Where To Stay In London, England (Best Areas & Accommodations)

Lewis Ogden
Last Updated: January 22nd, 2024

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Choosing where to stay in London is so difficult because there are several great areas that are central. While I’ve stayed in South Bank and Victoria and can recommend them both (depending on your travel style!), there are plenty of other areas that are worth staying in, too. Let’s break them down and find the best one for you.

Best Places To Stay in London

London’s iconic Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

Need to decide where to stay in London quickly? These are my go-to hotels.

9 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in London

1. Westminster

Best area for major landmarks

Westminster Abbey is one of London’s most iconic attractions.

Home to several major London landmarks, Westminster is one of the city’s busiest areas and is often considered the best place to stay in London. This is where you’ll find points of interest like Westminster Bridge, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey.

Staying in Westminster is convenient if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, but unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheap. On the brightside, you’ll likely score top views of Big Ben, and you’ll be only minutes away from London sights like Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, either by foot or by metro.

Westminster Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for major landmarks.

2. South Bank

Best area for walking

View of the city from the London Eye—beautiful, but you can find more affordable views elsewhere!

Nestled beside Westminster along the Thames, you have South Bank. The area is perfect for long walks alongside the river, where you can take in some of London’s signature sights.

The London Eye is one of South Bank’s most iconic attractions, but I would recommend passing up a trip on the Ferris wheel in favor of visiting Sky Garden, which is located on the north bank of the Thames and offers wonderful views of the skyline from 38 floors up.

Sky Garden is free to visit, and with a garden and much more space, it’s much better for anyone who hates enclosed spaces. But if you fancy a trip on the Eye anyway, the views are spectacular!

While walking in South Bank, you’ll get wonderful views of the landmarks to the north of the river, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. It’s generally busy thanks to the central location and great vistas, and you can expect to find street performers and vendors along the way.

I stayed in South Bank in August, which was busy. Walking along Westminster Bridge in the middle of the afternoon included brushing shoulders with strangers the entire way. Most central areas of London will be busy if you visit in summer, so a good way to avoid the crowds is to plan your trip in either spring or autumn.

Be sure to check out some of the top destinations nearby, including the Sea Life Aquarium, Tate Modern, and of course, London Bridge.

South Bank Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for walking.

3. Covent Garden

Best area for solo travelers

Outside the bustling Covent Garden Market

Covent Garden is generally considered to form part of the West End. This is the area of London famous for its theaters and is about as central as you can get. Staying here puts you within walking distance to destinations such as Trafalgar Square and Chinatown, so it’s a great choice if you’re thinking of where to stay in London for the first time.

There are plenty of bars and restaurants to check out in the area, plus legendary sights like Leicester Square, the Royal Opera House, the London Transport Museum, and the Vaudeville Theatre.

The iconic Piccadilly Circus is also nearby—a must-see stop known around the world for its neon lights and historic monuments. Also be sure to check out the Covent Garden Market, an historic market renowned for its array of fabulous restaurants.

You might also like to get in a bit of luxury shopping in Covent Garden, with high-end retailers like Burberry, Tiffany & Co., and Polo Ralph Lauren all offering the chance for retail therapy.

Always buzzing, Covent Garden is a particularly good destination for solo travelers because there are people everywhere, and it’s filled with other tourists. There are several fantastic bars and restaurants where you won’t feel out of place sitting alone (and may even meet someone new!).

Covent Garden Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for solo travelers.

4. Soho

Best area for nightlife and theater

Soho’s ultimate ‘60s throwback: Carnaby Street

Soho is another one of London’s busiest central neighborhoods that makes up part of the West End. Steps away from both Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, Soho is also iconic for being the best place to stay in London for theaters. It’s also thought of as the best place to stay in London for nightlife.

Here you’ll find some of the best bars in the city, including Bar Swift, Bar Termini, and The Vault, which is hidden behind a fake bookcase. Soho also has some great eateries, from The French House to Koya bar.

