As the U.K.’s largest city and one of the world’s top global cities, London has so much to see and do. This makes London such an exciting travel destination, yet it might also make London feel so intimidating as you’re booking your hotel or vacation rental.
If you’re wondering where’s the best area to stay in London, here’s your handy guide to where you want to stay in order to do more of what you want to do.
As London’s central business district (or CBD, not to be confused with that other CBD), the City of London has plenty of hotels to welcome business travelers year-round. Fortunately because The City caters more to business travelers, the hotel rates here tend to be slightly less pricey than the West End neighborhoods that cater more to tourists.
If you’re thinking there’s not much to do in The City, think again. With famous landmarks like the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as places like the Museum of London and the Guildhall Art Gallery where you can explore some 2,000 years of the region’s history, the City of London has plenty of its own attractions to keep you busy. If you still want to venture out, The City has seven London Underground (tube, or subway) stations and five National Rail stations that make for easy connections to the rest of the region.
Like The City, Covent Garden feels like the center of it all. In Covent Garden and neighboring areas of the City of Westminster, you’re walking distance from top attractions like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the U.K. Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and the Covent Garden market. Here, you have much of London’s best shopping, restaurants, and theaters right by your doorstep. In addition, Covent Garden has five London Underground stations and the Charing Cross mainline train station for easy commuting to and from the rest of the region.
Since Covent Garden is situated in London’s upscale West End, you might have a hard time finding the right place to stay if you’re on a tight budget. But if you’re looking for luxury hotels, Covent Garden has some of London’s finest accommodations.
Situated west of Buckingham Palace, the neighborhoods of Kensington and Chelsea are some of the fanciest in all of London. Here is where you’ll find the bulk of Britain’s A-list celebrities, the elite Imperial College London, a dense cluster of billionaire oligarchs’ townhouses in Belgravia, British and international fashion houses’ flagship boutiques in Knightsbridge, and plenty more. If you want museums, you have to head this way for the famed Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and much more. If you’re a foodie, then you will love the collection of Michelin-starred and other world-class restaurants here. Kensington and Chelsea is served by multiple Underground stations, so you should have a very easy time getting to where you want to go.
Like Covent Garden, the hotels in Kensington and Chelsea tend to be quite high-end. 11 Cadogan Gardens is one of our favorite hotels in all of London thanks to its timeless elegance and classic British style, and you will find plenty more luxury hotels in this very swanky side of town.
Stratford may be farther removed from the most famous London landmarks. But if you’re looking for more affordable lodging without skimping on character and flavor, then Stratford may have what you’re looking for. It’s about a 20-30 minute Underground ride from central London, and you can use the Stratford International station to catch several National Rail trains. But if you want to stay close to your pad, you’ll still have plenty to do around here, as this is where you will find the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, artwork you can slide down at ArcelorMittal Orbit, a wide array of international cuisine, and much more.
Like the rest of the East End, Stratford was traditionally considered more blue-collar and rough-and-tumble than the traditionally refined central London and West End neighborhoods. But in recent years, Stratford has attracted a slew of new four-star hotels as the Olympic Park and the Westfield shopping mall moved in.
Located in South London, Peckham and Brixton show very different sides of London than the stereotypical imagery of “London” that we foreigners base on the West End’s cityscape. In Peckham, you’ll discover everything from independent arthouse cinemas and yoga studios to the “Little Lagos” collection of Nigerian shops and restaurants, and a wider array of international restaurants throughout the neighborhood. As the thriving heart of London’s Afro-Caribbean immigrant community, Brixton is where you’ll find some of London’s hottest nightlife, trendiest restaurants, and buzziest markets.
Though you won’t find many hotels in this stretch of London, you can find a handful of hidden gems here, and the vacation rentals here tend to be much more affordably priced than the ones in the more internationally famous postcodes to the north. If you want the best of both worlds, then rest assured that South London’s plethora of Underground and National Rail stations make for easy connections to central London and beyond.
While this may not be a long list of London’s best neighborhoods, we wanted to give you a bit of a cheat sheet in case you’re having a hard time deciding where to book your hotel room or vacation rental. If you want even more help with hotels, and if you want the best price for the best rooms and suites, Kayak always has your back. If you’re wondering when you should cross the pond for your London list, here are some tips on when are the best times to book your flight. However you decide to do your trip, we hope you enjoy the journey.
The cover photo was taken by Justin Ennis, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Flickr.
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