WE are now so used to tailoring our travel the ‘no frills’ way, that it seems highly logical to apply the same ethos to hotels. In fact, why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Tune Hotels has stepped in to oblige and its formula is proving very successful. You simply add the services you need to use for a small extra price, or cut your needs to the bone to save money.

Take your own towel, don’t watch TV or use the internet and cut down on costs. I paid £1.50 for a towel and basic toiletries and was handed a little carrier bag with my bath towel, shampoo and shower gel. There are no baths. Pay £3 for 24-hours of TV and the same for a wireless connection. You can even get a breakfast deal for £5.50 from Costa Coffee next door.
Once you know the format, as with air travel on EasyJet and Ryanair, you tailor your stay to suit your needs.

The Malaysian-based group, headed by Tony Fernandez of Air Asia and Mark Lankester, a former music executive, is a rapidly rising force in the world budget hotel sector. Tune has four London hotels with more than 600 rooms now open for business, converted from existing buildings, locations which include Liverpool Street, Paddington and Kings Cross. In Scotland, Edinburgh is added to the list, with other major cities in the UK, including Liverpool also likely to see hotels opening in the near future.

Mark, Tune’s chief executive officer, based in ‘KL’ Kuala Lumpur, is rightly excited about the group’s progress. His ambition is to have 100 hotels worldwide by 2015. Stay in a Tune Hotel in the Phillippines and it will look the same as one in London, but likely with a more space. Mark says: “We are listening to our regular customers who said they’d like a bit more floor space and also a choice of twin rooms and family rooms. Families still want to travel together, so we are listening and designing these options into our newer hotels.”

He is proud too of accolades from Sunday Times readers (Best City Value Hotel) and
A Certificate of Excellence for the second year running from TripAdviser.
For budget, don’t think down at heel, though. I stayed in the Westminster hotel, near Waterloo Station on Westminster Bridge Road and I was impressed. OK, the rooms are small, but my penthouse ‘pod’ had everything I could want with a view out of one of the windows across to the impressive Shard as a bonus. On a combined business trip and charity evening out at the nearby London Aquarium, it was a convenient location a couple of minutes’ walk from Lambeth North underground station (Bakerloo Line).  

Living close to London as we do in Hertfordshire, unless you are celebrating a big occasion and want to spoil yourself, what you want from a city hotel is a good location with nearby access to transport links (tick), places to eat and attractions (tick), a really comfortable bed (tick), a hot shower (tick), super cleanliness (tick), WiFi access in room or at the hotel computer in reception (tick), a good TV (tick), and, possibly above all, all at a good price (tick).

Tune Hotel rooms start at £35 per night for a double room, ideal for a one or two-night stay in the capital for what always proves a pretty expensive time with theatre or attraction tickets and meals out to plan for. There’s a vending machine for cold and hot drinks and snacks, but I shopped at the supermarket across the road. If you want to use a computer, there’s one in the hotel lobby. There's everything you’ll need for a cost-conscious stay in the capital, and if you are planning to visit London over the Christmas and New Year holiday, read on for some great attractions to visit.
Tune Hotels Westminster, 118-120 Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7RW
For more information and to book, visit www.tunehotels.com

Christmas in London
Just a few ideas for a festive day out in the capital, but this rings true any time of the year too.

Up at the O2
This chilly and exhilarating walkway will take the whole family 52m above ground level and enable them to take in spectacular 360 degree views of the capital, before descending back down to base camp to where they will have the opportunity to drink a special ‘winter warmer’. Follow this by a well deserved festive feast at one of the many eateries along Entertainment Avenue, all offering special Christmas menus – ranging from the traditional Christmas turkey and pudding to more exotic choices such as Mexican or sushi. After lunch, take a stroll down to the British Music Experience where you can celebrate all that is great about British music, including hands-on interactive experiences, like playing along to Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas or Slade’s Merry Christmas Everyone. Finally, finish off the day with the rare and unique stage appearance of Lily Savage in the guise of Widow Twankey in Aladdin A Wish Come True. It is playing for a strictly limited season, Friday, December 7until Saturday, January 5, in a purpose-built 1,900-seat theatre.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.UpatTheO2. Telephone: 020 8463 2000

