The best places to stay in London on a budget
London has plenty of stylish places to sleep, but they charge prices to match, right? Wrong. Whisper it quietly but there are several venues that could be straight from the pages of a glossy magazine – and you don’t need to remortgage the house to stay in one of them. We’ve teamed up with Rough Guides to give you the low-down on three London venues that prove sophistication is possible on a shoestring
Arlington Avenue Guest House (Islington)
In a quiet, raffish corner of Islington, this stylish Georgian guesthouse offers a home from home, and a rather classy one at that. While the decor is elegant, all artfully presented antiques and old prints, the atmosphere is informal – books and magazines spill out from every corner. You are given space here, and there are few rules other than displaying good manners and mutual respect. Guests prepare their own breakfast, for example, whenever they wish, from a selection of cereals, breads and jams – but are not expected to wash dishes.
The double room is the jewel, large and sunny, with a huge comfortable bed, but the single, with its view over the back garden, is sweet, and has ample room for one. Some may not like having to trek two flights of stairs down to the sleek, modern guest bathroom – but so far, in the fifteen years Arlington Avenue has been welcoming visitors, there have been no mishaps.
You can’t sit in the pretty back garden, tangled with greenery, but you’re just footsteps from leafy, tranquil Arlington Square; hard to believe the thundering traffic of New North Road, the hip nightlife of Shoreditch, and the buzz of Upper Street, with its restaurants, bars, shops and cinemas, are just minutes away.
Arlington Avenue Guest House, Arlington Avenue, London, N1 7AX (07711 265183; www.arlingtonavenue.co.uk)
Portobello Gold (Notting Hill)
In a prime location among Portobello Road’s ice-cream-coloured antique shops, Portobello Gold is a popular neighbourhood pub – always busy, serving food and beer to a mixed crowd of eager tourists and boho locals. There’s a funky tropical courtyard restaurant at the back, complete with caged songbirds, weeping figs and flagstone floor, its walls lined with the black and white retro photos taken by Mike Bell, the pub’s owner. Oysters are the speciality, but they do decent modern European food, too, and dishes are from around the world. The whole place is tatty, quirky, noisy and fun – brimming with Notting Hill atmosphere, and a little rough around the edges. The shabby brio is carried through into the rooms upstairs; they’re a tad worn, and most of them are very small, but they’re clean, with ensuite showers and storage space, and certainly a brilliant deal for anyone who’s here to soak up the nightlife and the location and not spend too much time in their lodgings. Rooms at the back are far quieter. The so called ‘bridal suite’ with its four poster bed, gives you the most space, while the cosy maisonetter apartment (not as fancy as it sounds) has French windows from the master bedroom out onto a roof terrace.
Portobello Gold, 95-97 Portobello Road, London, W11 2QB (020 7460 4910; www.portobellogold.com)
Tune Westminster (Lambeth)
A big hit in its native Malaysia, the Tune chain has brought its add-on pricing concept and minimal modern rooms to London. You get what you pay for here. Literally. You can pay for wi-fi. Or not. Or towels, or TV, or a hairdryer – or not. It’s not one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, converted from a postwar office block on a traffic-choked corner, but it’s next to the tube, and just a hop away from the South Bank. Rooms are clean and simple, anonymous even, with crisp white bedding and storage areas, folding tables, safes and four hangers. The windowless options are generally smaller – but they cost the same as the others, so ask when booking if you care about such things. Guests get breakfast deals at the coffee chain next door, and half price copies of Time Out at the desk. It’s all brisk, breezy and reassuringly straightforward.
Though you do tailormake your stay, there will be unknowns – some rooms are larger than others, and are allocated depending on how many of you there are and how long you’ll be staying. They’re adding another 30 rooms in 2012, and further London branches are in the pipeline. Incidentally, the pub next door, The Horse, offers free wi-fi.
Tune Westminster, 118-120 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7RW (020 7633 9317; www.tunehotels.com)
Extract taken from The Rough Guide to the Best Places to Stay in Britain on a Budget (£9.99; www.roughguides.com)