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.
As London is such a large city, we recommend that you take two things into account when deciding on the best area to stay in London: The travel zone it’s located in and the transport links to the airport.
Where to stay in London: Recommended areas and neighbourhoods
When it comes to looking for a hotel in London, you need to bear in mind that London has 9 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 most iconic places and tourist attractions like Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Hyde Park, Kensington and Victoria. Therefore, staying within this zone or a few minutes away by bus or tube is always going to be the easiest option when looking at 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 in zone 1. Each area has been given a colour and number so that you can easily identify it on the map below.
1. Westminster, Pimlico and Victoria
The areas of 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, the 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: Premier Inn Victoria
2. 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
3. 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 an 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
4. Central London
The most famous places in central London are: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Trafalgar Square. Around these areas you’ll find some of London’s most exclusive hotels such as The Dorchester situated on Park Lane.
Bloomsbury is the area where the British Museum is located, and one of the most highly recommended places to stay in London. Here you can find some really nice hotels within walking distance to the centre.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: St Giles
5. 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 blue ‘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
6. North London
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’re going to 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 is 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 a place called Angel, a trendy neighbourhood that we also highly recommend.
⇒ Recommended hotel in this area: Premier Inn
7. South London
For the area south of the River Thames, we would 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: Premier Inn County Hall
Recommendations for places to stay in London outside of Zone 1
There are also some great neighbourhoods and places to stay in London outside of Zone 1. In theory, the further away you are from the centre of London, the cheaper the accommodation will be, 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 of the city as often the reason why hotels are very cheap, is because there are no transport links to the centre. Also, what you save on the price of the accommodation, you end up spending on travel, plus it will take you more time 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 more relaxing 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)