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  • Writer's pictureYllara Maia

Where to Stay in London: Uncovering the City's Best Hotels & Locations

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

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Are you planning a trip to London but aren't sure where to stay? London is an incredibly vast city, so it can be difficult to narrow down the best neighborhoods and hotels.


Fortunately, there are plenty of amazing options available for every type of traveler and budget. Let's take a look at some of the top neighborhoods in this exciting metropolis to narrow down which location is best for you.


Visiting for the first time? Focus on central London


If you're visiting England's capital city for the first time, then you should consider a hotel in central London. For first-time visitors and avid sightseers, I highly recommend that you stay along, or somewhat close to the Thames River.


Most of London's iconic tourist attractions - like Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey - are all located alongside this major body of water. For recommendations on the top things to do while you're in London, click here.


Additionally, many of London's underground train stations are scattered around the Thames. If you book a hotel that's just a short walking distance from a train station, you'll be golden.


The city also offers Uber boats that run all day, which is more motivation to stay closer to the water. To make things easier to visualize, check out this snip of Google Maps showing some of London's main attractions and general location of its neighborhoods.

Out of all the central neighborhoods that border the Thames, we narrowed it down to a few areas based on different interests.


For each area, we also included our recommended options for the best hotels within different price ranges - budget, middle priced, and luxury.


In terms of cost, visiting London can be pricey and you're not likely to find cheap hotels in a central location. However, you'll soon find out that the hotel prices get less expensive the further that you go from all the touristy areas.


 


Covent Garden – where to stay in London for first-time visitors


Covent Garden is an ideal place to stay during a first-time visit to London. The area has something for everyone and it's centrally located - giving you quick access to many of London's iconic landmarks. It's a good area for every type of tourist .


By staying in Covent Garden, you can easily walk around the city center, immerse yourself in the exciting culture or visit some of London's attractions like the National Gallery, The British Museum, or the Royal Opera House.


You'll also have easy access to Covent Garden Market and its many delicious food options, along with Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.



With everything within walking distance, Covent Garden makes a great base for discovering what the city has to offer.


Whether you're looking for sightseeing, food, shopping or just a fantastic place to stay in London that's in a central location, then Covent Garden is the best neighborhood for you! Below are our top three picks for hotels in this region:


Budget (up to US$180)

  • Travelodge London Covent Garden – I recommend this to travelers on a budget traveling around the West End and looking for a hotel near many important places. From here, it's only an 11 minute walk to Trafalgar Square.


Middle-priced (US$180 – US$300)

  • Victory House Leicester Square - This is the best mid range hotel in Covent Garden. It's super close to excellent transport links and many shops, restaurants and other main attractions. Conveniently located by Leicester Square and only a 4 minute walk to Trafalgar Square.


Luxury (US$300 and above)

  • The Savoy - This is one of London's iconic accommodations and best luxury hotel for social media influencers. Even if this hotel is out of your budget, having afternoon tea here is still an unforgettable experience. Also, Covent Garden Market it just around the corner.



Mayfair – where to stay in London for shopping & luxury


Looking to do some heavy shopping while in London? Then this West End area is definitely for you.


Not to mention the close proximity to some of London’s major attractions and famous shopping street — Oxford Street — makes this neighborhood perfect for tourists looking for a touch of high class during their stay in London.


The photo above was taken where Regent Street meets Piccadilly Circus. Regent Street is also lined with popular retail stores from Piccadilly all the way to Regent's Park - where the London Zoo is located. We loved strolling around this area and window shopping.


If you are looking for where to stay in London to indulge in something luxurious, then this is the also the right place. Mayfair is one of the wealthiest London neighborhoods - located between Hyde Park and Soho.


If your budget allows for it, Mayfair offers some of the best hotels in the entire city. In this upscale neighborhood, you'll find five-star hotels with top-notch amenities such as spas, swimming pools, fitness centers and more.



The other perk of staying in this London borough - aside from their world renowned luxury hotels - is that plenty of its accommodations and fancy restaurants offer afternoon tea! Make sure to stop by Claridge's Hotel for afternoon tea - one of the best in all of London!


On top of living the high-life, you'll also be right next to Buckingham Palace and just a few minutes walk from outdoor recreational areas like Regent's Park. Like I mentioned, Mayfair is pricey and it can be hard to find a decent hotel for under $300 per night.


So, only consider this location if you really want to splurge. Below are some of the best luxury hotels that Mayfair has to offer:


Low-End Luxury (up to US$400)

  • COMO Metropolitan London - Located next to Hyde Park with easy access to South Kensington. Only a 15 minute train ride to the Science Museum via the Piccadilly line.

Mid-Range Luxury (US$400 – US$600)

  • The Mayfair Townhouse - A 5-star hotel in a great location. It has an incredibly high rating and amazing reviews online. It's also just an 8 minute walk from Buckingham Palace.

High-End Luxury (US$600 and above)

  • Brown's Hotel - a Rocco Forte Hotel - The best luxury hotel in Mayfair and one of the most expensive accommodations in London - located near Green Park and within walking distance of Oxford Circus.



Westminster – where to stay in London for culture & museums


Located just along the River Thames, Westminster is home to many of London's most popular tourist spots like Big Ben, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Buckingham Palace is also within walking distance of any hotel in Westminster.


This neighborhood is a great option for travelers who want to be close to all that London has to offer while still having access to comfortable accommodations. It's not the cheapest area to stay, but it definitely has its perks.


Next time we visit London, we plan on staying somewhere in Westminster. My favorite way to explore the city is by foot, and the close proximity to all the main attractions is definitely worth the extra bucks for me.


Sometimes you can find some great deals online. Click here to check out some of the best London hotel deals and make sure to browse through my top picks below:


Budget (up to US$180)

Middle-priced (US$180 – US$300)

Luxury (US$300 and above)

  • The Guardsman - A beautiful hotel located near St. James's Park and just a 20 minute walk from the London Eye.



Soho – where to stay in London for food & nightlife


If you are planning on staying in central London, a quick walk from Covent Garden will have you in one of the coolest neighborhoods in the whole city – Soho!


Located just north of Piccadilly Circus – and within walking distance of The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square – this London neighborhood is home to some of the trendiest restaurants and bars in town and it was once its former red light district.


On top of that, there are plenty of amazing traditional pubs and clubs where you can stay till late – making this part of London truly renowned for its vibrant nightlife and live music venues. It's the best option for travelers who like to have a good time.


Only a few minutes southeast of central Soho, you'll find London's Chinatown - which is incredibly picturesque and definitely worth a visit.


We had some of the best Asian food while we were there, and I also took the opportunity to snap some shots for my Instagram page. Check out this photo of the entrance to Chinatown – it's incredibly beautiful and totally worthy of a picture.



There's also plenty of shopping opportunities nearby—from designer boutiques on Bond Street to vintage shops near Carnaby Street. And if you're looking for a performance while you're here, both Covent Garden and Leicester Square host plenty of theater shows year round.


Whether you want to check out the famous West End theatres like the Phantom Of the Opera or Matilda, or just listen to some smashing live music, Soho has it all!


I typically recommend this area for people who enjoy the bustling-city vibe and the fun nightlife scene, since it's a fairly busy neighborhood in London's West End. Take a look at our top picks for the best hotels to stay in Soho:


Budget (up to US$180)

  • Mimis' Hotel Soho - Boutique hotel within a short walk of the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square. Also close to Leicester Square, Chinatown, and the British Museum.

Middle-priced (US$180 – US$300)

  • The Resident Soho - Highly recommended hotel within easy walk of Oxford Street. Also super close to Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square

Luxury (US$300 and above)



City of London – where to stay in London for architecture & history

City of London—referred to as "The City" by locals—is a perfect destination if you're looking for something quieter than central London but still want to be close to all the major attractions.


This area in East London boasts excellent observation decks (Sky Garden), famous marketplaces (Leadenhall Market) and a few of London's most iconic tourist attractions (Tower Bridge & Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, and London Bridge).


If you're planning on lodging in this area, I highly recommend that you book something close to Tower Bridge. We stayed at the Canopy by Hilton during our latest visit to London, which was about an eight-minute walk to the Tower of London.


We loved how close the hotel was to these attractions—and the fact that we could walk across the bridge and be at Borough Market in less than twenty minutes. Borough Market is an outdoor food hall located right off of London Bridge Station and it's a must visit for any traveler.


We also walked past the Tower of London super often and the view of the structure at night was a sight that we never got tired of seeing.



East London was definitely much quieter than the west side of London, but the food options around us were great and we never had trouble finding a cab if we needed one.


That's why we loved this area so much and would definitely stay there again. Here are my top hotel recommendations for the City of London:


Budget (up to US$180)

  • Club Quarters Hotel London City - Affordable option near London Bridge and two underground train stations. This is also a great place to stay for business travelers, since it's affordable and just a short train ride away from Canary Wharf - London's financial district.

Middle-priced (US$180 – US$300)

  • Canopy by Hilton - London City - Super modern and cozy 4-start hotel within an 8 minute walk of Tower Bridge. Aldgate underwound station is also super close, making it extremely convenient to get around by train.

Luxury (US$300 and above)

  • Vintry & Mercer Hotel - Exceptional place to stay in London for a more high-end experience. Located by London Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral.


South Bank – where to stay in London for sightseeing


South Bank is a fantastic neighborhood that has it all - from convenient access to popular tourist attractions like the London Eye and Tate Modern Museum, to plenty of delicious restaurants and food trucks where you can savor some of the best street food in London.


Being located on the opposite side of the Thames from Westminster and Covent Garden, visitors get the spectacle of gorgeous views across London with easy access to other great landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey!



With everything so close by, South Bank provides a unique opportunity for those who only have a short amount of time to see the city. If that's you, I highly recommend that you take a hop-on hop-off bus tour.


Most of the buses leave from Waterloo Station, and it will give you the chance to see the entire city in just a day. If this is the neighborhood for you and you're wondering where to stay, here are the best hotels in South Bank:


Budget (up to US$180)

Middle-priced (US$180 – US$300)

  • The Hoxton Southwark - A 4-star hotel centrally located between London's east and west ends. This is the best mid-range hotel in the area, and it's really close the Tate Modern Museum, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and Gabriel's Wharf – which has a vibrant nightlife scene and some live music venues.

Luxury (US$300 and above)


 

Where to stay in London for repeat visitors


If you’ve already explored the classic London sights, why not switch up where you stay on your next visit? London is renowned for its diversity and as a repeat visitor you have the opportunity to experience something truly unique!


From houseboats on the river Thames to boutique hotels in fashionable areas, there are plenty of options that offer something different when it comes to where to stay in London.


The city also has other neighborhoods that may not be as centrally located, but that have plenty of other things to offer. So for your next visit, make memories and explore a new part of town by staying somewhere off the beaten track.


Below are a few of these other London neighborhoods that are definitely worth mentioning.


Kensington (by Hyde Park) – where to stay in London for families


Travelers visiting London for the second or third time know where to stay - Kensington, affectionately known as London’s 'Museum Mile'! Home to the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the stunning Hyde Park and countless walking distance attractions, it has become a top pick for families looking to explore the city.


Another upside of staying in Kensington is that it's just a short walk from the iconic neighborhood of Notting Hill. I'd definitely schedule some time to visit this area for its colorful homes - like the ones shown below in a quiet street in the are.


This is one of the most aesthetic neighborhoods I've ever seen, and it's also where the movie Notting Hill was filmed.



Whether you stay in South Kensington (by Hyde Park) or closer to Kensington Palace, you'll be surrounded by things to do.


The cost of staying here is more reasonable than expected too, making Kensington a great choice when enjoying some leisurely alfresco cafes on the weekends before heading off to try out some of the city’s top restaurants.


South Kensington is especially great for kids due to all of the galleries and museums located in the area. Here's a list of fun family- friendly attractions just in this area alone: Natural History Museum, Science Museum, V&A Museum.


