Where to Stay in London

SDLondon › Best Places to Stay in London
Updated: January 2, 2023

Our Favorite Hotels in London

• 5-Star Hotel: Connaught
• 4-Star Hotel: Marylebone
• 3-Star Hotel: Strand Palace
• Cheap Hotel: Z Soho
• Hotel for Families: Taj 51
• Honeymoon Hotel: Soho Hotel
• Near Victoria Station: Comfort Inn
• Near Paddington Station: Hilton
• Near Kings Cross: St. Pancras Renaissance

Where to stay in London.
Hotels on map: 1. St. Pancras Renaissance • 2. Hilton • 3. Marylebone • 4. Montague on the Gardens • 5. Soho Hotel • 6. Z Soho • 7. Strand Palace • 8. Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square • 9. Connaught • 10. Mayfair Townhouse • 11. Cheval Knightsbridge • 12. Mandarin Oriental • 13. Berkeley • 14. The Goring • 15. Comfort Inn • 16. Taj 51 • 17. Marriott

Best Areas to Stay in London

There is no universal “best neighborhood” in London. Since London’s best attractions are spread out, there’s no “downtown” as such, and much depends on your interests and budget. Some neighborhoods are more central and convenient than others, given that most visitors to London walk or use public transport to reach the attractions.

Similarly, the best hotels in London are not focused in one neighborhood and it’s easy to find great luxury accommodations in most areas of London.

The West End (Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, Oxford Street, Mayfair) is a central and convenient district with most of London’s theatres, top art galleries, excellent, varied dining for all budgets and much of London’s nightlife. 4-star and 5-star hotels dominate, with some midrange bargains. It’s easy to walk around and handy public transport connections to other parts of London. The West End is excellent for families staying in London.

Marylebone neighborhood in London.

The charming village-like feel of Marylebone make it perfect for first-timers, families, and honeymooners.

Just north of the West End, Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia are also centrally located, walkable to West End, with lots of bookshops, quiet streets, and the British Museum as the star attraction. A wide range of accommodation, cheaper than the neighboring West End. King’s Cross, with its train stations, is north of Fitzrovia. It’s low on sights, but has excellent transport links to other parts of London, to Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, and to Paris and Amsterdam via the Eurostar. Mostly inexpensive guesthouses and chain hotels.

The Victoria Station area, just south of Westminster and St James’s and on the fringes of the West End, has excellent transport links to Gatwick airport, and lodgings ranging from cheapies to pricey hotels.

Kensington is southwest of the West End. It’s on the Piccadilly line, useful for reaching both central London and Heathrow Airport. Plus, it has several star attractions and while the area has numerous 5-star hotels, there is something for all budgets.

South Bank and Bank Side are across the Thames from the West End. There are numerous attractions here and it’s handy for getting to and from Gatwick airport. Some boutique hotels as well as chains. City of London is good for sights, with some budget chain hotels and weekend bargains at pricier ones. Camden and the East End – bargain accommodations but less convenient for sightseeing.

The Best Places to Stay in London

Best boutique hotel in London.

Batty Langley’s in the East End is one of our very favorite boutique hotels in London.

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Best Areas in London for…

  • Best Neighborhood in London for Sightseeing: South Bank and Bankside
    When it comes to sightseeing, South Bank and Bankside are excellent for access to big attractions – London Eye, Tate Modern, the Shard – and the City of London also has its share of popular sights, but both have few places to stay. South Kensington is great for museums and shopping; hotels tend to be pricey. Covent Garden and Soho are good all-rounders due to their proximity to the river, Westminster, and other top sights, and ample accommodations are a boon.
  • Best Neighborhood in London for Nightlife: Soho
    The best area in London for nightlife is Soho. The neighborhood is a good mix of trendy cocktail bars (many of which also do great food, traditional English pubs, theatres, and basement clubs with DJ nights, including a number of gay venues. There are only a few hotels in Soho, slightly set back from the action. Other good areas for nightlife include Camden with its live music venues and East End, with its legendary clubs.
  • Best Neighborhood in London for Food and Restaurants: Covent Garden
    Some of London’s best eating is done around Covent Garden. The dense cluster of streets is packed with restaurants ranging from inexpensive Indian, Mexican, and Brazilian mini-chains to upscale fine dining and traditional pubs serving excellent local food. Covent Garden is a 5 min walk to Chinatown and also Soho, jam-packed with artisan coffee shops and global offerings. Hotels around Hyde Park offer London’s best Michelin-starred dining. Camden, the East End, and King’s Cross are great for street food.
  • Best Neighborhood in London for Families: South Kensington and Marylebone
    South Kensington is one of the best places to stay in London for families. The neighborhood is relatively quiet, and there are two stellar museums with plenty of interactive exhibits for all ages. Just to the north is Hyde Park, with its playgrounds and the family-friendly Winter Wonderland during the colder months. Marylebone is another good option, within easy reach of both Hyde Park, London Zoo in Regent’s Park, and Madame Tussauds – popular with older children.
  • Best Neighborhood in London to Stay for First Timer: Covent Garden
    If it’s your first time in London, then Covent Garden is the best neighborhood to base yourself. It’s centrally located, has a great dining and theatre scene and is within easy walking distance of numerous big attractions, such as the National Gallery, Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye. There are excellent public transport connections to other parts of London and it’s easy to take a boat along the Thames to reach other places of interest. Accommodation for all budgets, too.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhood in London: Mayfair, Marylebone, or South Kensington
    Charming honeymoon hotels, enchanting restaurants, and romantic things to do are easy to find in Mayfair, Marylebone, and South Kensington. Mayfair is Old World wealth and charm, with renowned 5-star hotels such as The Ritz and the Connaught, and some of London’s most celebrated restaurants, including La Gavroche and Corrigan’s Mayfair. In South Kensington, you can opt for the 5-star hotels that fringe Hyde Park, while Marylebone has a hip vibe, some excellent boutique hotels, and less formal dining.
Best hotel near Buckingham Palace in London.

The historic Goring is the best hotel near Buckingham Palace. Everything from the doorman to afternoon tea is classy, refined, and quintessentially British.

