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Solo traveler to London - first timer asking for any advice

Good morning.

I am planning a 12 day trip to London next year early in the summer. I am a solo traveler and have been to Paris and Rome the past two years. Now I really want to see London.

I have read many posts here on this site, have already done some internet research but with all the info out there I really don't know where to begin. It seems overwhelming so I'll try to state what I would like to know:

I enjoy B&B's when I travel here in the states and I have noticed that a "decent" hotel in London seems to be a bit out of my budget. Since I do travel alone is a B&B in London be possible? Would it be better to find a B&B outside of London and commute?

I prefer lodging with a reputation for clean rooms with my own bathroom and nearby access to public transportation. I like being in a more quiet area but that is not a deal breaker. I am 51 years old if that helps any.

I have no problem traveling alone and in fact enjoy that part immensely. I just feel like I lack the knowledge of finding a decent place to stay that fits my needs.

Any advice, directions, tips etc on where to lodge or further research lodging in or around London would be appreciated. Getting there and planning an itinerary is no problem for me. I just lack the skills in finding a good bargain with my lodging accommodations.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
2654 posts

Here are a few websites for B&B's in London.

1)LondonTown.com~~just click on London Bed and Breakfast guide

2)www.information-britain.co.uk/findings.cfm?co=16&ty=2

3) londonBandB.com

4) London30.com

I hope these help you. Earls Court, South Kensington, and Sloan Square are fantastic areas and close to public transportation.

Posted by
1358 posts

When I travel, I seldom reserve a room in advance, because I like to inspect it to be sure it meets my needs. That also gives me a chance to negotiate with the owner if I like it.

I have stayed in many B&Bs and recommend them. I also like to stay in hostels. You might consider them; many now have private rooms, if you dont like dorms.

you can find them by google search for "hostels London".

Posted by
588 posts

Try the local universities. I have read that people can get a dorm room (bath down the hall) and great breakfast for a great price.

Posted by
8700 posts

If you're willing to consider staying in a hostel, the St Paul's YHA hostel would be a good choice. It has a few single rooms. YHA hostels are clean, non-party hostels.

A great B&B choice would be the Arran House Hotel in Bloomsbury.

Posted by
31435 posts

Mark,

I'm also a 50+ solo traveller, and was in London last fall. I used one of the Hotels in Rick's book, Cartref House, and it was very similar to a B&B. That type of lodging would fit your criteria - clean room with bathroom, nearby public transit, a quiet area and breakfast was included. The owners, Derek & Sharon were fantastic hosts!

There are several lodgings listed on Ebury Street and any would be good. I found it to be a wonderful area, and very close to both London Victoria station (which is great if you're flying into Gatwick - good access to both the airport and the Tube) and Victoria Coach station.

If you do decide to stay in that area, the Ebury Wine Bar is a great place to visit, there are some nice Deli's for lunches and if you want a really nice Italian dinner, Santini's is located a few blocks from the Hotel (used to be Sinatra's favourite stop in London).

I also prefer travelling "solo" these days, and like the freedom to set my own schedule (especially as I like to wander around and take lots of photos and visit with the locals and other travellers).

I'm assuming you've checked the lodgings that are listed in Rick's "London" Guidebook?

Cheers!

Posted by
8293 posts

The Ridgemount Hotel on Gower St., walking distance to the Br.Museum, is one I would recommend. I think Arran House, mentioned above, is on Gower St. also. Nice people run it, hearty breakfast included in room rate. Worth checking into.

Posted by
6 posts

Mark, I'd suggest not "winging it" as one person suggested, at least not if you're coming in the summer. May through September are the highest tourist season for hotels here, and especially in the Victoria Station area. As I work in a hotel here, I'm not sure about the "negotiating" to get a better rate when you're a walk-in ;-) High season isn't the best season to be attempting that. I've also watched people walk up and down the streets here for up to two hours looking for a room during the summer season.

There are many booking sites online, and I'd be happy to help in any way I can. I kind of get the feeling that it's a bit taboo to mention anything other than what's suggested by Steves, so I don't want to step on any toes here. I think some of the hotels/B&Bs have gotten a bit overlooked, as hotels do change over time (some for the better, some for the worse).

Anyway, as a fellow 50s solo traveller (and having lived in Chicago many years to boot, and Rome too!), feel free to send a message and I can help you with your hotel research and ideas. B&Bs are different here than in the States, though. You do need to be a little cautious when looking for budget accommodation -- that little hotel with the wonderful price of "only £25 (or 30, whatever) for a single room!" may have you wishing you'd spent £20 more :-) You can find it in the Victoria area, which is quiet, safe and has not only the tube, train and bus stations, but also the coach station.

Oh, I would not suggest staying outside of London and commuting. Transportation is far too expensive to do that, and you'll waste too much time.

Posted by
360 posts

I agree with Maria re staying outside of London. My husband & a friend were in London for a few days last summer. They stayed at the Hilton at Gatwick airport & took the train in to London every day. They got a really good deal on the hotel room, but spent all their hotel savings on train fares along with having to travel on very crowded trains. Wasn't fun. This year they're staying in London. My last time in London was 20 yrs ago. I stayed at the Vicarage hotel a few times. It's a small hotel close to Kensington gardens which was really nice for downtime. It's in Rick's book. Maybe someone could tell us if it's still a nice place to stay.

