Ahhhh London you naughty thing you. On one hand, you’re an incredibly diverse city full of wonderful sites, history and culture, bars and clubs – a destination that anyone with the desire to travel should set foot in at least once. On the other hand, you’re ridiculously expensive, with the potential to seriously dent any traveller’s hard earned cash. But fear not friends, for we’re on hand to give you some awesome tips and tricks to find cheap accommodation in the English capital.
For the budget traveller, you can’t beat a good hostel – and London is full of them. Whether you’re looking to have a quiet night in or to go for some crazy partying, the hostel scene here has something for everyone – and suits every budget. Use hostel world or booking.com to find some great deals. Popular choices include the awesome hostel chains Wombats and Generator – which are great places for meeting new travel buddies. Just be careful though as you’ll probably spend more money on beer!
It’s not just hostels that cater to the budget traveller’s needs nowadays. There are some cool cheap hotels too in London. If you’re willing to do a little bit of digging, you’ll find plenty of hotel deals on the internet. Again, try sites such as hostel world (not just for hostels – we’ve found some great boutique hotels on there too) and booking.com and fix your search price low! You can find some great offers with a little bit of practice and track down some super cheap hotels.
Guest houses and B&B’s
If you’re willing to stay further out of the city centre, consider looking at guest houses/B&Bs. Many of these accommodation options will be cosy and comfortable, and the owners are usually really friendly. Not to mention the fact that they’re very reasonably priced!
Stay with locals? Check. Party with locals? Check. Get local insider knowledge? Check? Stay for free? Absolutely! Couch surfing is the way forward if you want to really keep it cheap and extend your stay, and with over 100,000 potential hosts in London, you’re not going to have a hard time finding your perfect homestay experience – and make friends for life. If you’ve not got a profile, you need to get one now! But for added safety, make sure you only stay with reputable hosts – couch surfers with lots of really positive reviews.
House sitting is another good alternative accommodation option for those with tight purse strings. In exchange for helping someone clean their house (or making sure nobody steals anything), you can stay for nothing! It’s a win-win. Search online to find the best house sitting sites for London. If you have your own home you can also consider trying a home share. This is very popular if you want to stay somewhere for a long time – where you swap your home with someone living in London. It can be an exciting way to see some cool and unique properties!
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but camping is a great way to travel on the cheap. You might be surprised to know that there are a few good camp sites in big old London town. The downside is they might not always be in the best location for tourist sites – but if you don’t mind a bit of a walk they can be a decent alternative that you might not have ever considered! Give it a try!
Join an expat forum
Expats groups or other such social forums can be a great way to find somewhere to stay for a short while. London has loads to offer here, with expat groups for just about every country in the world! All you have to do is sign up, post that you’re coming to the capital for a while, and you never know – you might get to stay in a palace! Expat groups are full of good people who are committed to helping you out, so you never know your luck until you ask!
Rivalling hostel world and booking.com is Airbnb, which is a really cool site for finding cheap accommodation anywhere – not just in London. But London being London has thousands of hosts to choose from, so it’s a great option for any budget. Sign up, type in where you want to go, and then pick a place to stay based on what you can afford. You can stay in some really awesome places – sometimes with the owner if that’s what you’d prefer.
Long/short term rentals
If you’re looking to stay somewhere for an extended holiday, or just taking a quick break, consider a long/short term rental. These can be easy enough to find with property management sites, with the big advantage of being able to choose where you live! You’ll find plenty of options for London, and many will have very good deals for the longer you book. Roomorama is a really useful site for this – with plenty of search fields so you can get a place in Camden Town with a hot tub should you so desire!
Hostels often need staff and they’re more than happy to take on travellers in exchange for accommodation. You do a few hours’ work every day and they give you a free bed – sometimes including meals or a little pocket money – so that’s a pretty sweet deal! But it’s not just hostels – there are loads of places that will put you up in exchange for your skills. Try sites like workaway.org for some ideas, including teaching English, artistic communes, building projects and working on organic farms. You’ll get to learn new skills too! I want to try that in Australia but I’m afraid of creepy crawlies there! You’ll probably be fine in London though!
If all else fails you can always check the classifieds ads! Try a site like gumtree for London and see what you can find. There are loads of posts up there from people looking for room or flat mates for short and long term, usually with students – and they know how to keep things really cheap! You never know – you might get a stay somewhere for free. If you don’t ask – you don’t get!
Ask fellow travellers/friends
Speaking of asking – see if you know anybody in the London area – or if any of your friends do. Get the word out that you’re going to be there and see if someone you know, or a mutual friend knows, can put you up for a night or two. Can’t get cheaper than that! We know fellow travellers who do exactly that – by sending messages to friends they know in the city.
Public places/airports/train stations
This is a slightly riskier option but if you’re in dire need of a free night some of you can rough it! We know people that travel all over the world and sleep outdoors (and we’ve done it several times). Places like Paddington station in London is open all night – so find a secure and well-lit area and put an eye mask on! There are so many people that have connecting flights, trains or buses, so they simply choose to spend the night in the station. And check online – there are websites for everything nowadays – including how to successfully sleep in an airport! Don’t forget to keep your valuables somewhere safe.
Accommodation is always the biggest head (and wallet) ache for any traveller – especially if you’re going to an expensive city – which London most certainly is. Don’t let that put you off visiting! Armed with these tips and tricks, and with a little bit of knowledge you can make things a lot easier for yourself – and a whole lot cheaper too. Write in the comments your own experiences of finding cheap places to stay!