A large part of trips to London are so-called independent holidays, whilst package holidays are the minority. Both have their advantages. Buying a package holiday literally gives everything in one package: flights, hotel(s) and possible travel agent services. Travelling independently is not really more complicated – you just book 1) flights and 2) hotel(s). This page focuses on number 2, i.e. in making a hotel reservation.
Nowadays, accommodation is typically reserved through an online booking center, and seldom directly from an individual hotel. The major hotel chains normally have their own online booking centers, but their rooms can also be found through other online booking services. Hotel chains may charge more or less on their own sites, depending on their practices. General booking centers sometimes purchase a large number of rooms at “wholesale prices” and are thus in a position to offer a lower price than what the hotel offers. For the hotel, this means a smaller but more secure income. Booking system can also function by having a shared data base with all online booking centers. Several booking centers may offer the very same room, and once it gets reserved, it is removed from all the lists.
Online booking services
Below please find a few online booking centers, which can be used to make a hotel reservation in London, or at least they can be used for searching and comparing prices. Supply varies slightly between the booking services. The price difference is mostly due to the kind of agreement they have managed to close with the specific hotel and how much they charge as commission. When making a reservation, please pay attention to: Are the prices in pounds or in euros? Is the price per person or per room? Is breakfast included in the price? Are taxes and other charges included in the price?
Bedfinder has been around for a long time and is definitely reliable. It is currently operated by Travelwindow and displays search results from their service. Its interface is simple and clear. Type London for Destination and choose the appropriate days from the calendar. A search for vacancies in one month’s time showed as the cheapest choice (Rest up London Hostel) €24 for an adult (including breakfast). The cheapest traditional hotel room was Premier Inn London Elstree with €48. There were 555 offers (hotels) available. The most expensive room in the first page cost €50. Please note that the link bedfinder.com will search through Travelwindow’s system.
Although you can book both hotels and flights through this site, I will concentrate on hotels. Ebookers can be searched in Finnish and English. A search for the same dates as above gave more results, namely 818 hotels. If you leave aside the hostels, the cheapest hotel in London area is Central Hotel with €50. Price is per person in a single room, inclusive of taxes etc. but without breakfast. The most expensive room in the first page is charged €60. Link: ebookers.fi, can also be displayed in English
Hotels.com may well be the best known hotel reservation service. The site tells that one can book 130,000 hotels around the world. A search for London with same parameters as above shows results for 1,197 hotels. Hostels are again the cheapest choices. Cheapest hotel room can be found in ibis London Excel Docklands with € 60in a double room without breakfast. First page’s most expensive room is charged € 87 and there are almost 50 choices on the page. There are plenty of affordable rooms to choose from. With a quick look, you can see that hotels.com has about 5 times more rooms below €100 than the previous two sites. There are also plenty of customer reviews per hotel. Link: hotels.com
Alternative to general booking sites are hotel chains’ own booking centers. Prices are most likely similar there. By booking directly through a hotel chain you may receive some benefits and discounts, which are available only if booking directly. General booking services are not flexible enough to adapt to campaigns and changes hotels may make.
A hotel belonging to a large chain is normally a better choice than a completely independent hotel. Hotel of a chain may be owned by the specific chain, or it may be independently owned. In both cases, the chain is compelled to guard its reputation and secure the promised quality in all hotel services. One single “bad” hotel is enough to ruin the chain’s reputation.
A few affordable hotel chains in London
Best Western UK chain has about 30 hotels in London alone. Its hotels are very popular among business clients and tourists alike. Prices are reasonable and quality average, so you won’t face any unpleasant surprises. A quick search with the same criteria used earlier tells the cheapest hotel is Best Western Ilford with £47. Prices are shown in pounds and can be converted to euros by adding another 20%. There are 30 hotels available in one month’s time. Link: www.bestwestern.co.uk
Accorhotels chain is actually a group of hotel chains, as the brand name Accorhotels includes 15 hotel chains, or hotel brands. They differ greatly both in quality and in level of service from each other. All Accor hotels represent excellent quality, if quality equals getting what you are promised. The cheapest brands of Accor chain just don’t promise that much. For example, its cheapest brand (perhaps the world’s cheapest brand) Formule1 rooms don’t necessarily even have their own shower or toilet. As the name suggests, they are typically located along busy highways. Breakfast is not included, and either there is no reception or it is open only at certain times. Usually, your credit card serves as the room key, so reception is not even needed. The cheapest room of search belonged to Formule 1. Price of €41 per room for maximum of three adults makes you wonder, whether you really need services. The search found a total of 54 different hotels in London. One could pick the Ibis Wembley Hotel with €60 from the list. The hotels belonging to Ibis brand have normal, reasonably sized rooms with their own bathroom. Two adults and a child can share the room with the above price. Link: accorhotels.co.uk
Other London hotel booking services:
- Hostelbookers cheap hostels in London.