Finding A London Hotel
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 Inn, Holiday Inn Express all have hotels somewhere in London – some right in the heart.
There are several Travelodges dotted around London and to be honest they are really the Marmite of the hotel world where personal opinion is split. 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 – both a cough & a spit away from each other and the West End in leafy Russell Square.
However, my vote goes to the St Giles Hotel. Situated just off Tottenham Court Road, 50 yards from Oxford Street and just behind the Dominion Theatre you can’t get 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 – but of course you could have a weekend off the daily fitness regime!
In the areas of Bayswater, Kensington, Earls Court, Kings Cross you will find hotels a plenty from basic 2 star to opulent 5 star… these areas may sound remote but really they are not – most will be 10 or 15 minutes on the underground or taxi. 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 concerned between North and South of the river, but the rest of us just use bridges! PLUS check out the view whilst you walk – beautiful!
The Days Hotel Waterloo is a modern building so not much character but great value; my second vote is the complete opposite – the Mad Hatter, situated between the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe, where there is lots of character but getting close to 4 star prices. However, worth looking at none-the-less!
Ultimately the hotels I’m suggesting 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!