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Staying near London

What are some suggested cities to stay near enough to London that you can get to and from by public transportation but not being in the busy city center?
Traveling in Sept with 2 adults and 4 children (17-6) will be there 4 nights and its our first time in England. We do have a budget and I was hoping that staying outside the city would make it cheaper.

Posted by
18158 posts

It may be helpful to know how many nights you plan to spend near London, whether it's your first trip, and whether controlling lodging costs is one reason you're taking this approach. I daresay the most attractive and convenient alternative bases may themselves not offer a lot of bargains.

Are you traveling alone? Multi-person groups need to weigh the transportation costs against the potential savings on lodgings.

I suppose time of year might also be useful to know.

Posted by
37 posts

Our budget is probably under $200/night. I planned on doing AirBnb's. We dont really have an idea of what we want to do, Id like to see all the tourist sights that you usually see when in London. I think it makes sense though, to find a place in the city then if it would be cheaper. When looking for places to stay, what are some of the suburb names?

Posted by
196 posts

I'd also advise staying as close to the city center as possible. My husband goes on business trips to a town about 30 minutes outside London by train, and as said above, the trains are packed during commute times (although there are many trains per hour) and expensive (weekday round trip fares run around £20 each way* (so, about $50+ round trip per person ; weekend fares are more reasonable – £20 to London and 10p back!). The Sunday evening 9pm train back to the town was also packed! So after the business stuff is over, we stay right in the heart of London.

*and this is with the off-peak fares for which you have to travel into London after 9:30am and return after 7:15pm -- which cramps your style ....

We've stayed at the Premier Inn right by Westminster Bridge (you can hear Big Ben chiming (it's being renovated now, so it's silent)). We've also stayed at Airbnb flats in Holborn – that is a very quiet, beautiful area of London that is still close to the theatre district and many historical sights like the Tower of London, St Paul's, the British Museum, the Globe Theatre, the Inns of Court, etc.

The best advice we've gotten is to stay near a Tube (Underground subway) station that is the intersection of two Tube lines. The Premier Inn Holborn is near the Holborn station, giving you access to both the Central and Piccadilly lines.

Posted by
4444 posts

You have several issues if travelling from a nearby town into London - firstly, if you travel before a 9.30 departure, you will be paying expensive commuter fares and secondly, trains will be busier. Travelling later means that your time sightseeing will be more limited.

St Albans has been suggested - you stand no chance of getting a seat in peak period, so be prepared to stand all the way in (approximately 25 minutes) and a peak day return is £21.90 per adult - £13.50 pp after 9.30am. St Albans is a nice place to visit. Nearby Watford is less pretty, but has a shorter and cheaper train ride into London and you stand a better chance of getting a seat. Peak trains can mean you are packed in like sardines and it’s not a situation that I would want to put a 6 year old into. Stay closer in and take the bus or tube or stay further out and travel after 9.30.

Posted by
18158 posts

You can do some exploring on booking.com. It lists some apartments, hostels, etc., as well as hotels. It's not going to be easy to house 6 people for about $200 per night, but it may be possible.

I haven't stayed in a hostel since the 1970s, but some now have family rooms, and I think such rooms might have their own private baths. They just won't be decorated as nicely as a hotel room--but believe me, budget-level London hotel rooms are nothing special to look at.

Perhaps a B&B in a not-terribly-central location, with no elevator, might price out OK, especially if some or all the rooms don't have private baths. That's not so common these days, but I believe some such places do exist. You may see a few on booking.com.

Do you have your exact arrival (in London) and departure dates pinned down?

Posted by
18158 posts

I've just poked around on the Premier Inn website. I used random September dates (In 9/4, out 9/8) . Dates matter a lot. In a lot of the hotels Saturday night is much more expensive than average and Sunday night is less expensive. And of course special events going on in the city also have an impact. I priced out 2 rooms, each with 1 adult and 2 children. These seemed to be the least expensive Premier Inns in London, listed in order of their non-refundable rates for those dates if booked today. Refundable rates are a bit higher for the less popular hotels but a lot higher for the more popular (generally better located) hotels. Remember: For different dates, the list could be different, and the rates would definitely be different. I've done the conversion to US dollars for only some of them.

