All Articles 6 best neighborhoods to stay in London

6 best neighborhoods to stay in London

Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London
Image: Rossella De Berti / Getty Images
Amelia Ang
By Amelia Ang21 Mar 2022 5 minutes read

Deciding where to stay in London can be a tough choice. Each London neighborhood has its own distinctive charm and personality, so just like Cinderella’s glass slipper, it all comes down to the right fit.

To narrow down the best area in London for you to stay, start by thinking about your expectations and preferences. For example, is there a budget you need to adhere to? How close should your hotel be to various attractions? Does the idea of being surrounded by buzzing nightlife excite you? We’ve rounded up the best places to stay in London for every traveler.

1. Covent Garden

Crowd outside Covent Garden Market
 Apple Market in Covent Garden
Outside the The Resident Covent Garden
Image: vadimk962 (left), Chris (top right), Management (bottom right) / Tripadvisor

Best for: First-time visitors

If you’ve never been to London, we recommend staying near attractions to make the most of your jam-packed sightseeing schedule. While the London Underground is fairly easy to navigate, having the option to walk to and from your hotel means you won’t have to worry about peak hour crowds or the Tube’s operating hours. Covent Garden’s proximity to hotspots like Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and the West End Theatre District makes it the best area in London for first-timers to stay.

Top things to do

Shop for handmade crafts and souvenirs at Apple Market, or discover more hidden gems by taking a secret walking tour of the area. Covent Garden epitomizes London’s diversity with its range of international fare at Da Mario, Dishoom, Sticks’N’Sushi, and more.

Best places to stay

Experience life in a modern museum at St Martins Lane London ($$), which features walls covered with art, interactive light displays, and a hidden speakeasy. Or enter an oasis of calm at The Resident Covent Garden, one of the highest-rated hotels in the U.K. Each of The Resident’s 57 bedrooms features handmade furniture, luxurious throws, and a mini kitchen.

2. Notting Hill

Row of colorful houses in Notting Hill
Image: Csb77590 / Tripadvisor

Best for: Couples

Rom-com fans who remember the iconic 1999 film Notting Hill can create their own romantic memories in Notting Hill. The upscale neighborhood is studded with pastel-painted houses, dainty cafes, and the bustling Portobello Road Market. In August, you’ll be right in the middle of the action when the annual Notting Hill Carnival floats past your hotel room.

Top things to do

Pull your partner close, smile, and brighten up your ‘gram with this photography-focused tour of Notting Hill. Take movie night up a notch by cuddling up under the Electric Cinema’s cashmere blankets, or schmooze while you booze at The Ginstitute’s gin-crafting workshop.

Best places to stay

The Laslett ($$) combines modern amenities with vintage trinkets, featuring rain showers as well as antique collectibles handpicked from Portobello Road Market. Or join celebrity couples at The Portobello Hotel ($$), a boutique hotel full of old-world charm.

3. Southbank

Aerial view of the Thames River and London Eye from Southbank
Inside the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Image: Management (left), Cheekycockney190757 (right) / Tripadvisor

Best for: Culture vultures

Nestled along the Thames, Southbank is the heart of London’s cultural and creative scene. If you’re interested in plumbing the depths of the Tate Modern or catching a production at the National Theatre, the South Bank is the best place for you to stay in London.

Top things to do

Thespians will find themselves right at home at Young Vic, a hotbed for London’s edgiest productions. If you’re a fan of the classics, take a short walk to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where you can even enjoy a themed afternoon tea. As night falls, immerse yourself in London’s haunting history with this walking tour of Central London.

Best places to stay

Go down the rabbit hole at The Mad Hatter Hotel ($) and spot the Alice in Wonderland references woven throughout the building. Once a former hat factory, this quirky hotel now sits above a pub. Dive headfirst into a 1920s cruise experience when you check in at Sea Containers London ($$). The cabin-style rooms are snug but slick, and the in-house Curzon Cinema offers private screenings.