  • Best Neighborhood in London for a Local Vibe: Camden
    It’s hard to get more ‘local’ then Camden. The graffiti-tagged, gritty streets still resist gentrification and, Camden Market and the tour narrowboats on Regent’s Canal aside, this is still a working-class neighborhood. Stop by Barfly, Underworld, or another local pub and you might catch the next big thing in alternative rock. In the East End, Brick Lane is ‘Banglatown’; like other parts of east London, it retains a strong immigrant feel, with curry houses, Bangladeshi cafes and sari shops.
  • Best Neighborhood in London for Walking: Covent Garden/Leicester Square/Soho
    The Covent Garden/Leicester Square/Soho area is very popular with visitors on foot – it’s a neighborhood made up of numerous little streets lined with restaurants, bars, and shops, some of them completely pedestrian, and there’s little in the way of traffic. It’s very central, right in the heart of London’s West End. You’ll find Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery, and you can easily walk to the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the London Dungeon (just across the river), Westminster Cathedral – they’re a 15-minute walk southwest from Leicester Square. Buckingham Palace is a 15-minute walk west of Westminster – most of it away from traffic, through St James’ Park. The British Museum is a 20-minute walk north of Covent Garden.
  • Safest Areas of London
    London’s safest neighborhoods tend to be the most affluent ones. Mayfair, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Chelsea – all these are largely safe to walk around any time of day. Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia are also very safe, but standard precautions apply at night. Covent Garden is generally fine but things can get lively late on weekend nights.
  • Unsafe Areas of London
    Parts of the East End, such as Hackney and Shoreditch, can be sketchy at night. While the King’s Cross area has been rejuvenated, the area around the train station is still grotty and it’s best not to wander around late at night. Camden is fine during the day but has a reputation for robberies and assaults outside daylight hours. The Soho and Leicester Square area can also get rough late at night and Hyde Park is best avoided after dark.

The 10 Best Neighborhoods in London for Tourists

Best 5-star place to stay in London.

The luxurious and magical Savoy Hotel in Covent Garden.

1. Covent Garden

The most visited part of London is at the heart of the capital’s Theatreland, with shows and musicals forming a large share of the neighborhood’s entertainment. Covent Garden’s central feature is its cobbled piazza and restored 19th-century market, with its quirky and increasingly high-end shops and a supporting cast of buskers and other street entertainment. There are plenty of restaurant bars, cafes and pubs in the surrounding tangle of streets and several major attractions lie within easy walking distance.

2. Kensington, Belgravia, & Chelsea

Bordered by the vast Hyde Park to the north and Green Park to the east, these three moneyed neighborhoods are known for their trio of superb museums, a couple of excellent contemporary art galleries and London’s most upmarket department and lifestyle stores: Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Nearby Kensington Palace is a heavyweight attraction, and if you’re serious about fashion, Elizabeth Street in Belgravia is lined with powerhouse designer outlets. The dining scene includes some of London’s finest restaurants.

3. Westminster & St James

5-star hotel in central London.

The Ritz Hotel in London’s St Jame’s district.

Sandwiched between the River Thames, Mayfair, Belgravia and Soho, Westminster is Britain’s seat of power. Restaurants and accommodations here are few, but London’s biggest attractions are concentrated in this central part of the city, including the Houses of Parliament, three of London’s top art galleries, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square. There’s a strong royal connection as well: Buckingham Palace in St James’s Park is Her Majesty’s home and office, while Westminster Abbey is the coronation and burial place of British monarchy.

4. Soho & Leicester Square

Bars, clubs, and a diverse clutch of restaurants are the hallmarks of Soho, London’s liveliest nightlife area and former red-light district. Centrally located and an easy walk away from the river and several major attractions, Soho is also the heart of London’s gay scene and one of the best parts of London for independent designers and record stores. Soho is bordered to the south by the small, bustling Chinatown and touristy Leicester Square, famous for its movie premieres.

5. The City

Studded with London’s iconic skyscrapers, the financial heart of the city has a 2000-year-old history. This is where the Romans originally founded Londinium, and no other part of London packs so many heavyweight attractions into so small a space as the Square Mile. Besides Roman ruins, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London, there are also the city’s finest small museums in Holborn and fantastic dining in Clerkenwell. The City bustles with professionals on weekdays and is eerily quiet on weekends.

6. Mayfair and Marylebone

5-star hotel in Mayfair, London.

The Connaught in London’s wonderful Mayfair neighborhood.

Lined with high street fashion outlets, centrally-located Oxford Street bisects two distinguished neighborhoods. To the north is fashionable Marylebone, attracting moneyed Londoners with its designer shops and upmarket eateries, while the waxworks of Madame Tussauds, just south of Regent’s Park, panders to crowds of visitors. South of Oxford Street, Mayfair oozes class and wealth, its grid of tree-lined streets dotted with 5-star hotels, antique shops, and the finest menswear outlets in town along its famous shopping street, Saville Row.

7. East End/Spitalfields

East of The City, the East End used to have a bad reputation, with its Victorian slums, Jack the Ripper stalking the streets, and the squalor surrounding London’s docks and heavily industrialized neighborhoods. The East End retains its immigrant neighborhoods and lively ethnic vibe. Must-visits include Spitalfields Market and the excellent restaurants surrounding it, the Whitechapel Gallery, the Brick Lane street market and vintage fashion shops, the designer shops of Shoreditch, and Hoxton’s frenetic nightlife.

8. The South Bank, Bankside, London Bridge, & Greenwich

Best market to stay near in London.

The awesome Borough Market with the Shangri-La The Shard in the background.

The Thames is London’s lifeblood and many of the city’s attractions are concentrated along the promenade that stretches along the river’s south bank in central London – from historic theatres and the country’s top contemporary art gallery to the London Eye and the Shard skyscraper. Boats along the Thames give easy access to attractions in other parts of London, including Greenwich, further east – a UNESCO World Heritage collection of museums. Dining includes some standout street food and London’s loftiest restaurants.

9. Camden Town & Primrose Hill

Grungy and rough around the edges, Camden Town nestles in the northeast reaches of Regent’s Park, near London Zoo. It’s centered on the sprawling Camden Market – four adjoining markets selling anything from vintage clothing and records to art and gourmet street food. The birthplace of British rock music, Camden has a young, studenty vibe, numerous live music venues, and lively pubs, while Primrose Hill, just to the west, is a celeb hangout with artisan coffee shops, gastropubs and chic stores.

10. Bloomsbury, Kings Cross, & Fitzrovia

5-star hotel in Bloomsbury.

The Kimpton Fitzroy in idyllic Bloomsbury.

The bookish and offbeat neighborhoods of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia are just north of Oxford Street. Bloomsbury is centered around the British Museum – the UK’s best – which is surrounded by a buzzy grid of streets filled with cafes and restaurants. Just west of Bloomsbury is trendy Fitzrovia – short on sights but with lively pubs and bars frequented by young professionals. To the north is the regenerated King’s Cross, with the international rail hub of St Pancras, some excellent street food and the British Library.

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  1. Where to Stay in London for Train

    My wife and I are visiting London later this month for 3 nights. Could you suggest the best area to stay for sightseeing and food? Could you suggest a hotel for the areas – a budget of £70 to £100 a night or less if possible. Also could you suggest an area which is easy to get to central as well as to take the Stratford train?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Z Hotel Gloucester Place is a 10 minute walk from Marylebone Railway Station (which has direct trains to Stratford). The hotel has great rates and is close to several tube stations as well as walking distance to central London sights and neighborhoods.

