When you start planning your trip to London you will notice that the choice of 3 star hotels in London fits into certain categories: chains, central independents (generally in theatreland) and then a million and one others that you cannot tell apart from each other.
These are the easy ones to spot. Thistle, Travelodge, Comfort, Holiday Inn Express all have hotels somewhere in London – some right in the heart.
There are several Travelodges dotted around London, but Travelodge really is the Marmite of the hotel world and the London ones split opinion just as much. If you don’t know, just nip into your local Travelodge before you book!
Thistle also give you the choice of central or City. Look out for the Thistle City Barbican (the best deal) and the Thistle Piccadilly (the most central).
Central Independent Hotels
These are harder to tell apart. Is the National better than the Bedford? What about the Strand Palace – is that a three star still or is it a four star?
My vote goes to the St Giles Hotel. Just off Tottenham Court Road, 50 yards from Oxford Street and just behind the Dominion Theatre you can’t get much more central.
It has two restaurants and a bar, it also has great fitness facilities below the hotel courtesy of the YMCA next door: a pool, a huge gym with studios and squash courts all thrown in. You pay a daily membership but it’s not much – and of course you could have a weekend off the regime!
Finally are all those other hotels. The areas include Bayswater, Kensington, Earls Court, KingsCross… they sound remote but really they are not. The hotels are called things like Lancaster Gate, The Elizabeth, The Bayswater Inn, the Byron… I could go on, probably forever! Some are modern, some in converted townhouses. To be honest even I have difficulty telling them apart sometimes.
So which should you go for? In the end what feature is going to attract your attention? Do you need something special or do you just need something cheap?
My votes in this category go South of the river. Don’t be fooled by having the Thames in between you and your theatre – there may be a massive divide as far as Londoners are concerened between North and South of the river, but the rest of us just use bridges! PLUS check out the view if you walk – beautiful!
The Days Hotel in Waterloo is a modern hotel so not much character but great value, my second vote is the opposite – there is lots of character at the Mad Hatter – getting close to 4 star prices but worth looking at none-the-less!
Ultimately they are all relatively easy to get back to after the theatre, they all have ensuite facilities, they all have some special deals at various times of the year. Are Independents going to be better than a Travelodge or a Holiday Inn Express? Are you going to find a hidden gem?
You could go to TripAdvisor but show me a hotel and I’ll find you someone who loves it and someone who hates it, so that’s no use! But if a hotel can average 3 or more then they are probably not going to spoil your break.
Beyond Three Star Hotels
If you are looking for a hotel to add to your experience, rather than just be somewhere to sleep, then book a four star hotel theatre break… and if you are still not convinced (unlike the person who booked the Travelodge after having specifically stated that she wanted the very best and was then surprised when she was disappointed) then book a five star hotel.
Theatre Breaks Tip
Look out for Mystery 3 and 4 star hotels. If you don’t know your Comfort from your Byron then why bother making the choice at all. Mystery Hotels offer deals beyond those attributed to specific hotels and they are always a pleasant surprise. Start the Theatre Breaks booking process and look out for Mystery Hotels when you get to the list of hotels – they are not available all the time but hopefully you will get lucky!