Where To Stay in London (First Time Visitors)

Steve Rohan Author Bio

The UK’s capital covers a vast area made up of many different suburbs and neighbourhoods, each offering unique things to see and do. Whether you’re visiting for the first time, or are already familiar with this grand city, this guide will help you choose the best place to stay in London.

London is one of the most exciting cities in the world to visit. With a history dating back over a thousand years, London is packed with interesting architecture like the houses of Parliament, old pubs with wooden beams, and narrow backstreets that haven’t changed in centuries.

Although I’ve always lived close to London, I’ve often booked accommodation within the city to make life a little easier. In this guide, I’ll give you the lowdown on where to stay in London for a night, a weekend, a week, or longer.

Whether you’re looking for the best shopping areas, budget accommodation, a romantic getaway, or the best place to stay with the whole family, this guide has you covered. 

When you visit, you never know what the weather is going to be like, but rest assured, there’s always plenty to do! So, let’s dive right in and discover the best neighborhoods to stay in London, including some of the top accommodations and best Airbnbs in London.

Quick Look: Best Areas to Stay in London

1. Covent Garden: Where to Stay in London for Your First Time

Covent Garden is located in the heart of London’s West End and is packed with cool things to do. From shopping at local markets, to cinemas, west-end shows, and some great restaurants and bars, this is the perfect place to stay in London for first-time visitors.

Many of London’s top tourist attractions are within walking distance, and there are plenty of museums to keep you occupied during the day. The London Film Museum and London Transport Museum are both a short walk from Covent garden.

Exterior street view of the famous Covennt Garden market in London, on a daylight with partly cloudy sky.

Other nearby places of interest include Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, and Oxford Street. Covent Garden was one the first places I visited in London and is somewhere I love returning to, to soak up the lively atmosphere.

Best Places to Stay in Covent Garden

1. Covent Garden Triplex: this large two-bedroom townhouse benefits from a large roof terrace, providing plenty of space. Ideally situated in the center of Covent Garden, this is the perfect place to stay for those wanting to soak up London’s bustling entertainment district. Click here to find out more.

2. Flat in Covent Garden: a two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Covent Garden. This space comes with a 50″ TV, high-speed WiFi and fully equipped kitchen with a Nespresso machine. Click here to learn more.

3. Floral Street Theatreland: a modern, spacious two-bedroom apartment close to Covent Garden Piazza. The apartment is located on cobbled Floral Street surrounded by plenty of boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. Click here to learn more.

☞ SEE ALSO: 10 Best Day Trips From London (By Train and Car)

2. Southwark (Borough Market): Where to Stay in London for Foodies

Home to the iconic Borough Market, Southwarkis one of London’s premiere foodie destinations. The market, which has been operating for over 250 years, is open daily from 10:00am – 5:00pm and hosts a diverse range of stalls, food vans, and pop-up restaurants.

If you’re looking to do a food tour in London, Borough Market is a typical starting point. 

Borough High Street is lined with historic pubs, such as the George Inn, which has hosted Shakespeare and Dickens among other luminaries. You’ll find restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines such as traditional British, Korean, Lebanese and Italian.

An aerial view with railway station of London Southwark.

Staying around Borough Market is one of the best areas to stay in London, and is within walking distance of London Bridge and the Thames. It also has plenty of great transport links to the rest of the city.

I love heading to the market and buying something to eat from one of the stalls to eat next door in the churchyard – there’s something new to choose from each time I visit.

Best Places to Stay in Borough

1. Loft Style Apartment: this one-bedroom loft conversion is located right on Borough High Street just a few seconds walk from the famous market. The large space has bags of character with exposed brickwork, wooden beams and iron fixtures. Click here to learn more.

2. The Great Suffolk Affair: this two-bedroom duplex apartment is split across two levels and offers bags of space, including a large living room and open plan kitchen. The property is also on Borough High Street; just minutes from Borough tube and the market. Click here to learn more.

3. Quiet double bedroom: this private double bedroom is located in a quiet flat in the heart of London, just a 3-minute walk from Borough tube station, and 7-minute walk to London Bridge station. This space is a great budget option, and also includes a shared deck with a barbecue. Click here to learn more.

