Budget-luxe hotel accommodation in London

Budget-luxe accommodation in London

One of the biggest shocks I’ve had in going from being a London resident to a visitor is how tough it can be to find somewhere to stay in the city. The problem definitely isn’t a shortage of options – there are over 1000 hotels in central London, and that’s before you get to the B&Bs and rental apartments. So how do you go about narrowing it down and choosing somewhere? My tastes lie somewhere in the middle between dorm rooms and five-star luxury, but with sky-high prices in the capital even an average chain hotel can easily cost £200 a night. Is it possible to get a high-quality experience and central London location without a scary price tag? Recently I’ve been trying out some new budget-luxe hotel chains where a great bed and a few luxury touches in a central London neighbourhood can be yours for not much over £100 a night.

The Nadler

First up is my most recent discovery, The Nadler, with three branches in London – in Soho, Victoria and Kensington – as well as a hotel in Liverpool. They offer four-star rooms at a budget price by editing out all the hotel extras like bar, restaurant and gym, so the focus is on the most important part – the room. Prices are fully inclusive so you don’t get any surprises on check-out. There’s a wide choice of room types, from singles and small twins and doubles right up to deluxe rooms which sleep four. The rooms all come with fast wifi, air con, cool artworks and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.

One thing I loved is the mini kitchenette in each room, with microwave, sink, kettle, fridge and cutlery and crockery. So you can easily get your own breakfast or a takeway, or if you’re eating out the hotel has a list of local eateries which offer discounts to guests. We stayed in a small double in Kensington, an easy five-minute walk from Earl’s Court Tube and close to the museums and a huge array of shops and restaurants. The rack rate for a small double is £152 but we paid £97 for a last-minute deal.

The Nadler Kensington, London

Standard double room, entrance and lobby at the Nadler Kensington

Z Hotels

Another smart and central option are the Z Hotels. They brand themselves as ‘The Urbanite Stay’ and have central London locations, with hotels in Soho, Piccadilly, Shoreditch, Victoria, Gloucester Place and the City. The rooms are compact but smartly designed and focus on the essentials – quality beds, linen and powerful showers. There’s a choice between small double or larger queen rooms, with or without a window. Lowest prices range from £60 (for an inside double) to £100 (for a queen with window). All have glass-walled en-suite wet rooms with Thierry Mugler toiletries and come with 40″ HD TVs with free Sky and wifi access.

Rooms come with the bonus extra of a free cheese and wine buffet each evening. Each hotel has a Z Café and bar attached, offering a buffet breakfast each morning then a selection of baguettes and sharing platters later on. Z Hotels also have branches in Liverpool (which I got to try out after winning a night’s stay in a competition on Twitter) and Glasgow.

Z Hotels, London

Outside queen and inside double rooms at Z Hotels Victoria

Tune Hotels

Or if you don’t need the extras and just want a simple but smart room for the night, try the Tune Hotels. The chain originated in Asia, but now has five hotels in London – in Westminster, Liverpool Street, Paddington, King’s Cross and Canary Wharf. I’ve stayed in a couple of their hotels and they make a great place to crash if you are out exploring London, with really convenient locations (if you’re travelling on an early Eurostar the King’s Cross hotel is less than five-minutes’ walk from St Pancras station).

There’s a simple choice of rooms between doubles or twins (with accessible versions), with or without windows. They make the most of the space with the basics done well – the comfortable beds are made by the same company who supply five-star hotels. Rooms start from £55, but they use budget airline-style pricing so you pay extra for things like wifi, TV, a hairdryer and even toiletries and towels (though if you don’t want to bring your own they’ll only cost you £2). Outside London, there are also Tune Hotels in Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool, as well as in Indonesia, India and lots across Malaysia.

Outside and inside doubles and the garden at Tune Liverpool Street

Outside and inside doubles and the garden at Tune Liverpool Street

So those are my top budget-luxe chains in London right now – have you stayed in any of them, or do you have another London favourite place to stay?

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Where to stay if you're looking for budget-luxe accommodation in London, with good value hotels that come with luxurious touches – ontheluce.com

Note: all photos courtesy of the hotels mentioned (as I forgot to take any myself), but I booked and paid for all stays myself. This article contains some affiliate links, where I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you, but I’ll only recommend products or sites I genuinely recommend and use myself – thanks.


