When planning your first trip to London, you might get overwhelmed with a lot of decisions. How many days should you visit? Which sights are must-see – and what can you skip? And where in big, beautiful London should you stay?
On my first trip, I made a big mistake: I stayed way out in the Docklands to save money – and ended up spending the difference in time and money riding the DLR back to Central London every day! There are definitely better – and worse – areas to stay in London.
While I’ve shared specific guides on the best areas to stay in Central London, as well as North, South, East, and West, I thought it was time to pull it all into one post about where to stay in London. So if you’re stuck on where to stay or curious about the best areas in London, read on. These are the best of the best – and each one has its own great aspect of London culture to enjoy during your stay.
This post was originally published in November 2021, and was updated in March 2022.
Brixton (South) – Best for Culture 🎶🥘
Set just four miles from central London, Brixton is one of the best areas to stay in London. The lively neighborhood has become a hive of cultural activities, with live-music venues, buzzing nightlife, and a flourishing cultural scene. London foodies usually rave about Brixton’s gastronomic scene, which overflows with casual eateries serving fare from every corner of the world.
Those who’d like to call Brixton home during their stay in London are on their lucky days since the neighborhood has plenty of rentals and hotels to choose from. Also, Brixton has excellent transport links, with the Victoria line beginning at Brixton’s underground station.
Camden Town (North) – Best for Punks 🤘👨🎤
Camden Lock is a top option for where to stay in London. While all London neighborhoods have their own charm, none can match Camden Town’s vibe. Its streets ooze eclectic energy, partly due to the mishmash of Londoners who call Camden Town, home. So, if you’re into people-watching, you might find the most diverse panorama here.
Camden Town is also home to a wide array of attractions. You can find a warren of bustling cafés, lively markets, food stalls, tattoo shops, vintage shops, and more. You won’t have much trouble moving around as the quirky neighborhood has tons of connections with tube and overground services. As for accommodation, Camden Town offers a fair amount of hotels and rentals for travelers.
Chelsea (West) – Best for Luxury Lovers 🧖♀️🎩
One of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods, Chelsea is another recommended option when considering where to stay in London. Chelsea is one of those places which you should visit even if you don’t stay there. Its charming streets and glamorous townhouses make the perfect landscape for an urban walk.
Chelsea has a plethora of hotels. So, it is good news for those who want to stay in this sophisticated area. Most accommodation is around the Sloane Square area; however, you can find a few more options closer to the river. Whether you stay near the river or not, a stroll down the Chelsea Embankment is a must-do.
Clerkenwell (Central) – Best Hidden Central London 🗺📍
Clerkenwell holds a special place in my heart, and it has become my go-to area every time I visit the city. While I was living in London, it was home to my favorite local pub The Clerk & Well, and I used to go there after school in Bloomsbury.
During medieval times, Clerkenwell used to be a monastic settlement. Today, the residential area is a desirable place to live, full of smart stylish apartments and converted warehouses that once were Victorian factories. While the scenery isn’t as Instagrammable as other areas of London, Clerkenwell has a residential area with its own charm. And as it seems to be so residential, it’s actually a great hidden gem in terms of where to stay in London near the central attractions without the price ticket that accompanies them.
Kensington (West) – Best for Royal Fans 👑🏰
Kensington, an upscale area located in the heart of West London, is a mine of tourist attractions. Most people associate it with Kensington Palace, the royal residence where Prince William and Duchess Kate live. However, it has plenty of worth-visiting sites, like London’s dreamiest mews, rows of houses that used to be stables and boast unique character. You can also check Earl’s Court, an area that has retained its distinct personality despite being within Kensington.
Kensington has a generous offer of hotels. If you’re willing to splurge, Kensington has plenty of upmarket accommodation options near the palace.
King’s Cross (North) – Best for Explorers 🛤🧳
A major rail hub, King’s Cross is a prime option for where to stay in London if you’re planning to visit other parts of Europe. The vibrant neighborhood is home to St Pancras International, London’s main Eurostar hub with services to continental Europe every day. Brimming with pubs, restaurants, music venues, and lovely green spaces, King’s Cross has become a new cultural hotspot for Londoners.
Not too far from King’s Cross is Somers Town. Unlike other glitzy London areas, Somers Town boasts a low profile. Being a quiet area, you won’t have to push through tourist throngs or feverish Londoners running errands. While you have more than enough bars, restaurants, and cafés to visit in Somers Town, the neighborhood is within touching distance from popular landmarks so you’ll be able to wander around easily.
Both King’s Cross and Somers Town has plenty of hotels and rental options!
Marylebone (Central) – Best for Bar-Hopping 🍸🍲
While I haven’t explored Marylebone thoroughly during my visits, I can assure you one thing, there’s no better area to stay in London for food and drinks connoisseurs. This chic residential area has a fantastic gastronomic scene and is home to some of London’s most acclaimed restaurants.
Marylebone extends from North to South London, starting in Oxford Street and ending in Regent’s Park. Besides its delectable gastronomic scene, Marylebone also has other noteworthy attractions, like 221b Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes’ would-be residence), the Sherlock Holmes Museum, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
Paddington (West) – Best for Families 👨👩👧👦
Paddington is a West London neighborhood, full of luscious green parks and world-class entertainment, but its best feature is the amazing transport links. Paddington is a commuter’s dream; you can easily access major attractions by rail, bus, car, or foot. It offers transport on Circle, Bakerloo, District, and Hammersmith & City lines. Also, Oxford Street is only ten minutes away.
You can find a plethora of accommodation options within walking distance of Paddington station to choose from. Since this area is a bit off the beaten path but has great transit access, it’s great for families who might want a bigger space at a better price.
Shoreditch (East) – Best for Hipsters 💃🥃
One of the hippest neighborhoods in London, Shoreditch has given birth to some of the world’s most famous street artists. It’s especially popular among younger generations, with teenagers, young creatives, and fashionistas flooding its streets.
Shoreditch has a heritage of being home to London’s first two theaters. It has never lost its artistic flair and today holds the title as the capital’s top street art scene. There are also trendy museums, hip bars, and alternative shops wherever you look. You can also explore its green spaces, like Hoxton Square, one of London’s oldest squares.
If you already know that Shoreditch is the place for you, great news! The fashionable neighborhood is brimming with hotels at unbelievably affordable prices.
Southwark (South) – Best on a Budget 💰🤗
Long gone are Southwark’s industrial days. Today, South London’s most ancient town has become one of the most desirable areas in the city.
It is a goldmine of landmarks. You’ll find London’s best sight at every step, including the world-famous Tate Modern, The Shard, and the Globe. Thanks to its privileged location, you’ll also be close to the unmissable attractions, like London Eye, Borough Market, and the London bridge. Unsurprisingly, Southwark has excellent connections to the rest of London, with underground stations on the northern edge and plenty of National Rail and Overground links.
Best of all, you can still find semi-reasonably priced places to stay in Southwark because it’s not quite as conveniently connected to the Tube and bus system as other parts of the city.
Whitechapel (East) – Best for History Buffs 🎓📚
If you’re a crime or history buff, you might know that Whitechapel served as Jack the Ripper’s favorite area to commit his bloody murders back in the 1800s. However, times have changed, and so has Whitechapel.
Today, it is a multicultural district with a wealth of attractions worth visiting. If you’re an art person, head out to Whitechapel Gallery to see some quirky contemporary art. Those who want to buy souvenirs can explore Whitechapel Market and then stop by Brick Lane to sample exotic dishes.
When it comes to the best neighborhoods in London, Whitechapel is an unbeatable option. It also offers plenty of lovely hotels and rentals to call home for a few days, and has cleaned up a lot since ol’ Jack’s days.
Other Great London Areas to Stay
Have none of the areas above found a way to your heart? Don’t worry we’ve included four more areas that you can consider on your next London trip.
Located on the northern fringes of central London, Angel is an excellent option for where to stay in London if you want to stay close to the action. It also has excellent transport links, with two tube stations and the overground. However, what makes Angel so special is how it has been able to retain its uniqueness. Being so close to the City hasn’t influenced the lively neighborhood, which has stayed loyal to its own personality and charm.
Upper Street is the heart of Angel, with gastronomic and cultural hotspots you won’t be able to ignore. You can check out N1 center and Camden Passage, brimming with high-end and vintage shops for the fashionistas if you’d like to do some shopping.
Unfortunately, Angel doesn’t have lots of accommodations for travelers.
Farringdon is a small neighborhood located in the southern part of Islington. It has a cool and youthful vibe due to its closeness to Bloomsbury and the academic institutions. Being so popular with students, you’ll find there’s plenty of student housing.
Farringdon Station is the neighborhood’s heart, and it’s an excellent gateway if you have organized day trips to other English cities from London. Its streets are full of trendy restaurants, lovely boutiques, and gastropubs to explore during the day.
Located in Central London, Holborn has everything you need just a stone’s throw away. It has excellent transportation links, with the Central and Piccadilly lines running through the neighborhood. You can also avoid public transportation and walk to several landmarks. For example, Covent Garden is only a ten-minute walk from Holborn. Despite being so close to the bustling areas, Holborn remains quiet, especially at night to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
While you might find hotels around the area, you’ll have a harder time finding vacation rentals here since the buildings are mostly businesses and offices.
Shadwell is a bustling mixture of old and new buildings, and still harbors vestiges of its maritime past. It lies between Wapping and Whitechapel, making it an excellent base to explore the city.
Shadwell also embodies the perfect balance between tranquil and lively areas. You’ll see some parts are full of riverside pubs and casual cafés, while others boast modern apartments in warehouses and Georgian and Victorian houses.
Getting around in Shadwell is a breeze thanks to the neighborhood’s transport links and its closeness to some of London’s landmarks. It also has tons of hotels and rentals to choose from.
Waterloo might not be an obvious option for most travelers. However, it’s a stunning place to stay on your visit to London. While it might seem more average than other London areas, Waterloo offers a lot to do and see. First, Waterloo is rich in theaters, with some being world-class, like The Old Vic and the National Theatre. Waterloo is also an excellent place to experience London’s lively nightlife. Kennington Road is brimming with cafés and gastropubs that cater to post-work Londoners.
To top things, Waterloo is centrally located, which means you’ll be within walking distance from many landmarks, especially those along the South Bank. It also has excellent connections on the London Underground, and there are plenty of bus routes running through the area.
The only question now is which area you’ll choose to stay in London – as there are many great choices! If you have questions about these best areas to stay in London? Let me know in the comments or ask it in my London Travel Tips Facebook group!