Yes, there really are low cost hotels in London. The English capital might be one of the world’s most expensive cities, but savvy travelers can still find centrally-located London lodgings with genuinely cool en-suite rooms for under £70, perfectly comfortable and clean rooms with a shared bathroom for under £30 and non-skeevy dorm beds for under £12.
Here’s a look at our favorite three hotels and hostels that offer a hip vibe, fun location and accommodations with a level of luxury that exceeds its price tag:
Qbic Hotel London City
Affordable and chic come together at the Qbic Hotel London City. It’s far from the cheapest hotel in London (or even of the three in this review) but it might be the best value. For as little £70 you’ll get swanky room with hip decor, mood lighting, rain shower, 32” flatscreen television, plenty of power outlets and blazingly fast internet. Best of all are the larger-than-king-sized beds (which cost cost £2300 apiece!). Seriously, your average four-star hotel doesn’t have beds this comfy. We also like friendly social scene in the Qbic’s inviting common areas, though it’s easy enough to cloister yourself in your quiet room if you want to.
So what’s the catch? Qbic’s rooms are small and lack phones and safes — and the cheapest ones lack windows. You also have to go down to the lobby if you want to borrow an iron or hair drier. To Spot Cool Stuff, those are small sacrifices for staying in gigs this cool yet this inexpensive1.
Location: In Shoreditch near the Brick Lane Market, a five-minute walk from the Aldgate East tube station.
Prices: £69 for the cheapest doubles, though you’ll pay at least £10 more if you want a window.
Included in the room price: Wifi, basic bag breakfast (the full breakfast bar costs an extra £7.50), hot drinks, afternoon soup, bike rental.
Special feature: Locally sourced organic food and drink is available from specially-made vending machines.
1 Relative to other accommodations in central London, of course.
[ ALSO ON SCS: 3 Cool & Affordable Places To Stay In Barcelona ]
Clink78 and Clink261
Clink78 occupies a nineteenth-century courthouse that’s played host to several semi-famous trials over the decades2. In fact, seven of the guest rooms were used to house prisoners as recently as 1998! Though if staying in a former jail cell sounds too, um, “confining,” there are also private “pod” rooms and dorms with either 4 or 16 beds.
For a place that’s listed on English historic registry, Clink78 has a remarkably modern feel. There’s an internet lounge with free wifi, a high-tech room for watching movies, a self-catering kitchen and a late-licence bar with DJ booth and live music.
If Clink78 has too much of a young party atmosphere for you — and if you are traveling with kids or go to bed before midnight it certainly will — consider a stay at its sister property, Clink261, instead. Though it too has dorms, Clink261 has more the feel of a boutique hotel and is set up to accommodate families. It features a laid-back lounge and a communal kitchen of a quality you wish you had in your house. The rooms are small, and none have en-suite restrooms, but they are bright, clean and comfortable. Clink261 guests get use of all the facilities at Clink78.
Location: Around the corner from the King’s Cross station in Islington. The two Clinks are about a five minute walk apart.
Rate: Dorms from £12 per bed. The jail cell rooms in Clink78 and triples in Clink261 cost £50 per room.
Items included room price: All-you-can-eat breakfast, wifi.
Special feature: The jail cell rooms at Clink78. The communal Nintendo Wii at Clink261.
2 Including the 1978 conviction of the members of the punk-rock band The Clash for shooting a pigeon. Really.
Generator London underwent a self-described “super stylin” £8 million renovation in 2014. The hostel now features a cool London-themed hangout area (first pic, below) and cafe with an hangout area. (Hanging out being a favorite pastime of guests are all of Generator’s locations). The new rooms are bright and colorful and are located on floors now themed after fictional Brits including Mary Poppins, Ali G and Austin Power. What hasn’t changed? The rooms are still small and the scene about Generator London’s guests is still lively and alcohol-filled. Staying here is like staying at an extended techno party. The time has long since past that this was Spot Cool Stuff’s travel scene. But for those under 25 (in spirit if not by birthday) the Generator may be heaven.
Location: About a five minute walk from the Russel Square tube station.
Rate: Rates are as cheap as £10.50 for a dorm bed and £25 per person for a double.
Items included room price: Wifi internet
Special feature: Nightly entertainment in the bar (DJs, trivia nights, live music, drinking games, etc.)
Other Cool Yet Affordable Options
Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage — Flackpacker’s hostel a former Victorian house. From €19 for a dorm bed, €34 for a private room.
Safestay Hostel — Dorm bed (from £18) have privacy curtains and personal reading lights. Private rooms (from £ 66 per room) are also available. Near Elephant & Castle tube station.
Tune Hotels — Quality, modern rooms in the €25~35 price range. Not really cool but too good a value not to mention here. Locations in Westminster, Paddington, Liverpool Street and King’s Cross.
Pickwick Hall — A hostel, but with a quiet vibe and family-friendly setup. A 3-minute walk from the British Museum. Single rooms from £37.
Pavilion Hotel — A self-described “fashion Rock and Roll hotel” in with small singles starting at £69 per night, doubles for £110.
Also on Spot Cool Stuff:
The Shard’s Three Restaurants Above London
A Review of London’s Cool Inamo Restaurant
Amora: London’s Academy of Sex & Relationships
A Review of the Gore Hotel – London hotel or opulent Victorian novel?
The All-Suite All-Cat Hotel