Overlooking view of the London Eye in London during sunset, near some of the top picks for where to stay in London

Where to Stay in London, By a Local (Best Areas & Places)

It is an enormous city filled with history, adventure, and culture, so deciding where to stay in London will have a huge impact on your trip.

One of the coolest things about London is that each area has its own character and makes you feel like you’re in a completely different city. But with so many areas and a plethora of things to do and see, choosing where to stay in London is a tough one!

I am proud to call myself a local after moving to London two years ago and am excited to walk you through the best neighborhoods the city has to offer. Hopefully, this article will help make your decision on where to stay in London a bit easier.

Let’s get into it!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in London

Visiting London and need a quick recommendation on the best places to stay in the city? Check out one of these unique options:

Whether you’re after a quiet street, a convenient location, or a taste of luxury, each of the above hotels has something unique to offer. If you have a bit more time, then let’s take a look at the best neighborhoods in London:

12 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in London

London is a primary European hub that’s hugely popular to both visit and live in. Overall, the city is divided into 32 boroughs, plus the City of London. In this area, there are 48 distinct neighborhoods home to roughly 9 million people. Check out this great London map for more info.

A great thing about the neighborhoods in London is the diversity from one to the next. You could find yourself waking up in the quaint Notting Hill borough after a night out in lively Soho. Getting from one area to the next is often just a short double-decker bus or tube ride away.

Mayfair

View of architectures and people walking in a street in Mayfair
The iconic streets of quaint Mayfair (photo: alexeyfedoren / Depositphotos)

👉 Best Area For A Luxury Stay | ✨ Best Mayfair Hotels: The Dorchester CollectionThe Chesterfield MayfairThe Mayfair Townhouse

Nestled in the heart of central London, Mayfair is without a doubt one of the classiest parts of town and, as such, it comes at a premium price. When you see London in films or TV shows, this is often one of the main spots featured due to its stunning architecture and snazzy storefronts. Mayfair is also home to one of the most iconic department stores in the world: Harrods.

If you’re looking to experience your first-afternoon tea, then this is one of the best areas to do so, as many luxury hotels offer a wide selection of fancy teas, desserts, and sandwiches. The champagne afternoon tea at The Dorchester Collection never disappoints and is my personal favorite. 

This area also has a ton of Instagrammable cafes, shops, and high-end restaurants, but you’ll want to make sure you book in advance. And if you’re a supercar fan, you will likely spot anything from an Aston Martin to a Bugatti on every corner and side street in the area.

Pros of Staying in Mayfair:

  • Gorgeous storefronts
  • Proximity to Hyde Park 
  • Best luxury shopping area in London
  • Central location 

Cons of Staying in Mayfair:

  • Hotels can be expensive
  • A quieter area at night
  • Not much nightlife

📚 Mayfair Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Taste of Luxury
Google Map

Soho

Light bulbs hanging in Carnaby Street in London
The iconic character of Carnaby Street

👉 Best Area For Families & A Central Stay | ✨ Best Soho Hotels: The Stafford LondonThe Cavendish LondonThe Resident Soho

Situated in the borough of Westminster, Soho is where to stay in London to be as central as possible. This neighborhood boasts bustling streets and is a great area for families as it’s within walking distance of many major attractions including the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Oxford Circus, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, the Theater of London, Leicester Square, and much more. 

Despite being one of the most popular areas in London for visitors, it is still possible to find an affordable hotel and stick to a reasonable budget in Soho. Not to mention it has some of the best nightlife in London!

Pros of Staying in Soho:

  • Central location 
  • Bustling nightlife
  • Home to several of London’s main attractions
  • Great for family trips 

Cons of Staying in Soho:

  • Louder area 
  • Very busy and lots of tourists

📚 Soho Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Family Trips and Attractions
Google Map

Kensington & Chelsea

The Natural History Museum in London from the outside
The Natural History Museum looking majestic

👉 Best Area For A Romantic Getaway | ✨ Best Kensington & Chelsea Hotels: The Ampersand HotelHux Hotel KensingtonThe Pelham London

Are you picturing a romantic European escape at a luxury hotel with peace and quiet, while being on the doorstep of several attractions? Then Kensington & Chelsea is the perfect choice for your stay in London. 

This royal borough in the west end is filled with quintessentially British architecture, colorful streets, and lovely storefronts. Be sure to check out Sloane Square, a famous shopping street filled with cute cafes and fancy restaurants. On Saturdays take a stroll through Duke of York square in the heart of Chelsea which hosts a fine food market, before embracing the culture at the Saatchi Gallery.

One of London’s most iconic attractions, the Natural History Museum is located in the heart of South Kensington and is a quick walk from South Kensington station. If you’re a fashion lover, then you have to check out the Victoria and Albert museum across the street. The area is also filled with some of London’s best parks, including Kensington Palace Gardens and Battersea Park.

Pros of Staying in Kensington & Chelsea:

  • Proximity to amazing museums
  • Boutique hotels
  • Romantic restaurants and bars
  • Very safe

Cons of Staying in Kensington & Chelsea:

  • Lack of nightlife
  • Expensive area 

📚 Kensington & Chelsea Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Cute Romantic Getaway 
Google Map

Shoreditch

The Brick Lane Bookshop seen from the outside in London
Find your next great read at the Brick Lane Bookshop

👉 Best Nightlife in London | ✨ Best Shoreditch Hotels: One Hundred ShoreditchBatty Langley’sMondrian London Shoreditch

Shoreditch is where to stay in London if you’re looking to have a proper night out and explore an area filled with arts and culture.

As you wander through alleyways filled with street art, you’ll find some of the best-hidden gems that London has to offer in terms of bars, restaurants, markets, and shops. In particular, Brick Lane is a famous street that consists of some of London’s best Indian cuisine and is dotted with vintage shops.

Shoreditch is centrally located and stretches out across east London, accessible by main tube lines and buses. This is personally one of my favorite neighborhoods in London as it’s filled with character, live music venues, and fantastic local coffee shops. 

Pros of Staying in Shoreditch:

  • Vibrant nightlife 
  • Street art
  • Bustling markets 
  • Best vintage shopping
  • One of a kind restaurants 

Cons of Staying in Shoreditch:

  • Has some less safe parts
  • Loud area 

📚 Shoreditch Mini Guide 📚
Best Area for a Night Out  
Google Map

Covent Garden

View from the inside of Covent Garden Market
The world-famous stalls of Covent Garden Market

👉 Best Food Scene in London | ✨ Best Covent Garden Hotels: Middle EightNoMad LondonSt Martins Lane London

If you’re looking for an old faithful spot in London, then you’ve likely heard of Covent Garden. This vibrant neighborhood in London’s west end has everything from lively bars to some of the best restaurants in London. It’s great for both solo travelers and families.

While here, wander your way through Covent Garden Market, one of the most buzzing shopping districts in town. The main market is made up of several shops, restaurants, bars, and stalls filled with independent sellers of antiques, food, arts and crafts, and souvenirs.

Despite its convenient location, there are several types of hotel options in the area, including boutique hotels, mid-range hotels, and budget hotels if you’re looking to save the extra pounds. 

Another great feature of Covent Garden is the events. Whether it’s a pop-up for a cool brand, an al-fresco dining experience, or the magical decorations around Christmas, this neighborhood is sure to brighten your mood the second you step foot in it.

Pros of Staying in Covent Garden:

  • Very centrally located 
  • Incredible food 
  • Main shopping district 
  • Great for families

Con of Staying in Covent Garden:

  • Lots of tourists 

📚 Covent Garden Mini Guide 📚
Best Area for Food Options
Google Map

Kings Cross 

People inside the King's Cross train station in London
London’s most iconic train station

👉 Best Area for Arts and Culture in London | ✨ Best Kings Cross Hotels: The StandardKimpton Fitzroy LondonPullman London St Pancras

Whether you’re a massive Harry Potter fan or love a bit of history, Kings Cross in central London is filled with charm, character, and culture. The world-renowned Kings Cross Station is always bustling with travelers and is well connected to train journeys within and outside London. This is arguably the best neighborhood to stay in London for both business travelers and culture lovers, as it truly does have something for everyone.

