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So confused and frustrated on best area to stay in London

Hello. I'm so confused and frustrated trying to decide what is the best area to stay for us in London that I'm almost considering cancelling our trip to London and going elsewhere. We're flying into Heathrow and out of Gatwick. Looking for an area that will be convenient for both hotels, easy to get by using the train and or underground. Hoping to find a decent hotel, with breakfast that is close to a train/underground station so we can conveniently get around. The choices are endless to the point I don't know which to choose. I had a reservation at the K&K George but the cost ended up being more than we wanted to pay. I know that we could get to the K&K George from Heathrow no problem but getting to Gatwick seemed difficult. Any ideas please?? Thank you

Posted by
6569 posts

You just need to get familiar with the underground system. Coming in from Heathrow or getting to Gatwick's no big deal.
I usually go to Booking.com to find rooms, and often will double check the hotels on TripAdvisor to see what has been said about the properties.
We always stay in the Bayswater/Kensington station area. There are a couple of underground lines in the area that can easily get you anywhere you need to go. There are a number of good restaurants and a bunch of pubs in the area, and it's very popular with the "young and beautiful" people. Kensington Palace is right there too.

Posted by
21206 posts

First of all, London is huge. There is no one place that is best. We always stay in the Victoria station area. Lots of reasonably price hotels - < 200 pounds/night some with breakfast, some not. Super convenient to the tubes at Victoria station with nice restaurants. But there are dozens of similar areas. Just pick one.

Posted by
146 posts

Thanks. I'm spending a lot of money on this trip, it's a wedding anniversary and Christmas gift all in one. We don't want a dump of course, the options in both locations are endless. Any recommendations for hotels or B&B's in those areas?

Posted by
266 posts

When are you going and for how long? You may want to get an apartment - popular locations are Covent Garden and Kensington.
We've used https://londonconnection.com and they were great! Or look at small hotels near Kensington Station. We stayed at Ascot House years ago and it was a great location and friendly hotel.

Posted by
146 posts

We will be there first week of Dec. for three and a half days. Much rather stay at a hotel or B&B so we don't need to worry about providing our own breakfast.

Posted by
2157 posts

I chose a hotel in Kensington on Gloucester Rd--got right on the tube at Heathrow and it let me off right across the street. It was Millennium Bailey's and quite a lovely hotel, enormous room, old Georgian townhouse.

Posted by
146 posts

Stayed at the Millennium last year, very nice but much pricier than I want to pay for 4 nights. I don't think it's convenient for Gatwick either.

Posted by
1540 posts

I almost always stay at the Jesmond Dene on Argyle St. Just 2 blocks from Kings Cross train and tube stations. It is a family owned B&B and the English Breakfasts are wonderful and large.
I always use public transportation and buy an Oyster Card.
You can look at reviews of this hotel on Tripadvisor.
(keep in mind that Hotels and B&B are expensive in London - just like most big cities.)
I land at Heathrow and I take the train into the city and hop on an appropriate tube train to get to my hotel.

Posted by
146 posts

I've been looking at the Jesmond Dene but the reviews seem iffy. How often have you stayed there?

Posted by
1010 posts

My husband and I just returned on September 1, from London. This time we stayed at the Conrad St. James (Hilton). It was directly across the street from the St. James Tube station. We could walk to Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminister Pier, Horse Guards Parade, etc. We were there from August 1-8. Then we returned to the same hotel on August 15-September 1. It was a lovely hotel. Breakfast was included in our hotel price, at the Blue Boar Restaurant. The Blue Boar Restaurant was lovely. We ate breakfast there everyday. We used Hilton Hotel Points for most of the reservation. We became friends with so many of the restaurant staff. The hotel is right next to New Scotland Yard. Although the hotel was expensive, we totally enjoyed our visits. We have also stayed three times at the Crowne Plaza, Cromwell, South Kensington (part of the IHG Hotel Group - Holiday Inn, InterContinental, etc.) That hotel was also in a great area. Both hotels receive high marks on Trip Advisor.

Posted by
1540 posts

Candi - I've stayed at the Jesmond Dene 7 or 8 times....as a single, with friends, so....
I've experienced single rooms, doubles, triples and one time 4 of us stayed in a quad - very large room on the top floor.