  1. says

    Wow, this is great. I wish I had this guide a few days ago! I’m staying in London at the moment and booking last minute reasonably priced accommodation is a bit of a nightmare. Thanks for the tips.

    • says

      Thanks – I find London quite baffling when it comes to accommodation too and I know the city really well! But I’d recommend any of these when you’re next in London. Have a great trip!

  2. says

    These all look perfect and I can’t believe the prices! I’ve always found London so hard to find a decent place to stay and for that reason, I have stayed at the same place everytime (except one when they didn’t have availability). Its called the Caring Hotel located just between Queensway and Lancaster Gate. While its certainly not modern or roomy, it is very clean, central, quiet and the staff are the friendliest I have ever come across.

    • says

      The problem I’ve found with London is there is just too much choice! I have a similar issue with cities like New York too. These are all great though – but as ever the very early or late bookings are the best way to get those super-low prices.

    • says

      I did the room without window once and did find it a bit weird but if you’re arriving late and leaving early so are just sleeping in the room then it might be ok!

  3. Rachael says

    This is wonderful information. I’m an American who will be traveling alone in October 2014. Would you suggest one location over another? I have no problem with small rooms and/or no windows. I just want a place to sleep for a few nights. I plan on visiting museums so The Nadler seems ideal. Being alone and being my first trip to the UK I am concerned about: getting lost, having a place to leave my luggage (one small suitcase), having choices for eating/drinking and returning to my hotel in relative safety.

    I look forward to reading through more of your blog.

    • says

      Hi Rachael, for museums the Nadler Kensington is a really good option, though the Tune at Westminster is also well located for the river/Parliament etc. All are located near to Tube stations so you should have no problem getting around, you should also be able to store luggage (otherwise the main train stations have baggage storage). You may well be best off doing a price search first to see which comes out best. And if you have any London questions before your trip just let me know!

  4. says

    Amazing tips! I also have trouble finding good hotels in a good price in London, it is normally the most problematic city to find a hotel in this category for a good price. Thank you for sharing, you put on a list for next time 🙂

  5. says

    I am in Australia and we find $100 a night expensive for accommodation, so to hear you are happy with a $160 a night is scary!

    I am going to the Gold Coast next week to stay at Le Beach luxury Resort on the esplanade at Burleigh voted the Worlds Best Beach in a three bedroom apartment with everything that you could ever need including foxtel fully self contained right down to the dimmer switches and underground secure parking just 50 meters to the beach. need I say more?

    At $100 per night or 60 pounds many of my friends think I am made of money spending $1000 for ten days because believe it or not you can still get luxury in Australia for $60 per night that’s less than 40 quid per night or the cost of 5 big macs or 7 beers at the top end 5 star hotels can charge $400 plus for a single room and en-suite but that’s the rack rate compared to 700 pounds or a $1000 a night in London

    And just about every Aussie hotel room comes with phones Tea and coffee and most with wifi and a fridge plus airconditioning

    • says

      London is very different to the rest of the UK – the locations of these hotels would be equivalent to a central Sydney hotel so the prices are a lot higher than the average. In the rest of the UK you can easily find good accommodation at a much lower price, and apartment rentals like the one you mention are especially good value if you don’t need the full hotel facilities – I usually stay in rental places these days for anything more than one night.

  6. says

    Such a fantastic post Lucy, thanks! Accommodation is so expensive in London, and generally not great value. These look like some great, affordable alternatives. I’ll definitely be looking at them next time I need a place to stay in the capital.

    Interesting to read about the hotel that is charging more for extras (tv, toiletries etc.) Do you think this will become a trend much like in the airline industry? I’ve not heard of it before.

    • says

      Thanks Ben, yes it’s interesting with the airline-style pricing. The Tune Hotels originated in Asia so I don’t know if it’s more common out there. I can see the benefits if you’re on a quick stay and want to save as much as possible, as you normally pay for the TV, hairdyer etc whether you use it or not. Don’t think it’ll ever be worth me carting around a wet towel to save a couple of pounds though!

      • says

        That’s interesting it originated in Asia, maybe that model will become more popular in the western market over the coming years. Great point about the towel, I’m with you on that one!

  7. says

    Good tips! Tune Hotel sounds a bit like the maxHotel in Brussels; very no frills but the nightly rate is dirt cheap as a result.

    Last summer, I wanted a hotel reasonably close to the Royal Albert Hall, and I stayed at The Rockwell (http://www.therockwell.com/single-room) along Cromwell Road. That section of the road is just lined with hotels, and some of them are quite affordable.

