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Location Matters

Where to Stay in London

A Visitors' Guide

As you'll discover upon making a poor decision, choosing the where to stay in London can make or break a vacation to the British capital. Choose unwisely, and you'll struggle to see all the things you want to see. You might miss out on great views and be far away from the best restaurants, theaters, and bars, limiting your nightlife opportunities. We don't want that to happen to you, so here's a primer about where to stay in London, helping everyone who travels to get the most out of their stay.

A Quick Summary of Some Hot Neighborhoods for Visitors to London

Before we start recommending any specific hotels or areas, it might help to introduce some of the capital's neighborhoods so visitors can get a feel for the options. First off, remember that London can be divided into five: north, east, south, west, and central London, with smaller districts in all four areas. Generally speaking, central London will suit sightseers, shoppers, museum-goers, and nightlife lovers, but it's more expensive and more hectic. If you don't mind the traffic and noise, areas like Holborn, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Clerkenwell, and Pimlico all have plenty of hotels to choose from and won't be far from the attractions you need to see.

In the east, Hackney and Whitechapel are major nightlife and art spots, with vintage clothing stores dotted around and great restaurants. Western areas like Notting Hill have some excellent markets and upscale eateries, while northern suburbs like Highgate mix history with attractions like London Zoo, and proximity to the nightlife of Camden. Down south, Clapham is a popular upscale area, Brixton is edgier, but full of culture and great food, and Peckham and Bermondsey are craft beer hubs.

Picking Where to Stay in London the First Time You Visit

So, that's a very brief introduction to the capital's geography. Now, let's think about where to stay in London for people who have never set foot in the city. In this case, let's assume you're staying for a week, and you want to see a bit of everything. You need to see sights like Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's, and Parliament, but you want to shop and maybe hit the bars a bit, too.

The obvious candidates for travelers who are new to London are areas north of the river, and close to the center. Mayfair and Park Lane are wealthy, safe, central areas that mix up restaurants and shopping. Somewhere like the Leonard Hotel or 44 Curzon Street would do just fine. You can even walk to Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park is just around the corner as well.

Islington and Camden are fine as well, with great access to the center via subway and buses. And they are better for younger visitors who need to be close to the city's nightlife. In this case, check out options like the Pullman Hotel in St. Pancras, which is ideally situated for transport links and has a popular on-site theater.

Ideas About Where to Stay in London to Make Sightseeing Easy

If you're heading to London for a family sightseeing trip, certain parts of town might be more appealing than others. In your case, being close to the major sights is important, but you'll also want to be near to family attractions and shopping streets. The best way to think about where to stay in London for sightseeing vacations is to draw up a list of the most important attractions and work from there. So, for example, you might prioritize the Tower of London, the British Museum, and St. Paul's Cathedral. In that case, somewhere in Holborn like the Mercure Bloomsbury might make sense.

However, if the Tate Modern, Borough Market and the South Bank are going to be high on the list, you may want to cast your eye south of the Thames to Southwark, where hotels like the Novotel London City South provide convenient locations to explore the capital's most exciting cultural district. If Westminster, Buckingham Palace, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tate Britain are all on your list, then it makes sense to think about where to stay in London's western neighborhoods. A handy suggestion could be Kensington's Ibis Styles London, but there are plenty of options in the West End as well.

Choosing the Perfect Spot for a Weekend Escape

But what if you're only in town for a couple of days? With such a truncated itinerary, you probably won't be too ambitious regarding seeing the sights, although you'll want to hit a museum or two. Instead, weekend visitors often want to relax and enjoy specific shows or sporting events and grab a bite to eat at somewhere outstanding.

If these activities rank high on the agenda, the question of where to stay in London isn't too complicated, and a number of options stand out immediately. If you want great food and great art, Borough and Southwark are ideal. You can pop into the Tate Modern, try the dining venues in Borough Market, and get great views of Tower Bridge.

Shoreditch is another great candidate. If you're there for a weekend trip, it has everything you could need. There are packed bars with master mixers conjuring up exotic cocktails and craft beers by the barrelful, as well as up-and-coming chefs, and the sheer delight of Columbia Road flower market. And with hotels like the Courthouse Hotel, the accommodation options aren't too shabby either.

Where to Stay in London When You Want to Absorb Some Local Culture

Some travelers are all about experiencing authentic local culture during their adventures abroad, and there's no reason why visitors to London should miss out. If you want to immerse yourself in the life of the city, there are some great options concerning where to stay in London. Down in Brixton, Church Street Hotel is a case in point. You'll be slightly further out from the center, but with very quick access via the Tube's Victoria Line. However, the slight inconvenience is outweighed by Brixton's vitality. Places like Brixton Market are outstanding areas to shop, while the O2 Academy Brixton is a thriving music venue.

Hackney is another great option for trips where you want to experience everyday London but be close to the center. You'll find hotels in the south of the borough that are near to the jam-packed bars of Dalston, the nightclubs of Shoreditch, and an area that in general hums with life and excitement. If you're wondering where to stay in London that has more than just sights to see, Hackney should be right up there.

Explore London's Neighborhoods When Planning Longer Breaks

Things are a little bit different if you are lucky enough to have more time to play with when planning where to stay in London. If you have a week or two at your disposal, you could start looking at more outlying neighborhoods. That way, you can be away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, in attractive, green suburbs, with easy access to the sights if needed. Well, that's the theory, anyway. In reality, it's easy to be stuck in more distant locations that aren't all that handy for sightseeing, and aren't in brilliant neighborhoods. That's where carefully researching where to stay in London becomes really important.

