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Post last updated: August 2023
London is a huge city with so many different and diverse areas and neighbourhoods that it’s sometimes difficult to believe you’re still in the same place.
This makes figuring out where to stay in London a difficult and daunting task, especially if you’ve never visited the capital before.
So to help you out, I’ve used my lifetime of London knowledge to create this detailed guide to the best areas of London to stay, including the best London hotels to suit each budget…
Where to Stay in London by Area
I’ve split this London accommodation guide into three main areas – Central London, West London, and East London – then broken up again by individual London neighbourhoods.
Where to stay in Central London
Central London – Soho
Soho is one of the capital’s most popular neighbourhoods and certainly one of the most exciting places to stay in London to be right in the heart of everything.
Located in London’s West End, Soho has a large concentration of boutique shops, cool cafes, international restaurants, and busy late-night bars and clubs.
Not only is there a buzzing nightlife scene, but the area is also the heart of London’s LGBTQ+ community, meaning there are plenty of colourful gay bars and clubs hidden within the maze of narrow streets too.
Within Soho, you’ll also find many West End theatres, making Soho one of the best areas to stay in London for those who don’t want a long journey back after a night out at the theatre.
This London neighbourhood is also an ideal location for exploring many of the capital’s other highlights. By staying in Soho, you’ll have the shopping mecca of Oxford Street just a short walk to the north, and the many famous sights of Westminster a short walk to the south.
HIDDEN GEM: The many restaurants of Kingly Court, just off from better-known Carnaby Street.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Soho has excellent transport links for reaching all areas of London, with Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square all a few minutes walk away.
Central London – Victoria
Victoria is one of the best areas of London to stay in if you want to be close to a key transport hub AND many of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions.
Located in the Borough of Westminster, you’ll have the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace all within a short walking distance.
There’s also plenty to do in Victoria itself, such as watching Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre or grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many fantastic eateries at Nova Food.
HIDDEN GEM: Pretty Australian cafe and popular brunch spot Timmy Green.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Victoria is home to Victoria Train Station and Victoria Coach Station, which provide many convenient links in and out of the capital to different parts of the UK. These include direct trains and coaches to several London airports, as well as direct transport to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for Harry Potter fans. Victoria Underground sits on the Victoria Line and District Line, so can easily transport you to other parts of the capital.
Central London – Fitzrovia
Fitzrovia is a lovely residential area located just to the north of Oxford Street and on the western edge of Tottenham Court Road. It’s extremely central but still manages to retain a local charm.
Fitzrovia is home to many elegant townhouses, as well as the offices of many of London’s creative agencies in industries such as advertising, TV production, and architecture. The neighbourhood also has a great restaurant and pub offering centred around lively Charlotte Street.
The BT Tower is Fitzrovia’s most iconic landmark, while the British Museum sits just a few minutes to the east, Regents Park (home to London Zoo) is a short distance to the north, and Oxford Street, the West End Theatres, and Soho are all within walking distance to the south.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Fitzrovia is surrounded by several underground stations, including Tottenham Court Road (at the end of Oxford Street), Goodge Street, and Warren Street, while Great Portland Street and Euston Square sit on its Northern corners. Fitzrovia is also walkable to large overground transport hubs Euston (10-minute walk) and Kings Cross St Pancras (20-minute walk) which are great for travelling in and out of London.
BUDGET: Cheshire Hotel Central London
Small but cosy and charming rooms just 2 minutes from Oxford Street. Super affordable for a great location!
I stayed here after a night out in Soho in May ’23 and really couldn’t fault it! There’s a 24hr cafe just around the corner.
Central London – Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury is sat on the opposite side of Tottenham Court Road to Fitzrovia (above).
Not only is Bloomsbury known for its fashionable residential area and pretty green squares, but it is also home to many of London’s top cultural, intellectual, and educational institutions.
The attractive London neighbourhood is home to the British Museum, the largest museum in the UK, London Universities such as University College London, SOAS, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and the famed Bloomsbury publishing house.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Bloomsbury’s main underground station is Russel Square on the Picadilly Line, just a couple of stops away from London’s West End. Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, and Euston Square also line the boundaries of the district. Just like Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury is within a short walking distance of main transport hubs Euston and Kings Cross St Pancras.
Where to stay in West London
West London – Earls Court
Located just on the edge of the beautiful high-end neighbourhood of Kensington, Earls Court is an affordable option for staying close to one of central London’s most affluent areas.
While there’s not a huge amount to do in Earls Court itself, other than restaurants and pubs, the neighbourhood sits just a short distance from popular High Street Kensington, the free museums of South Kensington, and the greenery of Kensington Gardens and Holland Park.
Earls Court is far enough removed from the busy areas of the city that it has an authentic local vibe. But it’s still on the edge of Zone 1 and close to many of the things you’ll want to see and do in London.
