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Where to stay in London

A handy guide to finding your ideal London location

From boutique hotels and high-rise luxe to private pied-à-terres and wallet-friendly hostels, the UK's capital has accommodation for every style and budget.

But first, you need to choose the best area to stay in in London. A good starting point is to draw up your own unique list of must-sees for your weekend away.

Into museums and galleries? West is best, so look at Kensington, Chelsea or Notting Hill.

For shopping, restaurants, theatre and nightlife, Soho and Covent Garden are great spots in the centre, while King's Cross and Camden are lively options, too.

And if the river is calling, the South Bank and Westminster are your best bet. Before you book though, join us on a quick whistlestop tour.

Soho and Covent Garden

Synonymous with late-night entertainment, from theatre and opera to cocktail bars and karaoke joints, Soho and Covent Garden are the beating heart of London's after-hours scene.

They're also great for shopping and host some of the city's top restaurants. If you want to be right in the action, this is the place to stay.


Soho

Once renowned as one of London's seedier spots, Soho's rather cleaned up its act. These days, it's best known for its mind-boggling array of incredible places to eat.

From cheap and cheerful pizza to Michelin-starred meals, there are restaurants in Soho to suit every budget and appetite.

Carnaby Street, the centre of the swinging 60s scene, is still a mecca for the fashion-conscious, with its uber-cool collection of designer stores and the occasional concept pop-up.


For classic prints and old-world department store chic though, put Liberty on your list.

Covent Garden

Home to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden is surrounded by theatres of every stripe. For last-minute tickets, drop by the TKTS kiosk in Leicester Square for a cut-price pick of the evening's performances.

In terms of things to do in Covent Garden, the narrow streets of Seven Dials are a lovely quirky shopping spot. And you'll find all the big brands in and around Covent Garden Market.

For kids both big and small, the London Transport Museum is a must.

Most restaurants in Covent Garden offer pre- or post-theatre menus, but Chinatown is our go-to for a great meal. Follow the delicious wafts of crispy duck and steamed dumplings to Gerrard Street and tuck in.

Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill

To see a more genteel side of the city, head west to these leafy, laidback neighbourhoods.

Of course pretty usually equals pricey, but with museums, galleries, markets and more within easy walking distance, you'll save on transport costs. And if the centre is calling, it's only a short Tube ride away.

Kensington and Chelsea

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is home to some of the world's leading museums, including the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

If it's green space you're after, Holland Park is a haven of tranquillity, while you can combine a walk through Kensington Gardens with a visit to Kensington Palace.


Nearby Chelsea is a hot spot for high-end shopping, and the King's Road is popular with the well-heeled locals. For some respite from retail, head to the Saatchi Gallery to catch some contemporary art.

Notting Hill

Famed for its colourful townhouses, pretty Notting Hill is a rainbow of delicate pastels and bird-of-paradise brights – much to Instagrammers’ delight.

The real draw though is Portobello Road Market. Drop by on a Saturday morning, grab a coffee and pick up everything from art and antiques to vintage clothes and incredible Caribbean food.


For a party like no other, visit in late August for the Notting Hill Carnival. It's a joyous two days of eating, drinking and dancing 'til you drop.

Westminster and the Southbank

The Thames was for centuries London's lifeblood and it's still abuzz today, with tourist boats, nippy clippers and low-slung barges plying goods up and down the river.

To the north is Westminster with its grand government buildings and spacious parks, while the South Bank's a foodie playground with its countless riverfront restaurants and bars.

Westminster

Home to the 'mother of parliaments', Westminster is best known for Big Ben – whose nickname actually refers to the 13.7-tonne bell which tolls within the Elizabeth Tower.


Westminster Palace below is where the UK's government hash out all the issues of the day. You can book a tour, but it's free to visit the public gallery.


Nearby Westminster Abbey is an extraordinary space for a moment of quiet contemplation, while St James's Park is one of the city's prettiest – not least for its view of Buckingham Palace.

South Bank

A meander along the South Bank is a must for any visit to London. The stretch between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge is packed with restaurants, bars, market stalls, street performers and some of the most beautiful views in the city.

The hour or so walk will take you past the London Eye, Sea Life London Aquarium, BFI IMAX, the National Theatre, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe, Borough Market, the Shard and of course Tower Bridge.

Across the river, you'll also spot St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London. Not bad for under three miles of walking.


King’s Cross, Camden Town, Baker Street and Marylebone

After years of neglect, King's Cross station has been restored to its original glory and the new, surrounding streets and shiny high-rise blocks now boast a bevy of top-flight bars and restaurants.

A short walk away, Camden Town is the home of live music in London, while historic Baker Street and Marylebone are both within easy reach of St Pancras International.

King’s Cross and Camden Town

Once little more than a transport hub, the area around London King's Cross station is now a hive of high-end shops, restaurants and bars, along with galleries, museums and the landmark British Library.

If you want to let your hair down though, head up the road to Camden Town. By day, the market buzzes with shops and stalls selling vintage and eco-friendly fashion right through to circus paraphernalia.


After dark, the volume's cranked up to 11 though, with live music and club nights for lovers of everything from jazz and blues to punk and metal.

Baker Street and Marylebone

Possibly the most famous address in London is 221B Baker Street. The home of the consulting detective is now the Sherlock Holmes Museum, where you can drop in for a snoop around his study, then don your own deerstalker at the gift shop.

From Baker Street, you're a hop and a skip from beautiful Regent's Park, with its boating lake and open-air theatre.


Bring a football for a kickabout or make tracks to London Zoo. For a fully immersive experience, book a London Zoo Lodge and be lulled to sleep by the roaring of lions.

Frequently Asked Questions about staying in London

Of course it depends what your plans and budget are. For museums, parks and a village-y feel, look at locations in west London, like Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill.

The slightly slower pace makes these areas all come high on our list of where to stay in London with kids.

If late nights are on the agenda, it might be worth staying nearer the city's nightlife, in Soho, Camden or Covent Garden. Beware you'll pay for the privilege though.

To have the river on your doorstep, Westminster or the South Bank are hard to beat, while history-lovers will enjoying stepping straight out onto the ancient streets of the City around Tower Hill and Bank.


In the words of Samuel Johnson, creator of the first English dictionary, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life". If time is of the essence and you've got the energy though, you can cram a lot into a long weekend.

The trick is to come up with an itinerary and make sure you book museums, galleries and experiences in advance. That way you can avoid disappointment and maybe even skip some queues.


As a general rule, the further away from the centre you stay, the cheaper it will be. East is usually cheaper than West, too.

Just remember to factor in the time and cost of travelling into zone one (the centre of the Tube map) if you find a cheap hotel further out.

The good news is though, once you've hit central London, it's quick and easy to walk between most of the sights, so pack some comfy shoes and save on short Tube and bus fares.

When deciding where to stay in London for the first time, make sure you're in easy reach of the main sights you want to see.

London's a very walkable city, so check out journey times on foot as well as by Tube.


In fact, the Tube map's a good place to start. If you're keen to see every corner of the city, make sure you stay near a station with a few lines running through it.

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