Back in Charles Dickens' day, if you wanted to stay overnight while traveling in London, you might have stayed at an inn or perhaps at a pub or alehouse with rooms upstairs (usually sharing a bed with strangers and maybe some lice or bedbugs). 

It would have been a simple affair—just a few rooms on the upper floors and a place to eat and drink below. No concierge or fitness room or ornate lobby. The first proper English hotel, in Exeter, according to one source, didn't appear until 1768.

Most London pubs no longer have bedrooms for rent above the shop, but a surprising number still do, and over the past few years several forward (or backward) thinking entrepreneurs have revived the concept, opening surprisingly upscale gastro pubs with a few luxurious yet affordable (for London) rooms upstairs.

The cool thing about these establishments is that you don't have to go very far for a "destination" experience—it's just a few flights down.  

The pub food is satisfying, the crowd local and convivial, the beer cold (or, if you're English, suitably warm). The ground floor bars and restaurants are places you'd normally go out of your way to experience, but you're staying two or three flights up and in places near things you'd want to visit. They're intimate and cozy, historic and luxurious, have a sense of place, and are less expensive than what you'd pay at the Savoy, an intimate "townhouse" hotel or even a Radisson.

London has long had boutique hotels such as Blakes and Number 16, but these newer, comfy pubs-with-rooms are even closer to staying in someone's home because they're so small. Most have only four or five bedrooms (one I stayed in has a grand total of ten). Plus, if you want to enjoy a fine meal in a destination restaurant, it's only steps away.

There are no long corridors to get lost in, no cookie cutter sameness, no rowdy conventioneers or prom night teenagers roaming the halls. It's just a more intimate experience, and much more affordable than the typical London boutique hotel. 

On a recent visit I sampled four such pubs-with-rooms. And I'm in love with them all.