Let’s admit it: deciding where to stay in London is not easy. Thankfully for you, I know the city inside out and I am here to help you!
The British capital has a lot to offer to visitors. Spend a few days there and you’ll have no shortage of things to do, what with the world-class museums; historical sites; street art; panoramic views; shopping opportunities and all the food and pubs (by the way, make sure to check out this guide on the best pubs in London).
London is massive – one of the largest cities in Europe by population. That’s why, if you are planning a trip there, you really have to carefully pick your accommodation. Stay in the wrong area, and you’ll be doomed with endless rides on The Tube – London famous subway.
But the area is only one of the factors you want to consider. You surely will want to stay somewhere nice; a place that is clean and safe (and, sorry to break the news, but cleanliness and budget friendly don’t really go together in this city: London is terribly expensive); and with easy access to bars, restaurants, and attractions.
Continue reading this post for a summary of the best areas in London, and for the best places to stay in each.
Where To Stay In London
No matter where you decide to stay in London, you will have to hop on the metro at some point during your trip. You will be able to find a range of accommodation that goes from budget to luxury in pretty much any neighborhood.
Covent Garden – Best area to stay in London for first timers
If sightseeing is the main purpose of your trip, stay somewhere as central as possible.
The South Bank and Bankside is where most attractions – Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Churchill’s War Room and, at a short distance, London Eye, the Shard and the Tate Modern – have a shortage of good accommodation options. So your best option will be to stay in the area of Covent Garden. However, it is not cheap.
Famous for its 19th century covered market, the street performers, the theaters and the boutique shops, Covent Garden is also home to an incredible food scene, with restaurants and pubs for any budget and taste.
The following is a selection of the best places to stay in Covent Garden:
- Covent Garden Hotel, Firmdale Hotels is a fabulous hotel close in what is thought to be the best area to stay in London. Close to Oxford Streets, Covent Garden and Leicester Square, this hotel features spacious rooms (not a given in London) with cozy interior decor and modern bathrooms. Opt for the luxury or deluxe room if you want something even more spacious. Click here for the latest rates.
- Centre Stage IX is a very modern apartment perfect for a solo traveler or a couple. Click here for the latest rates.
- Fielding Hotel is one of the overall best places to stay in London. The 19th century building is incredibly charming, but rooms, although clean and well equipped, are unfortunately very small. The location – right in front of the Royal Opera House – can’t be beat. Click here for the latest rates.
- The Resident Covent Garden is close to all the most famous theaters in London. Rooms are somewhat small – which is more often than not a given in this city – but well equipped with also a kitchenette. Bathrooms are nice and modern. Click here for the latest rates.
Soho – Best area to stay in London for nightlife
Party-goers look no further. Soho is packed with bars and clubs. Until a couple of decades ago Leicester Square (with which it borders) was where it all happened – and it’s still like that, in part, thanks to all the movie theaters. Walk a bit further and you will also find Chinatown and its incredible food scene.
Once a red light district, this area is now artsy and eclectic and close to all the main attractions in town.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Soho:
- The Soho Hotel, Firmdale Hotels, much like the one by the same chain in Covent Garden offers spacious rooms with cozy yet modern decor. Monochrome rooms are the most fun to stay in. A fabulous breakfast is included in the price. Click here for the latest rates.
- Mod Behavin’ is an incredibly modern apartment perfect for a solo traveler or a couple. Click here for the latest rates.
- Hazlitt’s is a very interesting option – if you have the budget to splurge. Some of the rooms are very small, others significantly more spacious, all of them decorated with antique furniture. If you have a taste for antique, it’s one of the best places to stay in London. Click here for the latest rates.
- SoHostel is perfect if you are on a budget. There are good dorms equipped with lockers and small but comfortable private rooms. The hostel has a bar and organizes social events such as karaoke, live music and game nights. Click here for the latest rates.
Kensington – Best area to stay in London for families
Kensington is definitely the best area to stay in London for families, who will get easy access to a great range of attractions. Together with Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Belgravia this is also known to be the safest part of town.
In Kensington you will find the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. Kensington is also where Kensington Palace and Gardens – among the city’s top attraction – are located. If you fancy shopping, you can count on Harvey Nichols, world-famous Harrods and the designer shops of Belgravia’s Elizabeth Street.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Kensington:
- Belmond Cadogan Hotel, this fabulous hotel is located in Knightsbridge, and at an easy walking distance from Harrods and Hyde Park. The spacious rooms have classic decor and all the comforts. Depending on the fee you pick, you get a fabulous breakfast included in the price of the room. Click here for the latest rates.