Mamma Mia it’s ABBA!
One of the world's most successful music acts is making a guest appearance at Madame Tussauds London this Christmas until December 28 with the arrival of ABBA. Famous for their catchy lyrics and bold costumes, the four band members – Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid – will add a colourful dimension to the attraction as they take up a short-term residency in the Music Zone. The figures will visit Madame Tussauds' attractions around the world in the next two years, after the ‘World Tour’ kicks off in London.
Captured in the style from their 1975 video for SOS, Agnetha and Anni-Frid will be wearing replicas of the popular yellow and blue feline-themed outfits, teamed with pristine white knee-high leather boots. Benny and Björn wear outrageous white '70s outfits encrusted with diamantes and sequins, finished off with flares and platform boots. 
After striking a pose with the fantastic four, there are plenty of other musical legends, both past and present, for guests to get up close to from Freddie Mercury to Amy Winehouse to Bob Marley or Beyoncé.
Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LR
To book. telephone: 0871 894 3000 or visit  www.madametussauds.com/London
Discounts and fast track entry with online booking – prices from just £15.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland is one of London's most popular festive attractions and it takes over a sizeable chunk of Hyde Park until Sunday, January 6. The event features the UK’s largest ice rink, a tempting Christmas market, the giant observation wheel, family favourite Zippos Circus and the Bavarian Village, where you can always find a sizzling sausage and a warming cup of mulled wine. New for 2012 is the Magical Ice Kingdom, which has been sculpted over four months from more than 200 tons of ice.
Zippos is a wonderful experience with a show full of pace and hand-clapping fun. I’ve seen the show several times and have never ceased to be absolutely awe-struck by the spectacle.
Performances will be at 12.30pm, 2pm and 5pm, plus at 11am and 3.30pm on selected days.
The night-time shows take on a decidedly different atmosphere with Cirque Berserk. Taking its inspiration from the dark and twisted fairy tales of the brothers Grimm and similar, Cirque Berserk goes where no circus has gone before. Performances at 7pm and 8pm, plus 9pm on selected days.
Details: Winter Wonderland is free to enter, daily 10am-10pm. Visit www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com for more information.
Zippos ticket prices online at www.zippos.co.uk

Foggy fun at the London Dungeon
Guests to the London Dungeon should brace themselves for some foggy fun this Christmas with the opening of a new scarily, funny walk-through show based on the infamous smogs that enveloped the capital last century.
Fog Freeze which runs until the end of January, will plunge visitors back to Victorian times and into the midst of a terrible ‘pea souper’ smog where mischief, mayhem and murder lurk… Along the way, they’ll meet a larger-than-life Victorian chimney sweep, played by one of The Dungeon’s talented cast of actors, and journey down a cobbled and Christmassy street towards the freezing fog of no return… For those who do emerge from the dreaded fog alive, there’s lots more to enjoy at The London Dungeon, with its 1,000 years of history, including 14 live shows, a colourful cast of villains and blaggards from Jack The Ripper to The Torturer, thrilling rides, special effects and laughs and scares a-plenty.
Details: Visit www.thedungeons.com for best price guarantee. Open daily 10am – 5pm (last admission), except December 24, 26, 31 and January 1, open 11am – 4pm. Closed Christmas Day. Fog Freeze will be one of the final events at The London Dungeon’s home in Tooley Street before the attraction moves to County Hall in Spring 2013.
Getting there: The London Dungeon is next to the Tooley Street entrance to London Bridge train and tube station.

Ice, ice baby
Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the ever growing crop of ice rinks around the capital. Choose from various locations, including the Natural History Museum, both Westfield shopping centres (west and east London), Tower of London, Somerset House, Canary Wharf and the London Eye.

For more information about what to do and what to see in London as well as travel tips and a wealth of useful information, visit the official London tourist board guide at www.visitlondon.com

Top ten London attractions
British Museum
Tate Modern
National Gallery
Natural History Museum
London Eye
Science Museum
V&A Museum
Madame Tussauds
Royal Museums Greenwich
Tower of London