Hello, all! Posters here had absolutely wonderful advice when I asked a while ago about the feasibility of an advice.html]Agatha Christie-based trip to London, and I'm back to ask for more input. We're planning to be in London from ~June 9-June 20, 2014, and most likely will get accommodations through airbnb, vrbo or Travelodge (which I just learned about tonight, thanks to the Travelers Helpline!). Sooo, how far in advance do I need to make reservations for our room, especially given that my target budget is $70-$80/night? Thanks so much to everyone who participates in this forum. You provide an absolutely fantastic service.
Make the cheapest, fully cancel-able reservation you can now and keep searching until you find something better.
B&B, This is my 2nd year of traveling outside the USA so this is my opinion and how i see it and do it. I will make my reservations as soon as i know and have my trip planned out in terms of where to go, how much time im staying and so forth. That will include flights, hotels, trains and any attractions that may have long lines. I do it because i want to go, not to play wait-n-see if i can make a better deal. When it comes to places to stay, i look at them as a place to sleep, shower and do the bodily functions. thats it so im with you in terms of cost. I try to keep it < 100 USD/night if possible, but if that puts me out in the back 40, i will spend some more $$ to make my base more conveient for my travels. If you can find the place now and within your budget, i would book now, but thats just me. So far i havent traveled doing the "wing it" or the "wait n see" approach. one approach you can take is to make your reservatsion now and keep on shopping for better/cheaper/closer places to stay. On my recent trip, i only "reserved" the hotels so there wasnt any $$$ exchanged unless i didnt show up or not cancel according to their policy. There were only a couple hotels where i had to pay up front, but thats okay for me since i prefer to do that and get the $$ take care of sooner. just another commenet. I havent tried london during tourist season, but so far all of my stays there when i went have been < 100 USD and closer to 80/90 USD per night. I know there are less, but where i choose to say is conveient for me. happy trails.
I would say as soon as you have firm dates, try to book. I'm going to be in London in May and am already finding some places to be filling up already. I'd book a room that can be cancelled and if you find a better deal you can take it. Better safe than sorry!
$70-$80 per night in London means you're working at the low end. I'd start looking now and book when you find something acceptable. As mentioned earlier, if you can find something that you can cancel without a fee, that's great. I wouldn't count on it, though. That kind of flexibility usually comes with a price.
Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I'm not so much holding out for a better price as I am petrified by the fear of making a mistake. Well, enough dilly-dallying -- time to make some decisions.
Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I'm not so much holding out for a better price as I am petrified by the fear of making a mistake.Well, enough dilly-dallying -- time to make some decisions. what type of mistake?
What type of mistake? ... unsafe neighborhood ... inconvenient location ... surprise fees ... finding out our room is rented to somebody else ... OK. Typing those out makes them sound a lot less scary than when I say them in my head. I've planned several really big, multi-city, 2-week+ trips here in the U.S., and despite a hinky neighborhood or two (and one freak snowstorm that forced some itinerary changes), everything always went fine. This is our first trip to Europe, and I think I'm just letting that mess with my head. But reading everyone's suggestions (particularly finding something now that can be cancelled and then to keep looking if I want) have calmed me down. I just need to bite the bullet and pick something.
What type of mistake? ... unsafe neighborhood ... inconvenient location ... surprise fees ... finding out our room is rented to somebody else ... If you have concerns like that it would be best to have addressed them in the original post instead of doing it ass-backwards. But all is not lost. Im a guy so im not as aware of those things as females are. But i can tell you this, i still have my head on a swivel sometimes and am aware of my surroundings. Also, i try not to walk down dark alleys/streets/tunnels at night in unpopulated areas in London or any other city anywhere. As far as "inconvenient". thats relative. If you still have working feet, the tube system is sooooooo convenient in my opinion. We dont have one here and the first time i used one in London, i just thougth it was sooo cool and easy to use. Just spend some time to look at how they convey information as to where you are and where you need to go. worse case ask, they speak english - at least most do. as far as suprrise fee, read the fine print and i make copies to bring. When you make online reservations they will usually display any taxes (and you WILL get taxed) for the stay and any other fees/charges. one comment though is that some places will put into the charges "breakfast" and should say so. some will allow you to opt out, but i have found some that didnt. If not sure, ASK. as far as having the room rented out from under you....I would raise "bloody hell" as they save in the UK. But also, be PROACTIVE. A month or so before your trip, RE-confirm you reservation! I will also say ive never had a room sold out from under me, but your milage may vary. You will have a blast in London. Happy trails.
