What are the best areas to stay in while visiting London?
Well, the first thing to know is that there are LOTS of great areas to stay in while visiting London, so while this is a list of my top recommendations, just because an area isn’t on it doesn’t mean it’s not a safe or interesting area of London to stay in.
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Best areas to stay in while visiting London: what to look for
Proximity to Central London
The most central part of London is called, well, Central London. In tube terms, it’s called Zone 1 (if you don’t know what zones are, watch the video below.) The most popular areas and attractions in London are in Central London.
Pros of staying close to or in Central London
You’ll be closer to the major sites, and it’s pretty easy to get to a lot of parts of the city because you’re literally in the centre of it all.
Cons of staying in Central London
Generally speaking, the closer you stay to Zone 1, the more money you’ll pay. Ideally, you’ll want to find a balance of being as close to Central London that your budget will allow, otherwise you could be spending a lot of time and money on the train getting to and from Central London (although, there’s a lovely neighbourhood feel outside of central!)
You’ll see the areas to stay in while visiting London, mentioned below, are a mix of in Central London, and just outside of it.
Tube and train stations
Most areas in London have at least a tube or a train station, but not all do. You’ll definitely want to have at least one within walking distance of the hotel you choose. Sometimes, hotels will say there’s “a bus stop right outside our door” but in London terms, that doesn’t mean much, as buses can be veryyyyy slow.
It’s even better if you can find yourself a place to stay in London that has multiple stations within just a few minutes walking distance.
1. Covent Garden
I love Covent Garden. There’s plenty to do around the area, it’s a great jumping-off point for most parts of London, and you’ll be in the middle of it all, so it’s not for people who want a very quiet area. Great food, great shopping, and close to the sights, there’s lots to do around Covent Garden, making it one of the best areas to stay in while visiting London.
Read my Things to Do in Covent Garden post before you decide to stay in the area.
Good hotels in Covent Garden:
££ – Z Hotel Covent Garden – because you’re staying so central, it’s nearly impossible to find a non-luxury hotel in Covent Garden. Z Hotel is basically your only option, and they offer dirt-cheap rooms (with no window!) See Z Hotel Covent Garden
£££ – Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street – located right off Seven Dials, and beautifully designed. See Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street
££££ – Covent Garden Hotel – absolutely stunning, and part of the Firmdale Hotels boutique group. See the Covent Garden Hotel
This area is quirky and interesting, and is great for those in your 20’s-30’s who want a “less touristy” experience. It’s famous for its street art, and there’s an interesting food and drink scene. While in Shoreditch, one second you may see a hipster walking past you with no shoes on, and the next you’ll have come across a brand new piece of art by a world-famous street artist.
If you want to party, Shoreditch is one of the best areas to stay in while visiting London.
Read my Shoreditch Guide to find some cool things to do in the area.
Good hotels in Shoreditch:
£ – St. Christopher’s Hostel Liverpool Street — a 10 minute walk from Shoreditch, and very well connected, being so close to Liverpool Street Station. I like this hostel chain. See more about St. Christopher’s Hostel Liverpool Street
££ – CitizenM Shoreditch – this chain claims to be “no-frills” in order to lower its prices, but it’s still a pretty swanky hotel, and this branch is brand new. Rooms can go as low as £100/night, sign up to be a “citizen” to get the lowest rates. See CitizenM Shoreditch
£££ – The Hoxton, Shoreditch – Wasn’t sure which budget category to put this one in, because sometimes you can find rates as low at £120/night. This place is super cool and if you want a lively atmosphere and a cool bar, restaurant, and workspace in your hotel, this is the spot. See The Hoxton, Shoreditch
££££ – Ace Hotel Shoreditch – THE place to stay in Shoreditch. A friend told me that “every detail was thought of” when she stayed there. Another place with a cool vibe for 20 and 30-somethings. Splurge for the Ace Suite that has a wrap-around terrace. See Ace Hotel Shoreditch
3. Kensington & Chelsea
If you want to be among the posh, the Kensington and Chelsea area is a good choice . The houses are breathtaking, and you’re more likely to spot a celebrity here, although a lot of them will be English and you may not know even exist! There’s lots of high-end shopping here and some great restaurants that vary in price from mid-range to super luxe. You’ll be close to beautiful museums like the V&A, the Saatchi Gallery and the Natural History Museum, so don’t forget to visit.
Points of interest in Kensington & Chelsea:
Victoria and Albert Museum – an art and design museum, free to visit.
Natural History Museum – The name speaks for itself! It’s free to visit, and before Christmas, there’s a gorgeous ice rink out front.
Duke of York Square – lovely area for shopping and eating. Try Polpo for some delish Italian tapas.
King’s Road – All along this road that runs through Chelsea are gorgeous boutique shops and some restaurants too. Go to the Big Easy if you want some good ole American BBQ.
The Chelsea Gardener – a “garden center” that also has pop up shops and a bar/restaurant, perfect for when the sun’s out.
Afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel – their Science Tea is lovely for both kids and adults, and is inspired by the nearby Science Museum.
Good hotels in Kensington & Chelsea:
£ – if you’re on a budget, I don’t recommend staying in this area.
££ – Park Grand London Kensington – I’ve seen other hotels with a bit more character, however a room here is really good value, with prices starting around £130 per night. Book the Park Grand London Kensington
£££ – The Ampersand Hotel – The decor here is what I consider to be “modern London”, it’s really gorgeous but nods to London hotel decor from years ago. Find about more about The Ampersand Hotel
££££ – 11 Cadogan Gardens – Great for a luxe getaway that’s very “British”. Find out more about 11 Cadogan Gardens
4. King’s Cross
King’s Cross a great place to stay if you’ll be using the Eurostar or flying into Luton airport. It’s also incredibly well connected to the rest of London and other parts of England. In King’s Cross you’ll find good-value accommodation options, as well as the St. Pancras Renaissance hotel, which is where they filmed the first Spice Girls video— you know the stairs I’m talking about!
Points of interest in King’s Cross:
Granary Square – this little area always has things going on like riverside cinema and sports game viewings (can you tell I’m not really into sports?) It’s also a great spot to cool off in the summer, in its crazy-cool jumping fountains that you can control yourself if you download the app.
Camdentown – a decent walk or just one stop on the tube takes you to this eclectic area with loads of musical influence, alongside world-famous markets with loads of shopping and budget-friendly food options.
Vinoteca – Cool wine bar/restaurant with a modern take on Italian food, located right next to King’s Cross station.
German Gymnasium – a cool spot for an al fresco drink at anytime of the year. I haven’t eaten here yet but they serve up modern German dishes.
Dishoom – one of the locations of this London favourite that serves up great Indian breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Drink Shop Do – a cafe and bar that also does interesting craft events and such.
Good hotels in Kings Cross:
£ – Generator Hostel – a high-end hostel about a ten minute walk from King’s Cross station. I’ve stayed in a private double room which was VERY spacious, and the bar/restaurant is REALLY reasonably priced and great for meeting other travelers. Find out more about Generator
£ – Clink78 Hostel – one of our community members highly recommends Clink, it’s a bit closer to public transportation than Generator and he insists that it’s great for travelers who are past “backpacker age”. Book Clink78 Hostel
££ – Point A King’s Cross – Point A are a chain that keep prices for rooms low by charging for extras like towels, wifi, etc. You’ll find rooms here from about £80 a night, a really good deal for London. I’ve stayed at one of their other locations and think the concept is great. Find out more about Point A King’s Cross
££££ – St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel – this luxe hotel is famous for its staircase that appeared in the first Spice Girls music video– you know what I’m talking about unless you’re too young! The hotel is essentially a part of St. Pancras Station, so you could literally roll out of bed and hop on the Eurostar if you’d like. Find out more about St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel
5. Notting Hill
I know fans of the movie will want to stay in this lovely area… but just so you know, the book shop isn’t the real bookshop 😉
Although Portobello Road gets crazy busy on the weekends due to the market, the rest of the area is fairly quiet, and almost seems like another part of city. This is where you’ll find plenty of the famous rainbow coloured houses, some street art, and the loveliest cafes, shops, bars and restaurants.
Points of interest:
Acklam Village – this is a funky street market with lots of food and drink options. It’s only on the weekends but there’s usually live music and the atmosphere is lively and fun.
Alice’s Antiques – everyone loves this antiques shop on Portobello Road. Pop in if you appreciate all things old and vintage!
Granger & Co – Yummy brunch spot, a particular favourite of Aussies because Granger is one himself, and because they do great avocado dishes here.
Hummingbird Bakery – mmmmmmmm cupcakes.
I have a lot more Notting Hill recommendations in The Local Guide to London.
Good hotels in Notting Hill:
£ – No noteable budget accommodation options I know of here.
££ – La Suite West – reasonably priced rooms considering that this hotel is super modern and feels pretty luxurious. It’s halfway between Paddington station and Notting Hill Gate station. Find out more about La Suite West
£££ – The Portobello Hotel – this hotel nods to the antique shops of the area but still is luxurious and a bit modern, with rooms starting around £150/night. Check out The Portobello Hotel
££££ – The Laslett – with rooms from £250/night, this luxurious hotel in a great location is actually decent value. Find out more about The Laslett
Similar to King’s Cross, Paddington is one of the best areas to stay in while visiting London, for the convenience factor. When you take the Heathrow Express from Heathrow Airport into London, it drops you at Paddington station. But besides having a busy train station, staying in Paddington also means you’ll be right by Hyde Park and Little Venice, so it’s a great area to grab a Boris Bike and go for a ride.
If you’re flying into and out of Heathrow Airport, these are 10 important things to know before you do (like, immigration stuff.)
Points of interest in Paddington:
Little Venice – a little area that’s gotten its name because of the canal that run through it, making it feel a bit like Italy’s Venice. There are walking and biking paths on both sides of the canal, great for some Boris Bike action.
