If you are visiting London for the first time picking the best place to stay can be a challenge. You want something that is convenient, charming and of course budget-friendly.
After spending a good amount of time trying to figure out where to stay on our first trip to London we ended up staying in Earl's Court. It was a perfect balance of location and price. More about that later.
With the help of a few of my fave bloggers, some of which actually live in London, I put together a list of some of the best neighborhoods for you to consider for your first (or even next) trip to London.
London may not top the list of the cheapest places to travel to however don't let that stop you. You can totally find great places to stay in London on a budget.
What is the best area to stay in London?
The best is always relative. It is all about what your travel style is and what you like to do. Do you prefer being close to all the tourist attractions? Do you seek out charming neighborhoods? Or are you looking for the best spots for nightlife?
Luckily I was able to find a few neighborhoods that would satisfy most of those things so let's get started.
But first, when trying to decide you're ideal location keep a few things in mind.
Stay Near the City Center
Staying near the city center may be a bit more pricey but if you're short on time or prefer not to travel long distances this may be the ideal place to stay. Some areas to consider are The City, Holburn or Convent Gardens to name a few.
Stay Near Public Transportation
Before selecting your hotel make sure it is near public transportation. For example, Earl's Court station has access to two lines including one that goes straight to the airport which makes it an ideal area to consider.
It's always helpful to have your london itineary handy so that you can pick a choose a destination that works for you.
Photo Credit: Liza Trips Get
One of the best areas to stay in London is Hampstead. While it’s definitely way too expensive to live there permanently, it’s a great option for staying there while on holiday, as flat rental prices are not that expensive.
Hampstead is really well connected – it’s located on the Northern Line (Edgware branch) in the fare zone 2, which is sometimes considered Central London. You can get to the main landmarks such as Trafalgar Square or the British Museum in 30 minutes or so.
However, despite being very close to the main landmarks, it has a very nice atmosphere and a prober town feel.
The heart of Hampstead is the Hampstead village with its antique shops, cute cafes and lovely storefronts. There is also a large park called Hampstead Heath – it’s a perfect place for a morning run or an evening stroll and you can also see the entire panorama of London from there, as Hampstead is located on a hill.
Recommended by Liza from Trips Get
Where to stay in Hampstead
Here are some hotels to consider in Hampstead depending on your budget.
Cheapest: Pax Lodge
MidRange: La Gaffe
Photo Credit: Cultura Obscura
The neighborhood of Shoreditch offers possibly the best experience of the true atmosphere of the city of London. It is by turns distinctly multicultural and distinctly London at the same time.
The area of Shoreditch covers a large region in London, reaching all the way across Spitalfields and parts of Whitechapel. It’s a district full of culture across a wide spectrum. There’s Shoreditch High Street, full of artful new restaurants and shopping opportunities. It’s quite a hipster area, but not in a bad way.
Just a couple of roads over is the famous Brick Lane, full of high-quality Indian cuisine and vibrant street markets. The whole area is also full of world-class street art, with multiple areas and buildings dedicated to showcasing any and all murals that people choose to make, regardless of what was there before. This means that the scenery is always changing, with amazing new murals coming and going almost constantly. So whenever you visit, there will be something new to see.
While in the Whitechapel region of Shoreditch you should definitely stay at Monopoly Accommodations. Not only is it very comfortable, but it’s only 8 minutes walk away from Liverpool Street Station, one of the main hubs of the tube. But that’s not all: one of the most popular and unusual things to do in London is take a Jack the Ripper tour, and Monopoly Accommodations just happens to be right in the middle of Jack the Ripper’s old hunting ground. Perfect!
Recommended by Jeremy Paterson of Cultura Obscura
Where to stay in Shoreditch
Here are some hotels to consider in Shoreditch depending on your budget.
Splurge: Native Hoxton
Photo Credit: Traveling Thru History
Lavender Hill is a neighborhood in south London whose name is derived from the fields of lavender which were once grown in the area. While this area is outside the main tourist areas of London, this is a neighborhood that shouldn’t be overlooked. There are plenty of eclectic shops, tasty eateries, and beautifully designed buildings in a variety of architectural styles from Edwardian to Victorian. There are also a few places to stay, one of which is Publove Hostel. This hostel provides mixed gender rooms, rooms for women only, a restaurant, and a nightlife scene.
