Best Places To Stay For Sightseeing
With its thousands of years of history, its centre of trade and consequent target for invaders, it’s amazing architecture and world famous residents, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of interesting stuff to see in London even for the greenest of sightseers.
There are some very obvious tourist hotspots which never fail to draw crowds of visitors from all over the world, as well as a great many slightly-less-famous ones that, nonetheless, are a great attraction.
We’re offering something rather general here, as a lot of our special interest audiences with highly specific attractions in mind are well catered for in other articles. So scroll down to find some great cheap London hotels in the best areas.
And while most tourists want to see individual icons, these luckily tend to be based in a selection of areas that are easy to get to and navigate.
Top of the list is, undoubtedly, the residence of our long-reigning monarch, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. She has quite an impressive palace (though certainly not London’s most beautiful) situated adjacent to Green Park and a 10-minute walk from Victoria.
Once at Buckingham Palace, you’re also only a short walk from more iconic London hotspots: Westminster and the Houses of Parliament.
There are precious few budget hotels in Westminster and, other than the historic monuments, there’s not very much to do there either.
So we recommend staying in Victoria. It’s immensely easy to get around either by bus or London Underground, however we suggest walking. This is the best way to learn some London geography and make sure you don’t miss a thing – you might even discover a few sights of your own.
If you want to make sure you’re saving as much money as possible, then take a look at the Belgravia Rooms London. With prices from as little as £15.80 per person, it’s an exceedingly budget option. That does mean that there are certain trade-offs, however. The WiFi is more expensive than at other hotels, for instance.
It is, however, a clean and comfortable accommodation in a busy part of town.
Another great budget option is the Holly House Hotel, which has rooms starting from £18.20 per person and offers free WiFi throughout, as well as a free continental breakfast to give you energy for your day’s sightseeing!
One of our higher-rated hotels by customer review is the Victor Hotel, and is a more upmarket option that the previous two (with rooms starting at a comfortable £28.33 per person). Situated in a beautiful old townhouse a short walk from the sights of Victoria and offering free WiFi throughout, this is a good option for those wanting to stay somewhere comfortable and clean without breaking the bank.
On the opposite side of the river to Westminster (and a shade easterly) is Waterloo, famous for a bunch of things but most obviously the London Eye and the western end of the Southbank.
There’s plenty to see and do in and around Waterloo, and it’s one of London’s more popular tourist destinations. Along the Southbank are some of our most famous concert halls, such as the Southbank Centre (including the Royal Festival Halls), the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern.
It is also easily walkable to Westminster in one direction and London and Tower Bridges in the other direction.
You can stay in comfort in Waterloo by booking a great 3-star accommodation for as little as £39.50 per person. The Days Hotel Waterloo is part of a trusted, low-cost brand that won’t disappoint and is placed in a fantastic area for both getting around and seeing the sights.
But if you want something cheaper and don’t mind being slightly further away, then there are two good budget options available.
Borough Budget Rooms, located near to the charming area of Borough (with its famous market) have rooms starting at £11.80 per person and offer room options to suit all needs and tastes. From beds in shared dormitories to private singles, doubles, twins, triples and quads, everything you could possible need is here.
You can walk from the Borough Budget Rooms to London Bridge or Waterloo in about 20 minutes, however there are also brilliant bus links to most areas from right outside.
Alternatively, you could stay at the Bridge Hotel on Borough Road for as little as £26.33 per person. This is a smaller, cosier hotel than the others and is also situated in a fantastic location for sightseeing on foot. With all of the amenities you’d expect, this is a comfortable and budget option.
Kings Cross isn’t much of a tourist destination; there are few attractions and there isn’t a great deal to do in the area itself; however it is very near to two major tourist hubs: Leicester Square and Camden.
It also has a fine selection of cheap hotels and budget accommodation for you to choose from.
Not only is it close to Camden and Leicester Square, but it has some of London’s best transport links too. So we thoroughly recommend checking out what’s available in Kings Cross in order to find the best accommodation for your sightseeing trip.
