Once you have set the date and purchased the flights for your move abroad, it’s time to start thinking about your London accommodation when you first arrive.
It can take several weeks (if not months) to settle in with a job and a stable income, so it’s important to ensure that you have carefully budgeted for the costs of your accommodation before you arrive.
I suggest that you book accommodation for two weeks to start with, that way you will have time to settle in, deal with your jet lag, do some sight seeing and find an apartment to move into. If you need longer, you can extend your stay as you go.
Here’s a list of London accommodation options for your arrival. Whether you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family who has offered you a bed/couch, or you’re starting from scratch, there is an option to suit every budget.
Airbnb London Accommodation
This is a personal favourite website of mine that I use when travelling around Europe, but it’s also a great accommodation option for new arrivals in London. Similar to Homestays, Airbnb is based on people renting out their existing spare space to guests, whether it be a whole flat or just a spare bedroom. Again, it’s more of an authentic experience, a great way to meet new people and more often than not, it’s much cheaper than renting a hotel room!Get £50 off your first Airbnb stay
If you’re genuinely short on cash and are ready for a real adventure, you can consider couch surfing. According to the Couch Surfing mission statement, it’s all about “A world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter.”
It’s basically an online space where people offer their couch for free to travellers around the world. Whilst this is all well and good on paper, in reality it can get a little risky if you don’t pick the right host! The most important thing to remember when couch surfing is that if you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation, just leave! When you do get it right though, it’s a great way to have a free nights accommodation whilst getting a good insight into the lives of the locals.
Hostel London Accommodation
Hostels are the cheapest option in the ‘hotel’ category. Most hostels offer good deals if you’re staying longer term and offer a lower price per week. Depending on your budget, you can also book a private room rather than a bed in a shared dorm.
Hostels are also a great place to meet loads of people, both travellers and those in the same situation as you. Many hostels also not only offer a great, central location, they can also provide free breakfasts and a bar of some sort with cheap food and/or drinks.
Some nice hostels to consider staying at include:
- The Generator – This party hostel is located in central London and is the first place I stayed in on my first backpacking trip through Europe! It has free wifi and a great bar that throws everything from trivia nights to karaoke and fancy dress parties. It’s one of the biggest London hostels in London and a great place to make new friends and have a good time, though be warned, there will be many late nights and the shared bathrooms can be questionable at times.
- Astor Hyde Park, South Kensington – Located in a beautiful and charming neighbourhood, this London hostel is just one minute from Hyde Park and surrounded by some of London’s best museums.
- If you prefer something a little quieter, located in zone 2 of London is Palmers Lodge- Hillspring, voted as ‘one of London’s best’ and you can stay there from £23 p/night. Private rooms with ensuites are also available from £58 twin share. This boutique hostel offers free wi-fi, linen and breakfast. They also have some great common areas including a restaurant, pool table and their own bar.
Other popular short-term sublet websites include:
- Gumtree http://www.gumtree.com/holiday-rentals/london
- RoomFT http://www.roomft.com/
- Craigslist http://london.craigslist.co.uk/sub/
- Arrive Homes http://www.arrivehomes.com/ specialises in share houses for overseas teachers and professionals moving to London
Self Service Apartments
If your budget allows you to spend a little more on accommodation, then a self-service apartment is great option. It allows you to feel a little more at home than you would at a hotel, and you will have a kitchen to cook in and a little more space to move around.
Wotif provides a great search engine for serviced apartments in London, so check out their website and key in the dates that you’re after, you’ll be sure to find something in the right location and price range.
Other similar search engines that you should also take a look at include:
Stay with a Friend of Family
If you know or have managed to find someone in London who is willing to lend you the couch or even a room to sleep in, it’s respectful if you offer to pay for your stay. It can be a little awkward trying to work out how much you should offer to pay, so luckily Splitwise have created this nifty Fairness calculator which can make the decision for you. If they really refuse to let you pay, then take them out for dinner or some drinks instead to say thank you.
Short-term rentals should be just that, short term, or they can end up costing an arm and a leg. For more information on finding a permanent home in London, visit the House Hunting page.