Where to stay in London: A guide to the best areas to stay in London for first-time visitors
What is the best place or areas to stay in London for first-time visitors? In this guide of where to stay in London breaks down the best areas in London to be based as a first time visitor, from Covent Garden, Westminster to Shoredtich.
Trying to figure out an answer to this question can be overwhelming. Truth is, the city will punch you in the face with a cornucopia of choices.
London’s tremendous mix of history, culture, shopping hotspots, business centres, famous attractions, and foodie hubs make it a super attractive place to visit for anyone and everyone. You want to see them all.
But given how spread out the city is, it is crucial that you choose an area to stay in London that makes your commute to your favourite sites an effortless adventure.
So, without further ado, here’s my list of where to stay in London from a local, including a complete guide to the best areas and neighbourhoods for first-time visitors to stay in London. I’ve also included the best neighbourhoods in London for tourists and some lesser-known places to stay in London that are more budget-friendly, less touristy but still have good transport connection to central London.
If you asking the question where should I stay for my first visit in London? This guide will provide all the answers on where is the best areas to stay in London for your first visit.
Where to stay in London
Best Neighbourhood to stay in London for London Tourist Attractions – Kensington and Knightsbridge
If you are visiting London for the first time and your primary aim is to see the city’s famous sites and historical museums, then staying close to them would be a no-brainer.
Kensington and Knightsbridge for travellers with deep pockets are only a few minutes walk away from some of the most famous landmarks in London, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Also, you can do a spot of shopping in London’s most luxurious shop Harrods in Knightsbridge.
Nestled in the charm and sophistication of West London, this part of the city is undoubtedly expensive. However, the proximity to these major sites makes them a top choice for first-time visitors.
Where to stay in Kensington London
Best Hotels in Kensington London
Park Grand London Kensington
Park Grand London Kensington is a luxury accommodation option within walking distance to the Earls Court underground station. Featuring a contemporary design and embellished with a plethora of amenities, the chic and sleek hotel is optimised for every London visitor to enjoy the sights and sounds London offers. This hotel is excellent for music lovers as it only 1 mile away from the Royal Albert Hall and 5 minutes walk from the famous Museum Mile.
Eden Plaza Kensington
Located in one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in London, Eden Plaza Kensington is a mid-range accommodation option just moments away from the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, Harvey Nichols, Earls Court, the Serpentine Gallery, and well connected with the Tube stations nearby. Whether the aim of your trip is for business or pleasure, Eden Plaza Kensington is your ideal accommodation option in London.
Astor Hyde Park Hostel
Sitting pretty in a beautiful neighbourhood in Kensington district, the Astor Hyde Park Hostel is an excellent option for first-time visitors to London on a budget. The hostel offers a blend of the dorm and private rooms, a large kitchen area, an amazing common area, and cheap breakfast.
The hostel is only a minute walk from Hyde Park (one of the 10 royal parks in London), and it is surrounded by some of the greatest museums in London, including the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum for fashion lovers. Other amazing options available here include free high-speed Wi-Fi, free lockers, on-site ATM, free luggage storage, and 24-hour reception.
Best Neighbourhood to stay in London for Shopping – Soho and Covent Garden
If you are looking to explore some of the most famous shopping sites that London has to offer, then Soho will be your ideal neighbourhood to stay in London. Soho is located close to Oxford Street, one of London’s most famous shopping streets, offering you access to over 300 shops that sell some of the best-known brands in the world - with offerings from high street and luxury shops.
You’ll also be close to other famous streets in London for shopping like Bond Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street. Plus two of London largest luxury department like Selfridge and Liberty.
The Convent Garden also features boutique shops, Neals Yard, Covent Garden Market, restaurants, and bars – in fact, some of the best restaurants in London is Covent Garden. These are a few things you can see and do in Covent Garden.
The dense cluster of fine restaurants includes Brazilian and Mexican mini-chains, inexpensive Indian food hubs, to upscale dining pubs that serve unique and excellent cuisines.
Soho and Covent Garden – are just 5 minutes apart – are within walking distance of London’s major theatres, especially if you want to go see a West End show. There are a few things to do in Soho.
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Where to stay in Soho London
Best Soho Hotel
What would you like in a luxury hotel? Sanderson Hotel – a sleek luxury hotel sitting pretty in London’s West End – offers a safe retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. With fantastic facilities such as a restaurant/bar, spa, modern gym, and very spacious rooms, offerings optimised to pamper and soothe you through your stay in London.
Z Hotel Soho
Z Hotel Solo – a cool mid-range boutique hotel in the heart of Solo – is stylishly decorated with a perfect blend of classic architectural designs and contemporary décor. The hotel is close to several restaurants, bars, and great cafes, and its central location allows guests access to the many shopping centres in and around Solo and Covent Garden.