A short walk from the station is Coal Drops Yard, a shopping destination with over 50 stores and restaurants. This area especially comes alive in the summertime, when bars open up their outdoor terraces. There are also several green spaces, often hosting fun activities such as art installations and crazy golf. 

Pros of Staying in Kings Cross:

  • Great area for business travel
  • After-work social environment
  • Easy access to transport

Con of Staying in Kings Cross:

  • Very busy 

📚 Kings Cross Mini Guide 📚
Best Arts & Culture
Google Map

Camden

People outside the T.E. Dingwall Building in London
The Camden Lock in all its glory

👉 Best Area for a Student Holiday in London | ✨ Best Camden Hotels: Camden Enterprise HotelLondon Marriott Hotel Regents ParkThe Level at Melia White House

If you’re looking for where to stay in London with a group of friends, then Camden Town is one of my top recommendations. Located in central London and surrounded by many of the city’s main university campuses, the area offers culture and charm. 

Within the district, you have the famous Camden Lock, a market filled with a multitude of treasures along the Regent’s Canal. In the summer, Camden Lock boasts streets and alleyways filled with live music, cute cafes, excellent shopping, and fantastic eats. 

Camden is also conveniently located near Regent’s Park. Here, you can get a nature fix in the gardens and admire the adorable animals at the London Zoo.

You can visit this lovely and unique market every day of the year other than Christmas day.

Pros of Staying in Camden:

  • Fun nightlife 
  • Great for students and young people
  • Home to lots of live music

Cons of Staying in Camden:

  • Has some less safe parts 
  • High levels of income inequality

📚 Camden Mini Guide 📚
Best Budget Area in London
Google Map

Marylebone

Flowers seen from the outside of a store in Marylebone
Floral storefronts fill the picturesque streets of Marylebone

👉 Best Area for a Chic Holiday in London | ✨ Best Marylebone Hotels: The Landmark LondonThe Montcalm Marble ArchThe Mandeville Hotel

Wondering where to stay in London for luxury, class, and elegance? Then check out Marylebone.

Located in London’s west end, Marylebone is a lovely neighborhood loaded with indie boutiques and fancy restaurants. Whether you’re on a cute romantic getaway with your partner or taking part in a much-needed girls’ trip, Marylebone offers many incredible activities and attractions without having to leave the neighborhood. 

The high street is filled with gorgeous Victorian architecture where you can get your next Vogue-magazine quality snapshot. A main attraction in the area is The Wallace Collection, a lovely museum filled with eighteenth-century art and culture in the form of paintings, sculptures, furniture, arms, porcelain, and armor.

This area does tend to be on the pricier side compared to some of the other great options in London, but is worth staying in if you’re looking to treat yourself to a luxurious holiday. 

Pros of Staying in Marylebone:

  • Great shopping options
  • Charming architecture
  • Luxury boutique hotels 
  • Centrally located

Con of Staying in Marylebone:

  • Can be expensive 

📚 Marylebone Mini Guide 📚
Best Chic Area in London
Google Map

Bermondsey

The Tower Bridge in London from afar
The iconic Tower Bridge perched on the River Thames (photo: AndreaA. / Depositphotos)

👉 Best Area for Craft Beer | ✨ Best Bermondsey Hotels: The Dixon, Tower Bridge, Autograph CollectionBermonds LockeThe LaLit London

Located in the London borough of Southwark and just a stone’s throw away from the infamous Tower Bridge, Bermondsey is where to go for a quintessential London experience. I recommend staying here if you only have a few days in London or are traveling with family, as it is centrally situated amongst several main London attractions.