There are several hotels recommended on this forum, many of them you can click on a map and see where they are located and where the tube stations are.
I agree that London is HUGE and it is overwhelming !!

When I looks for hotels I also read all the reviews on Tripadvisor :)

Posted by
3580 posts

The Victoria area would be most convenient for a train ride to Gatwick. Taxis in London are everywhere. Take one if you are baffled about how to get somewhere. I almost always take a taxi if I am moving my luggage. And they will usually take you right to the door.

Posted by
911 posts

I based where we are staying next spring (London House Hotel) Bayswater on that it was on the tube line for easiest access to our sightseeing plans and easy to get out to Heathrow where we are leaving from. It also had twin rooms, a reasonable price, and even though you have to pay extra for breakfast was still less expensive than places we were looking at over in Victoria. That being said I've heard good things about Luna Simone and the Lime Tree.

Posted by
146 posts

I like the look of the London house but was unfortunately full on our dates.

Posted by
146 posts

The problem I'm finding is when I do select a hotel, I'll contact the hotel only to be told it's not convenient to Gatwick, or there is construction happening on the line; closed for repairs, etc. Last year when we stayed in London for only one night, we stayed in the Earls court area. While convenient for Heathrow, it wasn't convenient for much of anything else. Found out the tube (?) stopped running at midnight, had to catch a cab back to the hotel as we missed the last one. Hoping to be in an area where if we're out later than midnight, we can walk back to our hotel from the major sightseeing areas which I would assume to be in the Victoria area. But I posted this same question on the Tripadvisor website only to be told that the Victoria area isn't convenient for Gatwick and that there was construction happening on the underground there making it difficult to get around. I'm about ready to call it a day and just go to Edinburgh for our stay instead of London.

Posted by
16 posts

I went for a week last December and split my time between these two hotels. I found everything to be with in walking distance and took a car to get from one hotel to the other.
As far as getting to the airport, I took a taxis. Other wise we used the bus system or tube to get around. I found the walking around to be easy and no problem with navigation with my map. BTW I did book thru costco because it was cheaper then booking on my own and got some freebies in the deal but I would also look at booking on your own. I can't express what a wonderful time we had. If you want any info, let me know. Favorite part? All the museums of course.

Rubens at the Palace
39 Buckingham Palace Rd.
and
Montague on the Gardens
15 Montague St.

Posted by
921 posts

Premier Inn County Hall? On south bank of the Thames, short walk from Westminster tube stop - and many, many sights. While I have taken early buses to reach the Gatwick Express to the airport, I think now I would save myself the agita and take a taxi to get to the train.

I like the hotel; have stayed maybe three/four times. The location is really handy for a variety of sights. If you are jet lagged, you can eat in that night or there are numerous restaurants within a stroll. Waterloo station is within easy distance, and last time I was there, there was a small supermarket to buy munchies, wine, etc.

From this location, you can tour many places on foot: down the south bank, past the Globe, on to Borough Market, cross river to the Tower, on to St. Paul's, etc. Or start by crossing the bridge to Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, etc. Check it out on a map. I hope you do take your trip and enjoy yourselves.

Oh yes, at that time of year, many trees will be full of colored lights. Attractive and fun. Debbie

Posted by
1853 posts

On your other thread

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england/best-area-to-stay-in-december-for-four-days-flying-into-heathrow-out-of-gatwick

I explained how to travel from LHR to the K&K George, and from the hotel to Gatwick. Despite you concerns it is quite straightforward. However, you've cancelled this as it's more than you want to pay.

So what's your budget?

Transport within London is very comprehensive. You can get to almost anywhere, including Gatwick. You say your flight from Gatwick leaves at 09:35 - you might consider staying at Gatwick the night before to avoid the stress of travelling very early from central London.

Posted by
8249 posts

Well, I will just throw one more thing in to the mix. I have stayed at The Lime Tree on Ebury street near Victoria for 3 years in a row. This year, on the advice of some posters here, I took the National Express coach from LHR in to the Victoria Coach Station. I knew from staying at The Lime Tree before that the coach station was nearby, but wow, it was so much easier than the tube. It is about 1/2 a block from the hotel, the coach driver loads your suitcase into the hold area and off you go.