  2. Best Hilton in London

    Visiting London for the first time in April for a weekend and planning to stay at a Hilton property but I can’t decide between Hilton Hyde Park, Hilton DoubleTree West End, or Hilton Kensington. I want to do a bit of shopping and sightseeing. Recommendations?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Out of the three Hiltons, Hilton Double Tree West End has the best location for shopping and sightseeing. It’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the British Museum, a 10-minute walk from Oxford Street (high street shopping), 15 minutes on foot from the boutiques of Carnaby Street and the high-end fashion of Bond Street. Holborn tube is a 2 minutes’ walk from the hotel, and you can either take the Underground to Leicester Square, near which you’ll find the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, and which is just a short walk from the River Thames, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and other attractions. Covent Garden – with its shops, theatres and excellent dining options – is a 10-minute walk away or one Underground stop.

      My second choice would be Hilton Hyde Park, just a few minutes’ walk from Kensington Palace (where Prince Harry and Prince William live with their families) and Kensington Garden. If you cross Hyde Park on foot, heading south, you reach three excellent museums in 10-15 minutes: V & A Museum, Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum. Or else you can head diagonally across the park to Knightsbridge (15-minute walk), where you’ll find high-end fashion boutiques and the famous Harrod’s and Harvey Nichols department stores. Public transport links are not quite as convenient as for Hilton Double Tree West End, but they’re not bad.

  3. Where To Stay in London for Family of Five

    Wow, thank you so much for all of this information. Where should we stay in London: Vauxhall vs Streatham? We are a family of 5 and will not have a car. We want to be able to sightsee easily via public transportation and walking and generally like lively neighborhoods with a local feeling to them, ethnic restaurants, and maybe some open space.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It’s fine not to have a car in London; getting around by public transport is much easier than finding a place to park. If you only have a choice between Vauxhall and Streatham, then go for Vauxhall. Streatham is a residential neighbourhood that does have some pleasant green spaces, but no dining scene to speak of and the public transport links aren’t great. Vauxhall, on the other hand, while still largely residential and not super-central, is walkable to attractions such as the London Eye, London Dungeon, Westminster Abbey and more, and is only a short ride on the London Underground from Green Park (for Buckingham Palace), Oxford Circus (for Oxford Street shopping) and an easy underground connection to Leicester Square and Covent Garden (for eating out, theatres, etc).

      Since you’re looking for a lively neighbourhood with a local feel and ethnic restaurants, you could consider staying in the Whitechapel/Brick Lane area of East London – lively neighbourhood, good small museums, lots of ethnic dining, good street markets and a gritty past. Plus, it’s got good London Underground connections to central London. If, on the other hand, you want to be centrally based with many attractions within easy walking distance, the Leicester Square/Covent Garden area is wonderfully walkable and the dining scene features pretty much any cuisine you can think of. But staying there is more expensive than in a more residential neighbourhood further out and it’s a touristy area.

  4. Good Hotels in Hyde Park Neighborhood

    Hi Dave
    My partner and I (both early 20s) are travelling to London in May this year. My partner has been to London about 8 years ago, and I have never been. We are only spending 3 nights there (arriving late afternoon from Australia), and are planning to walk/use the tube to access all the major attractions. We will also be going to the Harry Potter attraction. I have been recommended to stay around the Hyde Park area – and have found the Hilton London Hyde Park, as we are wanting a more midrange priced hotel so we can spend money in the coastal Europe areas later in our trip. Just wanting an opinion on this hotel and area. Is this a good area for us to access attractions/restaurants/transport. Is it safe at night and during the day? Would you recommend any other hotels? We would be looking at probably spending around 200 GBP/night, and we are used to staying in 4-5 star hotels, so we want to feel safe/clean where we stay. Thanks

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      The Hilton London Hyde Park on the northern border of Hyde Park is a good choice. The hotel has an excellent reputation and doesn’t feel like a typical Hilton: it’s inside a historic building and the excellent service makes it feel more like a boutique hotel. Rooms are a good size for central London; go for the park view if you can. Note that the Grand Superior Rooms, while larger than the King Deluxe ones, are subterranean and lack natural light.

      The hotel is right next to the Queensway underground station, so you’re right near public transport and a short ride from Oxford Circus (Oxford Street shopping), and a single underground connection to Leicester Square (if you want to catch a musical, eat out near Covent Garden, check out Soho nightlife, visit Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery); Russel Square (for the British Museum) and Embankment (for the London Eye, boat tours of the Thames, and other attractions along the river – Tate Modern, Tower of London, etc).

      The area around the hotel is safe and clean; it’s right near several embassies and a five-minute walk from Kensington Palace, where Prince William and Prince Harry live with their respective families. It’s also less than a 10-minute walk from the trendy Notting Hill neighbourhood with its restaurants, cafes, independent boutiques and more.

      As for other hotels, there’s the DoubleTree by Hilton a couple of minutes’ walk away that’s a decent 4-star bet. There are numerous 5-star hotels along the east and south sides of Hyde Park – The Dorchester, The Mandarin Oriental – but they are considerably pricier.

  5. Staying North of London

    Attending a game at Allianz Park at the end of the month, totally at a loss for where to stay! I’d like to be more central as I’ve never been to London, but the transport from central London to Allianz is confusing me also. Our budget is around 200 for 2 nights for a hotel.
    Thank you!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It’s entirely possible to stay in central London and attend a game at Allianz Park. You’re right, Allianz Park is a little bit tricky to get to by public transport; the most straightforward way is to take the London underground – the Northern (black) Line to Mill Hill East stop and then take a taxi from there. But the good news is that you can stay in the super-central Leicester Square/ Covent Garden area part of London, which is very visitor-friendly and walkable, with many attractions nearby, lots of dining options and easy access to the London Underground (Leicester Square station, which is also on the Northern Line). There are several good, inexpensive options nearby:

      One is Hub by Premier Inn in Covent Garden; rooms themselves are on the small side, but functional and well-priced for the location. Z Hotel in Soho (near Leicester Square) is also a good bet, particularly if you’re looking to go out after the game: lots of decent bars nearby. Again, rooms are quite small, but there’s free wine and snacks for guests. Finally, the Travelodge branch in Covent Garden has contemporary cookie-cutter rooms (nothing exciting, but more spacious than rooms at Hub), and an excellent location near the covered market (about a 5-minute walk from Leicester Square underground station.

