If you’re booking your London hotel soon and want to feel like you’re a Londoner, there are some great areas I recommend you stay in for a more local experience. When you stay in Central London, in areas like Piccadilly Circus, Mayfair, and near major tourist sites like Tower Bridge, you will be nice and close to the most famous things to see in London, which is fine, and if that’s what you’re after, then check out our guide to the top areas to stay in if you want to be by the popular London attractions.
But if you instead envision yourself trying to immerse yourself in the local London culture, exploring the neighborhood pubs, grabbing breakfast in the local coffee shop, and learning the history of an area that actual Londoners feel passionate about being a resident of, we hear ya… this is how we think everyone should do their London stay. So check out our suggestions below for areas to stay in London for a local experience.
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Before we tell you the areas we suggest, here are some important things to know about staying more locally instead of in the centre of the city, right next to the sights:
You’ll be using public transport more: You’ll be a bit farther from most of the major attractions so you’ll likely need to hop on the tube a bit if you plan to still hit those up.
You could make some local friends: These areas we recommend are where Londoners do live, unlike in very central London, where you’ll find it hard to find area residents. So if you’re looking to find yourself a fun local pub to visit a few times before turning in for the night, or maybe some quaint coffee shops right by your hotel, and who knows, maybe make a Londoner friend, these are good options.
You’ll get more for your money (maybe): Compared to hotels near the big London attractions, you’ll generally speaking get a slightly more for your money at hotels in the below areas, but not always. Also, the amount of hotels in these areas are lower than in popular tourist spots so demand is a bit higher, which could affect pricing.
It’s not just these areas…
This list is not inclusive. Just because we don’t mention one area doesn’t mean it’s bad, this is just a curated list from our own opinion and experiences.
So here are some great London areas to stay in for a local experience…
Despite the fact that Portobello Road gets insanely overrun with tourists on the weekend, if you visit it during the week, or if you just literally go anywhere but that road, Notting Hill is a really lovely area that people love to live in and even raise their families.
Notting Hill’s got a major neighbourhood feel, it’s one of the few areas we go to where people more naturally will strike up a conversation with you, which Londoners are known to not be amazing at.
You’ve got lovely restaurants here, and some hyper-local pubs and just hop on the tube and you’ll be in central London in less than 15 minutes, making Notting Hill a great area to stay in in London for a local experience.
Some of our favourite spots and things to do in Notting Hill
Image Courtesy of Museum of Brands
Museum of Brands
Museum of Brands is an interesting way to learn about English history through pop culture, branding, fashion, and packaging throughout the centuries. Once you’re done making your way through the zig zag of chronological historical items, stop at the museum cafe and enjoy a bite to eat or a cup of tea out in their beautiful little garden.
Museum of Brands | WA
Black History Walks
Notting Hill is now one of the most affluent areas of London, but it wasn’t always like this, and gentrification has stripped the area of its original Black History roots. Black History Walks does an incredible tour showing you the Notting Hill that goes beyond the brunch spots and explains how the area was a huge part of the civil rights fight not so long ago.
Black History Walks | WA
Image Courtesy of The Distillery
The Distillery is a gin distillery (where they make Portobello Road Gin) as well as a bar, restaurant, and boutique hotel all in one. We love popping in here when we’ve got an hour to spare to try another one of their gin cocktails. Try the Sloe Gin Spritz, or ask one of their experienced mixologist for a recommendation from the extensive cocktail menu.
The Distillery | WA
Vintage and secondhand shopping
This area is fantastic for shopping secondhand, as there are many charity shops dotted around with a curated selection of high-end pieces. We have found some of our best pieces at these shops. Try the shops along Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove, or if you prefer to shop vintage head to Found and Vision off Portobello Road.
This is just a tiny selection of things you can do in the Notting Hill area if you stay there, for tons more Londoner-loved local gems you can’t miss (plus a Digital Map plotting them all for easy exploring), grab our Casual Tourist Guide to West London.
Hotels to Book in Notting Hill
There are three (great) hotels in Notting Hill, so if you want to be right in this area, choose one of the below.
Image Courtesy of The Portobello Hotel
The Portobello Hotel
This hotel nods to the antique shops of the area, with colourful interiors and quirky accents like in-room clawfoot tubs. That being said, it’s still luxurious and a bit modern, and while you’ll get the perks of staying at a hotel, your room will feel like you’re in someone’s home.
