Whether the British Pound is soaring or stable, it's handy to have a choice of family-friendly value hotels in England's favorite city (and the United Kingdom's priciest destination).
It often grieves me when I hear travelers lament the inability to find an affordable London hotel room in the high season. Food can be expensive – yes. Want to catch a play with the whole family? Yep, that can be pricey (but at least London theatre is subsidized by the city). But finding a hotel room or apartment that won’t break the bank? Please. I have an easier time finding a decently priced room in London than I ever have in New York City.
Case in point: The Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York City prices out at US$259, while a comparable hotel in London, the Hilton Islington, prices out at US$133. (Rates found on Hotels.com in February 2006.) A centrally-located, clean, comfortable hotel is what every family desires. No need to skip one of the world’s most fabulous cities just because you fear it’ll cost one of your legs or arms to do it. I have compiled some suggestions to lift the fog from the mystery of great and easy to find London hotel rooms.
The Bottom Line
If your first thought on booking a place to stay is “How much is this going to cost me?” this section is for you. When budget is key, the following properties will make you glad you passed up another cross-country vacation in the minivan.
The Darlington Hyde Park Hotel
111-117 Sussex Gardens
London W2 2RU, United Kingdom
It seems so obvious but I must do it: The Darlington is… well… darling. The quiet and very quaint hotel near Paddington Station is not only a secret but a steal. Rates start around US$150/N. The hotel is clean to a fault. You would expect nothing more from a hotel with a washer and dryer on site. Breakfast is included and is a sumptuous indulgence. Book early as this hotel is becoming less of a secret with each passing tourist season.
Luna & Simmone
47 / 49 Belgrave Road
London SW1V 2BB, United Kingdom
For over 30 years this little gem has been run by the earnestly hospitable Desira brothers. The white, Victorian style building somewhat blends in with other properties in the area but nothing about this hotel is like any other. The brothers pride themselves on service above everything, and it shows. The rooms are charming and cozy, the bathrooms are spotless, and the smiles from the staff could warm the place for an entire winter. Double rooms (for two) start around US$120 and if you are a family of three you can request a rollaway. If your brood has more than that, you will need another room.
Imperial Road, Imperial Wharf
London SW6 2GA, United Kingdom
Not as centrally located as the rest in this section, but still only a short walk to the tube. But as far as getting your money out of a budget hotel, this is the belle of the ball. The Jurys Chelsea is full of huge bedrooms perfect for a family of four and more. Impeccable customer service awaits every customer no matter what their age. Situated in a beautiful, upscale London neighborhood, the Jury’s Chelsea feels much more like a 4-star hotel than the 3-star inn as advertised. Currently, the website is offering a hotel-wide rate of US$120 for the rest of 2006. That’s every month, even July. And yes, that does include family rooms.
Value Over Price
For those of you who want that fourth star on family outings but really don’t want to feel like you’re paying for it, read on and enjoy.
Jurys Clifton Ford & Health Club
47 Welbeck Street, London,
London W1G 8DN, United Kingdom
I’m going to start this section where I left off in the last one: with an exceptional Jurys property. Let’s start with the location. The Clifton Ford is about two blocks off Oxford Street (read: shopping), yet still hidden well enough to feel like a terrific find. The hotel is everything you would want in a stylish, upscale accommodation. Family rooms are very large, comfortable and well appointed with two double beds and room for a rollaway. The bathrooms are so large that the entire family can prepare for heading out at the same time, without bumping into each other. And then there’s the pool. Not many hotels in London offer a swimming pool and if they do, the prices tend to be outrageous. The value here, in addition to room to move, is an extra activity to engage your kids should the British Museum be crowded. Or, if you just want to relax after a hectic day of sightseeing, the staff can arrange swimming lessons for a small fee. Booking online is best as you will be offered the best rates. Prices start at US$180.
Thistle Marble Arch
Bryanston Street, Marble Arch,
London W1H 7EH, United Kingdom
Thistle Hotels is another well-known United Kingdom hotel chain. And in London there seems to be one on every corner. And while no two Thistles are created equal, the Thistle Marble Arch stands alone when it comes to location, price and value. The hotel overlooks Oxford Street and is within mere feet of a tube stop. Family rooms are the size of a studio apartment with a king size bed and two twin beds. And unlike other hotels, the exceptionally large rooms come with a small divider to allow privacy. Not as swanky as the Clifton Ford, but what it lacks in style it makes up for with maintenance. Prepare to spend about US$260/N (on Hotels.com and Expedia), Also investigate the Thistle Hotels website for even better deals. The truly savvy will check out Biddingfortravel.com for tips on how to get this property for even more of a bargain (average of US$65 per night for a double) as it is a very popular Priceline hotel.
Cheval Apartment Group
At the top of the accommodations value food chain is the plethora of London self-serviced apartments. If you are seeking “value” and you want to cook your own food, the Cheval group will more than meet your needs. You’ll notice I did not mention this as an option if you want to make your own bed or wash your own dishes. Oh no. The beauty of the Cheval Apartment Group is that it’s a self-service hotel that services you. All three short-stay apartment buildings within the group (Cheval Apartments, Phoenix House and Calico House) are luxurious within means. The Cheval Apartments offer posh townhomes, elegant two- and three-bedroom apartments and a location that’s within spitting distance of Harrods. A family of four prices out at about US$400 per night. It’s not cheap but if you factor in that you’re basically renting a house for a week or a few nights, the distinctive pleasure of having someone clean up your family’s mess (make beds, wash dishes, take out garbage) well, I don’t believe I need to write anything else about the value there. If you’re willing to sleep across the Thames and a little closer to the Tate Modern, I would strongly recommend the Calico House. While their Executive Studio Apartment is best suited for a family of three, there are many larger, also fabulously-priced options. The contemporary style Executive Studio is equipped with full kitchen, fine china dishes, satellite TV, direct-dial telephones, ample storage room and a great Murphy bed. Rollaway beds can be added upon request. Rates start around US$190 per night. If you decide you want a bedroom, they climb up to US$290. All units have all of the amenities I listed (and many more) but the loveliest touch is the Welcome Hampers that come with each stay. Each kitchen comes with a hamper basket of fresh bread, butter, various cereals, water, coffee, tea, and juice, No need to head out to the store that first morning for breakfast—it’s been taken care of. The Phoenix House offers similar accommodations to the Calico property. And on that last and somewhat fancy note…
222 Marylebone Rd,
London NW1 6JQ, United Kingdom
If you are searching for a good reason to stay somewhere remarkable but have noticed most of the top-drawer hotels don’t seem to welcome children, you should consider The Landmark for a night. The two double-bedded rooms are so big you just about get winded on the way to the also gigantic bathroom. Simply put, this is among the most fantastic hotels in the city. The Marylebone station entrance leads to a light and airy atrium that redefines the “wow” factor. Try the Afternoon Tea on offer; one complete setting and an extra pot of tea to share is more than enough for two (and less money). If you’re traveling with teens, while away a tranquil afternoon here while the kids are swimming in the pool. Room service includes a children’s menu with more than the usual macaroni and cheese options. But, if you are splurging on the room, you might want to check out many of the moderately priced cafÃ© and pubs in the area. Yummy – pub food! Definitely check online (hotel’s website as well as Expedia) for special prices. A first-class night at around US$475 for the whole family is an excellent value in a city with a reputation for overpriced luxury.
London is full of marvelous bargains for families with an eye towards comfort and luxury. Don’t believe anything else, and book those flights today.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.