Whenever I’m in London, though, part of me longs for those carefree, central London, knockabout days lolling around the West End and the South Bank and whichever bits of East London were deemed unfashionable enough for me to be able to go there without triggering too many self esteem issues.
Cheap central-ish hotels, then, are something I’m always looking for. Historically, I’ve done several of those weird oversized BnB-converted townhouses that you get in Paddington and Victoria and the like. They always have names like “The Buckingham” but then the interiors are always way less than regal than you’d think and they all have weird refitted corridors with too much wood panelling everywhere and lost exchange students around every corner looking for the lift.
I even stayed in a newly-trendy youth hostel in newly-unaffordable Elephant and Castle and that was OK, but not befitting a man of my advanced, definitely non-youth years.
The last couple of years, though, I’ve returned to the same place about four times. It’s not exciting, it’s not hip, and it’s not hard to find. It’s a short walk to some of the city’s highlights, and only a short bus ride into the West End. It’s clean, modern, with full facilities and a good breakfast buffet and you can get rooms here for less than £60 a night if you do it somewhat sneakily.
Yes…it’s…drum roll…try to contain your excitement…the Holiday Inn London Commercial Road.
I know, right?
Here’s why I like it.
It’s new. It still has that new hotel smell and the staff are super perky and helpful and have genuine smiles or at least are expert fakers.
It feels central but local at the same time. There’s a market across the road with stalls selling Indian fabrics and veg and fresh fish and there’s a good local chip shop, but ten minutes away is The City being all The City about things.
It’s on a good bus route into Central London and there are two tube stations within a couple of minute’s walk: Whitechapel and Shadwell.
It offers discount add-ons that you can pay for in units, such as late check-outs and movies and breakfasts. The fast wifi is free.
OK, it’s technically in Zone 2, BUT it’s as close to Zone 1 as makes almost no odds whatsoever and with the skyscrapers of The City looming over you, it definitely feels like Zone 1. You can walk a couple of minutes and BE in Zone 1. For less than £60 a night.
Now then. Less than £60 a night is not the published rate. But here’s how you do it.
Priceline offer a range of ‘Express Deals’ on their website, where they offer heavily discounted hotel rooms but they don’t reveal the name of the hotel until you book. Click on this tab after putting in your dates for a London stay. Next, filter the results by ‘4 star’ rating and ‘East London-Islington-Hoxton-Shoreditch’ neighbourhood. That should result in only a handful of options, one of which should be a 4-star hotel for £60/$80 or less per night. That’s the Holiday Inn Commercial Road because there aren’t any other four-star hotels in the neighbourhood for that price, so there shouldn’t be any surprises (once you’ve booked it once, Priceline even gives you this message: “Hint: You’ve stayed here before!”). One important point: the prices are higher during the week as they have business guests, but at the weekend I’ve scored two nights for around £100 using this method, which is a good deal in London no matter how you slice it.
Beyond any credit card points promotion or seasonal deal, this is the best value hotel room I’ve personally seen in London. Granted, there are lots of cheap hotels in London I’ve never stayed in, and I’m very happy to be proved wrong. Send me an email if you know better, but for now, this is definitely my go to.