How to Find Cheap and Safe Accommodation in London
London regularly attracts large numbers of travellers and professionals who intend to stay in the English capital for a number of weeks or even months. It’s an exciting city that is full of opportunity – with a great deal to do, plenty of jobs available and a whole lot of sights to see.
However, London is famous for something else as well. Staying there, even in the short term, can get very expensive if you don’t know where to look. Furthermore, as with most larger cities, there are areas that are considered safe and others that are a little more “sketchy”. So how do you find cheap, safe accommodation that is available for the entire duration of your stay in London? Read on for a few tips for finding affordable places to stay in London.
Stay with friends or acquaintances
This may seem obvious, but it could be a really good option. If you’re only visiting the city for a short amount of time and you’re happy to crash on a sofa, it’s a possibility that you’ll find a “friends of friends” who are willing to put you up for a short time. It’s best if you’re able to offer a little remuneration to help them with the notoriously steep London rent. In return, they might be able to give you some tips, recommend experiences and advise you on places to visit or areas to avoid.
Ask around on social media to see if you have connections with Londoners who’d be willing to put you up. This option is one of the best, as the arrangement can be highly flexible and shouldn’t cost you anything if your plans change. You might also look for roommate sharing sites if you will be staying a number of months.
Seek out recommendations and reviews
Being the popular destination that it is, it’s likely that you’ll know at least someone who has spent time in London. Social media is a great help here as well. Why not ask your friends or followers whether they’re happy to recommend particular hostels, hotels or hosts. They may also be able to let you know which are the safer areas and where you might enjoy a little sightseeing.
If you’re heading to London for work, you might even decide to ask your colleagues for their recommendations. If you’re lucky, you may end up staying near a workmate, meaning you could carpool and split the fuel costs. If you’ll be working for a major corporation, they may have lodging relationships to recommend.
Read ratings and customer feedback for hotels, hostels and Airbnbs. This will help you to understand the kind of experience you can expect from your stay in each place you are considering. Many will also describe a little about the surrounding area.
Airbnb can be extremely useful for individuals seeking out relatively short-term accommodation. The great thing about this platform is that you can search for a place to stay using criteria like price, location and user rating.
Using Airbnb’s sliding scale, you can isolate the most affordable spots in London and study them in greater detail. The map tool will help you to find out exactly where each host is based, and reviews or star ratings will show you what to expect.
Know your boroughs
London is divided into neighbourhoods known as “boroughs”. By researching the different locations, you may be able to determine which are the best options for your visit. As a general rule, the more central you are, the safer the residences will be. Boroughs like Kensington, Belgravia and Chelsea all have pretty low crime rates.
However, accommodation prices in the heart of the city can be considerable. There are many great, quiet areas in the suburbs too, but it’s important to remember that transport costs may be greater.
Look into alternative rental options
There are a number of sites offering both short term and long term lets in the English capital. If you’re staying for more than a few weeks, sites such as Homelike and Holidaylettings may work well for you. Many options ask for a minimum rental period of one month, but short term options like this mean that you won’t be tied into a costly, lengthy contract.
Gumtree also offers long and short term rental options, and you may be able to negotiate terms. However, whichever site you visit, be sure to check how they are regulated. Before you confirm any arrangement, it’s a good idea to visit the location with a friend if possible and arrange to meet the owner of the property if you can.
If you’re not sure where to start when planning accommodation for your visit to London, the tips above should give you a little inspiration. Do your research, read reviews and ask for advice and it’s hard to go wrong.
London is a thrilling place to visit and a great place to work – either in the short or long term – so don’t be afraid to take the plunge and book a stay in this major European city.
About The Author:
Ruban Selvanayagam is co-founder of Property Solvers, a fast home sale company and 28-day estate agency based in the UK and has been a private rented sector landlord for over 13 years.