Book The Portobello Hotel on Expedia | WA with limitations | £££
Image Courtesy of The Laslett
With rooms from around £250/night, this stunning and luxurious hotel in a great location is actually decent value. You’ll feel right at home as a Londoner, staying in what looks like one of the gorgeous white homes that line many of the area’s streets. Adding to the “I live here” feel is the ground floor of the hotel, which is more a neighbourhood hangout than lobby, where you’ll find a curated British library, walls of art, the Henderson bar, a coffee shop serving a menu that evolves throughout the day, and a shop showcasing collaborations with designers and artists. If you’re a solo traveler, there’s a single room available that will help you save some cash.
Book The Laslett, Notting Hill on Expedia | WA | £££
Image Courtesy of The Distillery
Whether you’re a huge gin fan or not, you’ll love the boutique feel if you stay in one of the four rooms at the top of The Distillery on Portobello Road. You’ll be steps away from a quick London gin (in fact you’ll find bottles in your room) and you’ll be smack dab in the middle of Portobello Road, the lifeline of the area.
Book The Distillery on Expedia | WA | ££
East London is a very eclectic area, and if you stay in Shoreditch you’ll be in the middle of the city’s hipster central. There’s tons of street art that pops up all around the area every day, and it’s the best area to stay in if you want to do some vintage shopping. You can also venture even further east from here easily, going to areas like London Fields, Dalston, Victoria Park Village, and more, where tourists NEVER venture to, sadly!
Shoreditch is also known as a popular area to go partying on the weekends, so if that’s something you’re interested in, definitely consider staying around here so you can easily stumble home at whatever hour of the morning you choose.
Our favourite things to do around Shoreditch
This area is fab for vintage shopping. Our favourite shop in the area is Beyond Retro, as they have tons of options, are super organised, and they also have their own line of clothing made out of recycled materials. Head to Shoreditch on a weekend if you want to vintage shop, because beyond the regular shops, there are tons of pop-up weekend markets to browse too. Find out more about vintage shopping in Shoreditch in the below video…
Rich Mix is a cinema and community arts centre that supports the local area in many different ways. Pop in for a cheap cinema ticket or a live show, or to view one of their current art exhibitions.
Rich Mix | WA
Visit La Fauxmagerie on Cheshire Street and you’ll be at the UK’s first plant-based fromagerie. All of their cheese, “meats” and “seafood” are vegan-friendly!
La Fauxmagerie | WA
East End Food Tour
Shoreditch is known for its street art scene, and it’s worth taking a tour to learn about each of the pieces you’re seeing, and the artist behind them. We personally recommend the East End Food Tour by Eating Europe, as they do a fab job combining history, street art, and delicious food to give you a really good background of this eclectic area.
For more cool spots that locals love in this area that you’ll definitely not find on your own, grab our Casual Tourist Guide to East London, which includes a Digital Map and more.
Hotels to book in Shoreditch, London
Because of its recent popularity, Shoreditch has seen a ton of cool hotels pop up in the last ten years, fitting various different price points and levels of luxury. Here are a few that we’d recommend considering for your London trip.
Image Courtesy of CitizenM Shoreditch
This chain claims to be “no-frills” in order to lower its prices, but it’s still a pretty swanky hotel. There’s only one room type so there’s no confusion on what you’ll be getting. Rooms can go as low as £120/night if you snag a good deal during the low season, and there’s even a little terrace bar you can hang at before you head out for the evening.
Book CitizenM Shoreditch on Expedia | WA | ££
Image Courtesy of The Hoxton Shoreditch
The Hoxton Shoreditch
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. It’s known for being a really popular spot for Londoners to go and work during the day because they have comfy sofas (Jess almost fell asleep in one once…) In the evening, it’s great for a post-work drink, although it tends to get a bit crowded. Tip– when you book, go for one of their larger rooms if there’s more than one of you in the room and you’ll be there for at least a couple of nights. The cosier options are indeed teeny, although they make for a decent option if you’re just there on your own or just one night.