If you’re a food and beverage enthusiast, then you’ll have a heyday roaming the streets. You’ll find a multitude of great dining and drink options on pretty much every corner, as well as the famous Bermondsey Beer Mile, a great pathway filled with London’s finest craft breweries. 

Hopping along between breweries in Bermondsey is guaranteed to be a great afternoon out with a group of friends – I’m also planning on taking my parents when they come to visit. 

Pros of Staying in Bermondsey:

  • Central location
  • Vicinity to Tower Bridge
  • Amazing local bars and restaurants 

Con of Staying in Bermondsey:

  • Attracts a lot of tourists so can be crowded and busy

📚 Bermondsey Mini Guide 📚
Best Views in London
Google Map

Southwark

Overlooking view of Southwark before night time in London
Southwark twinkling at sunset

👉 Best Area for the Views | ✨ Best Southwark Hotels: Shangri-La, The Shard, LondonVintry & MercerNative Bankside

Southwark has it all when it comes to stunning views, exciting attractions, and delicious food and drink options. It’s a great choice for where to stay in London for families, friends, or even solo holidays, as there are plenty of things to do in this very centrally-located area.  

If you enjoy taking pictures, then the Shard is where you want to be if you’re looking to get a great shot of the city from above. It’s also just a great view in general for dinner, a cocktail, or just taking in London. 

Vinegar Yard, conveniently located next to London Bridge Station, is a great choice of a watering hole in Southwark. It offers a fantastic selection of drinks, food, art, and even a flea market on weekends.

Pros of Staying in Southwark:

  • Located on the heels of Borough Market
  • Proximity to the south bank
  • Buzzing view

Con of Staying in Southwark:

  • Is a bit noisy

📚 London Bridge Mini Guide 📚
Best Views in London
Google Map

Westminster & St James

The St. Paul's Cathedral in London
Can you spot St Paul’s Cathedral?

👉 Best Area for Main Attractions | ✨ Best Westminster & St James Hotels: The Landmark LondonHolmes Hotel LondonThe Clermont London, Victoria

If you’re looking to hit up Queen Liz, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the National Gallery, and the London Eye when you stay in London, then look no further than Westminster & St James neighborhood. The convenience factor here is unmatched, as you’ll be a stone’s throw away from several world-renowned attractions that London is known for. 

For hustle and bustle, take a stroll down Oxford Street, London’s largest shopping district. Then, when you’re ready to relax, Hyde Park is just around the corner, filled with luxurious green space where you can enjoy a coffee and people-watch. 

St James’s Park is another lovely green space within this London neighborhood, where you can check out the famous flower beds in front of Buckingham Palace. You can really get the best of both worlds if you stay in this part of central London. 

Pros of Staying in Westminster & St James:

  • Located near several lovely other neighborhoods including Victoria
  • Proximity to major attractions
  • Great for families

Cons of Staying in Westminster & St James:

  • This is a very packed area both day and night
  • Is a bit overpriced 

📚 Westminster & St James Mini Guide 📚
Best Area for Main Attractions in London
Google Map

Angel and Islington

Colorful architecture in Upper Street in London
The characteristic architecture among Upper Street. (photo: mikecphoto / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area for Trendy Places | ✨ Best Angel and Islington Hotels: The RookerySouth Place Hotelnhow London

If you’re in the mood for a trendy neighborhood filled with character, then plan your stay in the Angel and Islington area of London. The area has a nice mix of luxury hotels, budget hotels, and mid-range hotels, great for all types of travelers.

Located in the northern part of the city, I recommend taking a walk down the borough’s famous Upper Street, where you’ll find a plethora of cozy pubs, unique restaurants, and trendy shops. If you’re here on a Sunday, then be sure to check out the Chapel Market for some delicious fresh produce, blooming plants, and local libations.

For a top-tier dramatic arts performance, head down to the reputable Almeida Theatre, one of London’s top-producing theatres.

