A London Neighborhood Guide: The 7 Best Areas to Stay
When it comes to planning a trip to London, one of the questions I see over and over again is, “What are the best neighborhoods to stay in London?”
There are so many things to do in London as it’s huge. It makes a big difference whether you choose to stay in West or East London because the atmosphere, architecture, and culture will be completely different!
This is why I want to share what I think are the seven loveliest London neighborhoods. Hopefully, this guide helps you figure out which area is best for you!
What is the Center of London?
Most European cities have some sort of center somewhere in the city — usually, it involves some sort of town square or massive plaza.
That’s not really the case in London! Instead, you have a number of different neighborhoods with their own must-see attractions and landmarks.
I’d say the most central point is around Trafalgar Square. This is where you’ll find big landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Convent Garden.
While it’s definitely the most central for tourists, I don’t think you necessarily have to find hotels near here. They’ll be pretty expensive, crowded, and the area isn’t particularly relaxing. I’d choose hotels in one of the neighborhoods below instead!
7 of the Best Neighborhoods to Stay in London
For those who love a more hipster area with trendy boutiques and the latest restaurants
You’ve probably heard the name “Shoreditch” before. It’s a neighborhood in East London that’s best known as the hipster neighborhood. If you think of stately mansions and beautifully wooded avenues when you think of London, you’ll be in for quite a surprise in Shoreditch.
It’s a former working-class area, and it still looks bit grubby and industrial with its warehouses and alleyways. However, in those same warehouses, you’ll find the coolest new restaurants and in those alleyways and side streets, you’ll find the most colorful street art. There are honestly so many fun places to go in Shoreditch! Popup stores can also be found here a lot, and London’s best-known Sunday market is here on Brick Lane.
Shoreditch is by far my favorite neighborhood in London, especially if you include the nearby Hackney as well.
Hotels in Shoreditch
- The Dictionary Hotel: A super fun hostel that also offers private rooms in the heart of London. The best choice for backpackers.
- CitizenM Shoreditch: A hip hotel with comfortable rooms in the middle of the neighborhood. The lobby is cozy, and the breakfast is good. The best choice for couples.
- Ace Hotel Shoreditch: The most stylish hotel in the neighborhood. Urban luxury with an eye for detail. Located on Shoreditch High Street, the main street of the district. The best choice for luxury travelers.
For those who love going out, going to the theater, or pub crawls. You’ll have to be able to withstand a bit of pressure!
Soho is also a well-known name in London. You may wonder where the name “Soho” comes from, but you’re not the only one. Historians aren’t even sure of the answer, though some think it’s an old hunting cry. Before the big 1666 fire, this neighborhood was a popular hunting ground.
Nowadays, the neighborhood is best known for its nightlife. At the end of a long work day, the pubs start to fill up with locals blowing off steam. You can also find a number of theaters around here since the West End (known has the musical heart of London) spreads over both Soho and Convent Garden. You’ll also find many restaurants and part of Oxford Street, the most famous shopping street in London.
Hotels in Soho
- Sohostel: This cozy, colorful hostel (with an appropriate name) is located in the middle of the district, a three-minute walk from Oxford Street. There are both dormitories and private rooms. The best choice for backpackers.
- Mimi’s Hotel: This stylish 4-star hotel is also located in the heart of the district, just a few steps from great bars and restaurants. The rooms are compact and decorated with an eye for detail, and offer luxurious bathrooms. The best choice for couples.
- Hotel Hazlitt’s: If you are looking for classic luxury, then choose this hotel with rooms that seem to have come straight from the Victorian period. Candlesticks, velvet decor, and fireplaces offer an almost royal atmosphere. This boutique hotel is located in the middle of the West End and its many theaters. The best choice for luxury travelers.
For those who love fine dining and world-class shopping
Covent Garden is adjacent to Soho and is therefore somewhat similar in style. However, while Soho is more about going out, Convent Garden is more about shopping and eating. You’ll find some of the best restaurants in London that serve food from all corners of the world. If you like Chinese food, Chinatown is only a five-minute walk away.
The Convent Shopping Centre is worth a visit as well since it’s an old-fashioned covered shopping passage. The architecture is just beautiful, and the shops are incredible even if they’re far out of my budget. Also street musicians regularly play there. It’s just a very cozy atmosphere!
My favorite part of Convent Garden is the Seven Dials. These are a bit like the “nine streets” That Amsterdam has but in London. It’s beautifully decorated around here in the Christmas season. The streets that meet here are full of cute boutiques. It’s also called the “village” of Convent Garden.
Another fun thing to see is the brightly colored streets in Neal’s Yard.
Hotels in Convent Garden
- Seven Dials Hotel: Stay in a B & B in the heart of the theater district. The rooms are small but comfortable and clean. Every morning they serve a free English breakfast. The best choice for budget travelers.
- Fielding Hotel: Five minutes from Covent Garden, this hotel is surrounded by nice restaurants and near the metro. The rooms are compact but light and charming. The best choice for travelers who find a central location important.
- The Henrietta Hotel: This stylish 4-star hotel is located in the heart of the neighborhood. The sleek rooms have a beautiful view over London and are equipped with every luxury. Walking distance to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The best choice for luxury travelers.
For those who love nice cafes, brightly colored mansions, and good vintage shops
If you don’t know Notting Hill, then you clearly did not grow up in the 90s or 00s! This is one of the most iconic romcoms, and it’s Hugh Grant at his most Hugh Grant. Notting Hill is such a charming neighborhood, and whenever I’m in the area, I always stop by. I even did a photo shoot in this area once!