This is about 2 blocks from Victoria Station where, as others mentioned, you can catch the train to Gatwick. (well, probably 3 long blocks might be a better estimation since you walk almost a full block from the back entrance to Victoria to the access to the trains).

I don't know what your budget is or if they have availability for your time frame. They have a nice cooked breakfast. One of the things I like about this hotel is that after you have been there a day or so they recognize you and have your key out before you can ask. It's important for me as a solo traveler to feel as if I am in a secure place. It does NOT have an elevator and if you are on the top floor the last flight of steps is narrow.

Posted by
921 posts

I have done just as Pam describes, too. The hotel is super close to both the coach and train stations. This would be a good option.

Posted by
8249 posts

PS I will also add I was flying in to Terminal 3 at LHR so it was very convenient to get to the coach station. I'm not sure how convenient it would be if you were landing at another Terminal.

Posted by
146 posts

Unfortunately the Lime tree is full for the dates we' will be there. Our budget is no more than $150 a night with breakfast. Moving from one hotel to another near Gatwick the night before isn't feasible for us as that just adds more stress to our trip and takes time out of our day by needing to move our luggage. Premier inn is pricier than we want to pay. Convenient for us would be direct transportation without needing to change several times with our luggage. We don't mind walking a block or two from a station to get to our hotel. I realize that we will most likely need to hire a driver to get us to Gatwick in the morning. Just trying to make this as affordable as possible without breaking the bank as London is the stop on our trip.

Posted by
146 posts

Lime tree just got back with me. They do have availability but at either £195 or £180 a night. Way to expensive!

Posted by
921 posts

Premier Inn looks like it is coming in close to your price. Don't know your dates, of course. And the room does not include breakfast. If the hotel breakfast turns out too pricey, there are plenty of Starbucks or similar around. Good Luck.

Posted by
18911 posts

Unfortunately, $150/night doesn't get you much in London unless you'll settle for a room without private bath. It has always been one of the toughest cities for finding reasonably attractive budget options.

Gatwick is about 30 miles from central London. Rome2Rio.com estimates taxi fare at a minimum of ‎£100. Of course, that would vary with traffic, exactly where you are in London, etc. Since you're watching your budget so carefully, I suggest you plan to take a taxi just to the London terminal of whatever form of public transportation to Gatwick you prefer--such as to Victoria Station to get the train. That will be far more affordable than taking a taxi all the way to the airport.

Posted by
25771 posts

If Premier Inn is too expensive, the next step down might be a Travelodge and the a Tune.

Posted by
2779 posts

Limiting yourself to $150 a day for the hotel and then planning on taking a car service to Gatwick is backwards thinking. You will spend a bundle on that car, and it will not be fast at that time of the morning. Especially if you have to cross London.

The train is fast and reliable. As stated many times above, you can catch the train to Gatwick at either Victoria station or Kings Cross. You just need a hotel with good access to one of those---and that access can be by Tube ( although the Tube is crowded with commuters on weekday mornings).

You seem firm on the $150, but can you stretch it to $160? The Number 63 on Bayswater road has twin rooms with breakfast for €130 in early December. This hotel is run by the Soroptimists but you do not need to be a member, and men are welcome too. (But no double beds!)

http://www.number63.co.uk

Posted by
146 posts

Hello. Sasha. I made a booking at the Number 63 on Bayswater road. I like that it's a little different, sits overlooking Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and that the breakfast is included and seems well received. I'm a little confused as how to get there from Heathrow and how to get to Gatwick from there though. On the web page it states "Details of travel from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted can be obtained by clicking here." But when I click on it, nothing happens. Any ideas? Thanks.

Posted by
18911 posts

One option for your arrival: You can take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station, where you'll be about 1/2 mile from your hotel. Here's a Google map showing a suggested walking route. I am not familiar with Paddington Station, but I'd look for signs directing people toward the Hilton and/or the Paddington tube station; you want to start walking in that direction. If you are burdened by too much luggage, there will be a taxi rank outside the station, and probably signs inside the station pointing you in the right direction.