3. Soho: Best Area in London for Nightlife

Soho is one of London’s most buzzing areas with arguably the best nightlife in the city. You’ll find plentiful bars, restaurants and nightclubs open until the small hours, so this is definitely the best neighbourhood to pick in London if you want to party all night.

As it’s located in the heart of London’s West End, staying in Soho will mean you’ll have many attractions on your doorstep. Leicester Square, Covent Garden, and Oxford Street are all within walking distance so there’s plenty to see just steps away.

A close-up photo of Carnaby Street sign in Soho, London.

At night Soho comes alive with locals and tourists alike hitting the town and heading to London pubs, quirky bars, gin palaces, and speakeasies. One of my favourite Soho bars is Garlic and Shots on Frith Street – be sure to check it out if you want a unique dining and drinking experience.

Check out this list of cool things to do in London at night for more great evening entertainment ideas.

Best Places to Stay in Soho

1. 1 Bed Flat: a one-bedroom, self-contained flat in a beautiful old Georgian building. The apartment has wooden flooring, and a mixture of modern and antique furnishings lending the place a quirky charm. Click here to find out more.

2. Private Room in Rental Unit: this stylish one-room apartment is not for the faint-hearted as it contains 36 human skulls on display, (probably not the best choice if you’re coming with children!). The apartment benefits from a beautiful open fireplace, and is within walking distance of West End restaurants, bars, and attractions. Click here to find out more.

3. Apartment in Soho: a haven of tranquillity in London’s busy West End, this modern and spacious apartment has everything you could possibly need including Netflix and a Nespresso Machine. Conveniently located in the heart of Soho a few minutes walk from Leicester Square station. Click here to find out more.

4. Shoreditch: Coolest Place to Stay in London

Shoreditch is one of London’s most up-and-coming areas and is the place to both see, and be seen. From street art and graffiti, to some of London’s quirkiest bars and most interesting restaurants, Shoreditch is definitely the coolest place to stay in London.

I love the eclectic side of London that Shoreditch has to offer, and there are so many quirky ways to fill your time here during your trip. Plus, some of the best free things to do in London are found here.

Eye graffiti on a wall in Shoreditch London.

In this hip suburb you’ll find street food, markets, artisan shops, and a thriving music and arts scene. If you’re thinking about where to stay in London, then Shoreditch should definitely be at the top of your list.

Best Places to Stay in Shoreditch

1. Entire Rental Unit: This self-contained studio apartment on London’s famous Brick Lane is an excellent budget option. You’ll be right in the heart of Shoreditch with lots of great eateries and bars within walking distance. Click here to find out more.

2. Loft with Terrace: this quirky loft apartment with terrace is situated in an old exotic animal warehouse dating back 120 years. It’s a few seconds walk from Shoreditch high street station, and right next door to some of London’s best fashion houses and boutiques. Click here to find out more.

3. Sunny Architect and Artist’s Flat: this private double room is in a bright and airy apartment in the heart of Shoreditch. There’s a balcony overlooking a beautiful tree-lined square, and all of Shoreditch’s bars and restaurants are within walking distance. Click here to find out more.

5. South Kensington: Best Neighbourhood in London for Families

South Kensington is a great place to stay for the whole family and is home to some of London’s most interesting museums, all within walking distance. The Science Museum has tons of interesting exhibits, with many “hands-on” displays for the kids to get involved with.

Be sure to check out the world-famous “Dinosaurs gallery” at the Natural History Museum; a firm favourite with youngsters and adults alike, as well as the famous Victoria and Albert Museum whilst staying in South Kensington.

View over South Kensington rooftops in London UK.

There are plenty of options for eating out, including some of the best pizza joints in the city, such as Franco Manca. South Kensington is also just a few stops from Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line, so getting around is a piece of cake.

Best Places to Stay in South Kensington

1. South Kensington Penthouse: this two-bedroom penthouse benefits from two bathrooms, so you won’t have to wait for the kids to get ready. The property also comes with a large roof terrace and access to a communal garden. This is a great option for families with a baby as there’salso a bedroom with a baby bed. Click here to learn more.

