We know that trying to decide where to stay in London is no easy decision, so we’ve put together a short guide on popular London neighbourhoods and the best places to base yourself on a visit to the British capital. Hopefully, this will help to make the process of looking for accommodation in London that little bit easier.
Where to stay in London: Recommended areas and neighbourhoods
When looking for a hotel in London, you need to remember that London has nine transport zones, with zone 1 being the most central and, therefore, the best place to stay in London. Zone 1 is home to many of London’s iconic places and tourist attractions like Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge…. Therefore, staying within this zone or a few minutes away by bus or tube is always the easiest option when looking for where to stay in London.
However, zone 1 is very large and offers many options for where to stay in London. Here is a guide to the different London neighbourhoods. Each area has been given a colour and number so you can easily identify it on the map below.
Southbank and Borough
The Southbank area is one of our favourites, and you will see that if you ask us for advice, we will always recommend this area first if you are looking for a place to stay in London. This is the area south of the River Thames, and we have grouped together the areas located between Waterloo and Borough underground stations.
From Waterloo station, we can walk to Southbank, where you’ll find the London Eye and many other London attractions. We can walk across one of the bridges and easily walk to Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus or Covent Garden. If you are looking for a place to stay in London to walk everywhere, Southbank is one of your best options.
From Borough station, we can reach London Bridge and Tower Bridge on foot, so staying in this area also has many advantages.
Premier Inn hotels have fantastic locations and are one of our favourites if you are staying in London with kids. They are one of the best options in terms of quality-price-location in our location. In this area, we love the Premier Inn Waterloo and the Premier Inn County Hall. Both are just a few minutes’ walk from the London Eye and Southbank.
Westminster, Pimlico and Victoria
Westminster, Pimlico and Victoria are some of London’s most central neighbourhoods. Westminster is home to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, as well as Victoria Station, one of the largest train stations in London with a direct train to Gatwick Airport. From these areas you can easily walk to the River Thames, Big Ben and the London Eye, and other areas of central London are an easy and pleasant walk away. Next to Victoria Station, you’ll also find the bus stop for the sightseeing hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour, as well as the Apollo Theatre, which shows one of the most famous musicals in London.
The area around Victoria to Sloane Square is an attractive and exclusive London neighbourhood with many restaurants and shops. With this area being so central, it is undeniably one of the best places to stay in London, but it’s no surprise that this convenient location normally comes at a premium price. However, it is also possible to find affordable accommodation in the area.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: Commodore Hotel
South Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in West London is also home to some great places to stay in London. Sloane Square is one of our favourite parts of London, and although it’s not in the typical tourist centre, we love the authentic Victorian streets and houses of this neighbourhood. The area around Earls Court exhibition centre has many reasonably priced hotels and restaurants, whilst South Kensington is also a good option, home to the Natural History and Science Museums. From here, you can easily walk to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and of course, the famous department store Harrods is also located in this neighbourhood.
Knightsbridge can be a bit higher in price as it’s an exclusive area with many restaurants and shops, but we think it’s one of the best areas to stay in London.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: Sloane Square Hotel
Notting Hill, Bayswater and Paddington
North of Hyde Park, the area around Bayswater underground station and the famous Notting Hill neighbourhood is popular with tourists when choosing where to stay in London. Hotels tend to be a bit cheaper around here, and it’s great for eating out, with plenty of restaurants and shops, as well as the famous Portobello Road Market. From here, it’s easy to walk to Hyde Park, and there are frequent buses to central London, and of course, the underground connections too.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: The Lastlett
The most famous places in central London are Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Trafalgar Square. These are the neighbourhoods to consider if you want to stay somewhere in London where you can walk practically everywhere.
Around these areas, you’ll find some of London’s most exclusive hotels, such as The Dorchester, on Park Lane.
Bloomsbury is where the British Museum is located and one of the most highly recommended places to stay in London. Here you can find some nice hotels within walking distance of the centre.
The City of London
The area known as the ‘City of London’ is home to St Paul’s Cathedral, and from here, you have easy access on foot to many of London’s top attractions, including the famous Tower Bridge. The area right next to St Paul’s Cathedral is a good place to base yourself on a visit to London but do bear in mind that as this is a big office district, it pretty much shuts down after the working week is done, with many of the shops and restaurants in this area not even opening at weekends.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: Grange St Paul’s
In the north area of zone 1, you will find Regent’s Park, one of the most beautiful parks in London and a scenic walk from Little Venice to Camden Town. If you stay in this area, we recommend around Marylebone or Baker Street, where you’ll also find the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Madame Tussauds – London’s famous waxworks.
This area is also home to King’s Cross, one of London’s most important train stations, with a direct connection to Luton Airport. Next to King’s Cross are Euston and Russell Square, which are also both good options when looking at where to stay in London, with their hotels, restaurants and great transport links. A bit further north is Angel, a trendy neighbourhood we also highly recommend.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: Astor Court Hotel
For the area south of the River Thames, we recommend looking around Waterloo Station as there are several reasonably priced hotels, just 5 minutes from the London Eye. The area of South Bank is a lovely place to enjoy a walk along the River Thames, with its many restaurants and street entertainers along the river bank. Another convenient option in south London is around London Bridge Station and neighbouring Borough Market.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: London Bridge Hotel
Hammersmith and Fulham
Other areas that are not too far from the centre are Hammersmith and Fulham. Finding a hotel close to an underground station in these areas would also be a good option.
–> Recommended hotel in this area: Prince of Wales Townhouse
Tower of London and Wapping
Staying in this area of London has many advantages as you will be a few minutes’ walk from the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and a few minutes’ walk from Borough Market and the London Bridge area. The areas that are north of this area, Aldgate and Whitechapel, are also very popular as there are a large number of hotels. They are usually slightly cheaper, but although the location is good, I have to admit they are not on my list of my favourite areas. I would always recommend looking for something in another area unless you are near a tube station.
–> Recommended hotel in this area: The Tower Hotel
Where to stay in London: Zones Map
Recommendations for places to stay in London outside of Zone 1
There are some great neighbourhoods and places to stay in London outside of Zone 1. In theory, the further you are from central London, the cheaper the accommodation unless you’re in one of London’s more exclusive neighbourhoods.
However, when looking for cheaper accommodation, don’t be fooled by just the price of the hotel. Always remember to check the transport links to the centre. Also, don’t forget that what you save on accommodation, you end up spending on travel, plus it will take you longer every day to commute in and out of the city.
That said, we still definitely recommend some neighbourhoods outside of Zone 1 for a different and maybe more authentic experience. These include:
- Hampstead (zone 2)
- Belsize Park (zone 2)
- Greenwich (zone 2)
- Canary Wharf (zone 2)
- Richmond upon Thames (zone 4)
- Kew (zone 4)