I am sure you realize that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world? That is a very low budget for London proper. I would check the reviews on TA before you book anything. It is also high season. Enjoy your trip!
I stayed at the Ibis Budget Whitechapel (btw Aldgate East and Whitechapel tube stations) in a twin room for 7 days and it worked out to about $400/person. Breakfast is extra, but it's continental. The only caveat for this hotel is that the shower opens directly into the room and the toilet is in its own set off area so think about your privacy needs. Read the reviews at TA.
The last few years we have always stayed at a Travelodge in London. We prefer the Marleybone Travelodge, great neighborhood, Regents Park nearby, Madame Tussaud's a few blocks away, and the really great feature is that Marleybone tube station is right across the street. You can get anywhere in just minutes using the tube. We recently joined Premier Inn, low cost like Travelodge, www.premierinn.com. We haven't used them yet but reviews on Tripadvisor.com are fine in most cases. Check out tripadvisor.com for more detailed info in the London Forum.
Betsy or Bitsy (dunno which of you is posting?) $70 or $80 US is really at the very bottom of the London market. You may well see places which only publish rates in Pounds Sterling (£) at that sort of price. So that you can compare, $70 is £43 today, $80 is £49.50. I don't know what the exchange rate will be next year, so we can only go on what the market does today. That's not counting any currency costs at all, and many US banks seem to put on up to 5 percent, so you need even cheaper. To meet your goals you will need to be looking somewhere south of £50 per night or for your 11 nights that is in the vicinity of £550 or less. Do you intend to stay in London for the whole 11 nights? Is it a place for 2 adults? If the price for the room is the same for singles and doubles then if there are two of you then the price per person is half. I've just looked at 11 random dates (we don't have the actual dates) in June next year, starting on the 6th. In London the cheapest Travelodge I found had variable rates which when averaged over the 11 nights was £963/11=£87.55 plus breakfast for a flexible rate (Cancel up until noon on the date of arrival). If you would take a nonrefundable/non changeable rate it would come down to £629/11=£57.18. My point is that this appears to be well above your budget, so Travelodges are likely out. I think it will have to be a cheap flat, maybe a bedsit.
The Barking ETAP almost squeaks in. The one at London City generally runs a bit less. Transportation costs and time are extra.
"What type of mistake?...unsafe neighborhood...inconvenient location" You should have a map of London before choosing a location, and perhaps also read Rick Steves London guidebook in order to orient yourself. For the price range you are wanting, you should definitely be looking at the YHA hostels; several locations around London. www.yha.org.uk Look at the YHA St. Paul's. Very good and convenient location. And back to your original question, book as soon as possible, because the hostels will fill up, being the cheapest places in town.
We have found airbnb.com to be a great way to stay in unfamiliar big cities. We have rented rooms in the homes or small apartments of people who live there and it is nice to have the security of having someone close at hand to "consult" with who knows the city well and can give advice. Once you target your possible neighborhoods you can start searching. You can find things close to your price in private homes even in expensive places like London!
