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Cheap London hotels which act like airlines.

by Andrea on October 6, 2010

Check in kiosks at YOTEL: are you in the airport or in the hotel inside the airport?

Sometimes we only need a pillow to lay our heads – possibly on quite a limited budget.  That’s where ‘no frills’ London hotels come in: an area of the market which has experienced significant innovation in recent times.

What’s striking is how many new cheap hotel ideas have modelled themselves on airlines – and I’m not just talking about yield-optimised, real-time online pricing (though that’s clearly one important feature).

The “Easyjet-style” London hotel

The most obvious example is easyHotel – naturally linked to Easyjet, the low cost airline.  The company has five hotels in London, costing upwards of around £30 a night.  Only the absolute basics are provided – a tiny bedroom and very small bathroom; no table, no minibar, etc.

Check the best rate for easyHotel Heathrow from 30+ hotel booking sites

There's no doubt that an easyHotel takes you back to basics: but it's not at all bad if you bag a cheap deal

But rooms are clean and the staff usually friendly and helpful.  If you’re not planning on staying in your room a lot, easyHotel provides a perfectly adequate solution.  But you need to not suffer from claustrophobia – and the bright orange corporate decor is certainly not to everyone’s taste.

Based on recent guest reviews, easyHotel only seems worthwhile if you bag a rock-bottom rate.  If priced at parity to Travelodge or YOTEL (see below), it may not always be the budget traveller’s first choice.

The “BA Business Class” London hotel

YOTEL has brought the Japanese ‘capsule hotel’ to London, at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports.  But it is based more on premium air travel than the classic capsule hotel – as our YOTEL video shows.

Swish and high-tech little rooms, automated check-in with the backup of reception staff, food on sale – and all at a cost of £50-60 against nearly £200 for other airport hotels.  YOTEL can also be booked hourly, for those between flights who may need a bit of shut-eye before moving on.

Check the best rate for YOTEL Heathrow from 30+ hotel booking sites

A Premium YOTEL cabin won't break the bank and certainly doesn't feel like a conventional "budget" hotel environment

Check the best rate for YOTEL Gatwick from 30+ hotel booking sites

What’s interesting about YOTEL is that it’s decided to offer cheap prices but not skimp on luxury – it aspires to be “luxury miniaturised” rather than a classic ‘budget hotel’.  And as the company’s founder told us in an earlier feature on YOTEL, all the design cues come from business class airlines.

The “Ryanair” London hotel

New kid on the block is Malaysian based Tune Hotels which has launched recently near Lambeth.  It’s adopting a very Ryanair-style approach – the bed is free, but towels, hairdryers, safes, and luggage storage are all extra.  Standard rates are as low as £35 a night – that’s enough of a saving, frankly, for me to take my own hairdryer or even towels!

Tune Hotel Westminster double room: better than Ryanair!

One advantage of being modelled on Ryanair is that expectations are often as low as the prices, so you can only be positively surprised!  To date, Tune Hotels has also been admirably transparent about its pricing of extras.

How do they stack up?

Personally, I like the promise of this new wave of airline-inspired budget hotels.  Staying in cheap hotels in London often used to be thoroughly depressing – they were tatty, with surly staff and threadbare bed linen.

Cheap prices with consistent chain-hotel quality is attractive, as Premier Inn and Travelodge have shown across London.  And these are definitely hotels, not hostels – though the lines do occasionally get a little blurred.

So I suspect that these new hotels will thrive, as their ambitious expansion plans indicate.  And they’re clearly going to attract people like me – freelancers and small business owners who must pay their own expenses.

I also expect them to draw in a slightly younger clientele than other hotels – people who are not yet totally addicted to their creature comforts!

If you enjoyed this article you may also find it useful to read about cheap London hotels with free WiFi or budget London hotels for families.

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Photo credits: Tune Hotel Westminster, YOTEL, Easyhotel.

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