As for transportation, there is a train station on the edge of the Lavender Hill neighborhood, about a 10-minute walk from Publove Hostel. There are also several bus stops in the neighborhood, one of which is right outside the door to Publove. Whether you take the train or the bus to tourist destinations around London, it’s not more than 20-30 minutes to central London, making this a very convenient place to stay. People can also rent bicycles to tour the area at their leisure or bike into Central London for a more personal view of the city.
If you choose to stay around the area, you’ll find plenty to see. There are several beautiful ancient churches and other buildings that date back to the late 1800s, a variety of shops that cater to shoppers of every style, and a wide range of restaurants and cafes suited to every palate.
Recommended by Erin Tracy of Traveling Thru History
Where to stay in Lavender Hill
Here are some hotels to consider in Lavender Hill. They are all budget-friendly.
Cheapest: PubLove @ The Crown
MidRange: The Windmill
Looking for a little European flair in North America. Check out our guide to Montreal.
Photo Credit: Holidays From Hels
When staying in London, why not try the South Bank of the Thames, which plays host to bars, restaurants, and stunning riverside walkways?
A great hotel to stay in is the Novotel Blackfriars, a 2-minute walk from Southwark station and handily within walking distance of many of London must-see attractions. It also comes with a very cool subterranean pool. An entire poolside feature wall is illuminated with huge, colorful fish, making for a surreal swimming experience akin to being inside giant tropical fish tank. The pictures change, so you may get an equally exotic desert island or similar.
The breakfast buffet is also top drawer and an added bonus is that it’s free for any accompanying under 15’s, making the whole stay rather reasonably priced.
Stepping outside, the London Eye, London Dungeon and Sea Life Aquarium are all less than 15 minutes by foot. We opted for a stroll down to the Imperial War Museum, where you meet chunks of the former Berlin wall, and military vehicles loom down from the ceiling and perch perilously over balconies.
A ten-minute walk in the other direction will take you along the Thames to the famous Globe, a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s very own theatre. If you are feeling brave, book the standing only seats. There is no ceiling (for true authenticity), which can be fun in the rain. Or act like the rich folk from yesteryear and buy a real seat in the ornate galleries. Tours around the theatre are also a fun option, as you get to tread the boards yourself and poke around backstage.
After the show, wind your way along the river, grab a beer/cocktail/prosecco from an open-air bar right on the banks of the Thames and watch the lights of London reflected in its twinkling waters.
Recommended By Helen from Holidays from Hels
Where to stay in Southwark
Here are some hotels to consider in Southwark depending on your budget.
MidRange: London Bridge Hotel
Splurge: Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard
Where should I stay for my first visit to London?
The Mayfair neighborhood is one of the higher-end neighborhoods in London, however, what makes it an excellent option for first-timers is it's proximity to many London attractions. This area is very walkable. So what you spend on accommodations you save in transportation costs, therefore, making it an ideal area.
Where to stay in Mayfair
Here are some hotels to consider in Mayfair depending on your budget.
Cheapest: Mayfair Guesthouse
Staying in Convent Gardens puts you in the middle of it all. Not only are you near to many of the attractions you will want to visit but the nightlife, restaurant scene and shopping makes it an ideal location for most travelers. No need to search for things to do a great restaurant for dinner. Everything is right outside of your door.
Where to stay in Convent Gardens
Here are some hotels to consider in Convent Gardens depending on your budget.
Cheapest: The Z Hotel Convent Garden
If Convent Gardens or Mayfair are a bit out of your budget than Holburn is the perfect spot. It is just slightly cheaper but you are still close to everything.
Where to stay in Holburn
Here are some hotels to consider in Holburn depending on your budget.
Where should I stay near London attractions?
If you really want to see the London attractions without having to spend most of your time on the tube or a cab then consider these neighborhoods.
Beautiful Kensington is one of the best neighborhoods in London for visitors. Kensington is one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods and is home to celebrities such as Elton John and David Beckham. Visitors staying in Kensington will love the area’s beautiful architecture, great restaurants, and the proximity to some of London’s top tourist attractions.
There are many wonderful places to stay in Kensington, from hostels to luxury hotels. For budget travelers, Kensington is home to one of the best hostels in London: Safestay Holland Park. Those who prefer luxury hotels will love the Milestone Hotel & Residences, located just outside Hyde Park. There are also plenty of offerings on Airbnb ranging from budget-friendly rooms to lavish private apartments.