Pros of Staying in Angel & Islington:

  • Trendy neighborhood
  • Cute streets filled with lovely bars and restaurants
  • Lots of unique independent shops

Con of Staying in Angel & Islington:

  • Doesn’t offer much in terms of nightlife

📚 Angel & Islington Mini Guide 📚
Best Area for Trendy Places in London
Google Map

Tips for Staying in London

Take Advantage of Public Transit

A major element that sets London apart from other cities is its efficient and well-connected transit system. London can be expensive, so utilizing the public transit system is a great hack to get around quickly and cut costs during your trip – the tube, buses, and trains will be your best friend.

City Mapper is a useful app that shows you exactly what forms of transit you need to take to get to your destination and gives you service updates in real-time. I would highly recommend downloading this for your visit to the Big Smoke!

Plan Ahead

Being the amazing place that it is, London is one of the most-visited cities in the world. This means that regardless of when you choose to visit, there will likely be several other tourists. I recommend planning ahead before visiting London to ensure you’re able to enjoy all of the attractions, restaurants, and other sights you’ve dreamed of.

Make reservations and get tickets in advance, as the good places and shows tend to book up quickly. 

Visit Multiple Boroughs  

Another unique selling point of London is the uniqueness of each individual borough. In order to get the true London experience, touring around several different boroughs is a must, as they each have their own character and special offerings. A day out in Notting Hill will differ completely from a night on the town in Shoreditch.

Partake in British Delicacies

A UK cultural tradition, afternoon tea is an excellent treat that can make you feel a bit posh while filling your tummy at the same time. It’s also a great excuse to dress up and snap some cute pics.

Arguably the most famous meal in the UK is the Sunday roast. The fact that this meal has its own designated day goes to show that the Brits are not messing around. The best time of the day to go is mid-afternoon, as sometimes pubs can run out of roasts earlier than anticipated. My favorite pubs in London for this decadent meal include The Phoenix, Princess Victoria, and The Tommyfield.

📚 Related Reading: 15 Best Destinations in Croatia to Visit [in 2022] (for your next European adventure)

Visit the Pubs

Pub culture is huge in London, similar to how sports bars are popular in North America and cafes are popular in Australia. Whether you’re looking to watch rugby or football, try one of several local beers or ciders on draft, or tuck into a Sunday roast, pub hopping is the best way to go.

FAQ’s About Where to Stay in London

Where should I avoid staying in London?

The main areas you should avoid in London are Croydon, Tower Hamlets, and Newham because of their high crime rates and reputations for being unsafe at night. It’s important to remain aware of your surroundings and travel with a friend, family member, or partner when walking around at night, regardless of what neighborhood you’re staying in.

How Many Days do I need in London?

If it’s your first time in London, then you need at least 3 days. Of course, the longer you stay in London, the more of its wonderful offerings you’ll get to experience.

Does it matter which airport I fly into?

For ease of downtown access, you want to fly into either London Gatwick, London Heathrow or London City airports. You should look into which airport based on the proximity of where you stay in London. 

A bit further out but still relatively central are London Stansted and London Luton. These airports often boast budget airlines with cheap flights to other cities across Europe, but can be a bit more of a trek to get to.

Should I stay in central London or will it be too busy with tourists?

Where you choose to stay in London should be heavily based on what activities you plan to do. The best place to stay in London is in a central quiet area because you get the best of both worlds. If you’re traveling with family, you’ll want to be super central in order to walk to most attractions.

Is there a time I can visit where I’ll avoid the rain?

Although rain is fairly distributed throughout the year, the dry time of year is between early February and late May. London weather tends to be quite unpredictable, and as long as you come prepared with an umbrella, the rain shouldn’t put a damper on your experience. It usually blows over quite quickly. 

Is London Expensive?

London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but there are definitely ways of cutting costs on your trip. These include taking public transit, doing your research to avoid paying surcharges, and staying at more mid-range hotels or budget-friendly hotels.  

***

Thanks for reading my guide to where to stay in London! Whether you’re on the hunt for arts and culture, vibrant nightlife, or delicious food, London has it all.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our European backpacking budget planner

Enjoy London!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.