Book The Hoxton Shoreditch on Expedia | WA | £££
Image Courtesy of Montcalm East via Booking
This hotel is on the opposite side of the Old Street Roundabout from Shoreditch, heading in the direction of Angel. But it’s still less than ten minutes’ walk from Shoreditch, and offers REALLY good value. You won’t find the usual Shoreditch hipster vibe here, however the hotel is quite luxurious, has spacious rooms (including family suites) and has a pool and spa in the lower ground floor. Jess stayed here once and it was quite romantic and she felt their prices are low for what you get, especially with the service level they offer. After checking out, she realised she had left a very expensive necklace in the pocket of my dressing gown, and they were somehow able to locate it for her before its demise!
Book Montcalm East on Expedia | WA | ££- £££
For more options, read Cool Hotels to Book in East London next.
The area of Clerkenwell is known for being a hub for creatives, designers and architects, and it actually is home to more creative businesses per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Despite being near bustling areas like Farringdon and Chancery Lane, you’ll find cute little streets, local pubs, and other gems… but only if you take the time to explore. It’s also a fairly quiet area, especially on the weekends, making it a lovely-yet-central area of London to stay in.
Some things to check out in Clerkenwell, London
The Gunmakers is a cosy pub that makes for a nice stop to warm up with a pint or glass of red wine while exploring London (or if it’s summer, there’s a tiny covered garden out back). It’s intimate and feels like you’re in someone’s home. They serve a small food menu too, including Camembert popcorn!
The Gunmakers | WA
Exmouth Market and The Exmouth Arms
Head to Exmouth Market to eat, drink, and shop local. Exmouth Market is the name of the road, where you’ll find brick-and-morter, permanent spots, but during the weekdays at lunchtime there’s also an actual outdoor food market. Some things to check out include Cafe Kick for coffee, The Exmouth Arms pub for a pint or a pub lunch, and Marby and Elm for cute stationary and other paper goods. You can see more of Exmouth Market in the below video (it’s one of our most popular…)
The Exmouth Arms | WA
magCulture is a shop that celebrates the best magazines from around the world, with a constantly changing stock of over 500 titles. They encourage you to browse before you buy.
The Zaha Hadid Gallery
If you’re a Zaha Hadid fan, a visit to the The Zaha Hadid Gallery and Shop in Clerkenwell is absolutely a must. Pick up something to take home or just admire her work and her impact while you’re there.
Hotels to book in Clerkenwell, London
Image Courtesy of The Zetter Hotel
The Zetter Hotel
The Zetter Hotel is an gorgeous 59-room boutique hotel with eco credentials, although they don’t shout about it, which is cool but also leaves much to the imagination… Anyways, the Zetter impeccably designed, and could be a good option for families as some of their rooms can be interconnected. If you’re happy to splurge on your stay here, opt for the Deluxe Studio, which not only has a spacious terrace but also a soaking tub on said terrace.
Book The Zetter Hotel on Expedia | WA | £££
Image Courtesy of The Clerk & Well Pub and Rooms (via Expedia)
The Clerk & Well Pub and Rooms
If the idea of staying above a pub makes you cringe, then shift your idea of pub stays. Remember that first of all, pubs close at 11 in the UK, so noise won’t be a problem, and actually there are tons of pub stays in London that are affordable and also highly rated on review sites like Booking.com. The Clerk & Well’s room are absolutely STUNNING, resembling what you’d find in a luxury hotel, and you really can’t be the location. Plus, the pub is one of the best in the area, so you can head downstairs whenever you want to have a pint or to try their Pan-Asian dishes in the dining room. We used to have a client in this area and would go here often for lunch or a pint!
Book The Clerk & Well Pub and Rooms on Expedia | WA with limitations | £££
Image Courtesy of The Rookery (via Expedia)
This luxury hotel will give you Victorian London vibes. Set within a row of 18th-century houses in Clerkenwell, the building still retains much of its original features and is decorated with incredible antique pieces. The hotel has a single room for solo travellers, as well as “The Rooks Nest”, a two-story suite at the top of the building with its own Victorian tub in the bedroom area.
These are some of the best areas to stay in London for a local experience. To keep the local theme going and to make sure you’re not wasting any time at super-touristy, boring attractions and restaurants with mediocre food, be sure to grab one or more of our Casual Tourist Guides which will ensure you only explore the places that Londoners themselves LOVE.
More London accommodation tips:
- Where To Stay In London That’s By The Popular Attractions
- 12 Best London Hotels With Rooftop Bars
- 8 Top London Hotels with Amazing Views
Pin this to your London trip planning board…