London is a notoriously expensive city, and many of its hotels are expensive, too. The following tips will boost your chances of landing an affordable stay.
Check hotel photos online before you book. High prices don't necessarily mean quality digs. In all price ranges, London has anonymous, depressing hotels mixed in with lovely ones. Before you book, make sure that a hotel will meet your standards by looking at many photos online.
Stay close to a subway stop. You don't need to be located next to Buckingham Palace to be sufficiently well placed to tour the major sights. You just need to be near a subway (a.k.a. Tube) station. Some neighborhoods with key stations also happen to be pleasant and known for their value-priced lodgings, such as King's Cross and Earl's Court. You'll also find inexpensive hotels and inns around Victoria and Paddington stations. Skip better-known—and generally higher-priced-districts—such as Belgravia, Bloomsbury, Knightsbridge, and Marylebone.
Don't expect to nab winter discounts. London is a destination for all seasons. During the winter (which is the city's low season), a steady stream of conventions and festivals allows hotels to charge rates higher than you find in many other cities at the same time of year. For example, the average hotel rate in London in the last few months of 2008 was $171 (£111), according to Hotels.co.uk's London Hotel Price Index. So even when daylight was scarce and a recession was underway, London hotel prices remained high. During sunnier months this year, expect average rates to be about $200 to $225.
Try Britain's discount lodging chains. If price matters more than style, consider two domestic hotel chain giants, Travelodge and Premier Inn. Recently these chains (which feature generic-looking rooms) were offering deep discounts for advance bookings, with rates as low as $101 (£65) for double rooms in central London during July and August. For similar reasons, you may also want to consider the Ibis Hotel chain, which has well-located properties with reliable (if boring) rooms.