Sure, the capital has big names in hospitality, but there's also loads of great cheap hotels in London that you needn't trek out to the sticks to find. Stay somewhere better located and more fun than many of the city’s grand five-star hotels, all for less than you’d pay for a slap-up meal at one of London's best restaurants. Whether it’s a dorm bed in the heart of Soho, a traditional family-run guesthouse on a period square, or a tech-smart room near St Pancras, London’s got it covered. Have a peek at our list of the best cheap hotels in London and save your pennies for exploring.
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Cheap hotels in London
With half a Routemaster parked in the lobby and repurposed furniture and street art all over the place, Generator is one of the most fun budget hostels in town, complete with regular gigs and DJ sets in the lounge (pack your earplugs). And at these prices (dorms from £21; private rooms from £78, including towels), it’s busy too. The location in a quiet Bloomsbury mews is central enough for walking around the city, but leafy enough to be away from the mayhem of central London.
The people behind Clink knew that an old courthouse might make a perfect if incongruous hostel for young folk looking to party, so they had fun with it. Some bedrooms are cells that once held the accused, the courtroom is a TV salon, and there’s comfy, contemporary furniture throughout. Breakfast is included, there’s a licensed bar, and the location is great for pretty much all of central London – and Paris: the Eurostar is 10 minutes’ walk away. Dormitory beds start at £13.
Forget the school camping-trip clichés, YHA is now tech-savvy and design-conscious, but still retains its cheap as chips appeal. The 104 beds at its Oxford St incarnation, one of six in London, is a relaxed spot with beds that start at £23. Rooms are arranged over five floors above a large pizza café and bar (open to non-guests). It’s neat, clean and sensibly throughout, with all the dorms and private en suites only accessible by keycard. Free wifi in public areas.
The concept of this Dutch import is simple: assemble 171 modular ‘cubi’ rooms in a cheap former office space in a central but slightly dowdy part of the East End and the guests pocket the savings (rooms start at £67). Qbic forgoes staff for self-service at check-in and for the free snack breakfast, though there are people on hand in the snappy-looking lobby should you need anything.
The rooms are small, and if you’re over six foot the beds are a squeeze, and there are no phones or proper wardrobes, but… really, at this price, for this location, you can’t complain. The attractive en suite rooms start at £69 and come with organic wool mattresses and duvets from Devon, and there’s free wine and cheese in the evenings. There are five other branches in town.
Pavilion made a name for itself as one of the capital’s go-to shoot locations for magazines, as well as a somewhat unlikely celeb overnight pitstop – unlikely, that is, given the wallet-friendly pricing (from £69) and lack of fanfare. Forget trendy, clean, pared-down decor, this is a self-styled ‘fashion rock ’n’ roll’ hotel with a riot of OTT interiors and themed boudoirs like the 70s-esque Honky Tonk Afro and Flower Power (heavy on the floral motifs) and Chinese-slanted Enter The Dragon.
Club kids, you’ve found your home: right at the axis of Kingsland Road and Old Street and so walking – or crawling – distance from Hoxton’s best dance spots. There’s a bar downstairs, Translate, and also a laundrette, a café, a small interior courtyard and an even smaller roof terrace. There are dorm beds and private rooms (with TVs, kettle and coffee) – though don’t come expecting a quiet night in. Breakfast is free and includes the highly prized beigels from nearby Brick Lane. Beds start at £17.
Tune now has five branches in London, and while it’s not as stylish as the Qbic, Z or Hub – we’re not sure about the alarming lipstick red everywhere – the locations are convenient (this one is brilliantly handy for Liverpool Street), and the vibe is non-fuss. To keep costs low, pretty much everything aside from the bed is an optional add-on, including wifi and towels. Rooms begin at £34.
This family-run bed and breakfast is set in a converted factory in the conservation area of De Beauvoir in Islington and has four en suite rooms that surround a stylish loft space. A self-service breakfast in a shared dining room-lounge area, free run of the kitchen, and a courtyard garden make it feel homely, though if you want to explore, you have a whole of Dalston’s cafés and restaurants around the corner.
For a chance to explore west London without paying west London prices (rooms start at £58), try this independent, family-run hotel on a pretty Victorian street, a stroll from Notting Hill and Hyde Park. Rooms in this grand terraced house have a bright, modern feel and (other than the small ones) plenty of space. The lounge, with its wood floor and leather furniture, is a great place to kick back after a trek through the park after a West End matinee or shopping spree.
The futuristic decor might seem a little incongruous on a street of terraced properties: once inside it’s all royal blue curtains, aluminium panelling and illuminated glassware that looks like something out of the Starship Enterprise. All rooms are clean and well-appointed, and have en suite pod bathrooms, but for a little more space and privacy, try Stylosuites, which are just around the corner above a pub. Rooms start at £99.
Decked out in bright primary colours, beanbags, funky London murals and its own roof terrace, this hostel is a strong contender among London's budget accommodation. SoHostel certainly has a lot going for it with its light, spacious, nicely priced dorm rooms, twins and doubles (starting at £55). After a long day of strolling around the sights, you can enjoy a tipple at the guest-only bar and soak up the views from the roof garden. There's also free wifi and breakfast is only a fiver. But it’s the location that can’t be beaten. You could spend a week exploring central London from your base here on Dean Street and never have to set foot on – or have to pay for – public transport.
