London bed and breakfasts are part of London history, and have been around since long before Mrs. Hudson rented out bachelor’s quarters to Sherlock Holmes. Since Queen Anne’s times, it has been the custom for gentlemen of a “certain caliber” to rent out bachelor’s quarters to provide a base of operations while they hunted for a suitable wife during the theatre and debutante seasons. Many of the Central London bed and breakfasts that survive in the posh residential areas of Westminster today are historic homes that have provided that service for hundreds of years, and have transformed in modern lodging options that still retain their historical charm.
Some of the best cheap London bed and breakfast establishments transformed themselves into hostels beginning in the 1960s, and you can find some of these clustered around Hyde Park. Other cheap London B & B options have become modest two- and three-star hotels that have a 24-hour reception desk and are not necessarily occupied by owners. Many of these have en suite bathrooms, whereas a cheap London bed and breakfast is apt to have shared toilet and shower facilities.
Central London bed and breakfasts located closest to the most important attractions in Westminster, such as Buckingham Palace, will cost you a bit more. These are primarily located a couple blocks north of Vauxhall Bridge in the Belgravia area, the starting point for many Thames River cruises. The B&B Belgravia is a good example, offering a comfortable communal lounge with open fireplace, television, games, a library, and rooms with en suite bath and cable television.
London bed and breakfasts just north of Hyde Park are affordable and numerous. The Piccolino, Hyde Park Radnor, Barry House, and Europa House are all typical. The Hyde Park Radnor, in particular, has a lovely sitting room, en suite bathrooms, and offers a full hot English breakfast; most Central London bed and breakfasts offer only cold Continental breakfasts of toast, cheese, and cold cuts. When you’re looking for accommodations in Central London and Westminster, remember that space is at a premium. Former private mansions have been cut up into what will appear to be very small rooms to Americans. This is normal throughout the major cities of Europe, and it is generally only the newer properties and better luxury hotels that have spacious rooms.
Visitors who have plenty of time on their vacations to discover the Central London attractions in a leisurely way do not necessarily need to stay in such a central location. If this is you, you will find great options for London bed and breakfasts in the suburbs. These generally have larger rooms and many actually have gardens and grounds, which are perfect for family holidays. Look for the Cottage Bed and Breakfast Inn in Hounslow in West London. This is located quite close to Heathrow Airport, meaning it is an excellent place to stay for several days or on an overnight before an early flight out. You’ll also find some charming places in Greenwich, which is a lovely maritime town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) on the Thames in South London. The St Alfeges is located in a charming old building near the riverfront, and offers full English breakfast. Try North London for a cheap London bed and breakfast that also provides a bit of countryside.