London Hotel Options, From Budget to Deluxe
The city offers a wide range of lodging choices, packaged or a la carte. And you can’t always go by price.
When I recently booked an air-andlodging package to London, travel provider Go-today.com offered a choice of 18 hotels in six levels, from “budget” to “superior deluxe” — with corresponding upgrades in amenities and cost.
Just how bad is rock bottom? My main concerns were cleanliness and proximity to the Tube — and my snug room at the budget-category My Place Hotel, near the Earl’s Court station in West London, passed the test. (See below for details.) Then, to get a better sense of what the other options were, a colleague and I checked out the rest of the lodgings on Go-today’s list, touring guest rooms, inspecting public facilities, speaking with guests and judging the hotel’s general upkeep and location. As most of these hotels pop up in both package and hotel-only searches on Expedia.com, Orbitz.com and other sites, the list gives a good idea of what’s out there in the London package deal world.
All properties have private baths, and continental breakfast is generally included when the room is booked as part of a package. The package price quoted is Go-today’s air-hotel price from Washington for a four-night stay last month, per person double. The roomonly price is a rate we found through Web searches for a double room at the property for a Saturday-night stay next month, not as part of a package deal.
— Anne McDonough K Apollo Hotel, 64 Queensborough Terrace (Bayswater)
Package price: $719. Room-only price per night: $113 (found on Orbitz.com).
Details: There’s little charm at this 46room hotel, located on a West London street lined with other small hotels and a hostel. The lobby’s green marble floors give way to dreary dark floral carpeting in the residential part of the building. Try to avoid getting a room on the ground floor, as they’re the smallest and seemed dark. The best thing the Apollo has going for it is that it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Kensington Gardens, and getting to the heart of town is easy on the Central, District and Circle lines via the nearby Queensway or Bayswater Tube stations. There’s no Internet on-site for guests.
Info: 011-44-20-7727-3066, apollohotel@ btinternet.com. K My Place Hotel, 1-3 Trebovir Rd. (Earls Court)
Price: $739. Room-only price: $221 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: Less than two minutes from the Earl’s Court Tube station on the Piccadilly line (convenient when you’re taking the Tube from Heathrow), My Place is a fewfrills, six-story hotel that shares a basement floor with a nightclub. Try to get a room on the top floors to avoid the noise. On the plus side, guests get free admission to the club. My clean single on the sixth floor was dominated by the tiny but comfortable single bed; a TV, mini-fridge, safe and hair dryer rounded out the amenities. Most guests appeared to have booked as part of a package and took advantage of the generous conti-
K Holiday Villa Hotel, 37 Leinster Gardens (Bayswater)
Price: $759. Room-only price: $152 (Quikbook.com).
Details: Malaysian accents and a small sauna/spa area in the basement are what set this 100-room hotel apart from the numerous others in the Bayswater area. (It’s also two doors down from the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre.) The rooms are clean, with a peach-and-green color scheme, and the mostly European clientele seemed to cheerfully ignore that mattresses were being piled outside and replaced when we visited. nental breakfast, including unlimited hardboiled eggs, toast, cereal, yogurt, juice and coffee. Wireless Internet runs about $8 per hour.
Info: 011-44-20-7373-0833, myplacehotel.co.uk.
www. “It’s okay, about what’s advertised,” said guest Steve Auger of Washington, who’d booked the hotel on a package with Virgin Vacations. Wireless Internet is about $10 an hour; Internet is also available via two coinoperated computers in the lobby. Nearest Tube stations: Bayswater and Queensway.
Info: 011-44-20-7258-0269, www.holiday villahotels.com. K Bloomsbury Park Hotel, 126 Southampton Row (Bloomsbury)
Price: $789. Room-only price: $225 (Thistlehotels.com).
