Should You Book a Hotel or an Airbnb in London?
Published Feb 8, 2019 8:00 AM
There are a million reasons to visit London. The bustling metropolis is rife with cutting-edge fashion, contemporary art, and exquisite cuisine that are all steeped in rich history and unabashed British charm. But the English capital can get expensive: Bentleys and Maybachs line the cobblestoned streets, while department stores like Harrods and Selfridges are swarming with customers piling up everything from Chanel bags and fine jewelry at the checkout counter.
Before you cross a line on your London travel dreams, consider this: There is always a way to find exceptional accommodation at any price. To prove it, we scoured the city for some of the best hotels and Airbnbs at a variety of price ranges, starting under $200 a night. Would you rather stay in a quaint Victorian flat in West London or hunker down in a plush Art Nouveau Soho hotel? Are you more the Shoreditch or Notting Hill type? Whatever your budget, travel style, and taste, we bet we have the perfect London accommodation for you.
The Hotel: The Pilgrm in Paddington
At first glance, The Pilgrm almost feels like a speakeasy hotel inside a coffee shop. In fact, you may even miss it if you walk by too quickly. But this was exactly the intention when opening the 73-room hotel: The lobby is replaced by a buzzy coffee shop, and the check-in process is done entirely online. The rooms are tiny but well appointed and, at that price, it’s a great base camp for exploring London.
The Airbnb: A Designer Victorian Flat in Maida Vale
For under $200, this two-bedroom designer flat is a total steal for the British capital. With dark walls, period features, and vibrant, colorful furnishings, it’s the perfect London lair. But all this space and plushness comes at a small price: The location is slightly further away from central London. That said, the affluent residential district of Maida Vale in West London is quaint and has plenty to offer—it even has a “Little Venice” area lined with picturesque canals.
The Hotel: The Ned in the Financial District
When Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House, first stepped foot in this disaffected bank in London’s financial district, he immediately saw the potential to restore the 100-year-old building to its formal glory. Today, it houses The Ned, a hotel collaboration between Soho House and Sydell Group (of NoMad hotels fame). The grand lobby, cozy with velvet banquettes and marble columns, boasts seven restaurants and bars. There is also a spa and two private clubs—one housed in the former bank’s vault in the basement. The rooms are plush with 1920s glamour with wood-paneled walls and fully stocked bars.
The Airbnb: A Contemporary Conversion in Shoreditch
For roughly the same price, you can also stay slightly further east in a stunning contemporary conversion in the heart of Shoreditch in East London. The house boasts three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, and a fully equipped kitchen and open-plan living space, complete with a low-slung, built-in palm-leaf sofa that’s ideal for capturing the perfect Instagram. The house also has a quaint outdoor patio and 24-7 support so you can feel like you’re in a hotel in a private home.
The Hotel: Kettner’s Townhouse in SoHo
Arguably one of London’s best 2018 openings is Kettner’s Townhouse, an intimate throwback establishment in the heart of Soho. The Soho House property, once one of London’s first French restaurants and a club frequented by Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Oscar Wilde, and more, first opened in 1867. Last year, it reopened as a flawlessly executed 33-room hotel complete with a restaurant, champagne bar, and piano bar. The ambiance is lively and plush with period features and yesteryear etiquette, and yet the building is firmly planted in modern-day hype.
The Airbnb: A Loft Home in Notting Hill
Though Kettner’s Townhouse is hard to resist, a three-bedroom, two-bath loft home in the heart of Notting Hill might just convince you to go the Airbnb route. Located a stone’s throw away from popular Portobello Road, the home is meticulously designed in a vibrant colorful British style accented with neon hues. In true Notting Hill style, the leafy private entrance features a herringbone brick walkway and ivy fencing, while the house boasts beautiful park views.
The Hotel: Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone
When Chiltern Firehouse opened in 2014, it was the hottest ticket in London. You would have been lucky to score one of its 26 suites, and its impossibly exclusive guest-list entry to the restaurant and bar was reserved for A-listers like Kate Moss and Keira Knightley. Today, the hype has died down, making Chiltern Firehouse a perfectly lovely place to spend a short getaway. The André Balazs property (of Château Marmont and Standard Hotels fame) is located in a once-disaffected 1880s fire station and has been meticulously updated with dimmed lighting, intimate lounges, and a lively, award-winning restaurant. Even if you can’t stay there, a meal at the bar is well worth the tube ride.
The Airbnb: A Wabi Sabi Masterpiece in Shoreditch
Though theoretically not a true Airbnb, this impeccably designed loft space in Shoreditch is available for short stays and photo shoots. Once a shoe factory, the space overlooking St Leonard’s Church is beautifully crafted with limed oak brush timber–paneled walls, Moroccan Bejmat Zellij tiles, and earthy shades of greens and plants to reflect the urban jungle outside. This space is a luxurious respite from the frenzy of London’s most bustling neighborhood.
Get away to more lovely places: Should You Book a Hotel or an Airbnb in Paris? We Did the Math Plot Twist: This Insanely Cool Hotel Used to Be a Monastery A New Hotel Lets Guests Reside Right on Amsterdam’s Canals