One option for your departure: The Gatwick Express train will take you from Victoria Station to the airport. Victoria Station is too far to walk from your hotel, so you can either take a taxi or take the tube: Central Line from Lancaster Gate (very near your hotel) to Oxford Circus, then the Victoria Line from Oxford Circus to Victoria.

Those express trains are probably not the cheapest options, but they are simple and rapid solutions.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I don't know what time your outbound flight is. Transportation might not run as frequently (or at all in the case of the tube, as you know) if you must be at the airport really early.

Posted by
146 posts

Oh no......that sounds confusing and a length trip from the Hotel to Gatwick. I was hoping for something much simpler. Now I'm not sure if Number 63 is going to be the right fit for us. I've checked on private transportation, almost 100 pounds from the hotel to Gatwick. If I'm reading this right, leaving the hotel we'd need to either take a taxi or the tube from the hotel to Victoria Station and then we take the Gatwick express train from Victoria station? I've checked on the Gatwick express, about 35 pounds for the both of us. Didn't realize it would be that expensive. Now I'm wondering if the hotel is the right one for us.......and I'm becoming much more frustrated as time goes by. I appreciate all the help from everyone here. We're going to be in Europe for a month and I need to keep to a budge but London is slowly becoming more and more expensive to us. My main concern isn't arriving in London as we'll have time to make mistakes getting to our hotel on the tube. My concern is getting to Gatwick on a budget and making our flight.

Posted by
2731 posts

Whenever we stay in a London hotel we stay here: http://www.cherrycourthotel.co.uk Small ensuite rooms, but clean and safe with extremely pleasant hoteliers, doubles are £75. It is on a side street near Victoria train, tube and bus stations. From Heathrow take the tube to Barons Court, cross the platform and catch the tube to Victoria Station. When leaving, you can just catch the Gatwick Express. Many good restaurants in Pimlico which is just a few blocks away. We thought nothing of walking to Buck House or to Parliament from there. But there are always buses or the tube. It sounds to me like your present hotel is just out of the way for your transport worries.

Posted by
25771 posts

You can also go by bus - the number 148. A few minutes walk at each end, and the bus is about as fast as the tube. Just about half a hour.

If you need cheap prices there has to be a sacrifice somewhere, often in location or convenience. I'm afraid that London is a major city and not a cheap one unless you make compromises.

You can save some money by using Southern railway - same route, one or two additional station calls on the way, about 5 minutes slower than the Gatwick Express from Victoria to Gatwick.

I haven't seen your reply about what time your Gatwick flight is.

It seems unlikely that a taxi could outrun a train. Taxi around 20 to 30 mph in London, and no more than 40 all the way to Croydon, the train 100 to 125 all the way.

Posted by
921 posts

Number 63 is charming. However, I understand your anxiety about getting to Gatwick early. How about staying the 2 nights in No 63 and going out to Gatwick the evening before your flight? The Yotel is coming in at 85 pounds for 2 for a random December date I picked to check it out. Doing that should lessen your anxiety, cut the price, and give you the option of which train to take the evening before. I have not stayed at Yotel. I have stayed at No 63 - very basic, but the atmosphere is really friendly and warm. The Swan is steps away with nice pub food.

I did something similar this past summer. I stayed at No 63 and took the tube to Heathrow and an airport hotel the evening before an early flight. It really lessened the worries of travelling the next morning. It was worth it. Good Luck.

Posted by
146 posts

My flight out of Gatwick is 9:05 am. Moving from hotel to hotel when we have such limited time wouldn't work. We stay out in the city until midnight at least. That would mean either leaving our luggage at the hotel where we've checked out (No. 63 allows this but the luggage isn't in a secure area), going back to the hotel late after we're done for the day, getting our luggage, then traveling to Gatwick. Or checking out, taking our luggage to a new hotel near Gatwick and then making our way back to London. Just not the best use of our time. Like many other have said, I need to either up our budget, which then cuts out on our ability to do other things or not go to London. So I'm back to square one now. It's not as if I'm an inexperienced traveler, we go to Europe several times a year, but we've always avoided spending time in London because of the expense.

Posted by
4546 posts

What are the specific dates that you will be in London?

