The Savvy IMG

How to find cheap short-term accommodation in the UK

Table of Contents

The top 3 websites international medical graduates can use to find cheap short-term accommodation in the UK for PLAB academy and exam

Here I want to share with you the top 3 websites I use when looking for short-term accommodation in the UK. 

By short-term, I mean anything from 1 night to 6-8 weeks. For you, this might mean accommodation for your PLAB exam, PLAB 2 academy, clinical attachments, or when you are in the UK looking for a job.

I personally continue to use these websites when booking accommodation for exams, conferences and courses around the UK and the world. Of course they’re also my go-to sites for holidays and vacation!

Now, before I list the top 3 websites, let me first briefly go over some guiding principles I use when looking for cheap accommodation. 

Principles of finding cheap accommodation

1. Reach out to friends and family

The cheapest accommodation is what you can get for free. This is usually by staying with friends or family, but not all of us have this option. If you have to pay for accommodation, see if you can at least travel with a friend to split the costs between yourselves.

2. Consider accommodation offered by an academy

Some PLAB academies offer very inexpensive accommodation. They tend to be shared rooms and shared bathrooms but there are options for private rooms too. Definitely look into this and request reviews from former PLABbers in the Facebook IMG community. 

3. Search far and wide

The more websites you look at, the better the deals you’ll find. Sometimes the same room in the same hotel can cost less if you book through a different website. But it can be very time-consuming to do this. That’s why I use comparison sites that show me the price of a room if booked from different websites.

4. Book early

You’ll get the best deals when you book early. As soon as you have your exam, date and you’ve booked your PLAB preparation course, you need to look into accommodation. Remember that dozens, if not hundreds, of other IMGs who have booked their exam and a prep course will be looking for accommodation in the same area as you around the same time.

So having said all that, here are the top 3 websites that I personally use.

1. Airnbnb

screenshot of the airbnb website. my recommendation for international medical graduates searching for accommodation in the UK

I’m a big fan of using Airbnb for short-term accommodation. My experience has always been extremely positive, and if you haven’t signed up yet I fully recommend it. Use any of the links on this page and you’ll even get £25 off your first booking.

If you don’t know what Airbnb is yet, it’s a website where people can rent out spare rooms in their homes for short periods of time. This service is usually used by those who are on holiday or attending events. It’s a great alternative to hotels and here’s why I use Airbnb a lot.

What I like about Airbnb:

2. Hotel Look

Before I book anything on Airbnb, I always check out the hotel options to compare prices. Sometimes you can get better deals on the daily rate of a hotel than Airbnb!

The main hotel site I check is Hotel Look. This website compares room rates from multiple booking sites so you don’t need to check all the different sites yourself. A big time-saver!

After manually comparing multiple sites in the past, I’ve found that Hotel Look really does have the best rates 9 times out of 10. If you have lots of time to search the web manually you might be able to find a better deal, but as a busy doctor preparing for an exam, it’s often easier to let Hotel Look do the comparing for you.

There are other websites that do the same thing as Hotel Look, but here’s why I personally prefer this site.

What I like about Hotel Look

A heat map of Manchester showing the restaurants and cafes.
A heat map of Manchester showing the restaurants and cafes on the Hotel Look website. Hotels are represented by orange dots.

The main downsides of Hotel Look is that it does not show the daily rates on the map view, and it does not allow you to book for longer than 30 days in one reservation. You may have to make 2 reservations or call the hotel to arrange your stay.

3. Expedia

Unlike Hotel Look, which compares multiple booking websites, Expedia is just one booking site that compares individual hotels. The main reason why I have included it in this list is because many of their deals don’t come out in the Hotel Look search results. So by checking it separately, you ensure you are covering most of the offers available online.

Expedia also provides hotel and flight bundles to give you an even better deal. Definitely have a look at these offers to see if you can find something that works for you.

What I like about Expedia:

Hotel comparison website Expedia
Map feature of Expedia showing the daily rates on the map.

By using the three websites above, you will have cover a lot of what is available on the market on the dates that you want, hopefully giving you the best deal.

Do check other websites that I’ve not included in this list, it may cost you extra time but could be worth it in the end if you find better accommodation.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in the article above. This means that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a booking or purchase by clicking on the link. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves or have proven success amongst IMGs.

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
Photo of Dr Nicholas Tan