Our first option is the popular Kings Cross Inn Hotel, which has many rooms starting at the budget price of £20.00 per person. It’s a clean, respectable and comfortable place to stay with brilliant access to underground, overground and bus transport.
One of our best overall value hotels is the Belgrove Hotel, offering two-star accommodation for as little as £26.33 per person. This hotel has one of the lowest fluctuations between lowest price and highest price, so it is a good option to choose at any time of year.
As well as being in a fantastic location, the hotel also offers free WiFi and a free English breakfast to TravelStay customers. Quids in!
Also offering free WiFi and a free English breakfast (as well as pleasant views over a quiet city square) is the European Hotel, with prices beginning at £32.50 per person. Or you could try the budget New Market House Hotel, which has its own pub and is located nearer the Camden end of Kings Cross. This cheap hotel has rooms starting from £16.67 per person and is ideally located for you to do your Camden sightseeing.
Heading from Kings Cross to Leicester Square is easy. All you need do is pop along the road the Euston and then head south or south east from there. Alternatively, you could jump on the Central Line!
And getting from Kings Cross to Camden is just as easy – you could, once again, hop on the tube (this time Northern Line) or just walk along the beautiful canal network on York Way up to Camden Road, or follow York Way north until you reach the famous markets, music venues and colourful scene of Camden.
TOP TIPS FOR GETTING AROUND
Buy an Oyster Card
London now runs on Oyster Cards. Once upon a time, you could also use cash on buses. However, now you can only use Oyster Cards.
You can still use cash on tubes and trains (and for some train routes out of London you have to use cash because they’re beyond the Oyster zone), but it is monumentally more expensive.
So buy one with a credit value of £10 per day. You’re unlikely to use that much as it maxes out at £8.50 (but does not limit how much you can travel beyond that amount). And then keep it! You never know when you’re going to be back in London and the credit stays on the card for a long time (and, if it’s wiped, you can reclaim it online).
If you’re coming from overseas and you know you won’t use the card again, then take it to a tube station and hand it in for your £5 deposit back. That’s a pint in a pub back in your pocket!
But we also must emphasise the benefits of walking. London is much bigger than, say, Paris (where you can walk clear across town in a few hours) and walking everywhere simply isn’t an option. It’s also riddled with millions of little nooks and crannies to get lost in, but that’s part of the fun.
Take a map or use a map app to let you know where you want to go before heading out, and you’ll realise how close lots of parts of London are to each other. And, there is so much more London you’ll see between tourists sights because you’re not stuck underground.
Get used to tube etiquette
Do NOT stand still at the bottom of escalators. Always stand on the right when you’re on an escalator so that people on the left can walk past you. Try your best not to clog the thoroughfare at the gates. Similarly, don’t stand still at the exit to a tube station wondering which direction to go; just move out of the way. Not doing these little things will make Londoners more livid than you can possibly imagine, causing them to tut and mutter things under their breath.
Let people off a tube before getting on. It’s more than likely that you’ll have to stand on the underground, so try to do it with good grace. In the event that you’re seated and a disabled person, pregnant woman or elderly person gets on, it is polite to offer your seat. If they’re English, the chances are they won’t ask for it no matter how desperately they need it. Open containers of alcohol are prohibited on the underground and buses, though to our knowledge no one’s been charged for breaking this rule.
Brits have a way to do everything, including something as mundane as walking down the street. Imagine that it is something like the motorway, where the slowest lane is the one furthers from the centre of the road. People will generally try to overtake you on the right so if you are a slow walker, it’s best to walk close to the building and furthest from the road to allow people to overtake if need be.
It is very frustrating for people in a hurry to be unable to walk past, so ensure that if you’re in a group (or even just a couple – some of our pavements are very narrow) you do not walk abreast in a way that takes up the whole pavement. Once again, an English person is unlikely to actually voice any displeasure at being delayed but it will make them angry, so it is good to cultivate an awareness of whether someone is trying to get past you.