  6. Good Value Hotel Near St Pancras Station

    First thing, I’m amazed by your gigantic knowledge about places, and your patience to answer every question; you’ve helped me make choices about our honeymoon just by reading what you post and respond. Now, we are arriving in London (Heathrow airport) and staying only one night, because we’ll move to Brugges the next day. As far as we know, we’ll depart from St. Pancras train station. The thing is we are confused about where to stay because we’ve done a quick search through Airbnb and St Pancreas doesn’t have a lot of options for us, you’ll see, we don’t want to spend much on a single night stay. Additionally, we would like to seize the time we’ll have and go to some nice places around there. Can you recommend some areas near (or at least not too far from) this train station, so we can check some other options on sites to stay?

  7. Luton Airport to Kensington

    Hi! Can you recommend the best way to travel with a family of 4 from Luton airport to Kensington area?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      The easiest way it to take a bus from in front of Luton Airport building to the Luton Airport Parkway train station (10 minutes) and then take a train to London St Pancras station (30-40 minutes, £15.10 per adult; £2 per accompanying child 5-15 years old). Trains run twice hourly. From St Pancras, you can either take a cab, call an Uber taxi (about half the price of a regular cab if you have the Uber app). Alternatively, cross the street to Kings Cross station and then take either the Circle (yellow line) to South Kensington station or the Piccadilly Line (dark blue) to Knightsbridge if you know that you’re staying near one of them. I don’t recommend taking the London Underground, especially during rush hour (7.30-9.30am & 4.30-7pm), if you have a lot of luggage and/or small children.

      If you have a smartphone and are planning on using public transport, I highly recommend the Citymapper app which tells you the different ways of getting from A to B in London and how much each option costs.

  8. Visiting London in November

    Hi. A friend and I are planning a trip to London, and I desire to visit in mid-November to experience London in the winter season. We’re both music lovers, especially smooth jazz, and would like to know where to go to hear live music. Please advise us of the pros and cons of visiting London during that time. Also, any suggestions as to the best and safest places to stay during that time of year?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Mid-November is as a good a time to visit London as any, though the pre-Christmas events (Christmas markets, music events) don’t kick off until early December. There are more pros than cons to visiting London in mid-November: you’ll avoid the Christmas crowds, it’s easier to make reservations at top restaurants, public transport is less crowded than in peak season and hotel rates are lower than in summer or Christmas holidays. The biggest con might be the weather – it might be cold and rainy, at least part of the time, but you might be lucky; weather’s been pretty unpredictable the last few years. And if the weather isn’t great during your visit, there are plenty of indoor attractions (such as live music gigs) to keep you busy.

      London has a huge number of live music venues, from stadiums to intimate clubs, but I can certainly suggest some of the best jazz joints. This recent article is a good starting point.

      On top of that, some of my favourite places include Mau Mau Bar (grassroots jazz institution on Portobello Road, with performances every Thursday night); Cafe Oto (improv, free jazz, stuff out of the ordinary – definitely not mainstream, but usually a memorable night out), and Oriole (sister bar to Nightjar, mentioned in the above article; great cocktails and live performances every day except Monday: mostly jazz and blues but also Trinidadian Calypso and Cuban Son).

  9. Best Hilton/Doubletree in London

    Hi Dave, we will be traveling from Edinburgh to London by train arriving at the Kings Cross Station at 5:40pm. We are looking for a Hilton Brand Hotel in an area of London that is safe and central since we will be walking most of the time. There will be 6 of us. We don’t mind the hustle and bustle but want to make sure that we are in a safe area as we will most likely be taking the train/bus in the evenings. Are there any Hiltons/Doubletree’s that you can recommend?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      There are a couple dozen Hilton/Doubletree hotels in London, but since you want to be central, with good walking access to attractions, consider the following:

      DoubleTree West End – close both to the British Museum and Covent Garden, easy walking distance to the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament Trafalgar Square; lots of dining options nearby and probably the most convenient area to be walking around.

      The Waldorf Hilton – also in the West End, really convenient pedestrian access to Covent Garden, numerous theatres and restaurants, super-central location, easy walking distance to the National and Portrait Galleries, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye. But it’s also the priciest of all the Hiltons.

      Hilton London Bankside – on the south side of the River Thames, near the pleasant riverfront promenade, particularly convenient for the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, Take Modern, Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Not as many dining options in the immediate vicinity (many of the restaurants along the promenade are chains) but you can easily walk to Covent Garden/ Leicester Square/ Soho area where there are more dining options.

      Hilton London Tower Bridge – near a busy train station, easy access to the Shard, Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, the Tower of London and HMS Belfast. Quite a few restaurants and pubs nearby, as well as Borough Market – one of London’s best food market with lunchtime food stalls. Less convenient for Covent Garden, British Museum, etc, though you can take a river bus from a nearby pier to Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament, from where Covent Garden/Leicester Square is an easy walk.

      DoubleTree Tower of London – pretty much straight across the river from Hilton London Tower Bridge, with similarly easy access to the same attractions, but in a slightly less convenient location.

      Hilton London Green Park – particularly close to Buckingham Palace, and with a few high-end restaurants in the surrounding streets. Walking distance from the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden, etc., just a bit less central than the DoubleTree West End or the Waldorf Hilton.

      All of the above hotels are in good, safe parts of the city and are easily reachable by London Underground from Kings Cross, particularly the first two hotels (since you don’t have to change lines). However, since you’ll be arriving at Kings Cross during rush hour (if it’s a weekday), if you have luggage, consider catching one of the London cabs – a Metrocab, since that can take 6 people. It’s not the cheapest option, but you’ll be more comfortable.

  10. Staying in Paddington in London

    My wife and I are traveling to London In June. I was wondering if the Paddington neighborhood is a safe and good neighborhood to stay in?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      The short answer is yes. Paddington is a a safe and central part of London, with excellent public transport connections both to Heathrow Airport and to other parts of the city. It’s also within easy walking distance of various attractions: Hyde Park, London’s vast park and green area, is a 10-minute walk south. Upmarket Marylebone, with its hip eateries and boutiques, is a 10-minute walk east. Equally close is Regent’s Park (with outdoor theatre performances in the summer), Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Just south of Marylebone is Mayfair, one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods – good for fine dining, high-end shopping, or just strolling the streets and admiring the beautiful architecture. Oxford Street is a short ride on the London Underground. For other attractions, you’ll have to change lines, but they’re still an easy ride away. Paddington itself has been undergoing some regeneration recently, so there are several cool things to check out right near where you’ll be staying, including the Garden Bridge – London’s first floating park. Foodwise, there’s a good selection of restaurants to suit all budgets, including a concentration of Middle Eastern restaurants along Edgware Road. Parts of Paddington can be rather busy and trafficky, but it’s a good location to base yourself for sightseeing.

