Ask the expert: how to keep the costs down when visiting London
I want to spend a weekend in London with my husband - but the prices seem out of our reach. How can I keep costs down?
London hotel prices have rarely been in the budget category - and there's the double whammy of a strong sterling pulverising the euro when it comes to exchange rates. I feel your pain - and almost had a heart attack when checking the rate when in the city at a solid, if not spectacular, hotel in the West End earlier this year. A late-night check in would have hit me to the tune of £455 - that's ¤609 in our money.
Fortunately, there are good alternatives, and you don't have to skimp on style or service if your budget's not that big.
I recently stayed in The Hoxton, which is situated in Holborn, right beside the West End's theatreland, so it's ideal if you're going to a show or seeing the sights of central London. Rooms start from £69 a night, but do book ahead to get the best deal. Rooms are cosy, the staff are friendly, and you get an hour's free local calls in your room, complimentary Wi-Fi and a small packed breakfast. It's a straight run on the Piccadilly Line from Heathrow Airport. There's also a sister hotel in trendy Shoreditch, with similar rates. See www.thehoxton.com
I've also stayed in the Z Hotels - they have two in London, in Soho and Victoria. The latter is handy for Gatwick but I'd opt for Soho. It's slap bang in the buzzing arty quarter with tons of bars and theatres nearby and decent cheap eateries too. Rooms are small but cool. Rates from £75. www.thezhotels.com
If you really want to skimp, check out Tune Hotels, with locations around London, including Kings Cross and Westminster. The idea is simple - copy the models of no-frills budget airlines and stick them in a hotel. So you get a room, with bed and shower, but a room with a window costs more, as does Wi-Fi , having a TV - or even a towel. The upside? Rooms start at just £55 a night. www.tunehotels.com
Also, check out weekend break deals with the likes of www.clickandgo.com. Tour operators can negotitate better prices for hotels, so an all-in package of flights and hotels is worth a look.