London Bed and Breakfast
I recently had the opportunity to go to London on holiday. As a novice international traveller, I solicited advice from friends and clients. People warned me that bed and breakfast establishments can be very cramped, often filthy, and usually involve long, steep stairways and bathrooms at the end of the hall. I was advised that I might feel more comfortable in the Holiday Inn, or other similar large chain hotel, for my first trip.
I had no desire to travel a quarter of the circumference of our planet only to stay at something I could get in my hometown. So I sat down to do some research.
One of my well-travelled clients introduced me to TripAdvisor.com—a rating site where people (real people, not professional reviewers) can share their reactions, opinions, and photos of hotels where they have stayed. I started looking for bed and breakfasts in London. There are over a thousand, so it took quite a bit of time. I examined what people said about such criteria as price, cleanliness, friendliness, and location. B&Bs in London aren't cheap, still, there were some good bargains to be found.
Since I was trying to impress someone special, I was willing to pay a few extra pounds to have a WC/loo/bathroom/toilet and shower in the room. The term for this, in case you've not heard it—I never had—is ensuite toilet. It quickly became apparent that the price range I would have to live with was in the £60-90 per night range.
Right at the top of my list was The Lynton Hotel. Almost every review was positive, the price was right, they had ensuite rooms, full English breakfast and wireless internet were included, and...perhaps most importantly, there was not a single complaint about cleanliness.
About The Lynton
The Lynton is owned and operated by brothers Mark and Simon Connor, and one of them is always on-site to answer questions, help with luggage, or respond to patrons' requests. They are also extremely knowledgeable about London and able to answer most questions about the city.
The hotel has ten rooms across four floors (stairs only, no lifts/elevators, so this may not be an ideal spot for disabled travellers). Single occupancy, double, twin, and family rooms are available. Room rates start at £50 and include a full English breakfast downstairs (until 9:30, don't be late!) and wireless internet in the room.
The Lynton is located in Belgravia, Central London, a small section of the City of Westminster, near Chelsea, Sloane Square, Hyde Park and many of London's poshest areas. According to the tour guide on a bus tour I took, Belgravia is the most expensive portion of this city (in terms of rent, anyway). London routinely makes top ten lists of most expensive cities on earth—vying with places such as Copenhagen and Paris for that dubious honour—so this is certainly an achievement.
The hotel is on Ebury Street, about five minutes' walk from Victoria Station—a major transportation hub which features rail, coach, bus, and tube (underground) service. Victoria Place shopping centre is attached and has resonably priced (for London) shops for clothing, groceries, and most other needs. A quick walk can take you to Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, Harrod's, Green Park, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament (Big Ben's Tower and all that), Westminster Abbey and many more of the city's beloved attractions.
For the money, the Lynton has got to be among the best places to stay in London. The rooms are small, without much spare space, but enough for myself and my travelling companion. The ensuite bathroom is tiny, but adequate (and, like the rest of the hotel, very clean), with a toilet, sink, and shower, plenty of hot water, good water pressure, and fresh towels each day.
Breakfast is made to order in the Lynton's lovely little dining room, including your choice of bacon, sausage, toast (with jam and marmalade), coffee or tea, eggs, cereal, fruit, tomatoes, and beans. As a Texan, I was unaccustomed to the idea of beans and hot tomato halves with breakfast, but they are quite nice on toast.
The floorboards creak a bit in places, the stairs are steep and the carpets are threadbare here and there, but the entire hotel was spotless—which was the number one criterion for Mr. Junkill and his companion.
Just a quick note about the wireless internet: this is an amenity which is not universally included at hotels, and often costs extra money wherever you stay. That is perhaps changing, but at the time that I visited, I saw some places charging as much as £10 for wi-fi in one's room. The connection was perfect, and strong enough that even my old laptop could access it (which has been a problem in some cafes and hotels back home). Wireless internet was high on my list of amenities desired, and I was delighted (and surprised) to find a place that offered it at no extra charge.
Mark and Simon are a couple of very good-natured and responsive hosts who not only cook a great breakfast but both men are delightful conversationalists. They are full of information about the city, suggestions, anecdotes, and laugh-inspiring breakfast time banter. On more than one occasion, I stopped after breakfast and chatted with Mark or Simon, sometimes for fifteen minutes or more, talking about all sorts of things: politics, travel, the USA, London, sports, and so much more. I can remember thinking, several times, that you don't get that kind of delightful experience at the Holiday Inn.
After discussing business philosophy with the Connors, it became obvious why this place is such a good bargain: they take it seriously. The brothers are much more interested in making a delightful and affordable B&B than yet another over-priced tourist trap. And in doing so, they have created a delightful place to stay in one of the nicest parts of London.
As my travelling companion said, "I know we are paying, but this is still so much like staying with some friend who has a really cool house."
the Lynton Hotel
113 Ebury Street
London SW1W 9QU
Discussions with Mark and Simon Connor
Appleton, Kate, "Oslo Trumps Tokyo as Most Expensive City" Budget Travel online http://www.budgettravel.com/bt-dyn/content/article/2006/02/03/AR2006020301579.html