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 world-class museums; historical sites; street art; panoramic views; shopping opportunities and all the food and pubs.
London is massive – one of the largest cities in Europe by population. If you are planning a trip there, you really have pick your accommodation wisely. 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. Surely you will want to stay somewhere nice; a place that is clean and safe (but cleanliness and budget friendly don’t often go together in this city: London is terribly expensive); and with easy access to attractions, bars, restaurants.
Continue reading this post for a summary of the best areas in London, and for the best places to stay in London, by area.
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.
Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia – overall best area to stay in London
Bloomsbury is one fo the nicest areas in London – for tourists and for locals alike. Home to the British Museum, it’s a thriving place with lots of students (it’s where University College London campus is located), gorgeous historic buildings, green spaces, cafés, nice independent shops and a relaxed vibe. I fell in love with it the first time I visited London, and appreciated it when I taught at UCL.
For more attractions, you can count on the easy access to the Tube – the main station there is in Russel Square, but you can also travel from Goodge Street to reach Covent Garden, Leicester Square and beyond.
The main issue with Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia is that they aren’t exactly cheap areas to stay – but considering the location, it’s probably worth paying a bit more to sleep there.
Below are some great accommodation options in Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia:
Kimpton – Fitzroy London, an IHG Hotel
Rooms are positively gorgeous at this London hotel. You will have everything you may possibly need for a comfortable, cozy stay in a prime location close to all attractions. Consider opting for a premium room if you need a bigger room.
The Montague on the Gardens
All rooms at the Montague are decorated according to color patterns. Literally around the corner from the British Museum, this hotel has incredibly cozy rooms, a gym in case you need to exercise, an on site restaurant and a bar. Sure, it’s pricey – but also very worth it!
Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel, London
The Radisson Blu looks a bit like a business hotel, but it’s actually a good place to stay if you are looking for something mid-range, without over-the-top luxury but all the necessary fixtures. The premium rooms are definitely bigger.
Arosfa Hotel London by Compass Hospitality
Rooms are actually very small at this hotel, but it’s also one of the most budget friendly options in the area so if you location is essential to you, definitely consider a stay here. Don’t worry: while small, the rooms are actually equipped with everything you may need for a comfortable stay.
Covent Garden and Waterloo – Best area to stay in London for first timers
If sightseeing is the main purpose of your trip, stay somewhere as central as possible.
Waterloo, the South Bank and Bankside is where most attractions are located. This is where you’ll be able to see 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. However, there aren’t many great accommodation options in that part of town, so your best option will be to stay around 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.
Make sure to also read my post 10 Cool Things To Do In Covent Garden.
The following is a selection of the best places to stay in Covent Garden:
Covent Garden Hotel, Firmdale Hotels
This 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.
Centre Stage IX
This very modern apartment is perfect for a solo traveler or a couple.
This 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.
The Resident Covent Garden
This hotel is close to all the most famous theaters in London. Rooms are somewhat small but well equipped with also a kitchenette. Bathrooms are nice and modern.
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, this hotel offers spacious rooms with cozy yet modern decor. Monochrome rooms are the most fun. A fabulous breakfast is served every morning to kick start your day.
This incredibly modern apartment is perfect for a solo traveler or a couple. it has everything you need for a comfortable stay if you prefer self catering.
If you have the budget to splurge, this is one of the best hotels in London. 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.
This is where to stay in London 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 – definitely one of the best hostels in London.
Kensington – Best area to stay in London for families
Kensington is definitely the best area to stay in London for families, and allows easy access to a great range of attractions. Together with Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Belgravia this is also known to be one of the safest areas in London.
In Kensington you will find the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. This 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 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.
If you’d rather opt for a self-catering place, this 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 bedrooms.
The Resident Kensington
This hotel has comfortable, very well equipped albeit truly small rooms. It’s close to Earl’s Court station, so you will be able to travel easily to all attractions in town.
Melia London Kensington
This hotel 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.
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 area 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 boutiques and designer stores. If you have the budget to splurge, make sure to head straight to Saville Road. The area is also home to some of the best luxury hotels in London 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
This beautiful 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.
The Georgian Architect
This beautiful apartment perfect for four persons is located in a Georgian building that dates back to 1730. It’s furnished with antique furniture and very elegant. It’s a great place to stay if you’d rather stay in self-catering accommodation.
Notting Hill – Most romantic area of London
Think of a romantic area in London, and your mind will easily wander off towards Notting Hill. This is indeed a great place to stay in town if you want classic charm, cobbled alleys, Victorian town houses, vintage shops and that overall look made famous by the movie starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
One of the main attractions in the area is the famous Portobello Market, a great place to look for antiques and vintage items. You’ll also find lots of good restaurants, some historic pubs, cozy cafés and – comes summer – this neighborhood is home to Notting Hill Carnival, a massive festival.
Here are some good places to stay in the area:
Dawson Place, Juliette’s Bed and Breakfast
This family run bed and breakfast is a nice place to stay if you are looking for a more local experience. Much in line with the neighborhood, rooms here are furnished with antique furniture, and they are actually quite big. A delicious breakfast is offered every morning.
The Portobello Hotel
The large rooms at this lovely small hotel are quite literally a triumph of color. If you are anything like me, you will absolutely love them! Think bright yellow or light olive green for the bathroom, hues of pink, green or blue for the bedroom: no color is forgotten here. Rooms are, indeed, a lot of fun – and obviously comfortable. I’d say it’s one of the best places to stay in London!