Details: The Bloomsbury Park has a phenomenal location just two blocks from the British Museum (the closest Tube stations are Russell Square and Holborn), and stained-glass windows add a period feel to the lobby. Rooms we saw were clean if spare, and offered a hot water heater and a selection of teas and instant coffee. But the hotel is showing its age with old carpeting and in- K Somerset Bayswater Hotel, 42 Prince’s Sq. (Bayswater)
Price: $829. Room-only price: $232 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: If you want to feel as if you’re actually living in London, this extended-stay property is a good choice. The contemporary studios, decorated in browns and reds, have sofas, TVs (several have two sets), CD and DVD players, and kitchenettes with dishes, pans and utensils and a dishwasher — though you can also leave dishes for housekeeping, at no extra cost. Studios can fit one or two people, with plenty of room to maneuver. There are both laundry service and (free) self-service laundry facilities. The hotel also offers generous suites in an annex stitutional bathrooms. According to an employee, the 95-room hotel is set for a refurbishment; the bar has been closed since summer. Wireless access is available for about $12 per hour.
Info: 011-44-87-0333-9104, www. thistlehotels.com/bloomsburypark.
K Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum, 97 Cromwell Rd. (Kensington)
Price: $819. Room-only price: (IChoicehotels.com).
Details: Just look up — way up — to see the Kensington Forum, the tallest hotel in the United Kingdom, with 27 floors and 906 rooms just two minutes from the Gloucester Road Tube station. An alcove on the top floor offers one of the best panoramic views of the city you’ll get outside of the London Eye; it’s worth being a guest just for that (the elevators are keyoperated), and many rooms offer similar views. If you’ve stayed at a Holiday Inn before, you’ll recognize the pillow menu; you can order your favorite via the TV. The building itself is imposing in a vaguely Cold War way, but the rooms are superclean, spacious and . . . as intended . . . familiar. There’s a 24-hour fitness center, a Starbucks on the ground floor and wireless Internet in the lobby for about $12 an hour.
Info: 011-44-87-0400-9100, ichotelsgroup.com.
out back. The Prince’s Square area is residential and quiet, though just a few minutes’ walk to busy Bayswater Road and the Bayswater and Queensway Tube stations. Broadband Internet access is free.
Info: 011-44-20-7985-1188, www. somersetbayswater.com. K Citadines Holborn-Covent Garden, 94-99 High Holborn (Holborn)
Price: $879. Room-only price: $165 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: Pullout couches make good beds when you’re crashing with relatives; not so much when you’re vacationing at a hotel. All the studios at this “apart’hotel” have pullouts; the apartments have regular beds and a pullout. Operated by the same company as the Somerset Bayswater Hotel, this Citadines location doesn’t have the same panache but does offer compact kitchens with dishwashers, fridges and kettles, and the location is well placed, within walking distance of both the British Museum and Covent Garden and closest to the Holborn Tube station on the Piccadilly and Central lines. There’s a Sainsbury supermarket two blocks away. Free Internet: wireless in the lobby and broadband in the apartments.
Info: 011-44-20-7395-8800, www. citadines.com. K Thistle Kensington Gardens Hotel, 104 Bayswater Road (Bayswater)
Price: $889. Room-only price: $194 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: Next to a gas station that’s under construction, the hotel’s lobby is accessed via elevator from the ground floor. The hotel is midway through a major renovation; the seventh, eighth and ninth floors are finished, so try to get a room on one of those floors (and if you can swing a room ending in “02” you’ll get a view in two directions). The floral carpeting of the tourist- and budget-class hotels thankfully gives way to a patterned red here, though the narrow and low-ceilinged hallways have a somewhat tight, nautical feel to them — but all is forgotten with the stunning views of Kensington Gardens and the spotless rooms. There’s a lounge, a small bar and a restaurant on the lobby level of the 175-room hotel, which is closest to the Queensway Tube station. Wireless runs about $12 per hour.
Info: 011-44-87-0333-9102, www. thistlehotels.com. K Thistle Westminster Hotel, Buckingham Palace Road (Victoria)
Price: $1,029. Room-only price: $467 (Expedia.com), $204 (Thistlehotels.com).
Details: Now here’s a new decor concept: tan brick covering the inside walls of a hotel. It gives the sense of wandering through a village, only to end up in a very modern, clean and spacious guest room. The hotel has 134 rooms on two floors and, as manager Marianne Brown promises, there are “no tiny shoebox rooms here.” Twenty-nine rooms will soon offer two double beds, an option Brown said is popular with overseas guests. Wireless Internet, available throughout the hotel, is about $12 per hour. It’s just a few minutes to the Victoria Tube station on the District, Circle and Victoria lines as well as London Victoria Railway Station, which allows easy access to Gatwick airport.
