Saving Money on Lodging In London
Although I'm living and working in Dallas at the moment, I consider London my true home. Over the last few years, I've learned some great tricks for finding a lovely, private and very economical alternative to hotels, and living like the locals (which I was for two years) so the trip doesn't gut my pocketbook.
There are hundreds of flats for rent in London for periods of a few days to a few months. In November 2008, I found a gorgeous two-story house in Chelsea, right off of King's Road and a five-minute walk to the Sloane Square tube station. It cost 550 pounds for eight nights, and I had my own kitchen, a beautiful bedroom, and great bathroom (which was fully stocked with tons of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc., that former guests had left behind). It even had a tiny little garden outside the kitchen.
I went to the grocery store and bought all my essentials, and then visited the food market that takes place every Saturday in Duke of York Square on King's Road, right outside Partridge's gourmet market. There are dozens of booths, with everything from Jamaican food to baked goods to artisanal cheeses and breads. It's amazing, and anything you can't find there is available at Patridge's.
Last month, I rented a studio flat on Motcomb Street, just around the corner from Belgrave Square. For 600 pounds, I had my own place with a nice kitchen and bathroom for nine nights. This is the poshest part of London, and has amazing bakeries, restaurants, and grocery stores nearby. It's a short walk to Harrod's to the west and to Buckingham Palace to the east, and is about a 10-minute walk from my favorite pub in London, the Fox & Hounds at the corner of Passmore Street and Graham Terrace, just south of Sloane Square.
The best site I've found to search for short-term flats is Holiday Rentals. There are other sites that offer rooms to rent in private homes that are even cheaper. I have stayed in some of the nicest hotels in London, such as the Chancery Court, which normally costs about $400 per night. I got a special deal over Easter a couple of years ago for 99 pounds a night, which was an unbelievable steal. And there's a nice B&B on Ebury Street (the Morgan Guest House) that costs about 60 pounds a night for a single. But I would much rather have my own place, for the privacy factor, the kitchen so I don't have to go out for every meal, and the ability to invite friends over. There's also just the factor of feeling as though you live in the city, rather than being a tourist.