The capital can be bewildering. It is, of course, the UK’s largest city by some distance, and there’s plenty of baggage that comes with that — it’s difficult to navigate, crowded, expensive.
But it’s different at the moment. Public transport is a breeze, the hordes are staying away and you can find plenty of decent places to stay for less than £100 a night.
So follow our guide and put the cash you save on a hotel room towards seeing all this exceptional city has to offer…
ON THE RIVER
The lounge at the citizenM Bankside, which is less than ten minutes from Tate Modern and Borough Market
Less than ten minutes from the Tate Modern and Borough Market lies citizenM Bankside. The eclectic design might not be for everyone, but its 192 rooms are modern — with lights, blinds and TVs controlled by an iPad. There’s a bar and a lounge area with books.
GOOD TO KNOW: There’s no restaurant, breakfast is self-service and snacks are on offer all day.
BOOK IT: B&B doubles from £84 (citizenm.com).
Premier Inn doesn’t scream glamour but the chain, which has more than 800 UK properties, is reliable. And it’s hard to argue with the location and value of its 47-room hotel in Leicester Square.
Chinatown, Soho, Covent Garden and Oxford Street are all within touching distance, and Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace are not far.
GOOD TO KNOW: Premier Inn has flexible rates that let you cancel up to 1pm on the day you arrive.
BOOK IT: B&B doubles from £60 (premierinn.com).
One of the rooms at Ruby Lucy, a new offering from a German chain whose motto is ‘Lean Luxury’
Big Ben, the cultural hotspots of the South Bank and the London Eye are all a short hop from the Ruby Lucy hotel near Waterloo Station — a new offering from a German chain whose motto is ‘Lean Luxury’.
There are 76 quirky rooms kitted out with Marshall amplifiers. Modern touches include online check-in and automatically printed key cards.
There’s a bar and cafe filled with retro pinball machines, too.
GOOD TO KNOW: Sign up online to become a Ruby member and save up to £25.
BOOK IT: B&B doubles from £90 (ruby-hotels.com/en).
The idea of a double at a London boutique hotel, in a Victorian townhouse, costing under £100 might seem far-fetched. But if this is what you’re after, The Rockwell in Earl’s Court aims to please. There are 40 rooms, and meals can be booked in the restaurant. It has a bar, too.
GOOD TO KNOW: Hyde Park, the Royal Albert Hall and the Natural History Museum are all nearby.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £85 (therockwell.com).
Inside Mama Shelter, a 194-room hotel near Shoreditch. It’s close to Columbia Road Flower Market and the Tower of London
Europe seems to be having a love affair with eccentric, affordable hotels. Take French import Mama Shelter, with its 194-room hotel near Shoreditch.
It has a bar and restaurant, Japanese-style karaoke rooms and a gym. It’s close to Columbia Road Flower Market, and the Tower of London is also easy to get to.
GOOD TO KNOW: Rooms can creep over the £100 mark, so book in advance for the best rates.
BOOK IT: B&B doubles from £86 (mamashelter.com).
AMONG IT ALL
Visit London Zoo and Madame Tussauds, or take a stroll in the Royal Parks during a stay at The Z Hotel Gloucester Place.
There are 114 rooms spread across six townhouses in Marylebone, with TVs, tea, coffee and free wi-fi. Z Hotels has also launched a service to advise guests on socially distanced activities.
GOOD TO KNOW: The restaurant of the nearby Wallace Collection is perfect for afternoon teas.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £50 (thezhotels.com).
The 212-room Yotel Clerkenwell, which opened last month. B&B doubles are from £68
The new budget hotels seem to be bucking trends in a bid to stand out. None is more audacious than 212-room Yotel Clerkenwell, which opened last month.
Reception is called ‘mission control’ and staff are known as ‘crew’, while the restaurant serves ‘street food-inspired dishes’.
GOOD TO KNOW: Nearby is the 12th-century church of St Bartholomew the Great, the Museum of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.
BOOK IT: B&B doubles from £68 (yotel.com).
The OYO Royal Park Hotel, pictured, isn’t far from Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Harrods and Museum Mile
Little-known Indian firm OYO is the third largest hotel chain by room count.
Its cheap-and-cheerful Royal Park Hotel isn’t far from Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Harrods and Museum Mile.
GOOD TO KNOW: Registering as a member on the website gets you 10 per cent off.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £47 (oyorooms.com).
Stay at Bethnal Green to enjoy the curry houses of nearby Brick Lane, and Victoria Park, with its boating lake and tennis courts.
The East London Hotel’s 161 rooms are simple but stylish. There are ‘monsoon showers’ (for when rain is not enough) and super-fast wi-fi.
Breakfast and lunch are still takeaway only and there’s no food in the evening, but you can get cocktails at the bar.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Santander bike docking station next door will help you whizz around town.
BOOK IT: B&B doubles from £60 (theeastlondonhotel.com).
WHAT’S OPEN IN LONDON
Buckingham Palace – entry from £13 at rct.uk.
Tower of London – prebook for £25 at hrp.org.uk.
The Cutty Sark – buy tickets for £15 at rmg.co.uk.
Imperial War Museum – prebook for free at iwm.org.uk.
The Barbican – get free entry at barbican.org.uk.
Kew Gardens – book a time slot from £17.50 at kew.org.
British Museum – tickets free at britishmuseum.org.