4. Soho

Neon Soho signs at night
Inside a London pub in Soho
Image: Resty (left), Management (right) / Tripadvisor

Best for: Night owls

Situated in London’s West End, Soho is a vibrant neighborhood with a pulsing nightlife. But it’s when the sun goes down that Soho comes alive with bustling LGBT-friendly bars, jazz clubs, and rooftop parlors.

Top things to do

Kick off your stay in Soho by embracing British pub culture with this pub walking tour. Sip a cocktail at an underground speakeasy, or make a new friend at The Friendly Society. During the day, take advantage of the quiet atmosphere to browse Soho’s vintage stores in peace. Oxford Street is also nearby, offering one and a half miles of flagship fashion. Potterheads should apparate straight to House of MinaLima, a gallery and store by the designers who worked on the Harry Potter films.

Best places to stay

Sleep your hangover away at The Soho Hotel ($$$), which is situated on a secluded street near Soho Square. Staying at Hazlitt’s ($$), a historic Georgian house, means you’ll be a stone’s throw away from bars along Frith Street, ideal for a quick nightcap. Or enjoy an urban resort vacation in the heart of London at Hotel Cafe Royal ($$$), which offers champagne masterclasses and a well-stocked spa.

5. Kensington

Along the road at Kensington
Kensington Gardens
Natural History Museum in Kensington
Image: vadimk962 (left), Afoodie65 (top right), Leonardo Iollo (bottom right) / Tripadvisor

Best for: Families

Families will love staying in Kensington, a quiet and upscale neighborhood away from London’s rowdier nightlife spots. This child-friendly residential district is known for its museums, parks, and ivied mews.

Top things to do

Head down to South Kensington’s Museum Lane and Exhibition Road, where you’ll find some of London’s most popular museums. Your kids will love the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, which feature interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Entry is free, although certain exhibitions may be ticketed. If the weather permits, go grocery shopping at Kensington High Street and have a sunny picnic in Kensington Gardens.

Best places to stay

The Kensington ($$) is a stylish hotel that exudes Victorian grandeur. We recommend its Family Room—the room can be configured as you wish, and kids have their very own teepee, turndown service, and DVD library. Montana Hotel ($), located near the Royal Albert Hall, also offers triple or quad rooms that will suit families of all sizes. Another great option is The Milestone Hotel ($$$). You’ll be right opposite the Kensington Palace, and the family-oriented hotel offers a bespoke nanny service, interconnecting rooms, and even mini bathrobes for your little ones.

6. Shepherd’s Bush

Along a street in Shepherd’s Bush in London
Puttshack White City in Shepherd's Bush in London
Image: Bruno Martins (left) / Unsplash, Manji S (right) / Tripadvisor

Best for: Backpackers or travelers on a budget

If you’re looking for a cheap yet convenient place to stay in London, we recommend heading to Shepherd’s Bush. This neighborhood is primarily residential, with lots of green spaces, recreational options, and pubs. Shepherd’s Bush is also home to a never-ending stream of entertainment options.

Top things to do

While the city is just a Tube ride away, you can get your shopping fix at Westfield London, a shopping mall housing the usual staples like H&M, Marks & Spencer, and Waitrose. For a modern, high-tech game of mini-golf, head to Puttshack White City, where you can drink as much as you’d like—your score is calculated automatically as you navigate your way through the courses. And whether it’s a concert or stand-up comedy special, there’s always something going on at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire or Bush Hall.

Best places to stay

Ibis London Shepherd’s Bush ($) is a value-for-money option located right by Shepherd’s Bush Station. We also recommend Hotel Shepherds Bush ($), a contemporary boutique hotel tucked away in a quiet alley near Shepherd’s Bush Market, where you’ll find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to vinyl records and prints. Enjoy a classic bed-and-breakfast stay at Star Hotel B&B ($), which offers simple and comfortable rooms plus a variety of breakfast options in the morning.

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Amelia Ang
A tropical soul who cannot resist the magic of winter's first snowfall.