If you've read any of my other hotel reviews, you'll think I'm a well-travelled snob; and you'd be right. When I'm working abroad, I have over generous promoters and producers who pay for me to stay in the worlds best digs - but when I'm working in London, they are not so generous. So if I don't fancy my two-hour commute home, I spend my pocket money and search for the best cheap hotels in London, where I swap Lanesborough's £26,000-a-night new Royal Suite for something which I can afford to do regularly without worrying out it. This is a simple list of hotels in London I have frequented below £150 a night.
St Giles Hotel
The St Giles hotel is located in London's West End near the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. If you are planning to stay on a hot evening, don't. The rooms (unless you upgrade, in which case just find a better hotel) have no air-con, some are internal facing with no windows to open, and the radiators seem to pump out heat regardless of the time of year. Rooms are clean and functional. Be aware though, for some of the bathrooms you need to be Harry Houdini to get in and out due to their odd shape. There is a bar downstairs equivalent to Asda; does the job but perhaps not the best experience in the world. You'll be hard pressed to find a cheaper hotel with your own bathroom in such an excellent location. It is usually possible to pick up a room for under £90, but only do so if you're immune to the equator simulation and if cost is the main priority.
The Strand Palace is a hotel of yesteryear. It opened in 1909, and the lobby is still fairly nice, as are the drinking facilities downstairs. But as the old saying goes; don't judge a hotel room by its lobby. The rooms feel like they haven't been touched since 1909; although their website now proudly proclaims they have had a refurbishment - which means if you do choose to stay in one of the 785 rooms, make sure you are guaranteed one which has been refurbished or find another hotel. They seem to be moving away from the 'budget' category, offering new services like Afternoon Tea and a Gin Palace. But please, if you are to visit London for an Afternoon Tea, go for a real experience with one of the great options on offer, like the Palm Court at The Langham or one of my favourites, the Hotel Café Royal on Regent Street. Finally, due to its phenomenal location, if you can get a refurbished room under £140, this would be my top tip out of all the hotels on this list. If they increase the prices to pay for the refurbishment and the hotel is no longer below my £150 a night target, I wouldn’t bother.
The Grange Lancaster hotel is situated in Holborn and is part of the Grange group. It calls itself a 3-star hotel with "36 quiet guest bedrooms with modern in-room conveniences and both en-suite and semi en-suite bathroom facilities." This translates to 36 bedrooms with modern things like, wait for it, a kettle and a TV; and it's down to Mr Luck if you get a bathroom in your room or not. Note how they say the 'conveniences' are modern - this is a smart way of saying the actual rooms are about as modern as Buckingham Palace, without the luxury. With no air-con, and appalling breakfast, I would only advise a stay here if you can grab a bargain of under £75, turning up late at night intoxicated, and leave at 7 am. This is by far the best way to experience this hotel.
Read the review of the Grange Lancaster. Now imagine the Lancaster is Tesco Basics Builders Tea, this makes the Grange Beauchamp the standard Tesco Builders Tea. Still not the best in the world, but a little better. Just add a touch a acceptability to the Lancaster and ta-da; you have the Beauchamp. And please remember, it's pronounced 'Beecham'...
The Rathbone Hotel in London's Fitzrovia is a boutique hotel just off Charlotte Street. It's in a quiet location, has a very cute lobby, dated but very well kept rooms, and excellent staff. It's not substantially different from the Beauchamp, with the exception that this place is looked after by caring, intelligent and well-trained staff. It's definitely not luxury, but the family who owns this property clearly want their clients to have a value-for-money experience without feeling dirty after you've had your shower. I would recommend this hotel if you can get a room for under £110.
The Bedford Hotel
The Bedford Hotel near Russell Square is a horrible 1960's monstrosity, with a relatively modern, clean and up to date interior. Think Ikea type furniture instead of 'antique' (translated as old, smelly and not well kept) - so the design is as dull as it gets, but for a cheap date, that doesn't matter so much. The bar is adequate, as is the breakfast - although if I were you, go to one of the local cafes for breakfast. The hotel is excellent value for money, but don't spend any more than £120 per night.