Info: 011-44-87-0333-9121, www. thistlehotels.com.
K Crowne Plaza St. James Court Hotel, 45-51 Buckingham Gate (Westminster)
Price: $909. Room-only $219 (Crowneplaza.com).
Details: From the elegant lobby and solicitous staff to the delightful period prints on the walls, this is a hotel with character and history, built around a gorgeous courtyard that used to see carriage traffic and now offers topiary. All 321 rooms and 21 suites come with robes, tea and coffee, multiple phones and tasteful decor (with color schemes such as dark red and plaid). Rooms facing the courtyard have wireless access, while the others offer broadband; rates are capped at $30 a day. The complex also holds several restaurants and the Zander Bar, which trivia buffs may know boasts the longest bar in the United Kingdom. Victoria Station and St. James’s Tube stations are a quick walk away, as are Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Park; the front desk can assist with scenic running routes.
Info: 011-44-20-7834-6655, www. london.crowneplaza.com. K K West Hotel & Spa, Richmond Way (Shepherd’s Bush)
Price: $919. Room-only price: $199 (Quikbook.com), $212 (Orbitz.com), $270 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: This sleek, glass-paneled hotel with a “South Beach meets East Village” tag line looks as if it was plopped into West London by accident, on a residential street way out by the Shepherd’s Bush Tube station on the Central line. (Note: There are two Shepherd’s Bush stations; the other is on the Hammersmith and City line.) If you’re into modern hotels, the 222 rooms with king-size beds, dark wood, brownand-beige color schemes and leather
couches will fit the bill. It’s a popular spot for meetings; we wonder how many people sneak off from committee to the lovely Asian-themed spa downstairs. (Guests using the facilities are charged about $20 per room; the fee can go toward treatments, which start at $120 and rise quickly.) Wireless is available for about $19 for 24 hours.
Info: 011-44-87-0027-4343, www.k-west. co.uk. K Royal Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace at Bayswater Road (Bayswater)
Price: $999. Room-only price: $197 (Orbitz.com), $213 (Quikbook.com), $302 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: The highlight of this mega-hotel is undoubtedly Hyde Park, which is across the street and visible from many of the rooms — the views are spectacular. However, if you are placed on a lower floor, the view is diminished by a concrete parking garage. The recently renovated 416-room property has the perks of a big hotel: It’s clean, has three restaurants and a 24-hour bar, and, when we were there, it had packs of raucous children. The “standard” rooms are just that: standard. Though some boast flatscreen TVs, they are small and basic, with cable-based Internet at about $33 a day. The hotel is just behind the Lancaster Gate station on the Central line. K Flemings Mayfair Hotel, 7-12 Half Moon St. (Mayfair)
Price: $949. Room-only price: $310 (Expedia.com), $301 (Hotels.com), $309 (Hotels.com).
Details: It’s nice to find quirky character in such a proper area of London. The lobby of the Flemings Mayfair is filled with inventive floral arrangements (was that a boa in the mix?!), and sepia-toned and black-andwhite vintage photographs are scattered throughout the property. Located on a quiet side street off Piccadilly four blocks from the Green Park Tube station on the Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines, the hotel offers 119 rooms with varying color schemes (there are also apartments available), a library bar and a restaurant in a circa 1730 Georgian building. Some rooms offer wireless ($10 for two hours); others have broadbroad ($30 for up to 24-hour access).
Info: 011-44-20-7499-2964, www. flemings-mayfair.co.uk.
Info: 011-44-207262-6737, www.royal lancaster.com. K Montcalm Hotel Nikko, Great Cumberland Place (Marble Arch)
Price: $1,039. Roomonly price: $276.
Details: The Montcalm’s interior is archetypal “English shabby.” Catering primarily to a Japanese corporate clientele, the hotel has worn carpets, tattered patterned couches and colorful groups of clashing prints, alongside Japanese-influenced roomservice and breakfast menus. Located in a Georgian crescent next to a synagogue, the 120room hotel feels removed and serene despite being minutes by foot from Marble Arch station on the Central line, Hyde Park and Oxford Street (though traffic can be heard from some of the rooms). The standard rooms, while a touch damp, are clean, basic and small, with trouser presses and bidets; the quirky duplex suites offer two-story accommodations, connected by a spiral staircase. Broadband Internet is about $40 a day.
