London is one of those magnificent and iconic places that is on everyone’s travel bucket list. The capital of England boasts some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, fun nightlife, delicious international food, a vibrant and diverse vibe and rich history. There is so much to do and see in London for every type of traveller and holiday.
However London is a huge city and getting around it can be quite faffy. I’ve been living in London for seven years now and still dread having to go somewhere that requires me to change tube lines. Choosing the right area to stay in during your London trip is crucial to ensuring you have a pleasant trip, and don’t spend all your time travelling back and forth or in a neighbourhood that is too boring or noisy (depending on what you’re looking for).
Each area of London has a different vibe, and depending on what you’re looking for, you can make sure you get everything you want within reach. In this guide to the best areas to stay in London I’ve used by experience as a Londoner to list all the best neighbourhoods and what makes them so special. There are certain attributes that will resonate more with you, allowing you to choose the best area to stay in London for your specific needs.
- 1 10 of the best areas to stay in London
- 1.1 Angel – My personal favourite place to stay in London
- 1.2 Notting Hill – Best part of London to stay for couples
- 1.3 Brixton – Best place to stay in London for backpackers
- 1.4 Holborn – Best area to stay in London for first-time visitors
- 1.5 South Kensington – Best location to stay in London for families
- 1.6 Camden – Best area to stay in London for groups of friends
- 1.7 Stoke Newington – Best Hipster area (new & upcoming)
- 1.8 Bloomsbury – Best neighbourhood to stay in London for solo travellers
- 1.9 Soho – Best for nightlife
- 1.10 Waterloo – Best area to stay in London for tourists on the run
10 of the best areas to stay in London
Let’s have a look at the 10 best areas to stay in London so you can choose the neighbourhood that best suits your style and travels. I have listed what makes each one a fantastic choice, and what it is that they’re best known for.
Angel – My personal favourite place to stay in London
- Angel is not your typical tourist destination in London, it is much more of a local area.
- Very lively, you will find an abundance of cool restaurants, bars and shops to enjoy!
- This neighborhood in London is not far from central London and is conveniently well-connected to everywhere in London.
I lived here for 4 years, and this special neighbourhood has captured my heart! Found in Central and North London, within the London Borough of Islington, Angel is a picturesque and enthralling place for all. Angel is not only in one of the most creal areas in London, with close proximity to all major transport, but it’s also one of the more laid-back neighbourhoods you’ll find this close to London’s centre.
Angel is absolutely stunning, and provides scenery everywhere you look. From the characteristic buildings to the old narrow streets and the bustling energy, Angel has become a favourite for so many. It’s considered the best location to stay in London if you’re wanting to live in the city.
There is an endless amount of trendy restaurants and bars to choose from, allowing you the chance to immerse yourself in the culture of this neighbourhood. It is full of life, and offers something wonderful for everyone. The best part is that it’s not on the main tourist radar just yet, so when you go for drinks at a pub in Angel you’ll be surrounded by Londoners, not other tourists.
When my parents came to visit me in London they stayed in a couple different hotels in Angel (thanks tiny London flat for not allowing me guest space). They tried both the Hilton and Premier Inn in Angel and loved them both; they’re both clean, have spacious rooms and are right in the heart of Angel.
Notting Hill – Best part of London to stay for couples
- An upbeat area, full of things to do.
- A great place to find vintage clothes and enjoy bohemian styles.
- The Notting Hill Carnival is a huge celebration hosted in this area, and it is worth going to. (It is the second largest carnival in the whole world).
Notting Hill is one of London’s most iconic neighbourhoods, and it’s easy to see why! You can find everything here, from retro restaurants, bars and shops to the famous Portobello Road Market. If you’re looking for a place to soak in the London culture and have an authentic experience of the city, Notting Hill is the place for you.
Find a mixture of many different buildings, mostly from the 1800s, each with beautiful gardens. One of the most amazing places to visit is Portobello Road Market. This noteworthy road is lined with colourful buildings, mouth-watering street food, antique shops, buskers, historic pubs, clothing stalls and even gin tastings.
The old-fashioned theme of this area is what makes it such a romantic place, and the best neighbourhood to stay in Londonfor couples. You’ll never run out of adventures to go on, and new places to see! It’s also the perfect neighbourhood if you’re looking for amazing photo spots.
Some of the nicest hotels in Notting Hill are the Abbey Court Notting Hill and the Portobello Hotel. These are both in traditional Victorian buildings, which will make you feel right at home and as if you’re living a true British experience.
Brixton – Best place to stay in London for backpackers
- A laidback area with lots of culture, making it the best place to stay in London to experience the international city vibe!
- You can enjoy a vibrant nightlife here, with plenty of places to catch live music.
- A very popular area, and one of the best London neighbourhoods for tourists.
Brixton has an incredible history, and one of its most famous stories is that it is the birthplace of the internationally known, late David Bowe. This area celebrates creativity and has a vibrancy that is contagious. You’ll also find tons of hot spots to enjoy the growing foodie culture.
Brixton is the best part of London to stay for those wanting to enjoy London’s nightlife, with a local atmosphere and plenty of beer. This remarkable neighbourhood has really created its own identity, and thrives with diverse cultures, and a wonderful art scene.
If you’re wondering, “where should I stay in London to taste great food?”, then you’ll be delighted to know that the Brixton Market and Village is a hub for delicious meals and hosts over 100 food traders.
Some of the best places to stay in Brixton are the Brixton Inn or the Premier Inn. For a reasonable price you get a nice sized room, and they are perfectly located right next to the Brixton tube station. Brixton isn’t in the main tourist areas where all the attractions are, so you want to be staying in a hotel or apartment close to the station so that you can quickly travel into central London.
Holborn – Best area to stay in London for first-time visitors
- A booming metropolis in London, providing a true city experience.
- Some consider this the heart of London, it doesn’t get more central than this.
- Overflowing with signature Londoner things to do, and wonderful places to visit.
Holborn is a mecca for restaurants and shops! If you’re looking to indulge yourself in traditional meals and London fashion, then this is it. This is also by far the best area to stay in London for first-time visitors, as you get a full spectrum feel to what London is all about.
One of the must-see places to visit is Covent Garden’s former marketplace, where you will find a steam of charming shops and places to grab a bite to eat, and be surrounded by old-school buildings. Charlotte Street is also a great place to cruize down if you want to take in the old, classic properties that London is known for.
Holborn is one of the main metropolitan areas in London, so you can expect massive crowds and even bigger energy. Nightlife is happening here, and you will never run out of places to explore as a first-time visitor to London. It’s a very busy area, but you’ll be right in the heart of it all.
When my cousins came to visit me they wanted to stay super central so they stayed at the Hoxton in Holborn. It’s very conveniently located and modern. If you want to go fancy you can also stay at the Waldorf Hilton or L’oscar London.
South Kensington – Best location to stay in London for families
- A huge amount of museums to check out!
- An affluent, elegant area that is the best hotel location in London for families.
- Central and home to a handful of landmarks.
South Kensington has become very well-known as a tourist destination in London, and this is because it is brimming with fascinating museums and attractions. There is plenty to be enjoyed about this classic London neighbourhood, and it is a great playground for children. Most of the activities you will find here are family-centered, so you’ll have no problem bringing along your little ones.
Exhibition Road suits its name to a T. This pedestrian spot has a bevvy of amazing restaurants for you to relax and enjoy a great meal in between checking out the nearby museums. One of the most famous museums to see in South Kensington is the Science Museum that has been around since the 1800s. My personal favourite is the Natural History Museum, you want to make sure you see the dinosaur exhibit there!
This is one of the most memorable places to stay in London. The streets are lined with iconic red-brick buildings that showcase the character and elegance of this neighbourhood.
On my very first visit to London I stayed in South Kensington with my parents. I was 11 and absolutely loved the area, plus being so close to the museums was a big highlight for me. I was a bit of a nerdy child and spent whole days in them. If you’re visiting London at Christmas you will also be very conveniently located to go ice skating at the ice rink in the Natural History Museum or to explore Winter Wonderland. On my first trip to London we stayed at the Rembrandt, half way between the museums and Harrods so my mum could enjoy some shopping while I nerded it out at the musems.
Camden – Best area to stay in London for groups of friends
- A hipster neighbourhood full of history that is found within inner London, making it a major attraction
- A fun and outgoing entertainment scene.
- An array of cuisine to taste and treat yourselves to.
When I was at university I lived in Camden for two years and can highly recommend the area for big friend groups travelling to London together. The nightlife in Camden is buzzing, you can go on a bar crawl to different pubs and clubs and you’ll be glad to be so close to home at the end of the night.
Camden is an electric neighbourhood, with deep roots in London’s history. You will find some of the oldest landmarks here, like the city of Faringdon that is home to classic parliament buildings and statues. Regents Park and Primrose Hill are also located in Camden, so that you can go spend a relaxing day in the park after your shenanigans the previous night or to escape the hustle and bustle of Camden market.
If you’re wanting to know which neighbourhood to stay in London to hunt for bargains, then this is hands down your best bet. Camden hosts many markets, and you’ll find everything from eclectic clothing to scrumptious meals from around the world and some amazing live music.
Camden is famous for being the former home of the late Amy Winehouse, and a handful of other Londoner talents. The city has inspiring art galleries and centres for you to enjoy the sensations of the gifted London artists that share their work and learn more about the history of the art scene.
I would recommend getting an apartment instead of a hotel so that you can stay all together if you’re travelling with a big group of friends.
Stoke Newington – Best Hipster area (new & upcoming)
- Found in the north-west part of London, this is a central neighbourhood with a lot to offer youngsters and curious travellers.
- The original setting for Hamlet, Shakespeare’s famous tragedy play.
- Independent businesses are flourishing here, so you are sure to experience something new.