    • says

      There are a lot of hotels in the Cromwell Road area and also around Paddington, I find it a bit tough to find which ones are decent but this sounds good so one to remember. I’d not heard of the maxHotel either so may give that a go next time I’m in Brussels.

      • says

        maxHotel is so no-frills that you check in and out via an automated kiosk. It’s a comfortable quiet place to sleep, but that’s about it.

  8. says

    These are lovely hotels that I will definately be checking out if I go to London with husband only or by myself. 🙂
    I went to a lovely bed and breakfast in Kensington a few years ago and a family room was £120 pounds I think for 2 adults and 1 growing child per night. I can’t remember the name (not very useful I know!), but apparently, it was best B&B of the year in 2010 which was when I went. It was lovely and was very close to Hyde Park.
    Lovely tips Lucy.

    • says

      Kensington’s a good area to be in – there are so many different neighbourhoods of London that it can be a nightmare to narrow it down! Hope these come in useful when you’re next in London though.

  9. says

    Oh this is gooood! I went to London twice last winter and once stayed in a hostel dorm with my sister. I’m okay with hostels, but my sister has classier taste. She cried 😛 And it’s not even like the hostel was that cheap (my sister found B&B accommodation in the same are where rooms cost the same as two dorm beds, oops, and rubbed it in my face). Next time, I’m going to treat her to one of these. Z Hotels looks particularly lovely. Thanks for this 😀

    • says

      You’re welcome! Hope you get to try them out soon – I just stayed at the Z Hotel in Liverpool last weekend and that was lovely too. Definitely beats a hostel!

  10. says

    I absolutely love Tune hotels. We stayed in a bunch of them in Asia and it was so nice being able to stay in a spotless, air conditioned but tiny room for such a bargain price. Will have to check out the London options next time we’re down there.

  11. says

    Great post. Having to find somewhere to lay my head for the first time ever in all my trips to London, looking for a place has been a real trauma. lol.

  12. Susan Cappello says

    Hi Lucy, thanks for the great info. I’ve never been to London before nor have I traveled other than a guided tour All the budget hotels sounded great. Would any of the hotels/locations be better for getting to and from Hethrow Airpot and attractions.
    What do you think about the London Pass with travel? It sounded like a good deal to me?
    Thank you and God Bless You!

    • says

      Hi Susan, all the hotels are in areas where there is plenty to do and the tube system in London is pretty comprehensive. But for a combination of ease to get from the airport and being near attractions I would recommend either the Nadler South Kensington (South Kensington is on a tube line from Heathrow and an easy walk to a lot of the main museums – Natural History, Science, V&A – and Hyde Park) or the Z Hotels Victoria (there are direct buses from Heathrow to Victoria Station which is a main transport hub, and also within walking distance of Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace).

      The Travelcards that come with the London Pass with travel are a good idea as they will get you unlimited bus/tube access. You can also buy them separately if you don’t want to get the pass – it will depend on how many of the attractions covered you want to see. I did a London budget post which explain about what you can do for free in London or other discounts, which might be useful: http://ontheluce.com/2013/02/27/london-on-a-budget/

      Hope you have a great trip!

  13. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says

    Great tips here – I live in London so not really in need of hotels usually but it’s always embarrassing when friends from abroad ask me for tips on good value London hotels and I never know any!! I’ll have to forward them this link and keep a note of these should I ever need one myself!

    • says

      Thanks, I used to have the same problem when I lived in London – a local resident is probably the worst person to ask for a hotel recommendation! Hope it comes in useful for your friends.

  14. says

    I’m so glad I stumbled across this on your blog, Lucy! I’ve been hunting for somewhere nice (but budget-friendly) to stay when I visit London for the Cosmo Blog Awards, and these ideas are awesome – thank you!

  15. Julie Togonon says

    This is so helpful. I got a lot of tips from your site, my favorite is “Visiting London on a Budget”. Thanks!

  16. says

    Thank you! I’ve heard of a few of these, but I really appreciate all the details. Also, you can add Every Hotel. I’ve stayed in their Piccadilly location. They also have Bloomsbury. Coming soon are Hyde Park and Leicester Square. They’re designed for ‘electronic travellers’ and don’t focus on posh lobbies, restaurants, etc. However, the room has every possible thing you could want as a blogger or business person who is ‘totally plugged in.’ 🙂

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