I am often asked, “How can I find a reasonably priced hotel room for my family in London?”. The answer is, you really can’t. One mid-range hotel room in Central London will cost at least $300/night (usually more). If you have two kids, that means that you’re sharing two small beds and one bathroom between the four of you. But what you absolutely can find, is a great two bedroom apartment for the same price! Here’s a guide to AirBnB rental in London
Guide to AirBnB rental in London
For a family with kids, staying in an apartment instead of a hotel room has many advantages. Among the most significant advantages of AirBnB rental in London are:
- Cost savings: you typically pay about the same for a 2BR apartment as you would for a mid-range hotel room.
- Convenience: having a kitchen gives you the ability to have breakfasts at home before you head out for the day. You can also save money by doing a couple of dinners in the apartment – and packing lunches. In London, there’s always a basic grocery store nearby which makes it easy to get the basic staples for your family.
- Space: As a family, it’s always better if there’s some room to spread out. And if you have younger kids who will go to sleep several hours before their parents do, having an apartment means that mom and dad can sit in the living room and enjoy a bottle of wine and a movie after the kids go to bed – rather than sitting in a dark hotel room and whispering to each other!
We used AirBnB to book apartments in cities throughout Europe and beyond – and we’ve found some fantastic places! Some of our favorites were this Tuscan bungalow, this riad in Marrakech, and best of all, this boat docked across from the Louvre in Paris (no kids on that trip)!
Given that several subscribers to this blog have requested advice on booking an AirBnB rental in London, I thought it would be helpful to do a post that highlighted what to look for in a great London flat. Below are some gems that I would recommend, based on their location, and the reviews of the AirBnB listing and the host. Note that the prices can vary dramatically based on the time of year that you’re looking. For the purposes of this search, I looked at availability and prices (in USD) for a flat in June, 2017. You may find that most of these specific apartments are unavailable, or more expensive if you’re looking for a place to stay this summer. In that case, take note of the locations and look for something that’s nearby. If you’re planning ahead for next year, you can save a lot by booking in advance. The downside of booking in advance on AirBnB is that you pay when you make the booking. I think that that’s well worth it if you know your travel dates however, since having the perfect homebase for your trip to London with kids will make a tremendous difference in your experience.
Want to access this list directly via AirBnB? Just respond to this email, or email me at Jordan at WithKids.world and I’d be happy to share it with you. And if you’re new to AirBnB, you can use my referral link to save some money.
Notting Hill / Bayswater
Many know Notting Hill as the quintessential London neighborhood from the movie by the same name. And there’s a reason that this charming part of London was set as the backdrop for the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts romcom. It’s narrow, winding streets are lined with tastefully done rowhouses (like brownstones in New York, only not brown), eclectic coffee joints, and lots of little boutiques. It’s also home to the famous Portobello Road Market. While most of the tourist sights are not in Notting Hill itself, it serves as a great base with access to the Central Line, as well as walking distance to Hyde Park – making it the perfect place for an AirBnB rental in London. Bayswater is the neighborhood just east of Notting Hill – which makes it a bit more central, and closer to Hyde Park – but with similar charm.
This 2BR in Notting Hill at $187/night is a fantastic value for an AirBnB rental in London in this area. If you can manage to fit your family into two bedrooms, it could be a great option for you. It’s designed for families – with a pack n play, high chair and toys for the kids! This flat is on the north/central section of Bayswater – so it would be about a 10 minute walk to the Queensway tube stop on the Central Line, or a ~7 minute walk to the Bayswater station on the Circle / District Lines. This slightly less convenient location is why it’s a little bit cheaper. But it’s still a great spot, and the family-friendly amenities make it an excellent choice.
If you need three bedrooms, you’ll almost certainly be paying over $300/night in central west London (or more if you’re still looking for this summer). But you can get some outstanding flats if you have the budget. This is a great option at $364/night, as is this one at $427. The latter has 6 beds – which is a rare find! Both are in the same neighborhood of Bayswater – on the north side of Hyde park. That means that you’ll be walking distance from the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, which will make it easy to hop over there for short visits. You’re also near the Queensway tube stop on the Central Line – so getting into Central London will be a breeze.
