Looking for the best short-term accommodation options in London? You’re in the right place! Here’s the best accommodation options for staying a short while in the city — from a London travel blogger.
Whether you’re visiting London for a few months or simply looking for a place to call home before you find your permanent London place, searching for short-term accommodation in London is a job in itself!
Lucky for you, there are tons of options to choose from, and with just the right amount of time and research you can easily find the perfect place to call home for a short while in London.
In this post, I’ll be sharing:
- the best options for finding short-term accommodation in London
- practical bits and documents you need for short rentals in London
- important tips for renting short-term accommodation in London
Let’s get into it!
How to Find Short-Term Accommodation in London
Do I need a UK bank account to rent short-term accommodation in London?
If you’re coming to live in short term accommodation in London from outside of the UK, you may be wondering if you need a UK bank account. And the answer is, it depends.
If you’re staying in accommodation through Airbnb, TrustedHousesitters, Booking.com, or Homestay (in most cases) using your home country card should be okay.
But if you’re using SpareRoom or in any circumstance where you’re dealing with a UK landlord directly, I highly suggest getting a UK bank account ASAP as you’ll most likely need one to pay them through their sort and account number (i.e the bank details needed for UK to UK transfers).
To do this, I highly suggest getting a Borderless Bank Account like Wise if you’re living in the UK from abroad.
I’ve personally used Wise (previously known as TransferWise) for years — which lets me hold both UK and US bank accounts and currencies under the same profile.
Wherever you’re from there are 21 currencies available, so you’re bound to find yours too.
I suggest getting the card and setting it up while you’re in your home country so you can have a UK bank account and card when you land.
P.S – It’s completely free too! You can sign up here.
5 Best Short Term Accommodation Options in London
Average cost per month: £950 – £2500+
Airbnb is a great short term accommodation option in London as it instantly makes you feel like you’re in London, rather than watching it from the inside of a hotel.
For those new to Airbnb, it’s essentially a home (or in our case, flat) renting platform where hosts can rent their space to people for a short period.
This is typically either in a private room, or you can have the entire place to yourself.
Like most Airbnbs, the further out from the city centre you go — the more affordable it’ll be. Although that’s not always the case for London!
The best part with using Airbnb as short-term accommodation is if you stay up to 30 days you can get up to a 30% discount on your stay.
However, I will say I find the price for renting an Airbnb for a month incomparable to what permanent renters would normally pay for the same place.
For example, in the above picture — studio flats would rarely go for £4,228 a month in London, even in a super nice area. However for Airbnb they can get away with charging that to guests as they may not know better.
Fun story: when I moved back to London from living in Asia for a year, I stayed in an Airbnb in Greenwich for a few months with an Airbnb Superhost couple called Dave and Karen while I looked for a place for about £650 a month. We’re still friends to this day! (although they don’t do Airbnb anymore…and those prices were in pandemic times!).
2. Trusted Housesitters
Average cost per month: £0! (but £99 – £199 a year to be part of the Trusted Housesitters network)
If you’re an animal-lover (or not) and don’t want to empty your bank account on short term accommodation in London, I highly suggest you look at Trusted Housesitters.
It’s a platform where homeowners with pets or empty homes offer their place for you to stay in exchange for pet care and/or housesitting while they’re away.
There’s no money exchanged between you and the host, so it’s truly a barter situation.
Depending on how long you’re staying in London, doing a Trusted Housesitters stay could cover the duration of your trip (for free!) or at least a chunk of it while you look for a more semi-permanent place.
However, you’ll also have to weigh the pros and cons of the job itself.
Are you okay with taking on the responsibility of pet care or looking after someone’s home while you’re getting adjusted to London?
If the answer is yes, I think you just found your short term accommodation! And the application process looks like this:
1. Go to Trusted Housesitters and create your sitter profile
2. Use the search tool to look for ‘House and Pet Sits in London’ and browse your options
3. Apply for several sits (you want to have as many options as possible to make sure you get a place) and write a convincing application letter
4. Chat with the owner once your application’s been approved
5. Confirm your sit
6. Get packed and ready to go to your short term accommodation in London!
P.S – If you want get started with Trusted Housesitters you can do so here!