Oh, good gravy. The thoughtfulness of everyone's responses is just overwhelming. First of all, I'm not really, really afraid -- just that sort of anxiousness you get before making a huge decision. The points about my target rate are well taken. I'd had some success in finding rates around there but realize now that I hadn't been looking at the right dates. Oy. In any case, the per/person cost doesn't make much difference -- it's just my daughter and I, and I'm paying the full freight. Basically, I just need to do my homework and then bite the bullet -- and bite it sooner rather than later ... so to speak. Thanks so, so, so much to everyone who's responded. P.S. This is Betsy.
B&B, I second Rick steves London book. you dont have to follow it word/by/word, but use the research that has already been done for you. pick n choose the info that helps and toss out what you dont need/want. even using his "eruope through the back door" can help you and get an idea on how he thinks and lays out his books and travels. if you have a new budget, you can always get ideas from people here. THey may know of a place with the price and location you seek. good luck and happy trails.
I spent a month in London this past winter. Like you I was looking for a deal. I ended up renting a flat thru Boutique London Lets. It cost about $100 a night. It was a studio that will sleep 2 and had full kitchen facilities and a washer/dryer. It was located right accross the street from Liverpool Station which gave me easy and safe access to the tube and was also right between the police station and a Tesco's grocery store that made me both feel safe and I had the convenience of shopping. The fact that I could prepare meals and did not have to eat all meals out was a big savings. It also had free wifi,TV, and a landline that with a 10 pound calling card from Tesco's I was able to call home to the states daily and still had money left on the card when I left. They do rent on a daly basis> In fact I will be looking into a 3 night stay for next fall. Also at the train station accross the street there is a tourist info window where I bought weekly tube passes and they can give you all kinds of info and even book day trips, etc. for you. It was like have a concierge without a hotel.There is no ac only fans. This may have changed since my stay but that couldbe a drawback for June that you may want to consider.
We've used airbnb all over Europe and US...we stayed with this one in London...
https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/315658 If there are only 2 of you, it's about $75 (not pounds...dollars) a night. Full use of the kitchen/fridge if you wanted, quiet area (unless maybe there is a cricket game on as it's near the cricket grounds)...10 min walk to either Kennington, Oval or Vauxhall tube. Barclays bike rentals and bus stops along the way. Next time we visit London, if it's avail, I would book again. The only unwieldy part was getting the keys. We had to get off at the tube stn before, walk a block or two to a pharmacy to pick up the keys. Then back to the tube and the next stop. Unless he was going to be home when you arrived. He's very friendly - you can hang and watch tv with him if you like, or he seemed more then happy to not bother you at all. https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/183019 We didn't stay at this one, but this was the other I was seriously considering, but I can't say good or bad.
We are going to London next May, and after a few weeks of scouring airbnb for private rooms, nothing decent was coming up for less than $90. All the rooms I was interested in actually climbed in price by a few dollars over the few weeks I monitored them. Private rooms in most decent hostels were also in the $100/night range. Although that price was doable, we decided to save some money and booked beds in a 4-person dorm at a hostel that has been recommended by friends - the total there came to about $70 a night for both of us. So, provided you're okay with the hostel experience, that's an avenue you can look into if you want to sleep that cheaply in London.
Anna said, "provided you're okay with the hostel experience". True, it's not the Ritz Hotel, but some hostels are better than others. Two in London are known as party places, so best to avoid those unless you are young and want to party. Others are nicer and more peaceful, with family rooms that can sleep 4 people, but can be rented by 2 people. These usually run from $19 to $43 per person a night. I can give up a lot of luxury to save that kind of money.
Well. Thanks to everyone's kind encouragement and advice, I've booked a private room within my target price range that's in southern Islington, with the ability to cancel and get a full refund. The reviews were very complimentary of the home owner, and Bitsy and I both liked the photos -- nothing fancy, but definitely comfortable looking. I'm not even sure that I'll look for anything else now.
Thanks, again, to all of you for your comments and concerns!
Lower Islington can be a good location.
There's certainly plenty of food around there, decent tube and excellent bus coverage.
Where exactly in Islington is the place? I should be able to give more specifics.