This 2BR flat is one of two that I would recommend as the best AirBnB rental in London on this list for a family of 4 or 5. Surprisingly, as of this posting, it’s still available in early June at a price of $261/night – which is an amazing value for June, given the location, which is just south of Paddington Station. This will make your arrival and departure (assuming that you fly into Heathrow), as smooth as it could possibly be (with direct train service). It’s about a 10 minute walk to Hyde Park, and the Lancaster Gate Station on the Central Line. You’ll also have the option of taking the Circle, District, Bakerloo or Hammersmith & City lines directly from Paddington. Thinking about a day trip to Oxford to go punting? There’s a direct train from Paddington! Easy. Book it now, before someone else does!
The “West End” neighborhood of London consists of the Soho and Covent Garden areas, and is a perfect place to find an AirBnB rental in London. With Oxford Circus marking the northwest corner, Holburn the northeast corner, the Strand along the southern edge, this roughly rectangular part of the London map contains many of the theatres, restaurants, bars and clubs that make for a buzzing nightlife or a charming daytime stroll. Even the faintest ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds will cause friendly crowds to gather outside of every pub and eatery on these narrow streets, made not for London black cabs or double-decker busses, but for horse-drawn carriages from a bygone era.
If you can find a flat for rent that’s in your budget in this area, snap it up while you can. Here’s three that are great options:
This 3BR is (along with the Paddington flat above) one of the two best rental flats that I’ve found. In addition to the 3 BRs, it has a sofa bed in the living room. So it could easily hold a family of four or five. With 2 bathrooms, you could possibly even squeeze two families (or grandparents) in if you’re traveling with a larger crew. The flat looks modern and clean, and has over 40 great reviews. But it’s the location that’s the main selling point, which is ideal for seeing London. You’re right on Leicester Square – and equidistant from Covent Garden to the east, and Trafalgar Square to the West. Restaurants, cafes and boutiques abound. For transportation, you’re right on the Piccadilly and Northern Lines, and a <10 minute walk from the Central, Bakerloo, Circle and District. The only downside that I can think of is that the Leicester Square area is a nightlife hub – so it’s possible that you could get some noise in the evening. I don’t see any mentions of that in the reviews, however.
If you’re headed to London in summer of 2017, book this place now for the fantastic deal of $254/night. It’s mostly fully this summer – with the exception of a week or so in Aug (at $600+/night). If you’re going in August it’s worth checking out.
Two other outstanding options in Soho are this 2 BR for $376/night, and this 2 BR for $326/night (when looking to book in 2017). These are still good prices for a 2 BR flat in Soho in the summer. Both also have some availability in August, 2016. These have all of the location benefits of the flat above, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
This 2BR flat in Russell Square is an affordable yet central option at $147/night if you’re looking at Summer of 2017. There’s also some availability in July and August at around $290/night. The flat is utilitarian – clean, simple and unadorned, with a functional set of IKEA furniture. This part of London is northeast of Soho – so not quite as “cute” and charming. But from here it’s about a 7 minute walk to Soho – so you can save quite a bit of cash, and still enjoy easy access to the best of London.
All of the recommendations above have been north of the Thames. This is primarily due to the fact that the majority of the most popular tourist sights are located north of the river. But that’s not to say that there isn’t much to see south of the river also. The Southbank is one clear highlight – and you’ll also find gems like Borough Market and the neighborhood around London Bridge Station which are more gritty, but no less charming than those in Soho. Staying south of the Thames will also likely save you some money – but the transportation tends to be somewhat less convenient.
So a great option is to find a place near Waterloo Station – like this 2BR for $224 in the summer of 2017. There’s still availability in July and August of 2016 for around $375. It’s a great option with plenty of space!
And if cost were no object…
Hyde Park / Kensington
Let’s say that you fancy a trip to the Capital, and you’re used to living the high life. But alas, Will and Kate already have friends staying in the spare room at Apartment 1A of Kensington Palace… In that case, here’s an option for an AirBnB rental in London that may suit your style if the budget’s not a concern.
From this 3BR flat, you can gaze out at Hyde Park and Kensington Palace while tickling the ivories on the baby grand piano in the living room. Each of the three bedrooms have their own large, well appointed bathroom – which from the looks of the picture are larger than most bedrooms in London. There is some availability in July and August, so if you can afford $560/night, this place is tough to beat!