There’s little danger of missing your Eurostar at this family-run B&B, seeing as it’s practically across the road from St Pancras station, albeit perched on a peaceful, attractive corner in Bloomsbury. Rooms start at £70 and there’s tea and coffee, cable TV, wifi and full English breakfast (all free) and, unusually, there’s also the option of secure parking in a nearby underground car park (from £20 - and you need to call ahead). Some rooms are en suite, others have shared bathrooms.
Craftsman José Raido is behind this attractive and original family-run hotel near Camberwell Green. A Hispanic theme dominates: think funky bathroom tiles in the bright, high-ceilinged bedrooms, for example, and imported Mexican film posters, while the bed frames were forged by José himself. A good breakfast is served for £5 and there’s an honesty bar too, not to mention plenty of local buzzing options to whet your appetite. Single rooms start at £90.
Despite the corporate-sounding name, Safestay Holland Park is, in fact, one of the city’s leafiest hostel options, with beautiful gardens and a terrace partly built in a Jacobean mansion within Holland Park. Accommodation options run from en twin rooms to 33-bed dormitories (with bunk beds with reading lights and privacy curtains, from £17 per night), there’s 24-hour reception and even a cash machine on site. Elephant and Castle has another branch.
Built around a pub – the King William IV – this friendly hostel keeps its target audience happy with a big bar, free wifi, generous buffet breakfasts and a Thai restaurant. Mixed dorms (from £21), some with en suites and balconies, are clean and comfortable, with bedside lockers for valuables. There are laundry services and plenty of free stuff including soft drinks, sweets, towels and even earplugs.
If you’re after classic Georgian style that’s just the right side of homely, head to this Bloomsbury stalwart, which looks like it could have featured in Agatha Christie’s Poirot. The Jenkins has been a hotel for almost a hundred years, though it was refurbished in 2013 and features everything you might expect in terms of amenities, including free wifi. The buffet breakfast is free too and the location, overlooking Cartwright Gardens in Bloomsbury, is as convenient as it is pretty.
Wombat’s 120 rooms, including dorms, twins and doubles (from £40) are all en suite. There’s a bar, a terrace with hammocks and free wifi throughout. Its location is great, both for the galleries, shopping and bars of the East End, but also for the river and sights to the south like Tower of London and Borough Market and The South Bank. You’re stumbling distance from the excellent curry houses south of Brick Lane, though there is a communal kitchen on site as well.
Sixty modern en-suite rooms across four Georgian townhouses, plus a characterful lounge bar and great location – a stone’s throw over Euston Road from King’s Cross and St Pancras stations – make this bed and breakfast a real steal at around £80 a night for a double. The rooms, though on the small side, are clean and colourful, with new wood panelling and simple decor jazzed up by individual artworks or wall coverings. The bar area and lobby retain much of the buildings’ original architectural features, melded with art deco touches in the form of mirrors and lighting. And come on, when else are you going to be able to say ‘I’m staying at the hotel California’?
A new addition to London’s affordable hotel scene is always good news for London’s visitors, especially when it’s in the heart of lively Soho. Mimi’s contemporary rooms cram everything you need into a range of rooms – beginning with ‘minis’ which squeeze in a double bed with Frette linen, a rainforest shower and Molton Brown products in the bathroom, plus free newspapers and bottled water. The hotel has its own stylish bar that morphs from breakfast area to cocktail lounge, and beyond all that, Soho beckons. A ‘mini’ double, including free Wi-Fi, starts from £109.65.
Here at the Grange Langham, you’re more likely to bump into overnighting BBC staff than celebs being put up at the more famous Langham, but the striking Grange Langham Court is almost as close to the BBC TV Centre as its more famous namesake, and double rooms start at less than £100, so it’s perfect for a weekend of shopping and sightseeing. The 56 modern, airy rooms feature free Wi-Fi, luxury marble and granite bathrooms, there’s a stylish French brasserie, and the distinctive black and white exterior makes it very easy to find.
Virtually opposite the Savoy and so at the heart of Covent Garden and Theatreland, the grand old Strand Palace, in business since 1909, is a bargain (‘cosy’ doubles can be had from £100) for the area, and comes with modern, comfortable rooms. Free wifi, a gym, gin palace and Indian restaurant all add to the appeal.
Forget cabbing it to Gatwick at an ungodly hour, book a room here instead. Bloc opened at Gatwick’s South Terminal in 2014 and offers 245 rooms that are pitched halfway between a Japanese pod hotel and a design hotel, but at prices far below normal airport prices (rooms start at £59). There’s free wifi, king size beds, HD TVs and monsoon showers, and while there’s no restaurant on site, discounts are available from eateries in the terminal. Plane nerds (and honeymooners) should plump for the Runway Suite.
From booking the room to dimming its lights, to working out what to do in the area, everything at Hub is controlled via an app on your phone or tablet, and it’s clearly working as Hub now has five branches in London. Rooms at this branch on Brick Lane are mini but well designed, with beds high enough to fit your suitcase underneath and a little desk and en suite shower. Prices – from £69 – are very reasonable for the location.