone fails, there is a hotel information desk available to book hotels in terminal 5 of Heathrow, down on the right, about halfway to the exit after exiting security in Terminal 5. There's usually also a tout (sp) there trying to locate those without reservations. I would assume the other terminals have them as well, but I don't know from experience. Personally, I think it is fun traveling without total reservations, but my travel mate (when not solo) doesn't feel the same way. LOL

Posted by
21 posts

Oh how I miss the days when you could arrive in the UK, head to the nearest TI (tourist information) and book a room for the night. Having said that, you can still find rooms especially during the week. Head to Russell Square/Bloomsbury. There are plenty of good hotels and B&Bs in the area and the location (near the British Museum) can’t be beat! I will be trying this angle in May!

Posted by
5669 posts

I'm going to second using LateRooms. I 've found them quite handy for last minute trips or trips when I've procrastinated booking accommodation. :)


Posted by
3304 posts

When I find myself flying last minute on standby in which getting a seat is a toss-up, I look at the Hotel Tonight app first. Whether it's the Hotel Tonight app or another app, make sure you've not only downloaded the app in advance, also have your information pre-populated so you don't waste time when you're ready to buy. While you're waiting in the boarding area, find the hotel you and your friend want and keep that page open. Once you've got the boarding passes ((UNLESS YOU ARE FLYING AS A NON-REV), go to the app and get the hotel.

If you're a non-rev, you aren't sure you keep that seat until the door of the aircraft is shut. If you have the time before they tell you to turn off your phones (not likely), get the hotel on the app. If not, you'll have to wait until you've landed.