Catch a show at the Palace Theatre, shop up a storm at Liberty London, and grab some ice cream at Chin Chin Dessert Club. Harry Potter fans can escape to the House of MinaLima, while those looking for retail therapy can get lost in the many stores on Oxford Street.

Again, basing yourself in this centrally located neighborhood is going to be more expensive than staying further away from the city center, but for the most convenience, you may find it worth it.

With so many exciting destinations and points of interest in the vicinity, Soho captures the soul of London with its fast-paced, action-packed ambiance. If you can’t stand crowds and you’re after peace and quiet during your London trip, you’ll be better off staying elsewhere.

Soho Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for nightlife and theater.

5. Shoreditch

Best area for experiencing authentic London

Shoreditch is known for its street art!

Located just to the northeast of the City of London, Shoreditch is a cool neighborhood where you’ll find an array of bars, restaurants, and shops.

Though still centrally located, Shoreditch is considered less of a typical tourist area, so this is a great place to stay if you want to avoid huge crowds (and exploitative prices) and get to know a more authentic London.

Despite the fact that many locals live in Shoreditch, it still boasts a variety of accommodation options for travelers. The streets, where you’ll find amazing street art, have more of an East London feel, which allows you to get a taste of what London is like for those that live there and aren’t spending all their time at Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus!

The Columbia Road Flower Market is one of the area’s highlights, and free entry means it’s the perfect activity to add to your itinerary when you’re visiting London on a budget. But Shoreditch is also located close to more famous attractions, like the Spitalfields Market and the Van Gogh London Exhibit.

In the evenings, you can kick back with a drink and some live music at the Village Underground, or hit up one of Shoreditch’s clubs. Animal-lovers can also head to Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium and chill out with some rescue felines in an Alice in Wonderland-themed venue.

Shoreditch Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for experiencing authentic London.

6. Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia

Best area for history buffs and literary lovers

Visit the British Museum and all its wonders for free in Bloomsbury.

Book-lovers will recognize the name Bloomsbury as the famous publishing house, whose head office is located in the district. Though sometimes classified as part of the West End, Bloomsbury is more renowned for its literary contributions than its performance art.

If you dreamed of browsing through bookshops during your London trip, Bloomsbury is the place to do it. One of the most famous is Treadwell’s, which sells titles for every kind of reader.

Bloomsbury is also home to one of London’s most impressive landmarks: The British Museum. Completely free to enter, the museum hosts artifacts that have shaped the very history of the world, from the Rosetta Stone that helped archeologists first decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to the Hoa Hakananai’a statue discovered on Rapa Nui.

For history-lovers, Bloomsbury is also a short distance from the Charles Dickens Museum, which celebrates one of England’s most prolific writers. Next door in Fitzrovia, you’ll find the Cartoon Museum and the tranquil Fitzroy Square Garden.

Staying in this area is still convenient and gives you close access to nearby landmarks, but it’s quieter and less chaotic than staying in Westminster or Soho.

Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for history buffs and literary lovers.

7. Marylebone

Best area for quirky museums

The Golden Eagle Pub—a signature sight in Marylebone.

Another district that is considered part of London’s West End, Marylebone lies directly to the north of Mayfair and straddles The Regent’s Park. Though still central and popular, it tends to feel more like a residential neighborhood than a tourist hotspot, so this is another great place to base yourself if you want to escape the hustle and bustle.

Oxford Street makes up the southern edge of Marylebone, which is home to a collection of chic hotels and restaurants, plus Baker Street Station, which will give you quick and easy access to other destinations around London.

Perhaps Marylebone’s most famous attraction is Madame Tussauds wax museum, where you can (basically) meet celebrities like Rihanna and Angelina Jolie.

Marylebone is also where you’ll find the Wallace Collection, one of London’s best free museums, the BBC Broadcasting House, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Be sure to take a stroll in The Regent’s Park and explore the canal and lake, rose garden, and of course, the London Zoo.