150 USD is now 120 GBP. There are hotels in this price range. I think you are overthinking this. There is no perfect solution. I'd suggest that you do one of the following:

a) Pick a hotel near Victoria Station. If you are out late and the tube has stopped running then either take a night bus or a cab back to your hotel.

b) Pick a hotel near where you plan to go out at night. If the tube isn't running early enough for you to get to Victoria, call a cab to get you from your hotel to Victoria in the morning.

Posted by
2731 posts

London has excellent transportation. You say you are from NYC so I'm not sure what your issue is, because the cities are similar. In fact, IMO, London has more reasonable hotel options. I'll repeat, if you are worried about your budget move down to the Victoria area. My choice as indicated is The Cherry Court Hotel, which is certainly not a budget buster as it is 50 GBP less than Number63. The rooms appear to be the same size, but granted, Mrs Patel uses brighter colors. They provide a breakfast basket. There are no real public rooms tho so if you like to sit in your hotel, this wouldn't be the place. I prefer to sit in a pub... Their mattresses have always been wonderful. I've stayed here many times since 2000 with family and alone. There are other such hotels in the area as well, but I have not stayed in them. I have no reason to push this hotel other than you are so confused and worried. This hotel would solve your expense and transportation issues, IMO. It is safe, clean and on a quiet street in a convenient neighborhood.

Posted by
146 posts

If I was familiar with the underground system as I am with NYC, then I wouldn't be as concerned as I am. Mobility can be an issue with my husband. I'm hoping to find a place that is within a short walking distance to a major tube hub that would get us from Heathrow and to Gatwick without having to take a taxi or have several changes, also one that we can utilize during our stay in London to get back to the room quickly if we tire. I will look at the Victoria area again to try to find something that will suit us better and will up the budget a little but of course that means a tour or something will need to be left out.

Posted by
2779 posts

The tube will not get you to Gatwick. You need the train or a car service, and of those the train is the more reasonable option. So you can start over and try to find a place within walking distance or a short Tube ride from Victoria station, or you could make it easy on yourselves and just take a cab from Hotel 63 to Victoria station. It is an easy transfer across Hyde Park and should be around £10-12. And much easier for one with mobility issues than either Tube or walking. During your stay, the Tube from nearby Lancaster Gate station will take you into the heart of London for whatever you wish to do.

If you decide London is too expensive and wish to go somewhere else like Edinburgh, how will that help? Don't you already have plane tickets into Heathrow and then out of Gatwick a few days later?

Posted by
4546 posts

What specific dates will you be in London?
In what areas will you be going out in the evenings after midnight?
When you say your husband has mobility problems, can he manage steps?

Posted by
285 posts

As someone who has lived in New York and visited London and used the subway in both cities, I find the London Tube FAR easier to understand and navigate than the NYC subway.

Posted by
6524 posts

You sound like you are not willing to listen to anyone, even locals, who have provided you with an astounding wealth of assistance. There doesn't exist a place that's walking distance (i.e. no cab) to BOTH the arrival point for trains from Heathrow and the departure point for trains to Gatwick. You have to make a choice. It's that simple.

Hello

I've been following this thread for a while & have actually joined the forum just to answer this.

There doesn't exist a place that's walking distance (i.e. no cab) to
BOTH the arrival point for trains from Heathrow and the departure
point for trains to Gatwick.

There is one area, and it's been mentioned a couple of times upthread. It's not a bad area to stay. St Pancras/Kings Cross & surrounds.

If you get the tube in from Heathrow, you can take the Piccadilly line - with no changes & step-free - all the way to Kings Cross/St Pancras.

To return to Garwick, forget the Gatwick Express & Victoria station. You can catch a Thameslink train direct from St Pancras to Gatwick (the trains then go on to Brighton).

Plus: St Pancras puts you near Bloomsbury, a really nice part of London. And there are lots of nice little hotels that aren't too expensive- look at the clutch of hotels in Cartwright Gardens. Someone mentioned Jesmond Dene and I'm not sure why you rejected that. Look at Harlingford, Arosfa, or for something a bit more modern see if Megaro or the Pullman on Euston Road are in your budget.