London Aldgate (£402/$522 US non-refundable; £602/$782 US flexible)
London Greenwich (£445/$578 US non-refundable; £490/$636 US flexible)
London Hammersmith (£460 non-refundable; £508 flexible)
London City (Tower Hill) (£465/$604 US non-refundable; £694/$902 US flexible)
London Farringdon (Smithfield) (£495/$643 US non-refundable; £742/$964 US flexible)
London Putney Bridge (£516 non-refundable; £570 flexible)
London Brixton (£517/$672 US non-refundable; £572/$743 US flexible)
London Bank (Tower) (£525 non-refundable; £748 flexible)
London Chiswick (£538 non-refundable; £590 flexible)
London Euston (£569/$740 US non-refundable; £814/$1058 US flexible)
London Clapham (£572/$743 US non-refundable; £634/$824 US flexible)
London Hackney (£575 non-refundable; £638 flexible
London Blackfriars (Fleet Street) (£582 non-refundable, £812 flexible)
London Archway (£606 non-refundable; £672 flexible)
London St. Pancras (£610/$793 US non-refundable; £846/$1100 US flexible)
London Kings Cross (£634/£824 US non-refundable; £870/$1131 US flexible)
London Hampstead (£636/$827 US non-refundable; £696/$906 US flexible)
London Holborn (£641/$833 US non-refundable; £896/$1165 US flexible)

If you have a chance to opt out of a hotel breakfast, you'll virtually always save money by doing so.

Posted by
37 posts

Wow, thank you so much! You actually have my dates pretty close but we are flexible so I’m going to look and see what days of the weeks are cheaper! I figured hotels would be a bit more than a flat because I would have to book two rooms.

Posted by
4514 posts

The Putney Bridge Premier Inn, although relatively well located close to the District Line and other useful bus routes into more Central London is an old property past its best.

Posted by
9213 posts

Be aware that Premier Inns can only handle 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children (under 15)in one room. And that's their family size rooms. Some Premier Inns have connecting rooms but not all. You would need to arrange all of this ahead of time.

Besides AirBnB you could look at serviced apartments which are apartment houses that are run like hotels.

Posted by
5520 posts

I’m a math atheist but I truly believe an AirBnB or VRBO flat might workout cheaper than a hotel. The flat would have a kitchen where you could prepare meals.

Look in neighborhoods such as Camden, Pimlico, Clerkenwell, Whitechapel, Lambeth, Vauxhall. Research via Google maps overhead and street view to Locate the closest tube station, market, coffee shop, Bank ATM.

My rule of thumb for AirBNB properties are numerous positive reviews, immediate response from the owner and making certain they either live there or are VERY close by, and readily answer questions about what is close by ( list from above).
I also ask and expect them to answer questions about the pictures they’ve posted. Things like does the coach fold out to a bed, what’s the heating situation, what are your neighbors like, do you use buses or tube yourself, how long does it take to wash and dry clothes, how’s the WiFi, is it free?

Premiere Inns are fine BUT as noted not all have family rooms and meals are extra in the room cost.

Posted by
1127 posts

As other have said, I wouldn’t recommend staying outside the city and commuting. And, I can’t speak for all the routes but it’s a pretty boring commute and I could see the kids getting antsy. Also, it makes it impossible to stop by and drop off anything you’ve bought or to grab a jacket or something minor like that.

4 nights is, for me, the border between a hotel and a flat/apartment. Don’t forget about baggage drop off and storage depending on when you arrive and depart as well as key pick up and drop off if you’re considering the flat may be a factor.

$200 is a very tight budget for that many people. London is expensive, there’s no two ways about it. As mentioned above, Saturday nights tend to be the most expensive and Sundays very cheap.

Posted by
511 posts

Thinking a bit outside the box: you could stay in Windsor, spend one day seeing Windsor Castle (and maybe cruising the Thames), one day at Legoland (probably of more interest to the 12 and under crowd), and the day it rains train into London after rush hour (or on a weekend) to see the Museum of London (or the Tower of London and cruise the Thames if the weather turns fine).