Where To Stay In London

Updated: January 27, 2018

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Where Should I Stay in London?

The best place for first time visitors to London, England: Covent Garden is central, safe, and convenient.

The best area for first time visitors to London: Covent Garden.

There is no universal “best” neighbourhood to stay in London. Since London’s best sights and thing to do 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 very central 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. Easy to walk around and handy public transport connections to other parts of London.

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. 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 and Gatwick airports and to France and Belgium via the Eurostar. Mostly inexpensive guesthouses and chain hotels.

Victoria, just south of Westminster and St James’s and on the fringes of the West End, has excellent transport links to Gatwick airport, and accommodations 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. Numerous attractions here, and London Bridge is handy for Gatwick airport. Some boutique hotels here 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 Luxury Hotels in London: Shangri-La Hotel at The ShardThe Connaught
  • Best Boutique Hotels in London: The SohoThe Montague On The Gardens
  • 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 neighbourhood 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 Neighbourhood in London for Families: South Kensington and Marylebone
    South Kensington is one of the best places to stay in London for families. The neighbourhood 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
    If you want to romance your significant other in London, it’s hard a tough call between staying in Mayfair, Marylebone, or 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 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 neighbourhood. 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.
  • Safest Areas of London in London
    London’s safest neighbourhoods 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 Best Neighborhoods in London for Tourists

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 the 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.
Best Hotel: The Berkeley

Westminster & St James

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, and Trafalgar Square. There’s a strong royal connection as well: Buckingham Palace in St James’s Park in Her Majesty’s home and office, while Westminster Abbey is the coronation and burial place of British monarchy.
Best Hotel: The Ritz

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.
Best Hotel: York & Albany

Covent Garden

The most visited part of London is at the heart of the capital’s Theatreland, with shows and musicals forming the best part of the neighbourhood’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.
Best Hotel: The Savoy

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 as 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.
Best Hotel: The Soho

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.
Best Hotel: The Rookery

Oxford Street, Marylebone, & Mayfair

Lined with high street fashion outlets, centrally-located Oxford Street bisects two distinguished neighbourhoods. 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.
Best Hotel: Landmark London

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 industrialised neighbourhoods. The East End retains its immigrant neighbourhoods 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.
Best Hotel: Batty Langley’s

The South Bank, Bankside, & Greenwich

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 collections of museums. Dining includes some standout street food and London’s loftiest restaurants.
Best Hotel: Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard

Bloomsbury, Kings Cross, & Fitzrovia

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.
Best Hotel: The Montague On The Gardens

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24 Questions and Comments

  1. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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).

  2. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  3. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  4. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  5. Staying in Shoreditch

    My 20 year old daughter is going to makeup school January to February 2018. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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 (considerably cheaper) option is AirBnb. 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!

  6. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  7. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  8. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  9. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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.

  10. 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      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 (www.stpauls.co.uk), the Monument, the Shard (www.the-shard.com), Tower of London (www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london), the London Eye (www.thelondoneye.com), Tate Modern (www.tate.org.uk), Tower Bridge (www.towerbridge.org.uk). 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 (www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory), the beautiful historic buildings of the Royal Naval College, and Britain’s last tea clipper, the Cutty Sark (www.rmg.co.uk/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.

  11. London and Manchester for Music Lovers

    Just booked a trip in February, 2018 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 DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      I suggest splitting your time between Manchester and London. Manchester is a must because The Smiths and Joy Division hail from there. (In fact, Morissey is touring solo this year, if that’s of interest; check out his tour dates). 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; they are currently not doing tours because one of their guides has passed away (though they may restart by the time you come to visit) but their website still lists their tour itineraries for The Smiths/Morissey and Joy Division, so you could always do a tour with Manchester Taxi Tours, who also do custom-made tours, and request specific stops. Also, 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, Arora 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.

  12. 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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