  11. Staying in Kew Area / Gluten Free Restaurants

    Hi! Traveling in July to London with my teen daughter. We are first time travelers to Europe and already have an airbnb rental set in the Kew area. Could you give some advice on best ways to travel from Kew to Westminster area, also a separate day to Islington and Covent Garden areas? Feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out the underground and bus connections. My daughter also has a gluten allergy so looking for good gluten free restaurant recommendations. Thanks!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      London’s size can be a bit overwhelming but traveling from Kew to Westminster during the summer months is straightforward. The easiest and most picturesque way is to take one of the Thames River Boats if you’re looking a guided tour of the riverside attractions, or else one of the river buses that run from the Kew Gardens Pier to the Westminster Pier in the heart of London. The journey takes less than an hour and there are several boats between Kew and Westminster Pier in the summer.

      It’s well worth downloading the free Citymapper app and adding London. It’s really useful: if you input from where you want to go and where you want to get to, it immediately calculates how to get from A to B either by walking, taking public transport or a taxi, and how much each option costs. (You have to be online to use it, though).

      As for visiting Covent Garden and Islington from Kew, that’s easy. For Covent Garden, take the boat from Kew to Westminster Pier, and Covent Garden is 10-15 minute walk from the pier, passing such attractions as Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. For Islington, walk from Westminster Pier to the Leicester Square Underground station (10-minute walk away), take the Piccadilly Line to King’s Cross, change to the Northern Line and either ride one stop east to Angel, which lands you in the heart of Islington, or take the Victoria Line one stop north to Highbury & Islington, depnding on which part of Islington you’d like to end up in.

      Gluten-free travelers are well-catered to in London. In Covent Garden (which is your best area for dining out when you’re visiting Westminster as well), restaurants that cater to coeliacs include One Aldwych, Hawksmoor Seven Dials, Leggero in nearby Soho, as well as chains such as Dishoom (Indian), Wahaca (Mexican), and many other places where dishes are either gluten-free or can be tweaked to suit coeliacs. Islington’s gluten-free restaurants include Niche, Dear Pizza, and Carluccios, plus chain eateries such as Pho (Vietnamese) and Wahaca (Mexican) with numerous gluten-free dishes.

  12. Websites for London Home Rentals

    What home rentals sites you would recommend? I’ve heard about airbnb.com and about the more local ones like stay.com but what would you recommend?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I prefer using Booking.com as they have a large list of London apartments and rentals. I find the reviews on Booking much more trustworthy than on Airbnb.

  13. Staying in Marylebone


    We are 2 adults and one child of 17 travelling to London. We are looking at booking a place at Marylebone London. We would like to understand if it is safe to stay at this place.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Not sure if you’re referring to the neighborhood or the hotel but both are great. Marylebone is an upscale area with a trendy vibe but still retains a real-neighborhood feel. And the Marylebone Hotel is right in the middle of some great restaurants and low-key bars. Highly recommended. The Golden Hind – just out the back door of the Marylebone Hotel – serves some of the best fish and chips in London.

  14. Soho or Saint Pancras in London

    My wife and I will be visiting London for the first time in July for four nights. We are deciding where to stay between SoHo and Saint Pancras (a bit more budget-friendly). We want to be able to walk to things and see the sights but also immerse ourselves via local pubs, restaurants and not only see the “touristy” things. Do you think one option is much better than the other?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It doesn’t make a huge difference as to whether you stay in Soho or St Pancras in terms of proximity to attractions. Soho is a nicer part of London, and its tiny streets are packed with pubs, restaurants and quirky shops, and you basically have some of London’s best dining and nightlife right on your doorstep. Soho is also right in the West End, so right near many theatres (if you want to catch a show or a musical), and within easy walking distance of numerous attractions, including the London Eye, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament.

      St Pancras is a bit more budget-friendly and less touristy – it’s a busy part of London that thousands of commuters pass through on a daily basis – but you’ll still find yourselves near numerous pubs and restaurants, and Soho is just a 10-minute hop (or 20-25 minute walk) from St Pancras via the London Underground (King’s Cross to Leicester Square or Covent Garden). St Pancras has excellent public transit connections to other parts of London. Also, central London is compact and walking the streets from St Pancras to Soho/West End you really get a feel for the city (and can stop by the British Museum halfway along).

      You’re right: accommodation-wise, Soho isn’t hugely budget-friendly, but there are a couple of cheap hotels if you decide you really want to stay in the heart of the city. There’s hub by Premier Inn in Covent Garden, a 5-minute walk from Soho – the rooms are very compact, but if you’re looking just for a place to sleep, it’s worth considering. Premier Inn itself has a branch in Covent Garden, with larger rooms. It’s a bit pricier than hub but worth the extra money for most travelers.

  15. Staying in Vauxhall with Kids

    We (2-adults, 2-kids ages 10 and 13) will be staying over by the Vauxhall station in a VRBO for 6-days. Is this a good area to stay and easy access to public transport to seeing the rest of the sites? We won’t have a car and expect to use the tube from Heathrow to downtown and tube as much as possible (visitor oyster card) to get everywhere we need to (sightseeing, shopping). Does this seem good?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Vauxhall is mixed commercial and residential neighbourhood in a reasonably central part of London, just south of the River Thames, and access to main sights is straightforward. You’ll be within easy walking distance of major attractions such as the London Eye, London Dungeon, Houses of Parliament, Imperial War Museum, Westminster Abbey, etc. Vauxhall is on the Victoria line of the London Underground, which means that you’re also a couple of stops away from Buckingham Palace, a short ride from Hyde Park and Oxford Street (shopping) and you only have to change Underground lines once to get to the British Museum, Leicester Square, Covent Garden (more shopping), the National Gallery and more. Getting around London using the tube and the visitor oyster card is very convenient; you don’t need a car to explore the city.

      To get to Vauxhall from Heathrow, you’ll need to take the Piccadilly Line most of the way and switch to the southbound Victoria Line at Green Park – it’s very straightforward and the cheapest way of getting into central London.

      It sounds like you guys are independent travellers who are into self-catering, but if you’re looking to eat out, then the best area not too far away from Vauxhall is Covent Garden – numerous restaurants catering to any budget and pretty much any type of food you can think of – pizza, Thai, Greek, Chinese, Italian, British pub food, etc. You’ll also be within easy walking distance from the Southbank – where the London Eye, London Dungeon and some of the other attractions are. There are numerous eateries along the pedestrian walkway by the river – mostly good and inexpensive chain restaurants.

      So yes, overall Vauxhall is a good location for sightseeing and you’ll find it easy to get around using the tube as much as possible.

  16. Cheap Hotel in London for Family of 4

    We are a family with 2 kids (7 and 10 years) looking for an accomodation from April 30th to May 6th in London. We wll arrive from London luton Airport. We are focusing around Regent Park accommodation? We would like to spend time outside with the kids (park, sightseeing in London), taking the underground. What would be the best place to find a flat under 120euro/night?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Regent’s Park is indeed a good area, especially if you’re coming to London with kids. It’s a safe and reasonably quiet part of London, and you’ll have Madame Tussaud’s and the excellent London Zoo right on your doorstep. The former’s at the southwest corner of the park, and the zoo is in the north section of the park, plus Regent’s Park itself is a tranquil green space to give yourselves a break from London’s hustle and bustle and if the weather is nice you can rent rowing boats and pedalos on the lake.