Posted by
16 posts

You will find the right place, its difficult when you are dealing with health and mobility issues planning a trip. Its not for us to know all the details, so will just give advice as to how I did it.
I wouldn't hesitate to email a hotel and inquire about surrounding area transportation or sights. I did this in London and Rome, knowing I had a daughter with back issues that could not walk long distances. Chin up, London is waiting on you:) PS I loved the Golden tours hop on and off buses for sight seeing.
You can go to all(hop on and off and public) the bus systems web site and print out schedules, it really helped with planning for me, some busses drop off close to attractions and some a block away.
The transportation to the airport was included in my package from costco.
What ever happens, safe travels!

Posted by
12218 posts

Jane's suggestion of the Kings' Cross area and Thameslink to Gatwick is spot on. I see double rooms at the Jesmond Dene are £119 a night on the hotel website.

Candi expressed concern about negative reviews for this hotel so I took a look, and did not see anything that would arouse concern. In particular, the one comparing it to a "caravan or hostel" made me chuckle. They ( probably 3 guys) booked the cheapest room possible, a compact triple, and found the basement room with its compact bathroom too small and too hot. ( No AC will not be a problem for Candi in December). They also complained about the breakfast because there was only one rather of bacon and "one poor sausage". Ah, but they did offer extra toast!

I find it very easy to disregard complaints like that one when reading reviews. As for the one about too many stairs, simply book on the hotel website and request a room on the ground floor or first floor with easy access.

The vast majority of reviews praise the place, particularly the cleanliness and the convenience of the location.

Posted by
146 posts

Thank you to everyone who has been patient with me and has helped me along the way. We've decided to stay at the Jesmond Dene hotel. Made our reservation today. How far in advance should I purchase our ticket on the Thameslink? There is a train with no changes that left I believe at 5:52 am, arriving at 6:48 am. Our flight leaves at 9:35 a.m. There is another train that leaves at 6:34 am, arriving at 7:31. Would the first train be the better option for us? Thank you.

Posted by
18911 posts

Where are you flying--back to the US or Canada? The usual guidance is to arrive at the airport 3 hours before an international flight, but it would be good to be sure that there isn't different guidance on your airline's webpage.

Posted by
21206 posts

Again, complete information is always helpful - What airline? Two hours should be fine but I would take the earlier train simply because I would rather be an hour early than five minutes late because of some unforeseen event or delay.

Posted by
25771 posts

With EasyJet, be sure that your check in is complete before you get to the airport - I find using the EasyJet app is the easiest, and you can put your boarding passes in your Wallet if you have an iPhone. If you print it out instead, keep the QR codes close because you will need then 3 or 4 times before you are on. Don't expect a jetway. Don't be surprised if your gate is at one Terminal and you are bused to a stand at the other. Don't be late, and if you will have checked luggage it is far better to buy that in advance because it is cheapest if you buy it before check in, more expensive if you buy it at the airport, and much more expensive if your carryon doesn't fit the sizers and you have it taken off you before or as you go through the door onto the aircraft.

They are strict.

Also, expect the flight to be very professional, probably on time, and very little trouble of any sort.

Posted by
257 posts

Here's a link to answer your most recent question:

https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/contact-us/frequently-asked-questions/buying-tickets-online

Looks like your hotel is near the British Library. Treasure room is a Must. Low stress and high-value for your sightseeing time and effort. :)

Good to be following your own inner guidance, find what's the most fun for YOU, travel is a very individual experience.
And keep up the fun, keep down the stress, and smooch your husband on the Thames! :)
-Aly

Posted by
977 posts

Hi Candi. A couple of thoughts and a bit of advice. We stayed at the Desmond Jene for one night in 2008. One night too many. I know rooms in the UK and Europe are much smaller than what we are used to, but the room we were given was ridiculous. I had to climb across the bed to get to my side. No room for case. Knees against door in toilet. Say no more.
I know we all travel differently. My travel philosphy is that it's going to cost a darn side more than you think, so just go for it. If you can't afford to pay the little bit extra, save up and travel later. For me, life is too short to penny pinch. Good luck trying to find a hotel in London for $150 dollars with breakfast that is not a dump. We too are flying. out of Gatwick at 2.30pm. We will catch a cab from our hotel in Kensington to Victoria Station, pay our 28 quid each and just do it. It's not that hard really