Kensington is home to many of London’s top sights and attractions. Here, you’ll find Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (AKA William and Kate). Kensington is also home to many wonderful museums including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and Victoria & Albert Museum. The beauty of Kensington also makes it very Instagrammable – popular photo spots include The Churchill Arms pub and Kynance Mews. Other top areas and sights of London are easily accessible from Kensington via the Tube. Depending on the area of Kensington in which you’re staying, there are several tube stations that may be within walking distance including High Street Kensington, Holland Park, South Kensington, and Notting Hill Gate.
Recommended by Sydney from A World in Reach
Where to stay in Kensington
Here are some hotels to consider in Kensington depending on your budget.
Cheapest: Astor Hyde Park Hostel
Splurge: The Milestone Hotel and Residences
If you're short on time then this area is the perfect place to say as most of the must-see places in London such as Westminster Abbey are within walking distance.
Keep in mind that while this area is busy and buzzing during the day it can be kind of quiet at night so it is best for those that like to spend their days exploring and sightseeing and a quiet restful night back at their accommodations.
Where to stay in Westminster
Here are some hotels to consider in Westminster depending on your budget.
Splurge: The Goring
Not too far you will find St. James. This is a neighborhood full of history and architecture so it's the perfect spot for the history buff. You can easily spend your day just wandering this area. However, what makes this a great place to stay is its proximity to make attractions.
Where to stay in St. James
Here are some hotels to consider in St. James depending on your budget.
Cheapest: The Cavendish Hotel London
Splurge: Sofitel London St James
If you're looking for nightlife then this is the place to be. The Soho neighborhood was once known as the red light district of London. And while travelers that are looking for a quieter place to lay their heads may prefer to stay far from Soho, Soho makes for a great home base.
Accessibility to several underground lines makes getting to other areas of London very easy. However, the big draw here is the nightlife, theater and the food. Whether you want to check out Chinatown, grab a pint at one of the many old pubs or just want to dance the night away this is the place to be.
Where to stay in Soho
Here are some hotels to consider in Soho depending on your budget.
Cheapest: Mimi's Hotel Soho
MidRange: The Piccadilly London West End
The City is also considered the Financial District of London so during the day it is bustling with people going to and from work and going about their day. At night things are a bit quieter which makes it an ideal location for those that like a quieter evening.
Even though things quiet down after 5 pm what makes this a great location is the proximity to attractions such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London and The Tower Bridge to name a few.
Where to stay in The City
Here are some hotels to consider in The City depending on your budget.
Splurge: The Ned
If you are looking to stay in a posh neighborhood without breaking the bank then consider Chelsea. If you like shopping and football then this is a great place to be. There is high-end shopping here and being the home of the Chelsea Football Club you will sure to feel the energy when there are matches going on.
Where to stay in Chelsea
Here are some hotels to consider in Chelsea depending on your budget.
Cheapest: My Chelsea
So you planned the perfect long weekend! Now it's time to get packing. Get our our packing tips and hacks that will save you time and money.
Where should I stay in London for 2 days?
If you are short on time here are some of the areas I would recommend that have a great balance of accessibility (no traveling for long periods of time) and things to do right outside your door.
Located within Kensington, Earl's Court is a great area for those that are looking to stay in or near Kensington but are looking for budget-friendly options.
The area itself is a great place to really experience the day to day of London. Here you won't find as many of the touristy spots you may see in other areas of London. Most of the pubs and restaurants in this area are filled with locals which makes for a great experience.
And if you are really looking to get to all of the attractions the tube (which is a short walk from most places in this neighborhood) will have to all the London attractions in minutes. It will also take you directly to Heathrow in 45 minutes.
If you are looking for a comfy but inexpensive hotel then check out the Hotel Indigo Kensington.
Where to stay in Earl's Court
Here are some hotels to consider in Earl's Court depending on your budget.
Cheapest: YHA London's Earl Court Hostel
MidRange: Hotel Indigo Kensington
Splurge: No.1 The Mansions by Mansley
Best Places to Stay in London
Although the city is spread out there are plenty of options for someone looking for the perfect place to come home during their stay in London.
Just make sure to do your research, shop smart and don't settle.
Whether you're more a night owl or prefer quieter evenings you will find the perfect neighborhood for you.
So which neighborhood would you choose?