Paddington Bear – this is his hometown! You can find a statue of him in Paddington Station.
Cafe41 – Vegans should visit La Suite West’s vegan restaurant, where you can have a yummy meal or afternoon tea that will appeal to both vegans and non-vegans alike. I especially recommend their winter afternoon tea.
Hyde Park – There’s so much to do here! This park is great for riding bikes through, and or you can opt to go horseback riding, visit the rose garden, or just have a nice picnic. This is also where the world-famous Winter Wonderland is during the Christmas season.
Cafe Laville – Lovely little cafe with gorgeous views over the canal in Little Venice.
Good hotels in Paddington:
£ – Nothing particularly notable that I know of. Check Hostelworld or Booking.com.
££ – Point A Paddington – another location that’s part of the Point A family, with cheap room rates and only-pay-what-you-use amenities. Find out more about Point A Paddington
££ – La Suite West – as mentioned in the Notting Hill section, this hotel is bang on in between Notting Hill Gate station and Paddington station. Rooms start from around £110 in this modern, luxe hotel– great value. There’s even a patio you can take advantage of in the warmer temps. Find out more about La Suite West
££££ – The Royal Lancaster London – the decor is a bit outdated at the moment, but it’s undergoing renovations and the plans look great. A large hotel in a great location, and reviews say the service is notable. Find out more about The Royal Lancaster London
7. Southbank or Bankside
Southbank is a fun area at any time of the year, as there’s always lots to do. You’ll be near to THE Southbank (DUH), Borough Market, Millennium Bridge, the Tate Modern, and lots more. Pop up events are happening around here all the time, or you can stick to sightseeing as Big Ben, Westminster and the London Eye will all be within walking distance of your hotel.
Visiting Borough Market? It’s big, and little overwhelming. Here are my top recommendations for what to eat at Borough Market.
Points of interest:
Southbank – walk along the River Thames for incredible scenery and also photo opps of the London Eye and Big Ben. Sunsets are gorgeous here on clear days!
Dandelyan – one of London’s best cocktail bars, located in Sea Containers Hotel. Book ahead if you can, and dress the part.
The Rumpus Room – this has been voted as London’s BEST bar, located at the top of Sea Containers, it has unbeatable views of the city. Book in advance and make sure you’re dressed well!
SC FoodMarket – lots of yummy food stalls located behind the Royal Festival Hall. It’s open only Friday-Sunday and bank holiday Mondays.
There is loads more to do beyond Southbank as well, you’ll be very central for it all. This entire area is covered extensively in my 3-Day London Itinerary.
Good hotels in Southbank and Bankside:
£ – Nothing notable in the low-budget range right in this area.
££ – £££ – CitizenM Bankside – another location of the expanding CitizenM brand, it’s super stylish and in an awesome location, but won’t totally break the bank. Find out more about CitizenM Bankside
££££ – Sea Containers – this hotel is insanely modern and swanky. Located right next to the River Thames, you can choose a room with river views (think of the sunsets!) or a private garden. This is where the two bars mentioned above are located. Find out more about Sea Containers (formerly Mondrian London)
8. Park Lane
You won’t find any budget-friendly accommodations on Park Lane but you will find some of the most luxurious hotels in the UK as Park Lane is lined with them. Guests at these hotels get to stay right next to Hyde Park, and might even get a view of it from your bed. If you want to opt for a luxe hotel either for a special occasion or “just because”, this is a great area to start your search.
Points of interest:
Hyde Park – you can’t get any closer– you could walk across the street from your hotel and have a picnic there for breakfast.
Claridge’s afternoon tea – if you want to leave your own hotel for an afternoon tea experience, Claridge’s is nearby, so make a reservation here for one of the most famous afternoon tea experiences in the world.
Mr. Fogg’s Residence – a fun little spot for a cocktail, preferably gin. You won’t know you’ve arrived to it until you see someone outside an unmarked door dressed as though he’s still living in the 1920’s. Try to book ahead.
Benares – Indian-British cuisine from twice Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar.
Good hotels on Park Lane in London:
£ – £££ – you won’t find this around here!
££££ – The Dorchester – here you’ll get classic yet luxurious English decor, a gorgeous spa, and Michelin-starred dining options, plus you’ll be staying in a landmark building built in 1931. The Dorchester is known for its incredible service. Find out more about The Dorchester
££££ – Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park – not actually on Park Lane but very close, and still right next to Hyde Park. Part of the hotel group with top-notch hotels around the world, guests love the gorgeous garden terrace and world-famous spa that includes an indoor pool. It’s “royally blessed” — in the 1930s, the Queen and her sister learned to dance in the ballroom here. Find out more about Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
££££ – 45 Park Lane – the sister hotel of the Dorchester with art-deco interiors designed by Thierry Despont. Each and every room has views of Hyde Park in this boutique hotel. Find out more about 45 Park Lane