Only a few minutes’ walk away from Oxford Street, SoHostel is a budget accommodation option featuring contemporary and welcoming décor. Breakfast here is included in the rate charged, and there is also a TV lounge and bar downstairs to welcome visitors into the facility.
Best Neighbourhood to stay in London for Nightlife – Shoreditch and Brick Lane
Once considered a second-rate area in London, Shoreditch is now one of the trendiest places in the London with cocktail bars, cool street food and hip restaurants rivalling that of central London has made Shoreditch one of the best areas to stay in London for nightlife in London.
While Shoreditch is best known for its nightlife activities, it also has lots in store to keep you occupied throughout the day. The Brick Lane Market, Spitalfields Market, and Shoreditch’s streets art offer visitors an excellent view of the art-centric neighbourhood. These are just a few of the things you can do in Shoreditch and Brick Lane. If you are thinking where to stay in London nightlife think Shoreditch.
Without doubt, Shoreditch is one of the best areas in London for first-time visitors and tourists who want to have a feel of the city through a hipster’s eyes.
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Where to stay in Shoreditch
Recommended Shoreditch Hotels
This is one of my favourite hotels in Shoreditch. The Ace Hotel is a trendy accommodation option located a few minutes away from Brick Lane Market and Shoreditch High Street Station. It houses a juice bar downstairs which offers guests pretty much any kind of beverage they desire. There is also a restaurant and a lobby that is great if you’re a freelancer or want to catch up on some work.
In the evening the lobby is filled with soothing dubstep reggae and is a place where young professional London gather to grab a cocktail before hitting the clubs.
The Hoxton is a mid-range boutique hotel with cool and stylish rooms, within walking distance from Old Street Station. Downstairs you’ll find a popular bar and restaurant that typically gets busy during weekends for brunch. However, this does not affect guests in The Hoxton as the rooms are soundproof.
Set in a converted warehouse in central Shoreditch, the Dictionary Hostel is an embodiment of the area. It has features such as a bar and free breakfast service, and its strategic location makes it one of the best budget choice accommodation options in the area.
These areas offer cheap places to stay in London, as you a not staying in the centre of London where things are more expensive.
Best Neighbourhood to stay in London for Local Vibes – King’s Cross and Camden Town
Seven minutes apart are two districts – King’s Cross and Camden Town – that offer unique vibes, different from what is typical in Shoreditch. Camden and Shoreditch share lots of similarities with a variety of eateries, bars, and markets to explore.
However, Camden is unique for its live music scene and local vibes, producing many musicians such as the famous Amy Winehouse who has a statue in her name at Camden Market. Camden is where to stay in London on a budget.
Other popular musicians such as Blur, Prince, and Coldplay have also performed in many venues in the Camden Town. Camden’s music history makes it an ideal location for first-time visitors looking to immerse themselves in quality live music, to see many performing acts as they can during their stay in London.
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Where to stay in Camden
Recommended hotels in Camden
The Principal London
The Principal (The Kimpton Fitzroy London) is a lavish and luxurious hotel. The Principal is a high-end five-star hotel with a stunning exterior in Russell Square. If you are not on a shoestring budget, The Principal would be a great accommodation option in Camden.
The George Hotel
The George Hotel is a standard budget accommodation option about 10 minutes away from the Kings Cross Station. Traditional English cuisines are on offer for guests – and this could come in handy if you need to fuel up for your adventure.
Hostel One Camden
One of the highly rated accommodation options in London, Hostel One Camden is especially unique for the excellent atmosphere within its environs. Guests are served regular free dinners and welcome to a homely atmosphere with great night-time activities.
Best Neighbourhood in London for the Cool Vibes of Urban London – Bermondsey and London Bridge
Bermondsey brings you as close to the feeling of urban London as you can get without being right at the centre. While you won’t see much about the area in many guidebooks, it offers visitors easy access to many great sights like the Shard, Borough Market, Tate Morden and is a few minutes walk from the South Bank.
London Bridge/Bermondsey’s neighbourhood gives you prime access to transportation throughout the city while the famous Borough Market, one of the best things London Bridge offers, will leave you drooling for more street food with such as coffee and brownies at Monmouth and gelato from Gelateria 3Bis Borough Market.
Where to stay in London Bridge
Hotel in London Bridge
Shangri La Hotel at the Shard London
The Shangri La Hotel at the Shard London, a 5-minute walk from Borough Market, is an epitome of luxury. Besides the panoramic views of the British capital its central location offers guests, this 5-star hotel also features a restaurant business centre, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, swimming pool and on-site room service.
The Bridge Hotel
In the heart of London, The Bridge Hotel offers comfortable accommodation options at affordable prices. The rooms are modern and well furnished, with features such as tea/coffee making facilities, flat screen TV, a private bathroom with shower, and free Wi-Fi making for a comfy and relaxing atmosphere.
