Let’s admit it: deciding where to stay in London is not easy.

London was my first travel love. I visited for the first time when I hardly was a teenager, and a million times afterwards, up to the point that I actually moved to live, study and work there. This is to say: I know the city almost like the palm of my hand. I like to say almost, because this is an ever changing town – and takes me by surprise any time I visit. 

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).

This is a massive city – one of the largest in Europe by population. That’s why, if you are planning a trip there, you really have to carefully pick where to stay in London. 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 when deciding where to stay in London. 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), in an area that is lively yet quiet. 

I know, it’s not easy! But that’s why I am here for you. Continue reading this post for a summary of the best areas where to stay in London, based on your travel needs and / or budget. For each area, I will select the best hotels.

Where to stay in London

Where To Stay In London

Before I share my thoughts where to stay in London, let me stress one important fact: attractions in London are really spread out, so no matter where you decide to stay, you will have to hop on the subway 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. I will take care to select the best places to stay in London, so your search will be easier. 

Covent Garden – Best area to stay in London for first timers

If sightseeing is the main purpose of your trip, you should pick to stay somewhere as central as possible.

Considering that the South Bank and Bankside, where most attractions you will certainly want to visit such as 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 are located, have a shortage of good accommodation options, your next best option will be to stay in the area of Covent Garden – but mind you: it is not cheap. 

Famous for its 19th century covered market, the street performers, the theaters and the boutique shops, Covent Garden is also where to stay in London for an incredible food scene. Sitting one next to the other you will have a great selection of restaurants for all budgets and tastes – from Indian to Mexican and Middle Eastern (though the best Lebanese restaurants are in the area of Marylebone) to some of the nicest pubs in London. 

At a short distance from Covent Garden, Chinatown and Soho are the best neighborhood in London for more delicious Asian finds. 

The following is a selection of the best places to stay in London located in the area of 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 and here for reviews.
  • 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 and here for reviews.
  • 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 and here for reviews.

best places to stay in London

Soho – Best area to stay in London for nightlife

Party-goers look no further. Soho is where to stay in London if you are hoping to hit a bar and a club or two at night, and your ideal trip involves staying out until the wee hours. This is the best neighborhood in London in terms of pubs, cocktail bars, theaters, clubs proper – including gay ones. In fact, 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 the incredible food scene.

Once a red light district, this area is now actually artsy and eclectic at the same time – not to mention, it’s within easy reach from all the main attractions in town. 

Here are some of the best places to stay in London located 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 and here for reviews.
  • 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 and here for reviews.
  • SoHostel 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. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.

kensington palace

Kensington – Best area to stay in London for families

London is a great destination for families traveling with children, who will have no shortage of entertainment options. 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 museums such as 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 London located in Kensington:

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. 

Going to Madame Tussauds? Make sure to pre-book your tickets here.

Where to stay in London

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. Both of them are where to stay in London if in search of a bit of pampering.

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, you will find some 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. There you will find some excellent boutique hotels. 

Here are some of the best places to stay in London located in Mayfair and Marylebone:

where to stay in London

The City – Best area to stay in London for business travelers

The City is where to stay in London if you are visiting 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 infamous 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 way more 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 London located in the City:

Visiting the Tower of London? Make sure to get tickets in advance here

Shoreditch

Shoreditch and Spitalfields – Best area to stay in London for a local vibe

Some would tell you that the East End – corresponding pretty much to Spitalfields and Shoreditch – is not where to stay in London, because it is not a safe area. Honestly, that may have been the case some 15 years ago, but it changed a lot. 

Especially Shoreditch saw a major clean up and it now is one of the most fun areas to stay which is still true to itself and has a real local vibe. In fact, it’s where I usually pick this as where to stay in London whenever 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, you can rest assured that this part of town is actually way more local than others.

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 in this part of town there are Spitalfields Market – make sure to go there on a Sunday morning for some great street food; Brick Lane, where you will find some up and coming designer shops.

Other must-do 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 London located in Spitalfields and Shoreditch:

best places to stay in London

King’s Cross and Camden – Best area to stay in London for budget travelers

Last time a friend asked me for suggestions on where to stay in London and whether Camden is indeed one of the best area to stay in London, I told him that frankly it isn’t. Some would tell you it is as local as it gets – but 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, on the other hand, and there definitely are less tourists around – and it’s not nearly as safe as it is during the day. 

Another thing you may not like about this part of town is that it is actually distant from all the mainstream attractions. 

There is another side of the coin though: being what it is, it’s also one of the most budget friendly areas to stay in London. The same can be said of King’s Cross, an area that is definitely less than charming, right by one St. Pancras, one of London’s main train stations. Although it’s been cleaned up, it’s still not the safest. But there you will find some good budget options. 

Here are some of the best places to stay in London located in Camden and King’s Cross:

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.

where to stay in London

Other great areas to stay in London

Some will tell you that Westminster and St. James are where to stay in London for easy access to attractions – after all, this is where you will find places such as the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. However, unless you are hoping to stay at Buckingham Palace as a guest of honor of Queen Elizabeth II in person, 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 – This is where to stay in London if you are looking for 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 – I wouldn’t say this is the best area to stay in London, but it is definitely convenient as it is very well connected to the rest of the city, and the airport.

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 where you will find many bars, pubs and music venues. It’s one of the most budget friendly parts of town. 

where to stay in London

Final Thoughts On Where To Stay In London

I hope I have helped you deciding where to stay in London. This is a fantastic city, and every neighborhood I have talked of has something to offer. Although massive, London metro system is easy to navigate. Keep in mind that the Tube doesn’t run 24/7 so that is definitely something to consider if you plan on going out at night. 

London is generally safe, but you certainly want to keep your eyes open, mind the scams and keep your wits about at night. 

Further readings about London

Are you planning a trip to London? Make sure to read my other posts:

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Discover where to stay in London - via @clautavani

 

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