Posted by
977 posts

Mark what is your daily accommodation allowance?

Posted by
109 posts

We stayed at Aster House in Kensington. I don't know if the price is in your area of interest but it was very clean, with a private bathroom on a quiet residential street and only about 2 1/2 blocks to the Tube station. Breakfast was included. I recommend it highly.

Posted by
160 posts

Mark:

I usually travel solo, and London was a last-minute detour during my first Euro trip in 2003 (I was 36). I was originally going to head to Barcelona from Paris, but a looming train strike made me change plans and take the Eurostar to London instead. A few days prior after a similar strike, I had to spend the night in the Amsterdam train station playing obscenely-named card games with a bunch of stranded teenagers and early-twentysomethings. It was an interesting experience, but not one I wanted to repeat.

I made a hotel reservation at the Eurostar stand for the Ibis hotel in East Barking. It's a ways away from central London, but it was easy to get to by train (especially with the advice of a young couple I met while on the Eurostar). Once I got there, however, I couldn't find the hotel, and everyone I asked gave me conflicting directions. Finally, I took a cab, and he got me there in minutes, thus showing me that the hotel was in easy walking distance of the train station.

East Barking itself wasn't much to see, but I kind of liked having a quiet base of operations outside of the hustle and bustle of the main city. I like the Ibis hotels, and my time there was restful (their breakfast buffets are good too). I spent two full days there, and each morning after breakfast I hopped the train into London, enjoyed sunny weather (I guess that's somewhat rare), and had fun walking around the city and seeing the usual stuff (changing of the guard, Churchill's bunker, and so on).

In Paris I had booked an Easyjet flight from London Gatwick to Madrid. When departure day came, I hopped the train into London proper, took the express train to the airport, caught my flight, and made it to Spain none the worse for wear.

Of course, I don't know if one would consider the Ibis a bargain, especially at today's exchange rates. And perhaps a B&B would be a better immersion into the "English" culture. But I did what I did, and it worked out OK. Have fun!

Posted by
1 posts

Mark: You might consider university accommodations. Try www.venuemasters.co.uk for listings for universities all over England. I've found university housing to be basic but clean, safe, and good value. (FYI: If you aren't into climbing lots of narrow stairs, check if there's a lift before booking a room above the first floor!) Bankside House at the London School of Economics was excellent--great location on the South Bank of the Thames, tube station within reasonable walking distance, the Tate Museum and Globe Theatre nearby, and the truly awesome St. Paul's Cathedral just a walk across the Millenium Bridge. Another good online resource is www.smoothhound.com--lists everything from hostels to 5-star hotels.

London is fantastic. Have a fabulous trip!

Posted by
809 posts

Mark,
A few years ago my daughter and I found a very nice B&B at 55 GBP/night through London Home to Home [http://www.londonhometohome.com/]. We had a shared bath, but there are other listings with private bath. Friends have recommended At Home in London, which is similar.
Another option you might consider is the Affordable Travel Club [http://www.affordabletravelclub.net/] - it's a network for travellers over age 40, in which people host other people for up to 3 days for a nominal fee. After our Chiswick B&B, we stayed with a wonderful couple in Southwark for 3 nights, at $30/night. You may prefer to stay in one place for the whole visit, but ATC not only let us keep our costs way down but was also a great way to connect with real people.
Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
349 posts

I enjoy the ceremony of keys ; requires advance planning. FREE a term not often heard in old smokey

Posted by
1425 posts

We have stayed at the Quality Crown Hotel in Kensington several times - the last time it was 110 pounds a night including tax and breakfast. The neighborhood is quiet - it's close to two tube stations - rooms were nice.

Posted by
6245 posts

Mark,

I visit London often. 50 plus solo traveler. I stay in the Bayswater area at the Vancouver Studio Apartments. If they meet your criteria ask for a room on the 1st or 2nd floor. Otherwise it's the stairway to heaven that's dark and steep. You have two tube stops (Bayswater and Queensway) and buses are plentiful along
Bayswater and Westbourne. Plenty of shops, pubs and the beautiful Hyde Park is nearby. Don't forget to visit the Sir John C. Ritblatt "Treasures" Room in the British Library. Have a great trip.

Posted by
69 posts

Mark, last summer I went by myself to London ( I love to travel solo as well) and stayed at the Arosfa House Hotel. It is VERY clean, the breakfast is included. You have your own tiny bathroom. It is in a very quiet safe neighborhood. It is close to the Goodge Street station on the northern line. There is an organic grocery store around the corner and a 24 hour shop and a laundromat not too far away in the other direction. It is also right across the street from a book store. I loved staying here and would stay again in a heartbeat! It was about 75 euros a night. They do have a website if you want to check it out.

Posted by
2883 posts

I would recommend The Cherry Court Hotel, which is on a quiet street near Victoria Station. It is a small, 12 room hotel. The rooms have tiny bathrooms, but sufficient. Mrs. Patel who owns and runs the hotel is a sweetheart. Everytime we go to London we stay there. It feels like home. A double is 55 pounds, so a single would be slightly less. Have fun.