Info: 011-44-20-7402-4288, montcalm.co.uk.
K Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, (Mayfair)
Price: $1,239. Room-only price: $315 (Hotels.com), $256 (Quikbook.com).
Details: The busy check-in desk suggests that the small role the hotel played in the Alexander Litvinenko polonium-210 incident (Litvinenko stayed here before he died in November 2006) isn’t keeping people away. According to a hotel spokeswoman, “the small area . . . where traces of contamination were detected during the Litvinenko in-
Piccadilly vestigation at the end of last year has now been fully remediated,” and a report by the British police and the Health Protection Agency concurs that “in the key public areas [at the hotel] there is no significant risk to public health.” The guest rooms are spacious and comfortable, if not up to the elegant art deco standards of the ground-floor entryway and the Palm Court, where afternoon tea is served and the bar stays open until 2 a.m. The closest Tube stations to the hotel, which looks out onto Green Park, are Hyde Park Corner and Green Park. Wireless Internet runs about $12 per hour.
Info: 011-44-20-7499-6321, starwoodhotels.com. K Swissotel the Howard, London, 12 Temple Place (The Strand)
Price: $1,349. Room-only price: $311 (Or-
www. bitz.com), $233 (Expedia.com, tels.com), $572 (Quikbook.com).
Details: Primarily a business hotel — there are three phones in each guest room — the Swissotel’s lone London location offers a great view of the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to Tower Bridge from 65 of its 89 rooms. (The others overlook a courtyard.) Just opposite the Temple Tube station on the Circle and District lines, and within walking distance of Covent Garden, the hotel has espresso machines and a varied tea selection in all rooms, broadband (about for $30 a day) and complimentary use of an off-site fitness center (though crossing a bridge and running along the Thames would be a great way to explore the riverside location). All rooms come with king-size beds, and most deluxe rooms have a separate sitting area.
Info: 011-44-20-7836-3555, london.swissotel.com.
K Landmark London Hotel, 222 Marylebone Road (Marylebone)
Price: $1,459. Room-only price: $381 (Quikbook.com), $387 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: As its name implies, this hotel is a site, and a sight. The refurbished Victorian building, which maintains original Gothic architecture, stained-glass windows and fireplaces, is dominated by its contemporary and exquisite central atrium: a glass-roofed, six-story space with palm trees, couches, marble flooring and live classical music wafting from the mezzanine cafe. Some of the spacious 299 rooms offer views of the central atrium, others look to the posh streets of Marylebone, and still others open onto temporary scaffolding. (The old edifice must, by law, be maintained.) The Landmark offers a Sunday champagne brunch ($127) and has several restaurants and a swish bar, as well as a gift shop and hair salon. A gym/spa/ pool is being renovated and should be open by the end of the month. The pleasant rooms don’t offer many unusual perks — aside from PlayStation, that is — but make you feel as if you’re seriously on vacation. Broadband is $28.50 a day.
Info: 011-44-20-7631-8000, landmarklondon.co.uk.
http:// K The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly (Mayfair)
Price: $1,889. Room-only price: $625 (Ex-
www. pedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: You may think ornate rooms with decorative gold moldings, Louis XVI decor and custom-made carpeting aren’t your style, and perhaps they’re not. But the Ritz, which opened its doors in 1906 and where guests are greeted by name, also has some fun up its sleeve, as seen by the vintage photos in the guest rooms: One shows Tallulah Bankhead drinking champagne from her shoe. Even if you don’t stay here, consider splurging on afternoon tea in the Palm Court ($71 per person) or having a drink in one of the public rooms, just to get a taste of opulence. (Jacket and tie are required for men.) The Ritz also offers a full-service salon and fitness room, DVD players and broadband Internet access (about $40 for 24-hour access). The Green Park Tube station, on the Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines, is next door.
Info: 011-44-20-7493-8181, london.com.
www.theritz London freelance writer Judy Batalion contributed to this story.
At the My Place Hotel in Earls Court, left, you may want to ask for a room above — far above — the basement nightclub. The Holiday Villa Hotel in the Bayswater area, right, features Malaysian accents and a small sauna/spa area.
The Crowne Plaza St. James Court hotel complex is home to the longest bar in the United Kingdom.
The Sheraton Park Lane, top, and the Ritz.