Booking a London Hotel

20 Aug

After spending more hours than I care count over the last few weeks, I have finally booked a hotel room for our 4 days in London prior to our transatlantic cruise. I knew London like New York is an expensive city but a preliminary view of Kayak had listed a large number of lower prices options. It wasn’t until I started reviewing those options, that I realized the magnitude of my error.

The booking websites give the options of filtering the results in a number of ways price being one. I could filter for the 40 hotels in the $500 – $1,500/ night but that isn’t really part of our budget for this trip. I was hoping for that range for our week. It would be fun to pretend that we had lots of money and go top drawer on the hotel, but we can do that much closer to home and get a lot more for our money in Dallas.

The other extreme of less than $100/night gives 111 options. I won’t say that I reviewed every one of them but pretty close. That is what took so long. Surely I could find that hidden gem that would work for us. Our needs really don’t seem to be that high. Our first requirement was fairly close to the city. It would be great if we could walk to at least a few things but being 25 miles out didn’t fit. A safe area eliminated a second group. Yes I reviewed hotels with maps in hand which slows things down. A private bath took out a large number of the lower priced so I set the range from $75 – $125 but still had a large number of shared bath selections. Having a room that did not have the double bed touching both side walls was a serious challenge. That was a popular style for even single bed rooms. Adding in Internet and a TV pushed us over that edge on that group.

I moved to the $110 – $200 range. Surely I could find our gem in the 619 options. Arranging that group by price gave me a starting point but I still needed to shift through manually for the bath and TV. Checking the boxes for all possible locations did help shrink the number but took almost as much time with the map. Finally I found the gen! It had good trip adviser ratings and had everything on our check list. They even provided directions from Heathrow to the hotel using the Tube! We plan to use public transport inside the city so the stars seemed to be saying “Yes, Yes Yes!” I was almost ready to hit the book it button but following the advice in our London travel guide, I took the time to review the fine print. Actually it wasn’t that fine. There stood the simple statement: “Non Refundable.” Am I really going to spend $475 for a prepaid room 2 months before our flight? Harry is barely walking from his sciatica pain. We have been discussing our go or cancel options for the last week. So I was back to the search.  I took another look at some of our other options and also found that Non Refundable note. Life is too uncertain for us to spend that kind of money on nothing.

Finally found a Comfort Inn that checked all of the boxes. We can cancel up to 48 hours before our arrival. It is close to Buckingham Palace and not that far from a major Tube station. Now I can focus on our one way, one day rental car to get us to Southampton. Hotel selections there include some wonderful looking B&B’s but they appear to be too far out once we return the car. Although it would be easy enough to keep the car for another day, the cost with insurance and taxes is more than the hotel rooms! Of course in reviewing facts and numbers for this post I found another booking website for the 1st selection in London that offers a refundable booking for a higher price but still less than the Comfort Inn. Guess how I’ll spend another couple of hours today?

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