Stoke Newington is one of the best London neighbourhoods to stay to see how the country is developing, and opening its arms to innovative and forward thinkers. Find a thrilling mixture of old and new, and visit wine bars, coffee shops, funky cafes and more.
One of the best places to enjoy a lazy afternoon is Clissold Park, where there are animal enclosures and serene lakes waiting for you.
The amount of new stores and businesses opening up along the streets is amazing, and you will be inspired by the drive that these Londoners have. This up-and-coming neighbourhood is a hidden gem! It’s a lovely place for people who don’t want to experience the crowds that come with more popular areas in London.
There are lots of hipster cafes and bars that light up the night! And there’s a distinct feeling of being apart of a very cool and happening neighbourhood culture. A good hotel in the area is the Rose and Crown in Stoke Newington, as its conveniently located close to a tube station.
Bloomsbury – Best neighbourhood to stay in London for solo travellers
- A great place to treat yourself to enlightening brain food.
- Is a delightful place to visit some of London’s most famous museums.
- One of the best areas in London to experience the country’s culture.
Bloomsbury is a laid-back, yet very popular neighbourhood in London. There’s plenty to see and do, all with a preserved old-school ambience that entices travellers. Fall in love with the bookstores, libraries, cosy cafes and museums that this neighbourhood showcases.
One of the signature museums is the British Museum, which is an excellent place to learn about London’s history and marvel at antiques. Around here you can also find a lot of London Harry Potter filming locations, if you’re interested in that.
Tourists, students and locals alike come together to make Bloomsbury special. It is a wonderful space to meet new faces, and enjoy the thrill of London. You can find breathtakingly elegant buildings lining Russell and Bedford squares.
My university is located in Bloomsbury so when my family came to watch my graduation ceremony, it’s only natural that they would choose to stay in Bloomsbury. My family stayed at the Arosfa Hotel close to my university and they loved it, the rooms are spacious, clean and it’s in a great position. From there you can easily walk to the British Museum, Oxford Street or on to Soho, and it’s well connected to a couple different underground stations (Russell Square is the closest but Euston and Kings Cross are closeby too and have more lines).
Soho – Best for nightlife
- An energetic and bustling London neighbourhood full of things to do!
- A musical haven, and a lively hub of Jazz music.
- Dazzling shops with gold mine opportunities for sales.
If you’re wanting to party the night away, and enjoy days full of charismatic rhythm, then Soho is one of the best areas in Londonto stay during your trip. You’ll be able to partake in spellbinding, cultural activities day-in and day-out. These streets are epicentres for 24-hour fun!
Expose yourself to the vibrancy of West End, where you’ll find an exciting blend of dining, nightlife and shopping options to indulge yourself in. If you’re into Jazz, and want to enjoy the best live music, then head over to the world-renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club for an evening of suave, groovy tunes. If you’re looking for a cheap night out, my personal favourite club in London is also in the area, the famous Roxy Bar.
If you want to do something a bit more cultural you can also watch one of the many brilliant plays and musicals in Shaftesbury Avenue. There is something for everyone in Soho! Some of the best hotels in Soho include the Piccadilly London West End, right in the heart of Shaftesbury Avenue and Soho, or SoHostel if you’re looking for a more budget option.
Waterloo – Best area to stay in London for tourists on the run
- Full of famous must-see landmarks.
- A variety of busy, cosy pubs to visit at night.
- Home to much of London’s expansive history.
Waterloo is, by far, the most convenient area to stay in London for tourists. It‘s right next to the London Eye and is right across the river from the famous Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliement and Big Ben and a short walk away from the famed Buckingham Palace. You can explore the storied streets, treat yourself to mouth-watering food, and dive into the pub culture of this enchanting neighbourhood.
If you don’t have long in London staying in Waterloo will make your journey that much easier and rejuvenating as a tourist. Filling your heart and soul with new experiences and rich English culture. You will find your days full of laughter, good food, remarkable entertainment and deep-rooted history.
My best friend used to live around Waterloo so I used to visit the area often. One of the best hotels in the area is the Marriott in County Hall, right next to the London Eye. It’s in a ideal location, with spacious rooms, great service and stunning river views. It’s a very busy and touristy area, but if you only have two days in London or less, it will make your trip easier!
Final thoughts on the best neighbourhoods to stay in London
Have you been to London before? What area did you stay in? Let me know in the comments below! London will captivate you, and continue to lure you back for more and more. If you’re like me, you’ll be so in love that you make it your home and learn the truths of living in London. Every neighbourhood in London is different from the next, but with an overarching London feeling.
I hope you find this guide useful for when you start planning your trip to London. Having lived in London for seven years I feel I know the city well enough and can recommend the best areas to stay. I divided it by neighbourhood vibes as opposed to listing specific hotels as I feel like it will be more useful for you, maybe you don’t like the specific hotel I recommend but at least you get an idea of the area you want to stay in. I hope you have an awesome time in London and love this city as much as I do!
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