      Regent’s Park is well-connected to other parts of London by public transport. Baker Street is the main Underground stop (southwest corner of Regent’s Park), with connections to four Underground lines. London’s main attractions are a short ride away.

      It won’t be easy to find a decent flat in your price range, I would suggest looking at AirBnb, where locals advertise flats and rooms for short-term/nightly rent. If there isn’t anything in your budget in the Regent’s Park area, Kensington/Chelsea is also a good neighbourhood to consider. There you would be within easy walking distance of two superb museums that are a big hit with children: the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, plus Hyde Park – London’s largest green space with numerous walking trails, playgrounds and Kensington Palace (where the younger members of the Royal Family live).

  17. Hotels for Silverstone Race Track

    My husband and I will be attending Gran Prix Silverstone in July. We would like to stay in London. Do you have any suggestions for area to stay close to both tourist attractions and transportation to the track as we will not have a car. Thank you.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Visiting Silverstone from London without a car would mean taking a train from London Euston Station to Milton Keynes (approximately one hour). Trains run regularly – at least twice hourly. During Gran Prix, there are usually regular buses from the Milton Keynes train station to the Silverstone circuit, or else you can take a taxi. Stay in the Bloomsbury area of London (near Euston) – it’s a short walk from Euston train station, has a good range of hotels and restaurants and good public transport connections to other parts of London. A number of tourist attractions are either in Bloomsbury (the British Museum), within easy walking distance of Bloomsbury (Covent Garden, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament), or a short London underground ride from Bloomsbury.

  18. Where To Stay in London for Sightseeing/Eurostar

    We (2 adults and 14 year old) arrive at 11am Monday and will be staying in London until approximately 4pm Wednesday then heading over to Paris via Eurostar. We’ll be using Hilton points for hotel, would you suggest Waterloo or Islington? Want to see major sights like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Sherlock Museum, and such. Also, do you suggest Heathrow Express, taxi, or underground from LHR? TIA

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hilton Waterloo is better located in terms of public transport (Waterloo station is a London underground hub as well as train station) and access to the main attractions, but is also in a busier, somewhat noisier part of London than Islington. Sights such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square are within walking distance of Waterloo, whereas from Islington you’d have to take public transport. Sherlock Holmes Museum is a short ride on the underground from either. I wouldn’t take a taxi from LHR; it’s the most expensive option and likely to take longer than either the Heathrow Express or underground. Taking the underground from Heathrow into central London takes approximately one hour. You’ll have to change from the Piccadilly Line to the Bakerloo Line at Piccadilly Circus or else from the Piccadilly Line to the Northern Line at Leicester Square in order to get to the Waterloo stop. If you stay at Islington, the nearest underground stop is Angel; take the Piccadilly line from Heathrow to King’s Cross and change to the southern-bound Northern line to reach Angel. Heathrow Express takes around 30 minutes to get from LHR to Paddington station, and costs £22 per person (as opposed to £6 per person if you take the underground). From Paddington, you’d still have to take the underground to reach Waterloo or Angel, and since the Heathrow Express runs twice-hourly, unless you arrive just in time to take the train, you won’t save any time by taking the Heathrow Express instead of the underground. All in all, the underground is your best option.

  19. Where To Stay in London for Single Female

    I am going to travel in London for 3 days. I am travelling alone and it’s my first time in London. Also, I am a woman 22 years old and I am a little bit scared. Can you suggest a safe neighborhood to stay in central London?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Since it’s your first time in London, I suggest staying in London’s West End – in the Leicester Square/Covent Garden/Soho area. It’s about as central as you can get, with excellent public transport links (to Covent Garden or Leicester Square tube stops) and within walking distance of a number of main attractions, such as the National Gallery, the London Eye, and Westminster Cathedral, as well as numerous theatres if you’re interested in seeing a show or a musical. It’s also a very walkable part of town, very popular with visitors and with lots of dining options right on your doorstep. Try not to worry, since London in general is a safe city, though normal safety precautions apply, and Covent Garden/Leicester Square is a safe neighbourhood. If you’re looking for a place to stay, Hub Hotel is a good bet for solo travellers, with compact, comfortable single rooms. If you’re on a tight budget and looking to meet other travellers your age, SoHostel in Soho is well-located and popular. The YHA London Oxford Street Hostel is another good, central option for budget travellers.

  20. Staying in Shoreditch

    My 20 year old daughter is going to makeup school January to February. The school is located on Curtain Road in Shoreditch. Our budget is 80-100 us Dollar a night. We would prefer student housing but nothing is available for this short amount of time. Any suggestions? Is Shoreditch area safe?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Sensible precautions apply, as in any big city, but Shoreditch is a very central and safe part of London. It’s a hip area known for its quirky stores, pubs, varied dining, and independent designers and has excellent public transport connections to other parts of the city. It’s also a compact and walkable part of London. Since your daughter is going to be in London very soon, that does limit her accommodation options a little, but there are still good and affordable options to be found in the neighbourhood. It’s worth having a look at Booking.com – you can pick your budget and there are several apartments available, such as Central Hoxton Shoreditch (fully-equipped studio apartment), though they tend to be at the upper limit of your budget. Plus, Booking.com only lets you book a property for up to 30 days at a time.

      Another option is AirBnb in London. Locals rent their spare rooms and apartments on this site, and if it’s your daughter’s first time in London, staying with friendly, knowledgeable locals might be more pleasant than renting an apartment by herself. In Shoreditch, there are various private rooms available for rent for around $1300-1750 per month; AirBnB hosts and properties have to meet various criteria in order to advertise on the site and they are rated by previous guests, so you can choose a property that suits your daughter the best. Hope this helps!

  21. Staying in Vauxhall in London

    I’ll be travelling to London next summer and we were looking at staying in Vauxhall. Is that a nice, safe area?


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Yes, Vauxhall is part of central London, a 10-15 minute walk from Westminster and some of the city’s main attractions, and it’s considered to be a safe, quiet residential area. Normal precautions apply, as in any big city: take care if walking around particularly late at night, and watch your valuables if taking public transport during rush hour.

  22. Where To Stay in London for Group of 4

    This post was terrific. Myself/ my wife / brother / sister (all mid to late 20s) are going to London from Dec. 27 to Jan. 3 and are struggling with an itinerary to pick a neighborhood and hotel for about $50ish per person ($200-250/night). We’d like to stay in a central touristy location (ideally near the Fireworks for New Years) and we’re going to see the Harry Potter play at the Palace Theatre. Does West End work? And if yes, are we realistic on the budget? Thanks!!