Marylebone Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for quirky museums.

8. Kensington and South Kensington

Best area for a more relaxed pace

White Edwardian houses in affluent Kensington.

To the southwest of Hyde Park are Kensington and South Kensington. The views here tend to reflect what most people imagine when they think of London: quiet streets home to rows of affluent Edwardian houses.

If you want more of a relaxed pace when staying in London, but still want to be in reasonably close proximity to landmarks, shopping and dining, these areas are a great option. Because of the peace and quiet, the area is a great choice if you’re wondering where to stay in London with family.

Be sure to check out the Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Japan House London, Kensington High Street, and of course, Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens.

The area is closely associated with Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived in the palace, but several other notable celebrities have called this area home over the years, too. A short walk from Kensington High Street, you’ll find Garden Lodge, the former home of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

Kensington and South Kensington Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for a more relaxed pace.

9. Mayfair, St. James’s, and Belgravia

Best area for a luxury London getaway

Historic luxurious properties in Belgravia.

If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you already know that Mayfair is one of London’s premiere areas (and sadly, like in the game, staying at a hotel here is definitely going to cost you!).

Along with the hotels, the restaurants and shops tend to be on the pricier side of things, and that also goes for the neighboring areas of Belgravia and St. James’s

St. James’s is where you’ll find famous London attractions including Pall Mall, St James’s Palace, and The Ritz (a hotel, but its afternoon tea has made it a landmark in itself!).

Meanwhile in Belgravia on the other side of the Wellington Arch, there are several cultural institutes and international embassies, antique shops, and galleries. Plus, the iconic London establishment of Harrod’s is within walking distance in Knightsbridge.

Belgravia is close to Victoria, home to Victoria Coach Station. The accommodation here tends to be more affordable, despite still being super central and convenient.

In Mayfair, you’ll find some of the most exclusive clubs and hotels in London, including the Dorchester and Claridge’s. For an iconic dining experience, be sure to make a reservation at the Hard Rock Café!

Mayfair, St. James’s, and Belgravia Mini Guide
The best area to stay in for a luxury London getaway.

FAQs About Where to Stay in London

What are the best places to stay in London for tourists?

One of the best places to stay in London if you’re a tourist is Westminster because it puts you in close proximity to a lot of the typical London tourist attractions—Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey, to name a few.

However, it’s also a great place to stay because it’s close to other popular areas of London, such as South Bank, St. James’s, Covent Garden, Mayfair, and Belgravia.

Coming in close second is the West End, which includes areas like Covent Garden, and Soho, as this will put you in walking distance to attractions like Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Carnaby Street, the British Museum, and other hotspots.

Generally, though, anywhere in Central London is sufficient for tourists to stay. The metro system is an easy way to get around, no matter where you’re coming from or going to.

What hotels in London are best for families?

London hotels tend to be smaller than what Americans are used to. If you’re traveling with two or more children, it’s a good idea to look for hotels that offer connecting rooms, or even multiple-bedroom suites.

In most cases, you’ll have to reserve an apartment to have more than one room, but the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is one hotel that does offer more space with one and two-bedroom suites.

What are the best hotels in London?

There are many hotels in London that are renowned around the world for their quality. They include Claridge’s in Mayfair, Nobu Hotel Portman Square, Marylebone, Sea Containers London, South Bank, Sofitel London St James in St James’s, and The Dorchester in Mayfair.

Where should first-timers in London stay?

Where you stay in London largely depends on what you’re visiting for (for example, someone in town to see a show at the theater should stay in the West End, while someone who wants more of a relaxed vibe should opt for Kensington or South Kensington.

But generally, first-timers should stay in areas that are as central as possible so they have the chance to see as much as they can. This means staying in the West End, whether or not you plan on seeing a show. Opt for Covent Garden, Soho, or Marylebone.

Where is the best area to stay in London for nightlife?

