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Bed and Breakfast's Abroad

London Accommodations Specials

Samuel Johnson said "London provides all that life can afford," and "afford" is the operative word in the second most expensive city after New York.

When my wife and I travel to London our first stop is First Option Leisure Breaks "a last-minute, short-notice and stay, reduced-price agency" in Victoria railway station.

When London's hotels have unsold rooms, they discount them through First Option. My wife and I stayed at the Marlborough Hotel, just beside the British Museum, where the regular rate was $295, for $150. If that is still too much to spend, First Option says they can usually find a "no frills" bed and breakfast starting at $45 to $50.

First Option is what it claims: last-minute and short-term. You can usually book for two nights, but anything longer and the discount falls dramatically. For the booking fee of $7.50 you will get a guaranteed reservation at an agreed price and clear instructions as to how to find your hotel.

For those looking for a longer stay or a unwilling to take a chance on discount agencies, Monica Barrington and Keith Stables at Uptown Reservations have 85 bed and breakfasts in central London at affordable prices.

The choice of neighbors is almost as diverse as the home and their owners. One property is three doors down from Madonna's London home. Another is opposite the home of former British Prime Minister Thatcher.

Rates for the Uptown properties are $97.50 per night single, $127.50 double, $172.50 for a family room. Each room has its own private bathroom and includes breakfast. This is central London where a large hotel chain is currently advertising bed and breakfast specials at $190 a night.

Contacts: First Option Leisure Break, 011-44-20-7828-4646. Monica Barrington, Uptown Reservations, 011-44-20-7351-3445.

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