Average cost per month: £750 – £1500+
Spareroom is my go-to for finding flatmates in London (it’s how I’ve found all my previous ones!) but did you know you can also find short term rentals too?
Although the platform is mainly geared at finding flatmates to live with for a set amount of time, there are also individual rooms or buddy-ups (when you find a flat with a friend) available.
Here’s how to find short term accommodation options in London on Spareroom:
1. Make a free account (there’s a premium option too but I would start with the free version first then see if you need it for the features they offer)
2. Set your search filters for short term accommodation (see example below)
3. Message the host and express your interest in the place
4. See the property virtually or in person (if virtual, don’t pay any deposit until you see the flat in person)
5. Sign a contract and pay the deposit for the property, or pay in full depending on the length of your stay
6. Pick up your keys and move in!
IMPORTANT: As Spareroom is a UK platform with UK agencies and landlords, you’ll most likely need a UK bank account for paying your rent, especially if you want to avoid international transfer fees. I suggest using Wise (I’ve used it personally for years) as you can open a UK bank account in advance without needing a UK address like most traditional banks.
4. Booking.com’s Serviced Apartments
Average cost per month: £1200 – £4000+
If you’re looking for short term accommodation on the higher end in London, I suggest looking at Booking.com’s serviced apartment options.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘isn’t Booking.com for hotels?’.
But nope — they’re multi-faceted honey!
Their apartment feature is great for finding self-serviced apartments or guesthouses in the city, which are typically a bit nicer than your average Airbnb.
To get started, simply go to Booking.com/apartments or Booking.com/home_for_you and set your search parameters.
Once you’ve found a place you fancy, you can book instantly, and you’re all set!
Fair warning that since some of these apartments are also used as apart-hotels, you may not always find a property that’s available for a continuous long period of time (since they’re booked by visitors in between). But they are out there.
Average cost per month: £800 – £1500+
If it’s your first time in London, you may not want to move somewhere alone for your first few months in the city (because let’s face it, London life does get lonely).
In this case, it’s time to look at Homestay.
The short and long term accommodation platform in London was designed to connect homeowners with guests for affordable places to stay.
You’ll also get the opportunity to build a connection with your host during your stay, as members are typically super welcome and more than willing to show you around while you get settled in the city.
This is a great option if you don’t want to start your London journey alone, and would benefit from having someone help you out with getting accustomed to London life.
However, if you’re someone that prefers alone time this may not be the best option for you as there is an unwritten assumption on this platform that you’d form a connection with your host during your stay.
P.S – You can join Homestay here!
Other Short Term Accommodation Options in London
Important Tips for Renting Short Term Accommodation in London
Remember…Places in London go fast
The London housing market is quite crazy right now, even for short term accommodation. So if you’re looking even a month out for a place, don’t expect it to be there a month later. Speaking of…
Have your deposit readily available (bonus points for 3 months of rent!)
One of the best ways to make sure you snag your perfect place first is to have your deposit readily available. For platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com, you’ll typically need to pay this in advance to secure your booking instantly.
For short term accommodation in London like Spareroom, you should see the place fully first before putting any money down.
However once you know you like the place, I suggest getting the contract signed ASAP and paying the deposit as soon as possible to make sure you secure it.
In some cases for short term stays, they may also ask you to pay all the rent upfront, but I personally wouldn’t do this for more than 3 months.
Always have several options
Flat heartbreak is the worst (i.e finding a flat you’re in love with only for it to be snagged by someone else), even if it’s for a short term rental.
To mitigate the emotional damage, always have several options in mind for your short term stay in London to avoid disappointment.
Final Thoughts on Short Term Accommodation in London
Moving place isn’t always easy, but it’s always easier with the right resources.
I hope this post gave you a better starting point for finding your perfect short term accommodation in London.
When you find a place, let me know how the process was for you @candaceabroad, I’d love to hear how you’ve settled in!
Happy flat hunting, and as always…