One of the biggest shocks I had when I moved out of London after ten years living in the city was how tough it is finding somewhere to stay when you’re visiting. The problem isn’t a shortage of options – there are over 1000 hotels in the city, as well as hundreds of B&Bs and rental apartments. But how do you narrow it down and choose where to stay in London?
My tastes – and my budget – lie somewhere in between dorm rooms and five-star luxury, but with London’s sky-high prices, even an average chain hotel can set you back over £200 a night. So is it possible to get a high-quality experience and a central London location without a scary price tag? It is at these affordable luxury hotels in London, where a stylish boutique-style room in the heart of the city can be yours for not much over £100 a night.
Read more: Visiting London on a budget
Map of budget luxury hotels in London
The Nadler has three locations in London – in Soho, Victoria and Kensington – plus a Covent Garden hotel under development. They offer four-star rooms at a budget price by editing out the hotel extras like bar, restaurant and gym. So the focus is on the room, which come with some added luxury touches like pillow menus, Nespresso machines and Brita water filters.
There’s a choice of room categories – singles, small doubles, standard doubles, king, superior, deluxe and suites. The main difference is the size of the rooms as all come with free wifi, free UK phone calls, air conditioning, cool artworks and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.
One thing I loved was 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. The hotel has a list of local restaurants, bars and fitness centres with discounts for guests.
We stayed in a small double in the Nadler Kensington, a five-minute walk from Earl’s Court Tube station and 20 minutes from South Kensington and the V&A, Science and Natural History museums. The Nadler Victoria is right opposite Buckingham Palace and 10 minutes’ walk to Victoria Tube and coach stations. And the Nadler Soho is just south of Oxford Street and surrounded by bars, restaurants and West End theatres.
Another smart, central option are Z Hotels. They brand themselves as ‘The Urbanite Stay’ and have seven locations across London. Rooms are compact but smartly designed to make the most of the space and focus on the essentials – quality beds and powerful showers. They’re perfect if you want to be in the heart of things and aren’t planning to spend too much time in your room.
There are singles, small double and larger queen rooms. Cheapest are the inside double rooms which don’t have a window, which start from £50–£70, depending on location. All have glass-walled en-suite wet rooms with Thierry Mugler toiletries, 40″ HD TVs and free Sky TV and wifi.
There’s also an attached Z Café and bar in each hotel which offers a buffet breakfast each morning then serves sandwiches, snacks and drinks later on. Location wise, the Z Hotel Victoria is right opposite Victoria train and Tube station. The Soho and Tottenham Court Road branches are both south of Oxford Street and close to London’s Theatreland. And the Z Hotel Piccadilly is a bit further south, near to Charing Cross station and the National Gallery.
The City hotel is located on Fleet Street close to Temple station and the Inns of Court. The Z Hotel Shoreditch is near Old Street station and surrounded by lots of cool bars. And the Gloucester Place hotel is close to Marylebone and Hyde Park.
CitizenM is a Dutch hotel brand with three locations spread around central London. They’re are known for their quirky decor, with lots of bright colours, modern artworks and stylish furniture. Hotels have a communal lounge area where you can hang out away from your room with books and computers to borrow, as well as food and drink available at the on-site canteenM.
There’s only one category of room, which comes with a king-sized bed, en-suite shower room with rain shower and wall-to-wall windows to make the most of the view (and blackout blinds if you want to keep it out). The rooms have a high-tech feel with ambient lighting and a touchscreen tablet which can be used to control the lights, room temperature, blinds, music system and TV. There’s free wifi as well as movies on demand.
The Citizen M Bankside is just south of the Thames, close to the Tate Modern art gallery and Borough Market. The Tower of London hotel is located just behind the tower and just above Tower Hill Tube station, with some rooms with views of the Thames. And the Citizen M Shoreditch is close to Liverpool Street and Shoreditch overground station, with Boxpark Shoreditch and Old Spitalfields Market a few minutes away.
Qbic is another hotel brand which started in the Netherlands, and they now have a hotel in London as well as their original one in Amsterdam. Their rooms are based around a pod design to make the most of the space, with colourful artwork, specially designed mattresses, eco-friendly showers with organic toiletries, fast wifi, mood lighting and LED TVs included.
There are three different room categories available: smart rooms (which are doubles without a window), cosy rooms (standard doubles) and fun rooms (large doubles which can sleep up to three people). The hotel also has a Bar + Kitchen where you can order food and drinks from the seasonal British menu. The Qbic London City is located between Whitechapel and Algate in the East End, an easy walk to Shoreditch and the Tower of London.
Check prices for Qbic: London City
ibis Styles is the cooler, designed-focused younger relation of the ibis hotel brand, with branches across the world – including four in central London. The design of each of the hotels is different, using a unique concept which takes inspiration from its location (you can check out my review of their weather-themed Manchester hotel). En-suite rooms come with a queen size or twin bed, and there are also some larger, premium, ‘Works’ rooms with extras like Nespresso machines and sofa beds. They’re also family friendly with family rooms and kids areas.
The Southwark ibis Styles is close to Borough Market and London Bridge. The Gloucester Road hotel is in Kensington, opposite Gloucester Road Tube station and five minutes’ walk to the Natural History Museum. The ibis Styles Kensington is only a few minutes away from that to the west, near to Earl’s Court station. And the Excel hotel is in East London, near to the Excel exhibition centre, the O2 music venue and London City Airport.
If you don’t need any fancy extras and just want a simple but stylish room for the night, try Point A Hotels. Formerly owned by Asian chain Tune Hotels, they have six hotels in London. There’s a simple choice between doubles or twins (with accessible versions), with or without windows. They make the most of the space with the basics done well – and comfortable beds, underbed storage, a drop-down desk, flatscreen TV, mood lighting, air con and power showers.
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. Their King’s Cross St Pancras, Paddington and Liverpool Street hotels are right next to the stations so they’re perfect if you have an early Eurostar or flight connection. The Point A Westminster is just across the river from the Houses of Parliament. The Shoreditch hotel is near to Old Street station. And the Point A Canary Wharf is close to Docklands and the Museum of London.
So those are my favourite budget luxury hotels in London – have you stayed in any of them, or do you know of any other great, affordable places to stay in London?
Note: photos are courtesy of the hotels mentioned, but I booked and paid for my stays myself. This article contains affiliate links, where I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you – thanks.