    Andy Finnegan

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Ideally, you’d want to stay in the Soho/Leicester Square/Covent Garden part of town. This is a central, very touristy location and part of the West End. The Palace Theatre is in Soho and Soho, Leicester Square and Covent Garden are all next to each other and all within easy walking distance (about 10-15min) from where the New Year’s fireworks take place on the river, at the foot of the London Eye observation wheel.

      The best places to watch the fireworks are from South Bank, Westminster Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and Victoria Embankment, but since there are restrictions on how many people can gather there, you’ll have to look into getting a ticket in advance. This website link gives tips on where else you can watch the fireworks from if you don’t get tickets for the above viewing areas.

      There isn’t a great deal of choice, but it is possible to find a few of accommodations in your price range around Soho and Covent Garden. The exchange rate between the dollar and the pound sterling is currently very much in your favour but you must bear in mind that you want to stay in the most popular part of town during the most expensive time of the year, so it would be more realistic to raise your accommodation budget to around $70-80 per person or consider staying in a less central part of London.

      If you’re happy with a hotel that has compact, no-frills rooms, check out hub by Premier Inn. It’s got a handy Covent Garden location and another, less central one near Tower Bridge. There’s also the inexpensive Premier Inn chain with a handy Leicester Square location. It’s best to book accommodation as far in advance as possible for the Christmas/New Year season because hotels get booked up pretty quickly.

      Apart from Covent Garden/Soho, it might be worth considering staying a bit further out of the centre, in Camden for example. Camden is a short (10-15 minute) ride on the northern (black) line of the London Underground from Leicester Square, and it’s a lively part of the city, with numerous pubs, some of London’s best live music venues and the popular Camden Market (anything from vintage clothes to gourmet street food). Camden accommodations tend to be more affordable. If you don’t have your heart set on a hotel and are happy to consider self-catering places, check out the excellent value City Centre Apartments Camden and Access Apartments; they’ve got a Camden location as well as other locations across central London.

      Finally, it might be worth looking at Airbnb since many Londoners rent out their apartments over the holiday season.

  23. Where To Stay for Wimbledon

    We are coming over to attend the Wimbledon tennis. Where would you suggest we stay? We would like to be in a safe area with pubs and restaurants. Having close access to the tube would be great so we can get around London. Rebekah

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      If you’re looking for a safe, central neighbourhood with lots of dining options and good tube connections, I usually tend to suggest the Covent Garden/ Leicester Square/ Soho area in London’s West End. The hotels in this part of the city tend to fall more into the mid-range and high end categories, with a few budget options scattered about as well. If you want to splurge, The Savoy is old-world 5-star luxury. Also luxury hotel, but utterly contemporary is the nearby ME London. Ham Yard and the Soho Hotel are two characterful, boutique-y mid-range places to stay. At the budget end of West End lodgings there’s the reliable chain fallback, Premier Inn and the more compact hub by Premier Inn, which is fine as long as you’re only looking for a cosy room to sleep in and not much else.

      Lots of restaurants for all budgets there also, and pretty much any cuisine imaginable; Soho is particularly good for pubs, and there are two handy tube stops: Leicester Square (both on the Northern and Piccadilly lines) and Covent Garden (Piccadilly line). This part of the city is extremely walkable, too, with lots of tiny little streets lined with cafes, restaurants, shops and pubs.

      The Piccadilly line is particularly handy for Wimbledon. To get to the All-England Tennis Club you take the Piccadilly line west to Earl’s Court station and change to the District (green) line, heading south. Get off at Southfields, two stops before Wimbledon station. From there, it’s a 10-minute walk (mostly downhill) along Wimbledon Park Road. Coming from central London, allow at least 30-40 minutes for the journey.

  24. Best London Neighborhood for Two Women

    Hi Dave,

    My girlfriend and I are planning to head to London in December. Any recommended neighbourhood to reside apart from those you mentioned earlier? Preferably walking distance to local transport and major attractions. We also prefer a safe area at night as we may be heading back pretty late sometimes.

    Hear from you soon and many thanks!


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I highly recommend staying in the Covent Garden/Leicester Square/Soho area in London’s West End. It’s about as central as you can get, easily walkable and safe at night (it’s a very popular part of the city for dining out/theatres, so lots of people around in the evenings). There are excellent public transport links, too: you’d be right near the Leicester Square and Covent Garden tube stops on the London Underground, with easy access to attractions in other parts of London, such as the British Museum.

      Covent Garden/Leicester Square is right near the following major attractions: National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and Westminster Cathedral. You’re also a short walk away from attractions across the river: cross Westminster Bridge or the pedestrian Golden Jubilee Bridge and you reach the London Eye and the attractive pedestrian walk along the embankment that takes you east, past various restaurants, to the Tate Modern art gallery and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. If you enjoy walking, you can carry on further east to London Bridge and cross over to climb the Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London, or press on towards Tower Bridge – an attraction in itself, and cross it to reach the Tower of London, a royal fortress that’s many centuries old. If you don’t fancy walking, you can also take a boat past all the major attractions along the river; a river bus departs from Westminster pier, a short walk from Leicester Square, and docks at every major attraction.

      Leicester Square is also a 10-15-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s residence when she’s in London; you can head there to watch the Changing of the Guard at 10.30am most mornings.

      Since you’re looking for some nightlife, basing yourself near Soho is ideal, since that part of town has the greatest concentration of pubs and bars in London. The dining scene here is excellent as well, with pretty much every cuisine you can think of, and with many restaurants offering pre-theatre menus in the evening. If you’re looking to catch a theatre performance or musical, most of London’s theatres are scattered around this neighbourhood and you can check what’s on at londontheatre.co.uk/whats-on and buy tickets at a reduced price at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

      There’s a good range of accommodation in the neighbourhood, from inexpensive chain hotels, such as Travelodge or Hub by Premier Inn, to quirky boutique places such as the Ham Yard Hotel and W Leicester Square, and 5-star grand dames such as the Savoy.

  25. Interesting London Neighborhoods for Visitors

    Hi Dave,
    My wife and I are visiting London for a few days and want to stay in a more “local” London area. We are from Chicago born and raised so are comfortable with big city urban “sketchy-ness”. We have traveled a lot the last few years and like the more local attractions (smaller restaurants, pubs, cafes) rather than the touristy stuff. We’re thinking about maybe going the Airbnb route. What neighborhoods would you recommend? We’d like to do a day of tourist attractions, so a quick connection to the tube would be great. Thanks! Edgar

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Going the Airbnb route is a great way to experience London, as you get to connect with real Londoners who can give you tips on what there is to see and do in their part of the city.

      There are quite a few Airbnb options in the Southbank area (south of the River Thames). Elephant & Castle is a vibrant, ethnically-diverse area (some parts are a bit sketchy at night) that’s only a 15-minute walk from the river and various attractions. Even closer to the river is the London Bridge area – great for transport connections, near the bustling Borough Market (www.boroughmarket.org.uk) with its street food, and numerous restaurants and bars.

      From both areas you can walk along the embankment, (lively pedestrian area, lots of places to eat) or catch a river bus to the likes of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Monument, Tower of London, the London Eye, Tate Modern, Tower Bridge. Getting out on the Thames is a really good way of getting an overview of London’s different neighbourhoods. If you take a boat west from Westminster pier, you pass by central London, studded with historic landmarks, east London and its historic warehouses that date back to London’s days as Britain’s busiest port (most have been converted into luxury apartment buildings), Canary Wharf (skyscraper-studded business district) and finish up in tranquil Greenwich, where there’s the Royal Observatory, the beautiful historic buildings of the Royal Naval College, and Britain’s last tea clipper, the Cutty Sark, that used to sail to China and back (now a museum).

      I would also recommend staying in East London. Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Spitalfields are all next to each other and within easy walking distance to London Liverpool Street – one of the main train stations and London Underground hubs – handy for transport connections to London’s attractions. Clerkenwell and Shoreditch are gentrifying neighbourhoods with lots of winding little streets, markets, shops by independent designers. The main street in Spitalfields is Brick Lane, famous for its curries, and there’s a lot of good Bangladeshi/Indian food to be had there, thanks to the large Bangladeshi community. East London in general is very ethnically diverse and while it’s short on big attractions, it’s really good for un-touristy, suburban London life. If you stay a bit further afield in East London (Bethnal Green, South Hackney – both near Victoria Park), the tow path along Regent’s Canal makes for a very picturesque (if long) walk into central London; you see a lot of street art and houseboats moored by the riverbank along the way. These parts of East London are not as convenient for transport connections, but as long as you pick an Airbnb place near a tube station, even from there it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to get to central London.

      Another characterful part of London to stay in is Camden Town, famous for its alternative music scene. The Electric Ballroom, Dublin Castle and The Underworld are three excellent music venues and there are numerous Camden locations linked to the late Amy Winehouse who lived and played there. Parts of Camden are a bit gritty at night, but it’s a lively place to be – lots of pubs, plus the famous Camden Market, selling anything from vintage clothing to LPs and an excellent street food market by Camden Lock. Taking a canal boat down Regent’s Canal from Camden Lock to Little Venice in Paddington is a fun thing to do; it traces the route that coal barges used to ply, many decades ago. You can also do a scenic walk into fairly central London from Camden by taking the Regent’s Canal towpath into Regent’s Park and heading south towards Paddington – good for transport connections. Camden Town is right on the Northern Line of the London Underground – an easy way of reaching central attractions.

      Another thing that might interest you is that AirBnB has recently branched out into local attractions and activities on top of offering accommodation. It’s well worth having a look on the website for cool (and not super-touristy) things to do in London, such as exploring the street art of East London with a graffiti artist, doing self-guided audio walk of Shoreditch (with local food writer pointing out landmarks and attractions), going lawn bowling (you can’t get more British than that!), and having dinner on a canal barge.

  26. London and Manchester for Music Lovers

    Just booked a trip in February, with my 16 year-old daughter. We are both are into old school music. The Jam, Smiths, Bowie, Joy Division. Can you recommend a tour? Hotels and what town? We are staying a week and would like to visit Manchester and end in Brighton to see Paul Weller. Thank you! Linda from LA.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I suggest splitting your time between Manchester and London. Manchester is a must because The Smiths and Joy Division hail from there. Since Manchester produced so many bands – The Smiths, Oasis, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Order – there are several companies there that do dedicated music tours that are worthwhile. A while ago, I did an excellent customised tour with Manchester Music Tours. There’s also Manchester Taxi Tours, who also do custom-made tours. New Manchester Walks do several recommended walking tours, including one dedicated to Joy Division/Ian Curtis, one on The Smiths, one focusing on the legendary Hacienda club where numerous bands used to play, including The Smiths, and a fun one called Manchester in 12 Songs.

      If you want to catch a live gig in Manchester, it’s worth checking out the O2 Ritz and Band On The Wall to see what’s on. Both host local rock and indie bands; who knows, maybe you’ll come across the new Morissey!

      Music aside, there’s a fair amount to see in Manchester: the Museum of Science and Industry is a fantastic introduction to Manchester’s history as one of Britain’s most important industrial towns. The John Rylands Library is a beautiful neo-Gothic space with rare books, Manchester Art Gallery hosts excellent temporary exhibitions and if you’re football (soccer) fans, then a tour of the Old Trafford football stadium is a must.

      As for places to stay, I can recommend several centrally-located hotels: MacDonald Manchester Hotel & Spa is a decent 4-star place, Princess St Hotel is a comfortable chain opposite the Manchester Art Gallery, and La Reserve Aparthotel offers serviced apartments for travellers who like a bit more independence.

      For Bowie and The Jam you’ll want to be in London. Again, there are several dedicated tour companies running music-themed tours. London Rock Tour do a good walking tour touches on The Jam and Joy Division’s contribution to the 70s music scene, but also covers a lot of other bands – including The Sex Pistols. Bowie Tour London does an excellent guided tour of Bowie’s hometown of Brixton in south London, with classic Bowie songs performed en route. It was launched this year on what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday and has proved to be really popular. It’s also well worth doing the Unseen Camden Walking Tour; Mike is an engaging guide who really knows Camden’s music history and he used to appear on stage with The Smiths during the early part of their career.

      If you have time for more sightseeing and it’s your first time in London, I highly recommend visiting at least a couple of the big attractions: the British Museum, the Tate Modern art gallery for the country’s best contemporary art, The Shard for the best views of London, the Tower of London for centuries of royal history (and to see the Crown Jewels), Tower Bridge – London’s most iconic bridge, and Buckingham Palace for the 11.30am changing of the guard.

      As for accommodation in London, I recommend staying in the West End (Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square) – within easy reach of many attractions, walkable, with lots of places to eat right on your doorstep. My favourite places to stay include the Soho Hotel – excellent location, funky decor; hub by Premier Inn – ideal for travellers on a budget, with small but very modern rooms – perfect if you’re only looking for somewhere to sleep rather than hang out; Premier Inn Leicester Square – as central as it gets; comfortable chain hotel, and Z Hotel Soho – great location, comfortable, contemporary hotel.

  27. Where To Stay in London with Child

    Travelling to London with 8 year old daughter in July for 3 weeks. Please recommend hotels or serviced apartment with good price that is family-friendly.

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