Not to mention the numerous parks and green spaces available nearby like Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and Green Park. Below is a photo of the beautiful swans in Round Pond, located in Kensington Gardens.



This area is best for people looking for a more leisurely vacation. It offers a more family-friendly atmosphere, being further away from all the top attractions and the tourists. It is not the most central location, but it does have some of the best hotels in London's West End. Check out our top picks below:


Budget (up to US$180)

  • The Resident Kensington- One of Kensington's best hotels. Really close to the Natural History Museum and only a 30 minute drive to Heathrow airport.

Middle-priced (US$180 – US$300)

  • The Ampersand Hotel - A luxury stay in London for a more affordable price. For those who love to shop, Harrods is just a 2 minute drive away. Also super close to the Natural history museum and only a 1 minute walk to South Kensington station

Luxury (US$300 and above)

  • The Milestone Hotel - Beautiful luxury hotel for those looking for more of a Victorian vibe during their stay in London.


Camden and King's Cross - where to stay in London for budget travelers


Staying in London doesn't have to break the bank! Camden and King's Cross are two of the best places to stay in London if you're looking for a budget-friendly option. Like I mentioned before, the pricing of accommodations are higher near the top tourist attractions.


Camden Town is located north of central London is known for its lively atmosphere and extensive street art. It's also home to the famous Camden Market - where you'll find delicious street food, crafts & clothing markets, and antique shops.



On the other hand, Kings Cross is an up-and-coming neighborhood located near the iconic Kings Cross Station. - where Harry Potter was filmed. Both of these areas are full of fun and affordable restaurants and attractions.


Whether you're looking for some amazing street art or a low cost place to sleep, Camden Town and King's Cross won't disappoint. Here are our top picks for best hotels in these areas:


Budget Hotels (up to US$180)


  • Judd Hotel - Right by Kings Cross & St. Pancras stations. This is a convenient location for people who are taking the train to other parts of England or taking the Eurostar to different countries in Europe.


London's Best Neighborhoods Ranked


Although all of the areas that we mentioned above have something unique to offer, I bet a lot of people are still wondering which one is the "best neighborhood" to stay in London. Again, that question is up to interpretation and personal interests.


However, if I had to rank them from my favorite to least favorite, there are three things that I'd consider.



For starters, I am an absolute tourist. I love sightseeing and visiting famous landmarks - especially so I can get some iconic shots like the photo above. For this reason, location is a top priority.


The closer that I can be to the touristy locations - the better. Secondly, I love to eat so access to great food is also important. Last but certainly not least, the accommodations need to be reasonably priced and not break the bank.


So, here is my list for the best neighborhoods to stay in London.

  1. Covent Garden - The best neighborhood overall in terms of location, food, and pricing. Also has some of London's best hotels and transportation options. Best location for any first time visitor.

  2. Soho - The best place to stay in London for food and perfectly located around the rest of the city. Can be a bit too much if you're not into nightlife.

  3. South Bank - Offers some great hotels for a more affordable price while still being super close to iconic landmarks and attractions. Great street food.

  4. City of London - Quieter but still central. However, you'll have to take the London Underground to get to attractions on the far-east side of London.

  5. Westminster - Great location in west London for sightseeing and culture. Can also be a bit pricey.

  6. Mayfair - Very upscale and luxurious West End neighborhood, but not everyone can afford it.

  7. Kensington - The best neighborhood for families and people who want to get away from the crowds. If you're in London to embrace the tourism, this area is a bit too far which I find inconvenient.

  8. Camden & Kings Cross - Great for people who want to experience London but have a lower-end budget. Kings Cross station is a must for Harry Potter fans. However, it's not within walking distance of anything and you'll always have to rely on transportation.


No matter what kind of traveler you are—luxury or budget—London has something for everyone when it comes time to book your accommodations.


From upscale Mayfair and Westminster neighborhoods in Central London to popular Covent Garden & Soho districts near Piccadilly Circus or quieter areas like The City located on the eastern edge of Central London, there's no shortage of amazing hotel locations throughout this bustling metropolis!


So go ahead and start exploring today! Happy travels!







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