There’s thriving nightlife all over London, but the area that is particularly known for its long list of clubs, bars, and restaurants is Soho. This is also in the heart of Theatreland, so it’s a great choice if your version of nightlife includes a few West End shows.

Where is the best area to stay in London for theaters?

The West End is famous for its many theaters. If you base yourself in Soho, Covent Garden, or Bloomsbury, you’ll likely be in walking distance of the theater that you’re going to. A good tip is to work out what you want to see in advance and where it’s playing so you can choose the closest hotel.

That said, there are theaters all over London. Sometimes, opting for a lesser-known theater outside of the West End will attract cheaper show tickets and cheaper accommodation. It’s all about what you want to see!

What is the best way to get around London?

The Tube is easily the best way to get around London. It’s simple for travelers to use and doesn’t take long to learn which lines connect to which destinations. Plus, trains usually come about every five minutes, so you’re never far away from your next destination.

When it comes to using the underground system, be aware that Central London stations and carriages can get extremely busy during commute hours, so you may want to avoid riding between 7 and 9 a.m., and 5 and 7 p.m..

Also, when riding the escalators down to the stations, remember to keep to the right! The left is reserved for people who are moving quickly to catch their trains. Yes, this is opposite to the side of the road that Londoners drive on, but it’s an unspoken rule that you’d better not break.

Are there any neighborhoods to avoid in London?

Generally speaking, London is a safe city for travelers, but there are certain areas where you’re more likely to run into trouble than others. UK Care Guide cites Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Enfield, Haringey, Croydon, and Lewisham as areas to avoid, particularly at night. However, as a tourist, you probably won’t have a need to travel to these areas.

Note that the boroughs of Westminster, Camden, and Kensington and Chelsea statistically have higher crime rates than many other boroughs in London, and you are likely to visit these places during your trip (via Lodge Service).

However, crime rates are high because large numbers of tourists attract a lot of activity in the area, not because they are necessarily dangerous.

How expensive are London hotels?

London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so naturally, the accommodation doesn’t come cheap. The average cost for a medium range 3-star hotel is £100 per night in Central London, but this tends to go up in more popular or affluent areas. Meanwhile, the average cost of a 5-star hotel is £350 per night, with more famous properties charging upwards of £1000 per night.

Of course, if you want to indulge, London is the place to do it! According to Luxury London, some of London’s premiere suites at its most exclusive 5-star hotels cost upwards of £25,000 per night (for all six bedrooms).

Luckily, there are plenty of hostels and budget hotels in London, too, just in case you don’t have £25,000 to splash a night.

Where are the most affordable areas of London to stay?

Central London will always be more expensive to stay in than the outer areas, but staying here is recommended for convenience if you’re a traveler, particularly if it’s your first time, you’re staying on your own, or you are in town to see the main sights.

That said, some Central London areas will be more cost-effective than others. In general, you want to avoid Mayfair, Belgravia, St James’s, Westminster, Soho, and Kensington when on a budget.

More affordable alternatives (that are still totally central) include Marylebone, Shoreditch, and Paddington.

About The Author

Lewis Ogden

Lewis Ogden is a UK-based entrepreneur, travel enthusiast, dad, husband, and the founder and owner of WayToStay. He started his blog to share his own travel experiences and provide free EPIC travel guides. He caught the travel bug back in 2009 on a trip to Italy with his wife and has visited many different countries each year since. In 2018 he took an island-hopping trip to Greece (who doesn't love Greek food!) and loved the experience which made him eager to explore the rest of Europe!

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Lewis Ogden

Lewis Ogden

Lewis Ogden is a UK-based entrepreneur, travel enthusiast, dad, husband, and the founder and owner of WayToStay. He started his blog to share his own travel experiences and provide free EPIC travel guides. He caught the travel bug back in 2009 on a trip to Italy with his wife and has visited many different countries each year since. In 2018 he took an island-hopping trip to Greece (who doesn't love Greek food!) and loved the experience which made him eager to explore the rest of Europe!

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