HIDDEN GEM: Evans and Peel Detective Agency, Earls Court’s secret speakeasy.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Earls Court Station is one of London’s main interchange hubs, with the District Line, Circle Line, Hammersmith and City Line, and Picadilly Line all meeting here. This makes Earls Court one of the best places to stay in London for quick and convenient access to numerous areas of the city.
EARLS COURT HOTELS:
MID-RANGE: K&K Hotel George
Chic modern rooms in a Victorian hotel with a large private garden, wellness gym, bistro lounge, and bar.
Note: I lived right across the street from this hotel and would often visit the terrace restaurant and bar. It’s a lovely space in a great location close to Earls Court Station.
West London – Notting Hill
Made famous by the film of the same name, Notting Hill is conveniently located on the North-West corner of Kensington Gardens, so you’ll be nice and close to Kensington Palace for a bit of royalty spotting.
There are plenty of great things to do in Notting Hill, but the area is probably best known for its pretty rows of colourful houses and the charming Portobello Road antiques market.
HIDDEN GEM: Electric Cinema Portobello Road, one of the oldest working cinemas in Britain.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Sitting on the Central Line, Notting Hill Gate underground provides quick and easy access for those wanting to make the most of London’s impressive shopping scene, with Westfield Shepherds Bush just a couple of stops westbound and well-known Oxford Street a few stops eastbound.
NOTTING HILL HOTELS:
APARTMENT: Notting Hill Glamour
A spacious and stylish two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and terrace, just 5mins from Notting Hill Station.
Where to stay in East London
East London – Shoreditch
Shoreditch is one of London’s coolest and most alternative neighbourhoods and is particularly popular with the city’s young creative crowd.
There are plenty of independent shops and cafes, hip late-night bars, busy nightclubs, and loads of colourful graffiti murals perfect for those all-important Insta-photoshoots.
Brick Lane is the place to go for the capital’s best curry houses, Old Spitalfields Market is great for quirky crafts and fashion, while Colombia Road Flower Market is a popular weekend spot with locals and tourists alike.
HIDDEN GEM: Pizza and Prosecco Brunch at Bounce Ping Pong, Old Street.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Shoreditch spans a fairly large area of East London, with a few different transport options. Old Street on the Northern Line sits on one side of Shoreditch. While major Overground and Underground station Liverpool Street sits on the southern edge and is more convenient for heading into the city centre via the Central Line or Circle Line, as well as for jumping on the train to other areas of the UK.
East London – St Pauls
St Pauls is the district on the top of Ludgate Hill surrounding Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic 300-year-old St Pauls Cathedral.
The area is most popular amongst business travellers, due to its location in the heart of the City of London (the capital’s historic financial district). But it can also be a great place to stay as a tourist too thanks to its central location close to the river.
The Cathedral itself is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, so this area can get particularly busy. However, stray off of the beaten path and St Pauls is a maze of old narrow streets (it’s one of the oldest parts of the city) with plenty of hidden gems such as quaint British pubs and independent shops.
St Pauls also has a rich literary heritage, with many famous authors such as Charles Dickens and Dr. Johnson living and working around the area, making it one of the best places to stay in London for history buffs.
HIDDEN GEM: Madison Rooftop Bar with amazing views over St Paul’s Cathedral.
TRANSPORT LINKS: St Paul’s Underground station is on the Central Line. Jump on the tube Westbound to Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Street stations for an easy interchange to most of London’s other main attractions.
ST PAULS HOTELS:
(South) East London – Greenwich
Greenwich is where to stay in London if you’ve got a longer period of time to explore the capital or if you’re travelling with young children and need space away from the faster-paced parts of the city.
The area is set on the bank of the River Thames and is known for its maritime history, with attractions such as the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark, and the Old Royal Naval College. Greenwich Park is a large and peaceful green space and has fantastic views out across the city from the Royal Observatory at the top.
North Greenwich is also home to London’s biggest music venue, the O2 Arena, which makes it a convenient area to stay if you’re in London for a gig.
Most people visiting London will spend at least a day exploring everything Greenwich has to offer. But it’s also one of the best areas of London to stay for those who prefer a more relaxed village-like pace of life.
HIDDEN GEM: Greenwich Market, one of London’s lesser-known markets.
TRANSPORT LINKS: Ease of transport is one of Greenwich’s only downfalls as an area. Located in South East London, south of the River Thames and East of the City of London, Greenwich is only accessible by DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and National Rail trains. It can take around 30-40 minutes to get to many of the city’s more central attractions. Alternatively, you can get the Thames River Service (boat) direct from Greenwich Pier to Westminster Pier which is a fun and unique way of travelling in the capital – just not the fastest!
I hope this post has helped you decide where to stay in London or has at least shown you the best areas of London to stay in. Please let me know if you have any further questions in the comments below or drop me an email at emily[at]londoncitycalling[dot]com.