Each neighborhood in London is different. There are the posh ones, the artsy ones, the historic ones, the dodgy ones, and even the ones you’ve seen in movies. But for the most part, you probably don’t know much about North London. After all, it isn’t home to many of London’s top sights, and is mostly comprised of residential neighborhoods.But that’s not to say it has nothing to offer intrepid London travelers looking for a deal on where to stay in North London!
When it comes to choosing where to stay in London, there are a lot of choices. Most people stay in Central London, but some are willing to strike out to other parts of the city, to see and stay somewhere else. North London often gets overlooked by those who do stay outside Central London, because there are many great places to stay in the West, East, and South parts of the city. But some of the best areas to stay in London are in North London, so you shouldn’t overlook it! In this post, I’ll share why I think North London should be on your list when choosing an area to stay in London.
As you’ll see, North London is a vibrant part of the city, with lots to offer in each of the neighborhoods – even if you’re not staying there (I regularly recommend Camden Town on my London itineraries!). Read on to discover the best parts of North London to stay in, and the areas you can skip over as you search for accommodation.
The 5 Best Neighborhoods in North London
When it comes to North London, you’ll find a mixed bag of lively, quirky, posh, and residential neighborhoods. Below, you’ll find the top 5 neighborhoods in North London where you should stay during your next visit to the vibrant city.
Angel is an entirely different world all on its own. Despite being close to the City, Angel has retained its own cultural and creative identity, and it offers something for everyone. Upper Street is the teeming thoroughfare of Angel, brimming with all kinds of restaurants and pubs, while N1 center and Camden Passage have enough high-end and vintage shops to keep you busy all day.
A very walkable neighborhood, you’re within walking distance to some of the city’s best attractions. Kings Cross and Old Street are just a 20-minute walk away. Angel has excellent transportation links, with two tube stations and the overground.
While Angel is one of the best places to stay in North London, it seems that most of the housing there is for hipsters and artistic types calling it home. So, you won’t find an extensive range of accommodations for travelers.
Camden Lock is another top option for where to stay in North London. There are many reasons why you should consider Camden Town during your next stay, but mainly, it is the energy. Camden Town has been home to many alternative cultures and groups. There’s an impressive eclectic mix of residents in the neighborhood. Bohemians, young professionals, city workers, families, art, and creative groups wander through its streets every day.
With such a diverse population, Camden Town has a wide array of attractions. There’s pretty much something for everyone: markets, cafés, clubs, street food, alternative shops, tattoo shops, music venues, and a zoo.
Camden Town also has excellent transport links (tube and overground services), making it easy to commute to the city. Although not overflowing, Camden Town has a decent amount of rentals and hotels you can book.
Busy Hackney has a reputation for being one of the coolest places to live in the English capital. There’s no doubt that it is an excellent option on where to stay in North London.
Hackney is home to the most vibrant cultural hotspots and hosts regular festivals and events throughout the year. Lately, Hackney has made itself a name for being the new gastronomic hub, thanks to its edgy culinary scene. Pro tip: don’t miss Andu Cafe, where you’ll enjoy hearty dishes of delicious Ethiopian vegan food.
Although there are very few Underground stations, Hackney has good rail connections on the Overground and plenty of bus routes. Unfortunately, there aren’t many hotels or rentals for travelers to rent.
Islington might be an upmarket residential area, but that doesn’t prevent it from being one of the trendiest neighborhoods in London. Islington has an enviable plethora of attractions, from impressive eateries to fringe theatre and a gorgeous landscape with glossy new urban developments and some of London’s finest historic Georgian and Victorian townhouses.
This lively neighborhood (or borough, as the locals call it) is just four miles from the heart of central London. Perfect if you want to be close to all the action without living right in it. Islington is also very close to Angel, with Upper Street stretching right through both of them. You’ll have shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities right at your doorstep.
Thanks to Islington’s fantastic range of transport links, you can be in central London in less than 10 minutes.
King’s Cross/Somers Town
If you’re traveling to mainland Europe after London, there’s no better place to stay in North London than King’s Cross. Besides being a cultural hotspot, King’s Cross is the gateway to mainland Europe thanks to St Pancras International, the London terminus for Eurostar services to continental Europe. You can also pretend to travel to the Wizarding World from King’s Cross since the famous Platform 9¾ can be found there.
Close to King’s Cross is Somers Town, a humble London neighborhood. Some Londoners deem Somers Town as a quiet residential area. Although, its residents prefer to call it London’s best-kept secret or hidden gem. Somers Town is a recommended option for where to stay in North London if you don’t want to surf rowdy crowds every time you step outside. You’ll see that rather than loud bars and clubs, Somers Town streets are ripe with independent restaurants, coffee shops, and gastropubs.
If you want to stay in either King’s Cross or Somers Town both places have great hotels and rental options!
4 Neighborhoods Not to Stay in North London
While all London neighborhoods have something appealing for most travelers, not all of them make a good “home base” if you’re visiting for a few days. Below are four neighborhoods you should avoid staying at in North London.
Dalston is a neighborhood you should avoid in North London. While it is extremely popular among locals for its raging nightclubs, this neighborhood doesn’t have an interesting offering of touristic attractions worth visiting. Also, there aren’t many rentals or hotels to stay at in Dalston.
A tiny neighborhood, Haggerston remained relatively unknown (even for Londoners) until the opening of a London Overground station there in 2010. Haggerston is a lovely place. However, it lacks a touristy vibe, both in the good and bad sense. While you’ll find lots of peace and quiet and no plagues of tourists, there are not many accommodation options or attractions.
You’ll find Maida Vale right by the Regent’s Canal. As it is primarily a residential and professional area, Maida Vale isn’t a good place to stay for the same reasons as Haggerston. There’s very little tourist leisure, and you won’t find a wide range of hotels or rentals. Still, it’s a nice place to visit if you enjoy architecture as the neighborhood is full of old Victorian and Edwardian residences. Maida Vale is close to Little Venice. So, if you happen to be visiting, take a spin at this neighborhood.
St. John’s Wood
Another residential area, St. John’s Wood is popular for being home to the infamous Abbey Road. That’s why most of the tourists you’ll see are Beatlemaniacs taking the iconic photo crossing the street. While St. John’s Wood is charming, there are not many attractions besides Abbey Road. St. John’s Wood is a woodsy area, so you might want to take a walk around there to escape the buzz of touristy locations.
Have any questions about where to stay in North London – and the places I don’t recommend? Let me know in the comments.