Want to go to the Summer Olympics in London but wary of hotel prices? There’s still rooms to be had but prices are going up and even cabinet ministers like Bev Oda may find costs a little steep. The Cadogan Hotel in London which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year has availability still for the Games. Oscar Wilde stayed in room 118 when he was arrested in 1895 and charged with gross indecency. For $300 for a single room to $731 for a junior suite, these prices are decent for London in the summer.
A better option is to stay outside of London and maybe even outside the country. The rail system in Britain is handy enough that an hour or two train ride away from the heart of the city can pay off with big savings. Here are a few of our favourites:
This lovely town made famous by Jane Austen novels could from some angles be trapped in the 1700s with its elegant town square and towering cathedral. Just 90 minutes from London’s Paddington Station, Bath is a sophisticated, modern but architecturally preserved town well worth the jaunt. The Queensberry Hotel, set in the centre of Georgian Bath has a beautiful design with a slightly eccentric layout where rooms can be found from $200 to $350. Another choice is the Carfax Hotel, a trio of houses in an impressive Georgian terrace with the cultivated greenspace of Henrietta Park directly behind the hotel. Rooms from $150 to $250.
Since medieval times, this town in south central England has been a place of major learning. Two rivers, the Cherwell and Thames, run through the town which is about 80 kilometres from London and a 50-minute train ride from Paddington Station. The Oxford Spires Four Pillars, a 25-minute walk from the centre of Oxford is set in acres of tranquil parkland. Rooms are available from $360 to $400. For a cozier stay, an option is the Galaxie Hotel, a family-run bed and breakfast accommodation close to the centre of the historic university town where rates range from $115 to $140.
This other medieval town of university fame is just 30 minutes away from London via the Kings Cross station. The Royal Cambridge Hotel, a three star hotel has rooms available in late July from $168 to $271. There’s also Archway House, a bed and breakfast that just a five minute walk from the river and 20 minutes to the very centre of Cambridge. Rooms from $72 to $112.
This seaside resort town is just an hour away from Victoria Station, with trains departing every 20 minutes or so. At Blanch House, owner Kerry Turner greets guests with a glass of champagne. Prices in the $310 range. There are 12 rooms, with descriptive names such as the Galaxy Room and the Harlequin Suite, which has a view of the domed, coppery Brighton rooftops. At the Sea Spray Hotel, owner Neil Boyce injects his suites with whimsy. There’s a Geisha room and an Elvis room complete with a wig and a sequin white jumpsuit. From $109 to $345.
This region which is a range of hills in the southern and western part of the country was described once as the Disney version of England. Here you’ll find the enchanted images of English villages right down to ducks quacking in rivers and vine-covered cottages. It’s a two-and-a-half hour train ride from Paddington Station to Cheltenham Spa Station, the main train stop for the area. The Hotel Du Vin, located in the Montpellier district of this spa town, has 49 bedrooms and swuites and a showpiece spiral staircase and wine glass chandelier. Rooms from $231 to $530. At the Cheltenham Guest House, a grand Victorian house in the town centre, rooms are decorated around themes including Old Scandinavian, Greek and the Highlands. From $64 to $115.
From Paddington Station, Cardiff is a two hour train ride away and football matches will be played in the city’s Millennium Stadium. The elegant Park Plaza Hotel is located in the heart of Cardiff city centre and within walking distance of the stadium. Rooms recently were available from $160 to $255. For an out-of-the world experience, there’s also Miskin Manor Hotel, a four star hotel that’s just a little over two hour drive from London and a 20 minute drive from Cardiff and Swansea. The manor dates from the 1100s and has beautiful grounds with fruit trees and a rose garden. A literary bonus: Novelist Elinor Glyn has a suite named after her at Miskin. Her daughter was married to the owner. Rooms from $217 to $379.