Greenwich is one area to think about that works beautifully. Not only does it have its own attractions like the Maritime Museum and the Observatory, but you can whiz into London via the Docklands Light Railway or the Tube, while local hotels like the Ibis London Greenwich will ensure a comfortable stay.

Over in West London, Ealing is another appealing candidate for where to stay in London. It's far enough out to have an identity of its own, it's convenient for Heathrow Airport, and not far from the West End. You can also get to Windsor really easily, so it's great for royal watchers. On the accommodation front, options like the new Ibis London Ealing (opening february 2018) make it a very attractive suburban option.

Advice for Couples Planning Where to Stay in London

The hotel you choose can also make a big difference to a long-awaited, once-in-a-lifetime romantic break in the British capital. As most travelers learn the hard way, idyllic vacations can become a stressful experience when you need to wrestle your way across town, or you're stuck in a part of town that doesn't have much in the way of entertainment.

Equally, couples probably don't need to be in the most hectic nightlife areas like Shoreditch or Vauxhall, or areas that are right next to the main historic attractions like Westminster. Instead, choose areas that are more tucked away, a little bit quieter, but still full of places to eat, drink, and enjoy some culture.

A great idea for where to stay in London for couples is Holland Park. In the west of London, it's not too far out to make getting into town difficult, and it's close to venues like the Royal Albert Hall. There are great pubs and restaurants in Kensington and Notting Hill, and Harrods is right next door too. And with cosy hotels like 88 Studio in the area, you don't have to look much further when picking where to stay in London.

Where to Stay in London if You're Touring the City's Galleries

Art is a big deal in modern London. The city has always had a thriving artistic scene from the time of Hogarth in the 18th century, but recent years have seen London enter the top ranks of world cities in terms of galleries and masterpieces to see. Thus, it's safe to assume that many people will want to know where to stay in London that's close to these artistic attractions.

Fortunately, the biggest galleries are almost all located in central London. The Tate Modern is on the South Bank, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery are on Trafalgar Square, while the Tate Britain is in Pimlico and the Courtauld is in Somerset House on the Strand. So hotels in Westminster or the West End will be perfect to catch all these attractions. However, don't discount Islington, which is home to the Esoterick Collection of Italian art, or Whitechapel, which has one of the most dynamic modern art galleries in the city. But if you stay central and master the Tube and buses, all of these smaller galleries are easily within reach.

What About London's Sports Venues? Lodging Ideas for EPL or Tennis lovers

Along with art, sports are a huge deal in London. English Premier League teams from London like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur have a huge following in the United States. Wimbledon is one of the world's marquee tennis events and NFL games take place every year at Twickenham Stadium and Wembley.

If you plan to make a sporting occasion the centerpiece of your trip, you might want to focus your thinking about where to stay in London on the venue in question. For example, the Ibis London Hounslow isn't too far from Twickenham. However, if you're blending central London sightseeing with a football match, being close to Waterloo Station could be a better option, as trains run from there to the stadium. As far as EPL games are concerned, the Ibis Earl's Court is well situated for Chelsea matches, and anywhere near King’s Cross St. Pancras station will do just fine for Arsenal games. Just be prepared for a short Tube ride to the stadium with plenty of rowdy fellow fans in the train car with you.

Where to Stay in London When Green Space is Essential

One of the things that people visiting London don't always appreciate before they get there is how much green space there is in the city. If you're the kind of person who values getting up in the morning for a jog in the park, or if you just want an escape from concrete and traffic, planning where to stay in London so you are close to these parks is a great idea.

The most famous of all is Hyde Park, with its horse riding paths, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the Albert Memorial, and Marble Arch. The area is also home to some of London's plushest hotels, such as the Leonard Hotel, or the Byron. Further north, Regents Park contains London Zoo and is close to attractions like Madame Tussauds, as well as excellent hotels like the Blandford.

Then there's Hampstead Heath. One of the world's greatest city parks, it's a huge green expanse, with stunning views across London from Parliament Hill, swimming ponds, and open-air concerts at Kenwood House. If you need some outdoor space and are wondering where to stay in London, somewhere close to the Heath like the Haverstock will be ideal. With one of the largest collections of plants in the world, Kew Gardens is an option for the more botanically minded, and only a short walk from our relaxing Brentford Novotel.

You Could Even Stay Just Outside London and Travel Into Town

Sometimes, the best answer to the question of where to stay in London could actually lie just outside the city itself. Now, we don't mean booking accommodation in Glasgow or Manchester and catching long-distance trains down to London. But nearby cities like Reading or Windsor can offer their own attractions and be within touching distance of those in London.

Reading is a great example. It's only 35-45 minutes from Westminster by train, and really convenient for arrivals at Heathrow. The city has some great restaurants and nightlife, and it's near Windsor Castle and Legoland Windsor. You can even get to Stonehenge without too many problems.

Up in Hertfordshire, just north of London, St. Albans is just as appealing. This Roman town has some amazing mosaics and baths to explore, a gorgeous cathedral, and some irresistible pubs. So don't restrict your search for where to stay in London. Be creative. Sure, going too far out could be a mistake, but if you're on the main train routes into town and you pick the right city, out of town hotels can be very rewarding, and can even save some money.

Choose the Ideal Hotel in the Perfect Neighborhood

Real estate agents will often drum the mantra "Location, Location, Location" into their heads, and things aren't that different in the world of travel. If you're puzzling out where to stay in London, hopefully we've given you some pointers and ideas to work with.

Much depends on how long travelers intend to stay, and what they want to do during their time in London, so it's all a matter of context. But, from romantic couples to weekenders and sports fans, there are always some sensible options regarding where to stay in London.
It's just a matter of finding them.

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