When it comes to accommodation in London, booking a hotel can seem like an overwhelming task with so many factors to consider. But picking the right one can make your trip all that bit better. From location and size to accessibility and often overlooked general tips, there’s plenty to consider. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential things to know when booking a London hotel, helping you find the perfect base for a top-notch trip.
Not all London hotels have air conditioning
Of course, the first thing on our list of important things to know when booking a London hotel involves the weather. How very British. As you’ve probably heard many times, the weather in the UK is unpredictable, and we have relatively mild temperatures for most of the year. Yes, occasionally, we’ll be treated to a hot spell in summer, but for the most part, we don’t tend to have weather that has sustained high enough temperatures to warrant every hotel having air conditioning. In fact, the priority for us is to have heating instead. Colder spells can last relatively long in the UK, so if you’re visiting in the colder seasons, finding a hotel with heating is a priority. But, if we’re in for a heatwave when you plan to visit London, you might want to seek out a hotel with air conditioning; just know they’re a bit more scarce (and very rare for Airbnbs, another reason we don’t recommend them). Most booking platforms will state somewhere on the listing when a place has air con (as it’s called here in the UK).
Not all London hotels have bathtubs
While you’ll almost definitely have a shower if you’ve booked a hotel with your own bathroom, just know that there’s a rather big chance that you won’t have a bath unless it specifically says on the hotel page that your room comes with one. It’s more common for hotels to have a shower than a bathtub, but of course, this depends on the type of hotel and the location. So, if you’ll need a bath for the kids, or you just prefer to enjoy a soak after a long day exploring the city, make sure you’re specifically looking for a hotel with a bath, which you can filter for on some booking sites when searching.
Double-check the distance to your closest tube stop
If you’ve booked accommodation that states to be near a bus stop, make sure you take a deeper dive into this. Some hotels might shout about the fact they’re located close to one, but an actual tube stop, which is more helpful than a bus stop, could be pretty far away, which means it can add a lot of time to your journey from the hotel to the tube. If this doesn’t bother you too much, the benefit is that the hotel will be a little cheaper. You can use Citymapper or Google Maps to calculate the distance between places in London, plus you can find a hotel you’re thinking of booking on Google Maps and look to see if there’s a tube station nearby. Just keep in mind that when looking at journey times, they can change depending on things like delays or train strikes and so on. We have a separate article about what to do if you’re visiting London during a transport strike.
Top sheets and washcloths aren’t really a thing in the UK
While top sheets and washcloths are standard in North America, this isn’t really a thing for Brits. Duvets are made with a removable cover, which is changed and washed at the same time as the bed sheet and pillowcases. As for washcloths, in the UK, they’re called flannels, and some hotels will come with some in the bathrooms, but some might not. So it could be worth bringing your own if it’s something that’s essential for you.
London hotel rooms are generally smaller than you’re used to
Another important thing to know when booking a London hotel is that hotel rooms in the city can often be pretty small. This limited space is a reflection of just how popular this bustling city is, paired with the high demand for places to stay. While the square footage is typically mentioned in the booking details, you should check for yourself before booking your base if having a spacious room is essential to you. Just remember that it’s a city, so rooms are generally smaller for the price.
Check ahead for accessibility at London hotels
If you’re in a wheelchair or travelling with someone who is, it’s important to prioritise accessibility. Opting for a hotel near a step-free tube station or a bus stop means you’ll spend a lot less time trying to find the closest accessible station. London’s public transport system is extensive, and there are many stations with step-free access, but there are also many without. There are currently 92 Tube stations, over 60 London Overground stations and all of the 41 Elizabeth line stations that currently have step-free access. All DLR stations and tram stops are step-free, and London also has one of the most accessible bus networks in the world. You can take a look at a Tube map for an overview of the step-free access spots. There’s also the step-free tube guide, which includes more details, including which stations have ramps.
If you’re a wheelchair user or you’re travelling with someone who is, then there’s also a lot to consider when picking your hotel. Booking a room that meets your access needs is essential to enjoying a comfortable trip. Since accessibility isn’t standardised, it might take a little bit of extra digging to find the right base.
The hotel website itself should have information regarding accessibility, and if it doesn’t, then there are plenty of other hotels that will list this important information – there’s no excuse for having to look too hard for this on a hotel website. Sites like Booking.com also often provide detailed accessibility information, like the bathroom facilities, the room size and available assistive devices. AccessAble is also a handy website that can help you work out if a place is going to be accessible for you, including hotels.
We also have a curated article on the best accessible hotels in London that’s worth a read while you’re hotel-hunting.
Consider how close you are to a Night Tube
Last on our list of things to know when booking a London hotel involves the Night Tube, and if you plan to be out late on the weekend, you might want to consider choosing a hotel close to it. It runs every Friday and Saturday all night on the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines. Some buses run all through the night, too, and you can look at the Night Bus map to see which ones are running near you. However, keep in mind that travelling super late at night alone might not be the best idea, so booking a taxi is recommended over taking this form of transport when it’s late and you’re on your own.
Need more tips for choosing your hotel? We have tons of articles to help. Start with these: