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Find the best places to stay in London with our neighbourhood guide. Whether you’re looking for exciting nightlife or family-friendly activities; a budget stay or a top-end splurge, we’ve got a corner of London for everyone.


By: Paul Healy |
Published: 20 Apr 2024

London is big and expensive, so choosing somewhere to stay can be a daunting experience.

Unlike other big cities, London doesn’t have one area that could be defined as downtown. Instead, the capital is made up of diverse neighbourhoods, each providing a slightly different experience.   

Some are ideal for families with good facilities and budget options, others are made for night owls where a local bar scene is right on your doorstep.

So, choosing somewhere to stay in London is all about finding a neighbourhood that matches your budget and interest.

We’ve lived in London for over 30 years, so we know the city well.

We’ve put this guide together based on 9 neighbourhoods we think you’ll want to consider for your stay. For each we have included a description of the area and what it’s good for, along with hotel recommendations in different budgets.

Best places to stay in LondonBest places to stay in London

IN THIS GUIDE

LONDON NEIGHBOURHOODS

LAYOUT OF LONDON

London is made up of various neighbourhoods, each with a distinct vibe. Most of the main tourist attractions are located in the neighbourhoods on the north of the Thames.

Although it’s a large and sprawling city, the core of London, where you’ll want to spend most time as a tourist, is actually quite compact and walkable. From Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, it’s around a 20-minute walk; from Westminster Abbey to Oxford Circus, it’s around 30 minutes.

Also, London’s excellent public transport system makes it very easy to get around, wherever you decide to base yourself.

Neighbourhood boundaries in London are sometimes not particularly well defined, but we have divided the city into broad regions based on their overall vibe and distinct qualities.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


BEST FOR?

No London neighbourhood is good for just one thing. Each have their own broad appeal, but they also have particular qualities that make them good for certain types of stays.  

Here are a few things that London’s areas are especially good for.  

  • Best for sightseeing – Soho, South Bank, Westminster
  • Best or nightlife – Soho, Shoreditch
  • Best for food and cafes – Soho, Shoreditch, Borough
  • Best for families – South Kensington, Notting Hill, Marylebone.
  • Best for first timers – Covent Garden, Westminster
  • Best for shopping – Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Soho.
  • Best for a splurge – Mayfair
  • Best for local atmosphere – Shoreditch, Marylebone, Notting Hill.

1 – WESTMINSTER & ST JAMES

Overall Vibe – Regal London in the centre of the main tourist area.

Located in the heart of the city, Westminster is the royal and political centre of London. It’s the best part of the city to experience the history and grandeur of Britain.

From Westminster, you can easily explore some of London’s iconic sites. Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace are all within a 20-minute walk of each other. You also have easy access to nearby Covent Garden and the Southbank of the River Thames.

Our royal parks and palaces walk goes right through Westminster, collecting many of the working royal residences in the capital, as well as the fascinating Churchill War Rooms.

Westminster is lacking the neighbourhood feel that many of the other areas have, but it makes up for that with a few surprisingly, good-value hotels.  

It’s a great option for first-time visitors who want to see all the main attractions.

TUBE STATIONS IN WESTMINSTER

St James’s Park | Victoria | Pimlico | Westminster

WHY STAY IN WESTMINSTER?

  • It’s close to London’s main tourist attractions including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, the Royal Parks and Buckingham Palace.
  • Westminster has excellent transport links to other areas of the city and it’s a quick stroll across the river to the Southbank.
  • There are plenty of hotel options at all budget levels.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Luna & Simone Hotel ($) – This modern, clean, and comfortable hotel is family-run and conveniently located near Victoria bus and train stations.
  • The Guardsman ($$) – This boutique hotel feels like a sophisticated private members club on the edge of St James’s Park.
  • The Goring ($$$) – The Goring has an elegant style with a large private garden, smartly decked doormen and a Michelin-star restaurant.
where to stay in London, Westminsterwhere to stay in London, Westminster
WESTMINSTER BRIDGE

2 – SOHO & THE WEST END

Overall Vibe – Bohemian neighbourhood feel with streets packed with cafes, restaurants, theatres and nightlife.

The West End is an informally defined area north of the Thames between Oxford Circus and Holborn (see our map above). As the home of mainstream professional theatre in the country, it’s one of the liveliest areas in London.  

Soho is a smaller area within the West End roughly defined by the triangle between Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham Court Road tube stations. This is one of the most exciting areas in London. There’s a buzzing atmosphere 247 with excellent live music and streets packed with bars, cafes, restaurants and pubs.

The best streets to explore in Soho are Dean Street, Firth Street, Beak Street and Old Compton Street, the heart of London’s LGBT scene.

From a base in Soho and The West End, you can easily walk to Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping street, and Regent Street, the home of big brand flagship stores. Chinatown and Leicester square are a few minutes south.

You can also easily get to some of the best galleries in London including the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.

TUBE STATIONS IN THE WEST END

Embankment | Charing Cross | Piccadilly Circus | Leicester Square | Covent Garden | Temple | Holborn | Chancery Lane

WHY STAY IN SOHO & THE WEST END?

  • The West End is one of the busiest nightlife areas in London with everything on your doorstep.  
  • It’s very central and walkable to many attractions, plus you can explore laneways filled with boutiques, cafes and restaurants right from your hotel.
  • Soho is a unique neighbourhood, that while very touristy in pockets, manages to hold on to a local feel.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Z Hotel Strand (£) – It’s not easy to find decent-value hotels near the West End, but Z Hotels have a few with the pick being on The Strand.
  • Hazlitt’s (££) – In the heart of Soho, I’ve walked past this hotel many times and never known it was there. It oozes old-world charm across four Georgian townhouses with a wood-paneled library, leather-bound books, and antique furniture.
  • L’Oscar (£££) – On the north-eastern corner of Covent Garden, this exquisitely designed boutique hotel is opulently decorated somewhere between 1920s glam and Studio 54. 
where to stay in london, sohowhere to stay in london, soho
HAZLITT’S, SOHO

3 – MAYFAIR

Overall Vibe – Cobbled streets lined with elegant shops and grand hotels.

Mayfair is a refined neighbourhood with exclusive boutiques and Georgian architecture.

If you are coming to London for high-end shopping, Mayfair is the place for you. Located south of Oxford Street, beside Soho, Mayfair is one of the most upmarket parts of London.

Packed with designer brands and boutiques, New Bond Street runs through the centre of Mayfair roughly connecting Oxford Street to Piccadilly. Even if you’re not interested in shopping, it’s a lovely street to stroll down. If you’re visiting over the festive period, it has the best Christmas lights display in London.

Mayfair has some of the most exclusive addresses in the city including the Connaught Hotel, Ritz London and Burlington Arcade.

Mayfair is also the heart of fine dining in London with a whopping 16 Michelin-starred restaurants.

TUBE STATIONS AROUND MAYFAIR

Green Park | Oxford Circus | Bond Street | Marble Arch

WHY STAY IN MAYFAIR?

  • Mayfair is perfect if you want to shop in designer boutiques right on your doorstep.
  • There are several famous high-end hotels in Mayfair making it perfect for a splurge.
  • Although exclusive, Mayfair feels residential with a few nice green spaces including Grosvenor Square, Berkeley Square and Green Park.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • 9 Hertford Street (£) – This complete apartment in the heart of Mayfair sleeps up to 4 people making it great for families with young kids. 
  • The Stafford (££) – Stafford has been operating for over 100 years just a stone’s throw from Green Park. It has a great restaurant and a stylish Art Deco bar.
  • Claridge’s (£££) – One of the most famous hotels in London, Claridge’s is still serving kings, queens, prime ministers, presidents, and A-list celebrities.
the connaught where to stay in londonthe connaught where to stay in london
THE CONNAUGHT

4 – MARYLEBONE, FITZROVIA & BLOOMSBURY

Overall Vibe – Local feel with a mix of residential corners, quiet leafy streets and high-quality neighbourhood restaurants.

We’ve broadly grouped the area north of Oxford Street into one section incorporating Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury. We’ve done this because they each provide a similar type of stay and the whole area is very well connected with the circle line on the tube.

At the eastern end, Marylebone has a village-like atmosphere with some excellent local restaurants, such as Opso, our favourite Greek restaurant in London; the biggest and best Lina Stores; and Chiltern Firehouse.

It also has the iconic Selfridges store and the wonderful Wallace Collection (which we highly recommend).

A short stroll along Oxford Street takes you into Fitzrovia which has a fantastic café scene and our favourite coffee shop (at the moment), Kaffeine. The streets around here are independent shops, quirky cafes and several great bars and restaurants. It’s just across Oxford Street from Soho.

As you head further into Bloomsbury the cafes start to thin out, but there are some very good accommodation options at all ends of the budget. The British Museum is in Bloomsbury.

TUBE STATIONS IN MARYLEBONE, FITZROVIA & BLOOMSBURY

Edgeware Road | Marble Arch | Bond Street | Regent’s Park | Oxford Circus | Great Portland Street | Baker Street | Goodge Street | Warren Street | Euston Square | Russel Square | King’s Cross St Pancras

WHY STAY HERE?

  • It’s very central to all the main tourist attractions, but you can still be just outside the action on a quiet residential street.
  • There’s a great selection of local neighbourhood restaurants and cafes.
  • You’re right near some slightly less-well-known sights such as the Wallace Collection, Daunt Books and Bea’s of Bloomsbury.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Marylebone Inn (£) – It’s not easy to find decent-value London hotels in Marylebone, but the Marylebone Inn ticks most boxes. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from Baker Street tube station.
  • Zetter Townhouse (££) – A few streets back from Oxford Street, this hotel in a Georgian townhouse is packed with strange curios with a Victorian theme.
  • The Standard (£££) – Manhattan cool in central London, conveniently located near Kings Cross Station where the Eurostar arrives from Paris.
where to stay in london marylebone bloomsburywhere to stay in london marylebone bloomsbury
THE STANDARD

5 – SOUTHBANK & BOROUGH

Overall Vibe – Mix of old and new that can feel a bit sterile in places and hidden and very local in others.

The Southbank and Borough is the only area we have listed in this guide which is south of the Thames.

The Southbank is a riverside promenade that stretches from Westminster Bridge all the way around to Tower Bridge. It’s home to several big London attractions including Festival Hall, the National Theatre, BFI, Tate Modern and the Shakespeare Globe.  

It’s a great area for families with kid-friendly attractions including SeaLife, Shrek Adventure and London Dungeon.

Borough is a diverse inner-London hub which is most famous for Borough Market. It’s busy and very popular with both tourists and locals, but we still think it’s the best food market in London.

Just across the river from Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament, Southbank and Borough is a convenient central London location that feels close to the main sights without being on top of them.

Our Southbank walk includes all the highlights, plus a detour to Leake Street Arches, an amazing street art area and the Southbank Book Market.

Some corners, particularly around Borough, have a local village-like feel. However, you’ll probably find that most of the good-value, modern hotels are in fairly sterile surroundings. This is not all bad because you could be getting a good price (by London standards) and still be within easy walking distance of many great attractions.

TUBE STATIONS IN SOUTH BANK & BOROUGH

Waterloo | Lambeth North | Southwark | Borough | London Bridge

WHY STAY IN SOUTHBANK?

  • It’s well located near some of the big sights which you can walk to, but away from things enough that it feels quiet.
  • There’s a great mix of local neighbourhoods (Lower Marsh & Bermondsey Street) plus you can easily walk to London Bridge or the Houses of Parliament.
  • It’s possible to find some accommodation at a lower price point away from the main Southbank strip.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • The Mad Hatter (£) – A good value hotel in Southwark with a hearty breakfast and decent-sized rooms just behind Southbank near the National Theatre.
  • Sea Containers (££) – Set right on the Southbank, this hotel has one of the best locations in the city and hits the right vibe with a nautical design.  
  • Shangri-La (£££) – Occupying levels 34-52 of the Shard, this 5-star hotel has unparalleled views of the city, uniquely designed guest rooms and the highest bar in London.
shakespeare globe queens walk londonshakespeare globe queens walk london
SHAKESPEARE GLOBE, SOUTHBANK

6 – CLERKENWELL & THE CITY

Overall Vibe – Historic landmarks blend with office buildings in this urban neighbourhood with a busy afterwork vibe.

The City is the financial district of London with most of the shiny new high-rise buildings that have developed over the last decade or so. It’s also home to some important London landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Monument. All these sights you can see on our City of London self-guided walk.

It’s very central, but it can be very quiet on weekends and evenings. There are not many traditional pubs in the city; most of the nightlife revolves around after-work venues.

Clerkenwell, just to the north of the city, has a strong creative vibe with many media companies based in the area. It’s recently gentrified with old, cobbled streets full of design studios, artisanal shops, and hip restaurants.

Some great areas to explore include Exmouth Market, a small street packed with great restaurants and Smithfield Market, a working meat market with cool bars and restaurants in the surrounding streets.

The City and Clerkenwell might not be the obvious choice for somewhere to base yourself as a visitor, but the new Elizabeth Line can whisk you into the West End and Mayfair in less than 5 minutes. It’s great for modern and stylish hotels at a slightly better price.

TUBE STATIONS IN THE CITY

Blackfriars | Mansion House | Liverpool Street | Farringdon | Tower Hill

WHY STAY HERE?

  • The central location and excellent transport links make it very easy to get from the City to anywhere else in London.
  • The demand for business hotels means there is a lot of choice and you may be able to pick up a great hotel a a great price.
  • Clerkenwell is under visited by tourists with some of the best restaurants in London: Quality Wines Farringdon, Morchella, and Morito Exmouth Market to name a few.   

WHERE TO STAY?

  • The Rookery (£) – This atmospheric London boutique hotel is right next to the bars and restaurants of Farringdon and only a short walk from St Pauls.
  • The Zetter Townhouse (££) – Perched overlooking a cobbled square in Clerkenwell, this quirky Georgian townhouse is packed with all sorts of Victorian curios.
  • The Ned (£££) – Located in the former Midlands Bank HQ, The Ned is packed with interesting design and 10 restaurants and bars.
lincolns inn fields london city walklincolns inn fields london city walk
LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS

7 – SHOREDITCH & EAST LONDON

Overall Vibe – Cool multicultural neighbourhoods with street art, edgy clubs and grungy cafes.  

I lived on the border between Farringdon and Shoreditch for many years and so, I’m a bit biased, but this is a great part of London. It’s not inundated with tourist attractions, instead you’ll find a multicultural side to London with great nightlife, cool cafes and a wonderful art scene.

There are some legendary bars and clubs in Shoreditch including Queen of Hoxton, Boundary Rooftop Bar and the Discount Suit Company just to name a few.

It’s also home to the Columbia Road Flower Market, one of our favourite things to do in London.

One of the main focal points in East London is Brick Lane, a vibrant street with vintage shops, curry houses, and excellent street art. Our Shoreditch Street Art walk collects the best of the area – although the art regularly changes.

Shoreditch and East London are not very central for seeing the main sights, and it’s one of the few pockets of the city that are slightly detached from public transport. But it’s a great area to enjoy the urban side of London.  

TUBE STATIONS IN SHOREDITCH & EAST LONDON

Old Street | Shoreditch High Street | Liverpool Street | Aldgate East | Hoxton | Bethnal Green | Whitechapel

WHY STAY IN SHOREDITCH?

  • Enjoy the less touristy side of London in a very cool part of town.
  • Spend some time strolling around the vintage stores, small laneways and markets around Spitalfields to soak up the atmosphere.
  • Try out the bar scene which is more alternative than Soho.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Z Hotel (£) – It’s not easy to find decent-value London hotels near Shoreditch, but the Z Hotel has good clean rooms just a short walk from Hoxton Square.
  • Citizen-M Shoreditch (££) – This East London hotel marries designer furniture with modern artwork and a trendy vibe.
  • Batty Langleys 360 (£££) – This Georgian terraced house is gloriously plush with crushed velvet, wood-panelled walls, and rows of old books.
where to stay in east londonwhere to stay in east london
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET

8 – PADDINGTON & NOTTING HILL

Overall Vibe – Vintage shops, Victorian architecture, and strong multicultural roots.

In the 1960s, people who couldn’t afford to live in Chelsea or Kensington, but wanted to, came to Notting Hill. It was edgy, cheap and untapped. Those days are gone, but what remains is a pretty neighbourhood with a cool edge.

Notting Hill is most famous for the colourful Victorian terrace houses and Portobello Market, which has vintage finds, bric-a-brac, fashion and antiques.

In the streets nearby you’ll find historic pubs, the cool Electric Cinema, great cafes, and plenty to keep the whole family entertained. You can read more in our guide to the best things to do in Notting Hill.

We have lived in Notting Hill for more years than we’d care to disclose. It’s a great part of London that’s slightly away from the hustle and bustle but close enough thanks to the excellent transport links.

You’re also within walking distance of Kensington Gardens, from where you can walk all the way into Buckingham Palace via our Royal Parks walk.

TUBE STATIONS NEAR NOTTING HILL

Paddington | Lancaster Gate | Queensway | Royal Oak | Notting Hill Gate | Holland Park | Latimer Road

WHY STAY HERE?

  • It’s a beautiful part of London that is slightly out of the main tourist areas, but easy to get to with the excellent transport links.
  • Portobello Road is a great place to hang out on the weekends, before stopping for a Notting Hill Brunch.
  • Paddington has some very good value accommodation, it’s not the most interesting part of London, but it’s right by a busy train station so you can get anywhere.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Kensington Gardens Hotel (£) – There are lots of good-value hotels near Paddington, but this 2-star hotel is one of the best.
  • The Hayden (££) – A cool pub with well-priced rooms just a few minutes’ walk from Hyde Park and the boutiques of Westbourne Grove.
  • The Laslett (£££) – A wonderful stylish boutique hotel in a Grade II listed white-fronted Victorian Townhouse near the trendy cafes of Hillgate and the antiques of Portobello Market.
where to stay in london notting hillwhere to stay in london notting hill
NOTTING HILL

9 – SOUTH KENSINGTON, CHELSEA & KNIGHTSBRIDGE

Overall Vibe – Affluent area with picturesque streets, stylish cafes and some of the most impressive museums in London.

South Kensington, Chelsea and Knightsbridge are London’s most prestigious neighbourhoods. Home to the rich and famous, leafy streets are adorned with beautiful houses, quaint cafes and stylish restaurants.

Despite the upmarket nature of the area, it’s actually a great part of London to stay with kids. There are several excellent museums including the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Additionally, Kensington Gardens and Palace is around a 10-minute walk away.

Chelsea, to the south of Kensington has high-end boutiques and stylish accommodation. The iconic King’s Road is packed with designer shops, galleries and fancy restaurants.

Knightsbridge is home to Harrods with easy access to Hyde Park through gorgeous streets.

This part of London is a great choice if you are looking for a luxury stay with high-end shopping, lazy lunches, and mews pubs.

TUBE STATIONS NEAR SOUTH KENSINGTON, CHELSEA & KNIGHTSBRIDGE

Earl’s Court | Gloucester Road | South Kensington | Knightsbridge | Hyde Park Corner | Sloan Square

WHY STAY HERE?

  • For the splurge, Kensington, Chelsea and Knightsbridge is the place to go for luxury accommodation.
  • It’s a beautiful part of London, well connected to the centre with lots of green space nearby.
  • There are some surprisingly good value options, especially for families.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • The Resident (£) – A surprisingly good value hotel wedged between upmarket Kensington and Chelsea but conveniently located near Earl’s Court and Gloucester Road Underground stations.
  • The Edgerton House (££) – Enchanting boutique townhouse hotel with 5-star facilities. Its understated elegance is a bolthole of relaxation in glitzy Knightsbridge.
  • The Wellesley (£££) – This 5-star luxury boutique hotel sits at the junction of Hyde Park, Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge. Addresses don’t come much grander than this.
chelsea where to stay londonchelsea where to stay london
CHELSEA EMBANKMENT GARDENS

LONDON AIRPORTS

You’re not going to want to stay at the airport when visiting London, but it’s good to know what’s around if you are flying early or late and need somewhere to stay.

HEATHROW AIRPORT

Heathrow Airport is 16 miles west of central London. Trains from Heathrow arrive at Paddington Station.

The Heathrow Express takes 15 minutes, runs every 15 minutes and costs around £37 for a return ticket or £25 for a single. The Elizabeth Line – a new underground line – takes 30 minutes and costs £12.80 each way.

HotelCourtyard by Marriott

GATWICK AIRPORT

Gatwick Airport is 28 miles south of the city centre. Trains from Gatwick arrive at Victoria Station. The Gatwick Express takes 30 minutes and costs around £38 for a return and £19 for a single, although discounts are possible if you book online.

HotelSofitel London Gatwick

STANSTED AIRPORT

Stansted Airport is 40 miles north of London. The Stansted Express arrives at Liverpool Street Station in the City. Journey time is 50 minutes, and it costs around £16.50 for a single or £30 for a return.

HotelHampton by Hilton

LUTON AIRPORT

Luton Airport is around 34 miles north of London. The Luton Airport Express arrives at St Pancras International Train Station in Kings Cross (near Marylebone & Fitzrovia) and takes 45 minutes. The fare is £10 for a one-way ticket or £20 for a return. The train station is a 5-minute shuttle from the airport terminal.

HotelCourtyard by Marriott

MORE LONDON GUIDES

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