The hotel’s surroundings are filled with exciting sights such as Art Galleries, Museums, classy restaurants, cinemas, and London’s West End theatres.
The LaLit London
Within a 10-minute walking distance of HMS Belfast, The Shard, and Tower Bridge, the LaLit London, at in London City Center, is a mid-range hotel with lots of amazing facilities to ensure your comfort in the British capital. The hotel also has a restaurant, a full-service spa, and a bar/lounge so guests can unwind and enjoy maximum comfort.
Best Neighbourhood in London for Sightseeing – South Bank
Stretching across 5 kilometres of the South side of the River Thames, South Bank is an excellent option for first-time visitors looking to visit some of the biggest London attractions.
Some things to do in South Bank include Tate Modern, the London Eye, and the Shard. And notable art venues such as the Southbank Centre, BFI film theatre, National Theatre are just a few major highlights of South Bank. South Bank is where to stay in London first time visitors to London.
There’ll be a lot of activities in South Bank any visitor here with a variety of restaurants, historic pubs, and iconic landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben gracing the neighbourhood.
Where to stay near South Bank
Recommended hotels near South Bank
The Rosewood London happily sits at a strategic location where the city meets Covent Garden and the West End on High Holborn. Besides the premium services on offer, this central location allows guests prime access to museums, premier shops, and major business hubs in the district.
Park Plaza County Hall
A first time London visit feels excellent. But nothing beats a first time London visit out in the thick of the London action where you can feel the magic of the British capital. The Park Plaza County hall sits pretty on the South Bank – surrounded by famous hotspots such as the Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and the London of Eye.
PubLove @ the Steam Engine, Waterloo
PubLove @ the Steam is a cheap and friendly accommodation option and a 10-minute walk from Waterloo Station. The hotel offers a simple breakfast every morning, and all rooms come with Wi-Fi service and lockers. Laundry facilities are available for guests at a small fee, and there is a 24-hour bar for guests to unwind and a lively pub that serves pizza.
These are just some great South Bank hotels, you can stay at while visiting London.
Best Neighbourhood in London for Walking – Greenwich
How about an escape away from the buzz and hubbub of London? While Greenwich takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can access the city centre within 20 minutes with any of the tube and DLR stations that service Greenwich.
And also, the lush green scenery provides a great atmosphere for visitors to enjoy amazing views of London’s skyline from Greenwich Hill or Emirates Air Line cable cars.
Have a good stroll to visit the painted hall, Greenwich Park or the famous Cutty Sark. You can even walk along the Meridian Line, visit the Maritime Museum and the Naval College. These are just some things to do in Greenwich. Greenwich is one of the best place to stay in London for walking.
Where to stay in Greenwich London
Recommended hotels in Greenwich London
Intercontinental O2, Greenwich’s only 5-star accommodation option, is a super luxury hotel sitting next to the O2 arena in North Greenwich. Among its many exciting offerings, guests will enjoy superb views, beautifully designed rooms, private parking space, and an on-site pool, spa, and wellness centre.
Greenland Villa Guesthouse
Greenland Villa Guesthouse contains seven comfy, bright, and welcoming rooms – and the rooms are available in double and quadruple plans, and they have features such as an en suite bathroom, Wi-Fi, TV, heating and hairdryer. There is also a free parking space and fully licensed bar to ensure guests make the most of their time in the guesthouse.
Devonport House Hotel
Devonport House Hotel is a converted building with an interesting history. In a central position next to the Greenwich Park and Maritime Museum, the hotel also offers other amazing on-site features such as free Wi-Fi, private car parking space, and a restaurant.
Best Neighbourhood in London for History – City of London
If you are a fan of history and its many tales, you will find a wide variety of stunning options while staying in the City of London. Studded with the iconic skyscrapers of the British capital, the heart of London has a 2000-year-old history.
With heavyweight attractions such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and the amazing dining hall on Clerkenwell, of having a good old time in the city. In fact, no other part of London boasts as many attractions as the city itself.
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Where to stay in City of London
Recommended Hotels in City of London
Four Seasons Hotel
Stunning. First class. Absolute luxury. The Four Seasons Hotel is a top-notch accommodation option that allows guests to enjoy incredible views of the Tower of London. The hotel has impressive features such as an on-site bar/lounge for guests to unwind with a drink, a 24-hour fitness centre, and a complimentary Wireless Internet.
Grange City Hotel
Grange City Hotel (Leonardo Royal Hotel London City), within a three-minute walking distance of the Tower of London, Grange City Hotel is an affordable accommodation option with a wide range of facilities to ensure guests feel as comfortable as possible, even while away from home. There are 3 restaurants, a full-service spa, 24-hour front desk, and daily housekeeping services.
