Best Areas to Stay For London History
Few international cities have as much or as colourful a history as London. From its ancient beginnings to its cosmopolitan present, there’s so much to know about every street that you could easily do a PhD on the history of one, small neighbourhood.
Therefore, there’s a great deal to see and to take in. As all of London is a huge, historic monument, selecting places to stay that enable you to take it all in is a little tricky.
Fortunately, we’ve a great deal of cheap London accommodation all over the capital; so wherever you want to go, we’ll have something that’s right.
But for the purposes of keeping things simple and allowing you to make easy choices about which budget hotels you want to look for, we’re going to focus on a couple of London areas that either give you a great deal of London historical sights on your doorstep or alternatively allow you excellent transport access to such places.
This small area of London is not just famous because it’s the home of Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament; it’s been an important historical location for millennia.
Westminster Abbey dates back to before the Norman invasion of the UK and is now an important landmark for a variety of reasons. As well as hosting important but more frivolous affairs such as royal weddings, the site is also home to Poet’s Corner (where some of our most famous writers are laid to rest) as well as religious officials throughout antiquity.
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are monuments of British politics and have been the seat of power for centuries.
Whitehall also offers more contemporaneous history, with Churchill’s War Rooms being open to public access. These are a network of tunnels and subterranean rooms that Churchill used to mastermind his negotiations and campaigns during WWII.
Westminster is also very close to Buckingham Palace, an obviously important landmark, being as it is the home of our monarchy.
Staying close to Westminster is, therefore, a good option. There isn’t very much accommodation in Westminster itself, so we recommend staying in the very nearby area of Victoria, where we have a great number of cheap hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts.
One of the closest hotels is the Comfort Inn London Westminster. With comfortable and secure rooms starting from £42.25 per person, this hotel is one of the more expensive of our budget accommodations but is very high-spec.
One of our more popular Victoria hotels is the Blair Victoria and Tudor Inn Hotel and has rooms starting at £21.25 per person. Booking with TravelStay.com entitles you to a free continental breakfast, and WiFi can be had for £5/24 hours.
Another popular hotel in the area is the Romanos Hotel, which offers basic but comfortable accommodation for as little as £23.80 per person. Your TravelStay.com booking gets you free WiFi in your room and public areas as well as a free continental breakfast to set you up for a day of historical sightseeing.
There is a great deal that is of historical interest all over Holborn. From the Royal Courts of Justice to the peaceful and beautiful Inns of Court and the ancient Temple Church, you won’t be short of things to do. The area also boasts two pubs that lay claim to the oldest pub in London – The Ship (just off Kingsway) and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
As with Westminster, there is a limited amount of budget accommodation in Holborn itself (if you want to fork out an exorbitant sum of money, then you can stay slapbang in the centre; but it’s more advisable to save your pennies and walk to its amazing historical sights).
One cheap hotel in Holborn is the Lonsdale Hotel, which has rooms starting from £25.00 per person. Or if you didn’t mind a short walk, the Elmwood Hotel and Arriva Hotel both have rooms starting at £22.50 per person and are both located in nearby Kings Cross (just a short walk south past some beautiful Dickensian townhouses).
There’s a great deal more on offer in the Kings Cross area, and as far as history’s concerned it’s a fine place to stay. As well as being a short walk from the historic Holborn (and its Roman heritage sites, viaduct and churches), it is also home to the British Library.
To check out everything that we’ve got on offer, check out our Kings Cross Hotel List.
If you‘re planning on staying during the summer months, we also have a wide variety of university accommodation repurposed outside of term time, and these are more centrally located in Holborn.
London’s maritime history is vast and deeply intriguing; and there’s no better place to get a firm grasp of its intricacies than in Greenwich.
As a previous home of the royal residence and containing the Old Naval College and Maritime Museums, as well as the magnificent Cutty Sark, the Greenwich Observatory and Planetarium and the expansive Greenwich Park, few areas of London have as much history crammed into such a small space.
Staying nearby is easy and cheap, with rooms at the beautiful Peckham Lodge starting at just £14.67 per person. The accommodation has been refurbished and offers comfortable, basic and very clean rooms for incredible budget prices.
While it’s not geographically very close, the Borough Budget Rooms offer bus transport from right outside the accommodation to the centre of Greenwich, which is by far the cheapest way to get around London. The bus is the 188 and runs very late at night.
The Borough Budget Rooms offer everything from dormitory accommodation to small and large private rooms, and as the name suggest, do so for very low prices.
For something more upmarket in the area, Hotel Onesixtwo offer rooms beginning at £54.50 per person and are in a lovely location on Greenwich Hill. This four-star accommodation is a charming and stunning hotel with all the mod-cons one would expect.
The Blackheath Bed and Breakfast is located in the cosmopolitan and nearby area of Charlton and offers room starting at £31.67 per person.
Not only do you have the stunning cathedral, which was the work of London’s favourite architect Sir Christopher Wren and suffered some major bombing during WWII, but you also have remnants of the London Wall which was erected by the Romans to protect the cities (then) extremities.
There’s also the fantastic Museum of London, which no history buff can go without seeing. It contains a huge amount of incredible, ancient and modern information on London and the surrounding area.
Once again, it’s difficult to find budget accommodation in the area itself, so checking out the nearby locations of Holborn and Kinsg Cross will prove useful.
Alternatively, you could look for accommodations south of the river which also then give you access to the glorious Southbank (which has a great deal of historical interest in-and-of-itself, what with the Shakespeare’s Globe reconstruction and the archaeological site of one of London’s first theatres, The Rose Bankside) – itself only a short bridge-crossing away from St. Pauls.
The Bridge Hotel on Borough Road have rooms for as little as £26.33 per person, and you can simultaneously check out the historic and beautiful Borough Market and Europe’s oldest Victorian operating theatre in London Bridge.
If you didn’t mind staying in hostel accommodation, then the Safestay Hostel in Southwark offers one of the more comfortable hostel experiences available in London. And with beds starting from the amazing price of £15.00 per person, you can’t go far wrong.
If you wanted to stay a little further south but with very fast train access to Waterloo, then the Euro Hotel Clapham might also be for you.
Clapham is a lovely and upmarket area of London and Clapham Junction train station serves Waterloo virtually every two minutes all day long. With rooms starting at £14.00 per person, this is one of our most popular hotels and enjoys an excellent customer reputation.
There are a great many areas of London that have hugely interesting historical importance, and narrowing down your interests will help you decide where to stay. For example, theatre, fashion and art history have some fascinating roots in the super-trendy area of Shoreditch (the site of The theatre and The Curtain – two of London’s earliest theatres – are in Shoreditch, though resemble little more than large patches of mud).
The west of London is also very informative for the history of fine art, the museums there (Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A Museum) and the architecture of residential London. Chelsea and Bond Street have boutique art galleries and Pimlico offers a lot of information on the history of sculpture and interior design.
And walking all over London will constantly remind you of the sheer vastness of London’s history; the blue plaques attached to buildings are everywhere and offer fantastic insight into the cultural heritage of this amazing city.