One of the most popular things to do in Notting Hill is its pastel-colored homes and Portobello Market. Personally, I find the market a bit too busy, but I’ll never get tired of roaming around Notting Hill’s streets. Usually, I just find a nice cafe and people watch for a bit.
I always combine it with a visit to Hyde Park, and you can pass through Bayswater, which is also full of nice, hidden side streets.
Hotels in Notting Hill
- Abbey Court Notting Hill: You will find this hotel in one of the many beautiful mansions in the neighborhood. The rooms are decorated with antique furniture, and the hotel is situated in a calm area. The best choice for travelers who want a quiet hotel.
- The Portobello Hotel: Around the corner is the famous market which the hotel owes its name. All hotel rooms are individually decorated and equipped with every luxury. The best choice for travelers who want to stay in the middle of Notting Hill.
- The Laslett: The beautiful snow- white Victorian façade hides a luxurious 5-star hotel. The rooms have soft beds, wall art, and a rain shower in the bathroom. The best choice for luxury travelers.
For those who love the stately, elegant side of England where the real wealthy are locked up in their beautiful mansions. Also good for world-class museums! Knightsbridge, Belgravia, and Chelsea are also similar neighborhoods
If you’re looking for the posh, “stiff upper lip”- like London, then nothing is more luxurious than Kensington. Here you’ll find beautiful avenues and stately white mansions with Victorian architecture. Elegance is the theme here, and it’s one of the most expensive postal codes in Great Britain, which is hardly surprising. Your neighbors would literally be the royal family in the Kensington Palace.
The east side of Kensington borders Hyde Park, and in South Kensington, you’ll find most of the neighborhood’s must-see sights like the beautiful Royal Albert Hall or the spectacular National History Museum.
Read More: A Guide to the Best Free Museums in London
Hotels in Kensington
- Montana Hotel: This 3-star hotel is close to the museums, Royal Albert Hall, and within walking distance of Hyde Park. The metro is also around the corner. The rooms are fully equipped. The best choice for travelers who want a centrally located hotel.
- Ampersand Hotel: This trendy boutique hotel is just a minute’s walk from the metro. The rooms are decorated in individual style with Victorian elements. Guests love the comfortable bed and the good breakfast. The best choice for guests who love trendy boutique hotels.
- Hotel Milestone: This 5-star boutique hotel has a decor that is anything but subtle. The romantic and extravagant luxury is extended in all details. The hotel has a luxury spa and overlooks Kensington Palace. The best choice for luxury travelers.
For those who want to stay within walking distance but away from the crowds
The Southwark district was not far from where I lived in London, and so logically one of my favorite spots in the city. The South Quay of the River Thames is the perfect place to stay not only because of the view of the London skyline, but also because you are so close to all sights (both Tower Bridge and the Big Ben are within walking distance, and you might even be able to see them from your hotel room).
You can also find many restaurants in this part of London, and you’ll also find Tate Modern and the famous indoor Borough Market. Personally, I always enjoy strolling past the old warehouses near the water, because you can really see the history. And the view from Millenium Bridge is, of course, very special.
Hotels in Southwark
- The Mad Hatter: In a great nineteenth-century building, around the corner from Southwark and Waterloo, is this hotel. This building was once a hat factory, hence the name. They serve good pub food here. Best choice for travelers who want to experience that real English feeling.
- Bermondsey Square: This hotel was close to where I lived in London, and I regularly worked in the lobby. So I can say from personal experience that it is a beautiful hotel. Get your coffee from Hej, my favorite coffee shop, opposite the hotel. The rooms are comfortable, the food good, and it is within walking distance of London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Best choice for travelers who want to stay in an upcoming local neighborhood.
- The LaLit London: This beautiful hotel has preserved the old details of its past as a school building (such as the high ceilings and special windows) but is also modern and luxurious. It is a few minutes from Tower Bridge. The beds are heavenly and the breakfast excellent. Best choice for luxury travelers.
For those who might enjoy a cozy, green district full of charming shops, restaurants, and pubs with fewer crowds
This is a neighborhood that is overlooked by many people, but it is truly one of my favorite hidden gems in the city. Greenwich, of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) indeed! It is certainly not the most centrally located district of London. It is actually quite in the South East. But it’s just so lovely and cozy!
A great highlight of the district is, of course, Greenwich Park, from where you have a beautiful view of London on the hill. In this park, you will find the Royal Observatory Greenwich, and also the National Maritime Museum. Personally, I love wandering through the cozy streets and grabbing a drink in the garden of a local pub. Don’t miss the historic boat, Cutty Sark!
Hotels in Greenwich
- St. Christopher Greenwich: At a short distance from the metro stop, is this small and cozy hostel. It is also not far from the park. There are both dorms and private rooms, and a good breakfast for little money. The perfect choice for backpackers.
- Hotel ibis London Greenwich: With ibis, you basically never sit wrong. Ten minutes from the Royal Observatory, this hotel offers a classic, comfortable ibis design (I think the beds at ibis are always fantastic). The perfect choice if you come by car and do not want to stay in the center.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Greenwich: This luxury hotel is a bit further from the sights but has rooms with beautiful views, a great breakfast, and spacious rooms. The perfect choice for luxury travelers.
Are there any neighborhoods to avoid in London?
Yes and no. There are, of course, more unsafe areas of London, but as a tourist, there’s really no reason you’d venture out to them as they’re not remotely central. In the more alternative neighborhoods like Shoreditch or Camden, you might encounter some drunks or vagrants in the evening, but they’ll leave you alone.
As a young woman, I regularly walked the streets on London on my own in the evening, and I have never felt unsafe.
What do you think are the nicest neighborhoods in London?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe.