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If you haven’t booked your London hotel yet, then don’t do it until you read this! I’m going to tell you some of the most common hotel mistakes tourists make that end up costing them money or time when visiting London. 

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Mistake 1: Visiting during peak times

Peak visiting times in London are generally during the summer months (July and August) and around Christmas time, from the second week of December until New Years.

If you’ve already booked your flights and you can’t change them, no worries! Those are lovely times to visit in their own right. The summer can give you beautiful weather and a fun buzz around the local areas, and visiting in December means the city will be decorated with tons of light displays and will have lots of Christmas-related activities to do.

But if you’re on a tight budget, booking your trip for those peak times will mean that your flights or train and hotels will generally be more expensive. For example, a budget hotel room might cost £75 for the night in mid-January but the same hotel room will cost £200 on a weekend in August.

So if you want to keep costs as low as possible, try visiting in January or November when hotel rooms are generally the cheapest, and flights and train tickets are relatively more reasonable too.

Mistake 2: Booking your hotel last minute

Once in a while, booking hotel at the last minute (within a week of your travel dates) will mean you get a decent discount.  But if you’re travelling internationally to London you really shouldn’t risk doing this. Typically, the nicer and better-value hotels get booked up the quickest, and then you’ll be left to pick from the leftovers which aren’t so great.

If you do have to book a last minute hotel room, then check HotelTonight or lastminute.com. Sometimes they have good deals on hotels that are just trying to fill up for the night at the last minute (but don’t expect that during peak times).

5 Common London Hotel Mistakes (That Will Cost You Money) - What's the distance from the aiports to central London

Image courtesy of Trainline

Mistake 3: Staying near the airport

All of the London airports are nowhere near the city centre and in fact, almost all of them aren’t even in of London. So unless you have a super early flight departing I wouldn’t recommend staying near one. Any money you *might* save will be eaten up by transportation costs, plus there won’t be any decent places to eat, grab a coffee or some extras you forgot anywhere near your hotel.

The only airport that’s technically in London is London City, and while there’s nothing going on in the surrounding areas, you might be able to find some affordable options around there.

 

Mistake 4: Not checking for direct deals

Usually, I book my hotels through Booking.com but I always check the hotel’s direct website before I do, because they might offer a cheaper rate or a direct booking freebie, like a complimentary welcome drink, breakfast etc.

A great example of this are the citizenM hotels. If you book direct and sign up to their free email list, you automatically get a 6% discount and more flexible booking terms.

Mistake 5: Wanting to stay near the major sites

If you expect to book a hotel and wake up with a view of the Tower of London or Tower Bridge you can totally do that, but know that you’ll be paying the price! If you’re on a budget, instead choose a hotel a little bit further out of the very centre of London, but that’s close to a tube station, so you’ll be 10 minutes away from everything. Not sure how to find those? Any of the hotel recommended in our Accommodation section of our site will work.

Also, if you’re looking for some hotel recommendations based on your budget, check our London Spending Guide. In it, we give you an overview of the costs you can expect when you visit London and lots of helpful, important info about getting and spending money in London. There are also activity, food and drink recommendations, and all divided into budget, mid-range and luxury. Finally, it comes with a comprehensive Google Sheets spreadsheet that will help you calculate your total trip cost, how much more you need to save, where you’re spending the most money on your trip, and much more.

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Jessica Dante

Jess is the founder of Love and London, an online travel guide that helps London tourists to visit London like they live there. She's been featured in Refinery29, Forbes, BBC Radio 2, HuffPost, and more. Jess is also a sustainable and ethical travel advocate.

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