Going to England in late May....some help figuring how to book lodging?

Yay! I get to go to England again! Only this time I’ll have a car AND my husband with me.

We’ve got 10 days and a general itinerary, but no specific places we have to be at specific times. If we find some sight doesn’t warrant the amount of time we planned for it we can move on. If we see an interesting sign on the road we can change plans.

If I were taking a trip like this in the US I would be pretty comfortable not booking hotels in advance. When we were feeling ready to finish up for the day we’d get online (we’ll have a phone with a data plan) and find a hotel nearby, using priceline or similar if possible.

Is this a reasonable way to find accommodations in England or is there a better way you, experienced Doper, would suggest?

Follow your nose (yes, it’s nice to have a flexible itinerary), and when you know where you’ll be that night, check booking.com.

When we went in 1997, we did this thing where we booked X number of nights in bed-and-breakfasts, but it worked like a voucher for each night and was redeemable at any of the B&Bs that were part of the system, so we had the flexibility to decide where we wanted to go without having to commit. I think we had to call and reserve a room in the next one like 24 hours in advance, and on the off chance that one was full there were several others in the same area.

Unfortunately I can’t remember what this was called, and I don’t know if it’s still around, but I’d assume there’d be something similar. We really enjoyed doing it that way.

There seem to be more hotels, B&B’s, holiday cottages etc in this country than you can shake a stick at. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t be able to find some place on the spur of the moment. You could try the National Trust website if you’re looking for something a little less conventional

Keep a few handy web addresses. It would be useful to know what sort of accomodation you would like, but for starters:


Recommended B&Bs and rooms in pubs/inns with character:

Boutique/contemporary hotels (read: expensive):

All bookable online at short notice.

I’d go the B&B route especially when you aren’t in the big cities like London. I lived in England pre-internet, but we often found B&Bs listed at tourist centers and even on signs in towns. I’d recommend booking a B&B as early as possible in the day if you are just winging it while traveling around.

I’ll share something that tripped me up…
Hilton Heathrow Terminal 5, despite it’s name, is NOT connected to the airport. They probably manage to get quite a few bookings with that name that they wouldn’t otherwise. :rolleyes:

Hilton Heathrow Terminal 4 is connected to the airport.

It’s almost always fine- I come from a family of English chaotic travellers, and we only ever once got stuck when we were doing our normal “OK, tired now, start looking for a B & B”, when it turned out there was a local bylaw that basically made B & Bs too expensive to run, so we drove for hours round little towns without finding one. Even then we did find a Travelodge, but they only had the top price singles left, and my Dad basically gave me a choice between staying there then just going straight home the next day (it being the last day of the road trip, and the place being way over budget), or sleeping in the car then having money left for fun stuff still.
We slept in the car.

If you’re less cheap, or slightly more organised, you should be totally fine.

Englander here, agree with all the above - I will just add that a lot of schools take the week off around the end of May each year, known as “half-term”, so you may find accommodation quite a bit tougher to find at that time, especially at coastal resorts (probably not so much in big cities). In addition, Monday 26 May is a bank holiday so that day (and the preceding weekend) will be generally busier at any resorts/tourist attractions/accommodation you may wish to visit. The half-term holiday will be for the rest of that week in most areas.

I found this site if you want to get really specific about finding exact dates for half term in each area of the country, it’s a bit clunky but seems to work once you click through to the right place: http://www.halftermdates.co.uk/

Do it on-line. Lastminute.com is a good site (or at least it was when I used them a couple of years ago) for getting deals. The only thing you really need to be aware of is where and when is likely to be booked out/expensive. There’s a half-term at the end of May where you would expect prices to rise significantly and for some places to be fully-booked.

Tourist information offices will have listings for local accommodation. They used to also offer a ‘book a bed ahead’ service. If you are in town A in the morning and know you’re going to town B, you stop into the tourist info office in A and they’ll find a place for you in town B. Useful when you know you won’t arrive in B before the tourist info office closes. But the last time I used this was in 2000, it may not be available now that everyone is more connected.