The Langham Hotel
This is one of the oldest hotels in London. It first opened in 1865 and has been receiving guests ever since. It is close to Oxford Circus and counts with an excellent restaurant and bar where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail. The spacious rooms are decorated in classic style.
You will find this luxury hotel in the heart of Mayfair, 3 minutes walk from Bond Street. It counts with a spa and a fitness center. Rooms are spacious and modern.
Nox Hotels – Baker Street
This 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 a short distance from Madame Tussauds.
The City and Holborn – 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.
Holborn itself is home to fantastic museums, and close to Covent Garden, so you’ll have no shortage of good pubs, restaurants and things to do.
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 (and actually quite crowded) 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
This hotel 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 during your stay.
This studio apartment is small but has everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Montcalm Royal London House
This hotel is close to Finsbury Square and easily reached from London City Airport so perfect for a quick business trip to the city. Rooms are modern and comfortable.
South Place Hotel
Right by Liverpool St. Station, this hotel 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.
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’s now very safe, but 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, staying here is also a bit cheaper.
These two neighborhoods are within easy walking distance one from the other, and packed with some of the best hidden gems in London. Among the things you should not miss there are Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane. Other must-dos in the area are a street art tour of Shoreditch (book it here) and a Jack-The-Ripper walking tour of Whitechapel – you can book it here.
Here are some of the best places to stay in in Spitalfields and Shoreditch:
CitizenM London Shoreditch
This hotel is a stone’s throw from the High Street and close to Spitalfields Market. I stayed there during a business trip to London and actually found it incredibly comfortable. Rooms are small but very well organized. Breakfast is not included in the price of the room but you can purchase it for a reasonable price.
This is a beautiful apartment that fits up to 6 guests. It’s equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay, and incredibly stylish. It’s great if you are traveling with a group of friends or with your family.
This lovely small hotel is close to London Liverpool St. Station. It features small but plush rooms and classic-style bathrooms.
This is one of the best places to stay in London on a budget. It is in a very good location, close to the metro station, and near pubs, bars and restaurants. Dorms are spacious and all equipped with lockers. A basic breakfast is served every morning. When I stayed there I found the dorms could have been cleaner, but when I reported the issue staff was actually very responsive and immediately sent someone to clean the rooms.
King’s Cross and Camden – Best area to stay in London for backpackers
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.
Camden is actually quite 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, so it is perfect for backpackers.
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 transportation hubs. 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:
This is one of the best hostels in London. Dorms aren’t cheap to be honest, but they are nice, spacious and clean, equipped with everything you may need even if your budget is minimal.
A Piece of Heaven
The name says it all! This is lovely place to stay in what is an otherwise busy area. It’s ideal for a couple that would rather self-cater.
Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage
This hostel is located in a beautiful Victorian building. Dorms are well equipped and comfortable – some of them are actually massive so you won’t have to worry about personal space.
Point A Hotel London King’s Cross
This hotel has truly tiny room, but they are clean and well equipped. There are several same hotels in other parts of town in case you’d rather stay in another area of London.
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 London from there.
Brixton – Another excellent area of London for budget travelers
The birth place of internationally famous rockstar David Bowie, Brixton may be a bit rough around the edges, but it is actually a nice area to stay and visit once you get to know it. I worked there for a year during my career as a human rights lawyer, and I quickly learned to appreciate this multi-cultural, colorful neighborhood.
Nightlife in this part of town is thriving, so it’s a great option if you are a bit of a night owl. Brixton is also home to Brixton Village and Brixton Market, where you’ll find plenty of interesting shopping opportunities and lots of good food at affordable prices.
Brixton is actually quite far from the main attractions in London, but this means less tourists and in turn also more affordable prices, making it an excellent option if you are traveling on a budget.
Below are some good places to stay in Brixton.
Entire Apartment in Central Brixton
This nice apartment is the perfect place to stay if you are traveling with friends. It has enough room for four guests and everything you need to prepare a meal. There even are two bathrooms and there’s also a washing machine in case you need to do laundry.
Skyline Serviced Apartments
A fairly decent if you’d rather stay in a self-catering place. You’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay and be close to the metro station to get in and out of the area easily.
This may not be the best hostel in London, but it’s convenient and if you can adapt and aren’t a light sleeper it’s a good option. On the bright side, you will have the option of using the kitchen and the laundry facilities too.
Other great areas to stay in London
I have given you plenty of choice with the above mentioned areas, but here is a further selection for you:
WESTMINSTER AND ST. JAMES – These areas 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.
PADDINGTON – It is definitely convenient as it is very well connected to the rest of the city, and the airport. There are some good hotels too.
Make sure to check out my post How To Get From Heathrow To London.
CLAPHAM – A cool neighborhood with many bars, pubs and music venues. It’s one of the most budget friendly areas.
ANGEL – This is a fantastic area to stay in London if you want a bit more of a local fee. There are plenty of good restaurants, bars and pubs, it’s actually really close to central London (just one Tube stop from Russel Square) and since it is still quite unknown to tourists, it’s quite convenient in terms of prices.
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
- 5 Easy Ways Of Getting London Dungeon Tickets
- 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of London
- The Best Airbnbs In London
- Should You Visit London In Winter?