- Georgian Stay is a lovely house perfect for a small family, located at easy walking distance from Earl’s Court. It has a nice living room, a fully equipped kitchen and two comfortable rooms. Click here for the latest rates.
- The Resident Kensington has comfortable, very well equipped albeit truly small rooms. It’s close to Earl’s Court station, so you will have easy connections to all the places to visit in London. Click here for the latest rates.
- Melia London Kensington is a very good mid range option within easy distance from Kensington Gardens. Rooms aren’t big, but they are comfortable and have everything you need for a good stay. Opt for the family room if you want something more spacious. Click here for the latest rates.
GOOD TO KNOW: Another good option for families is Marylebone, which is within easy distance from Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, London Zoo and Madame Tussauds.
Mayfair and Marylebone – Best areas to stay in London for couples
If you are traveling with your better half and are looking to treat him (or her) to something truly special, London won’t disappoint – there are many great luxury hotels.
The area around Oxford Street is home to two of the best neighborhoods in London – Mayfair (between Hyde Park and West End) and Marylebone.
You will recognize Mayfair thanks to the beautiful boulevards, antique shops, fine boutique and designer stores – if you have the budget to splurge, make sure to head straight to Saville Road. There are also fantastic luxury hotels such as The Ritz.
Marylebone is similar in nature – designer stores, fantastic restaurants, and one of the most famous museums in London – Madame Tussauds; as well as some excellent boutique hotels.
Here are some of the best places to stay in London located in Mayfair and Marylebone:
- The Beaumont Hotel is located in a building that dates back to 1926. It’s pure Art Deco – from the lobby to the rooms. There is a sauna, a fitness center, a hammam, and a fabulous restaurant – The Colony Grill. Rooms are very spacious, with beautiful views of the city. Click here for the latest rates.
- The Georgian Architect is a beautiful apartment perfect for four persons located in a Georgian building that dates back to 1730. It’s furnished with antique furniture and very elegant. Click here for the latest rates.
- The Langham Hotel first opened in 1865 and has been receiving guests ever since. It is close to Oxford Circus. It counts with an excellent restaurant and bar where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail. The spacious rooms are decorated in classic style. Click here for the latest rates.
- Claridge’s is a luxury hotel in the heart of Mayfair, at 3 minutes walk from Bond Street. It counts with a spa and a fitness center. Rooms are spacious and modern. Click here for the latest rates.
- Nox Hotels – Baker Street is one of the very few affordable options in the area that also combines excellent reviews. Rooms are small, but well equipped and comfortable. It’s at a short distance from Madame Tussauds. Click here for the latest rates.
The City – Best area to stay in London for business travelers
The City is perfect if you are visiting London for business purposes – but not only. I honestly love this part of town as it is a really eclectic mix of skyscrapers and historical buildings and landmarks. This is where you will find St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, as well as the iconic Tower Bridge.
It’s a perfect place for sightseeing – go on a walk on the South Bank for fabulous views of the bridge and the skyscrapers, or visit the Sky Garden for incredible sunset views.
Bustling with life during the day, this part of town is quiet at night. But look at the bright side: it means that you can get good sleep and be ready for work the day after.
Here are some of the best places to stay in the City:
- Citadines Barbican London is at easy distance from Liverpool St. Station. The modern room are spacious and comfortable. Opt for the studio for a more equipped place in case you need to work from home. Click here for the latest rates.
- Autumn Day is a studio apartment which, albeit small, has everything you need for a comfortable stay. Click here for the latest rates.
- Montcalm Royal London House is close to Finsbury Square and easily reached from London City Airport. Rooms are modern and comfortable. Click here for the latest rates.
- South Place Hotel is right by Liverpool St. Station. It features a fitness center and a cocktail bar – so you can pick whichever way you want to relax after a day at work. Rooms are spacious and modern. Click here for the latest rates.
Shoreditch and Spitalfields – Best area to stay in London for a local vibe
Some will advise you against staying in the East End (Spitalfields and Shoreditch) suggesting it is not a safe area. That may have been the case some 15 years ago, but it changed a lot.
Shoreditch saw a major clean up and it still has a real local vibe. It’s actually where I normally stay when I am in town. It’s not as central as many other places, but the metro will take you anywhere you need to go.
Both areas are home to a large community from South Asia – Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and more; so they have an incredible international vibe. As they attract less tourists than many other parts of London, it is also a bit cheaper.
These two neighborhoods are within easy walking distance one from the other, and packed with some of the most interesting and unique attractions in London – perfect if you want to get a bit off-the-beaten-path. Among the things you should not miss there are Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane.
Here are some of the best places to stay in in Spitalfields and Shoreditch:
- CitizenM London Shoreditch is at a stone’s throw from the High Street and close to Spitalfields Market. Rooms are small but incrediBly well organized. Click here for the latest rates.
- Bohemian Sun is a beautiful apartment that fits up to 6 guests. It’s equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay, and incredibly stylish. Click here for the latest rates.
- Batty Langley’s is very close to London Liverpool St. Station. It features small but plush rooms and classic-style bathrooms. Click here for the latest rates.
- The Dictionary is a decent hostel for backpackers on a budget in a very good location. Dorms are spacious and all equipped with lockers. A basic breakfast is served every morning. Cleanliness is definitely something the staff needs to work on. Click here for the latest rates.
King’s Cross and Camden – Best area to stay in London for budget travelers
Truth be told, I am not a fan of Camden. Walk around during the day, and it will take you a split second to realize you have landed in tourist-landia, as least in the area around Camden Market and the canal. Come nighttime, and there definitely are less tourists around – but it’s not nearly as safe as it is during the day.
Furthermore, Camden is actually distant from all the main attractions. There is another side of the coin though: being what it is, it’s also one of the most budget friendly places to stay in London.
The same can be said of King’s Cross, an area that is definitely less than charming, right by St. Pancras, one of London’s main train stations. Although it’s been cleaned up, it’s still not the safest.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Camden and King’s Cross:
- The Mornington is one of the best hostels in town. Dorms aren’t cheap to be honest, but they are nice, spacious and clean. Click here for the latest rates.
- A Piece of Heaven as the name says is a save lovely place to stay in what is an otherwise busy area. It’s ideal for a couple. Click here for the latest rates.
- Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage is a hostel located in a beautiful Victorian building. Dorms are well equipped and comfortable – some of them are massive! Click here for the latest rates.
- Point A Hotel London King’s Cross has truly tiny room, but they are clean and well equipped. There are several same hotels in other parts of town. Click here for the latest rates.
GOOD TO KNOW: West of Camden, Primrose Hill is another area where you’ll find some cool pubs, nice cafés and nice shops. You’ll also get nice views of the city from there.
Other great areas to stay in London
Westminster and St. James are perfect for easy access to attractions. However, unless you are hoping to stay at Buckingham Palace as a guest of honor of Queen Elizabeth II, you will have to move further away from the River Thames as there is a significant shortage of decent accommodation in the area.
I have given you plenty of choice with the above mentioned areas, but here is a further selection for you:
NOTTING HILL – Great if you want classic charm. Think cobbled alleys, Victorian town houses, vintage shops and that charm made famous by the movie starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s close to Portobello Market.
PADDINGTON – It is definitely convenient as it is very well connected to the rest of the city, and the airport.
Make sure to check out my post How To Get From Heathrow To London.
FITZROVIA AND BLOOMBSURY – North of Oxford St., it’s where you’ll find the British Museum and University College London campus. Russel Square is the main metro station. Fitzrovia is packed with good pubs and bars too.
CLAPHAM – A cool neighborhood with many bars, pubs and music venues. It’s one of the most budget friendly areas.
London is a fantastic city, and every neighborhood I have talked of has something to offer. Although massive, the metro system is easy to navigate. However, keep in mind that the Tube doesn’t run 24/7. London is generally safe, but you certainly want to keep your eyes open, mind the scams and keep your wits about at night.
Are you planning a trip to London? Make sure to read my other posts:
- How To Make The Most Of London In A Day
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- The Best 5 Days London Itinerary
- An Easy To Follow Itinerary For 4 Days London
- A Perfect Itinerary To See London In 3 Days
- How To See London In 2 Days
- 15 Great Day Trips From London
- How To Get Tower Of London Tickets
- 5 Easy Ways Of Getting London Dungeon Tickets
- 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets
- How To Get Madame Tussauds London Tickets And Skip The Lines
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of London
- The Best Airbnbs In London