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.
*By the way, if you want hotel, hostel or Airbnb recommendations for each of these areas, read to the end of the post for a freebie.
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 this video.) 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I have a lot of Notting Hill recommendations in The Local Guide to London.
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.)
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.
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.
Free Where to Stay in London Guide
If you want to know the BEST areas to stay in while visiting London, then grab my FREE Where to Stay in London guide, which includes hotel, Airbnb and hostel suggestions for all budgets for each of the areas in this list.