Apex Temple Court Hotel
Nine minutes away from St Paul’s Cathedral, Apex Temple Court is an amazing and reasonably priced accommodation option. From laundry service and 24-hour front desk to daily housekeeping and a fitness centre, the hotel offers a host of options to ensure a relaxing and inviting feel for any guest.
Best Neighbourhood in London for the Feel of Royalty – City of Westminster
Nestled between Soho, Mayfair, Belgravia, and the River Thames, Westminster is the seat of power in the British capital. With few hotel accommodations and restaurants options here. The City of Westminster has the largest concentration of London attractions.
These include three major art galleries, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the Trafalgar Square. The strong royal connection here – with the Buckingham Palace – creates a unique appeal about this neighbourhood. These are things to see in Westminster.
Where to stay in Westminster
Recommended Westminster Hotel
The Langham, London
In addition to a sauna and an indoor pool, The Langham features a full-service spa and dining in one of its 2 restaurants. The hotel’s bar/lounges are also available for guests to unwind after a great day of London adventure.
The Rubens at the Palace
The Rubens at the Palace Hotel is a mid-priced accommodation option within a 10-minute walk of the Buckingham Palace and Victoria Palace Theatre. Some of the hotel’s amazing offerings include four bars/lounges, two restaurants, wireless internet access, tour or ticket assistance, newsstands/gift shops, and a multilingual staff.
Chester Hotel Victoria
A clean, comfortable, and compact accommodation option, Chester Hotel Victoria is within a 5-minute short walking distance from Victoria Station. The hotel offers a variety of features, and all of its en-suite rooms have free Wi-Fi, 40-inch TVs, hansgrohe showers, memory foam pillows and mattresses, bath towels and toiletries, and hair dryers/ironing available upon request.
Best Neighbourhood in London for Relaxation and Business travellers – Canary Wharf
While Canary Wharf is not an area that readily comes to mind when considering ideal holiday locations, its mixture of history, art, and business makes it an excellent place for first-time visitors in London on a business trip. Canary Wharf is London’s financial district and is great for business travellers.
Home to one of the largest collections of public art in the UK, Canary Wharf is also exceptional for its shopping offerings as it features stores at Canada Place, Cabot Place, and Jubilee Place. These are just of the few things you can do in Canary Wharf.
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Where to stay in Canary Wharf
Recommended Hotels in Canary Wharf
The London Marriott Hotel is a classy and luxury accommodation option offering a 24-hour front desk service with a multilingual staff, express check-out, safe deposit box, and currency exchange services.
A concierge service designed to arrange event tickets, arrange transportation, and even offer knowledge about London is also available, and guests enjoy 24-hour uninterrupted access to the fully equipped gym.
Canary Riverside Plaza Hotel
This accommodation option is not only strategically located, but there is also a lot on offer for first time London visitor. Dry cleaning services, tour desk, wireless Internet access, a restaurant, and telephone for hearing impaired are only a few of the inviting features a guest is bound to enjoy.
Hilton London Canary Wharf Hotel
Sited in the heart of the buzzing Canary Wharf business district, the Hilton London Canary Wharf Hotel is a contemporary hotel with transport links to the rest of the city and beyond.
With its prime location, the hotel allows you to make the most of your stay in London and comfort is guaranteed with the premium services on offer.
Best Neighbourhood in London for Buzz and Entertainment – Notting Hill and Hammersmith
Notting Hill is one of the most Instagrammable areas in London as it has a thriving market, an iconic rainbow coloured houses, beautiful London mews, and world-class restaurants. Hammersmith is also renowned for its live music, tasty cuisine, and the international nature and level of exposure of its residents.
Where to stay in Notting Hill
Consistently rated the most leading boutique hotel in London, the Milestone Hotel is a luxury, five-star accommodation option that offers elegance, style, and class in all of its services. Besides its exceptional personal service, the dishes here are prepared using locally sourced materials, and the chefs also encourage guests to make individual cuisine requests.
The hotel is optimised to ensure optimum satisfaction for every London visitor and guest.
Blue Bells Hotel
Strategically located in the trendy Notting Hill neighbourhood, the Blue Bells Hotel offers excellent value for money. Each of the 26 simple guest rooms features an en-suite bathroom, free Wi-Fi, refrigerator, telephone, and a TV.
Palace Court Hotel
Palace Court Hotel is a simple and affordable accommodation option only 10 minutes away from Paddington train station and Hyde Park. It's 38 simply furnished guest rooms all have facilities such as TV, Wi-Fi, and tea/coffee machines. And services here include a 24-hour reception, left-luggage office, and breakfast every morning.
There’s a reason London is a popular tourist destination. The sheer number of stunning and historical neighbourhoods can make selecting where to stay in London a herculean task.
The tips above have been designed to fit the specific needs of every kind of potential first time London visitor – you’ll definitely find one or two places to stay in London, that tick the right boxes for you.
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