2. South Kensington Style: this newly refurbished two-bedroom apartment has three beds, and sleeps up to four guests; perfect for small families. The property is just a 2-minute walk to South Kensington tube station, and is within walking distance to the area’s museums. Click here to find out more.

3. Large 3-Bed South Kensington: this stylish apartment is perfect for bigger families as it sleeps up to six people. There’s a kitchen complete with easy-to-use appliances, and a large dining table perfect for family meals. Click here to learn more.

6. Stratford: Where to Stay in London on a Budget

Looking for places to stay in London on a budget? Look no further than Stratford, home of the 2012 Olympics, West Ham United’s stadium, and Westfield shopping Centre. I spend a lot of time around Stratford as I have friends living close by, and it’s so easy to get into the city.

Stratford is located in East London just ten minutes from Liverpool Street and the City of London by train or tube. Stratford is also a great base for day trips to nearby East Anglia and the coast with direct trains to Southend, Clacton-on-Sea, and Norwich.

A partly cloudy sky in Stratford, London along the canal.

There are plenty of restaurants around Stratford offering cuisines from African and Asian, to traditional British, and the prices are cheaper than other tourist areas in the center of the city. If you love pizza and Italian food, a personal favourite of mine is Figo.

Best Places to Stay in Stratford

1. Private Room in Rental Unit: this private room in a clean and modern apartment is within walking distance of Stratford station and is a great budget option. This is one of the cheapest accommodation options in London and is great value for money. Click here to learn more.

2. Private Room in Home: a beautifully furnished room in an old Victorian house. This great option will also suit those who are conscious of their carbon footprint as a lot of the electricity is supplied by solar panels. Click here to learn more.

3. Theatre Square Apartment: this spacious and bright apartment in the heart of Stratford includes an outside terrace, home cinema, and workspace. It’s a fantastic budget accommodation with local amenities within walking distance. Click here to learn more.

7. London Bridge: Where to Stay in London for Sightseeing

The area around London Bridge is the best location to stay in London for sightseeing thanks to its great transport links, top London attractions, and abundance of restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs within walking distance.

Some of the most famous tourist attractions around London Bridge include the Shard, the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, the Golden Hinde, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and the London Dungeons.

London rooftop panorama view at sunset with urban architectures and Thames River.

London Bridge is home to some of London’s best eateries. From panoramic restaurants in the Shard, and the many options of Borough Market, to the more traditional British pubs and cafes, there’s something for everybody around London Bridge.

I used to live a ten-minute walk from London Bridge and would often visit the area for nights out or lunch in one of the cafes alongside the river.

Best Places to Stay in London Bridge

1. Central 5th-Floor Flat: This stylish, modern apartment is on the top floor of a converted warehouse and is opposite the iconic Tower Bridge, right next to the River Thames. It’s a 7-minute walk to London Bridge Station, the Shard, and nearby restaurants. Click here to find out more.

2. Private Room in Loft: this room in a private loft is in another converted warehouse and is just a stone’s throw away from London Bridge station. The minimalist design includes exposed brick walls, and the space has bags of character. Click here to find out more.

3. Cozy Central 1-Bedroom Flat: this modern, yet cosy one-bedroom apartment has been newly renovated with wooden floors and a bright, airy finish. With trendy Bermondsey Street, London Bridge, and the Shard all within a couple of minute’s walk, this apartment is perfect for first-time visitors. Click here to find out more.

8. Bayswater and Notting Hill: For Culture Seekers 

Located next to each other, Bayswater and Notting Hill neighbourhoods are London’s most diverse and interesting areas, with restaurants serving food from all over the globe and a multicultural local population hailing mostly from Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. 

colourful streets with buildings and people in notting hill neighbourhood london

Thanks to the central location, if you stay in these neighbourhoods, many of London’s cultural delights will be right on your doorstep. But, if you’re looking for something else, there are three tube stations servicing the area.

The royal residences of Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace, as well as Westminster Palace which is home to Britain’s parliament, are all near Bayswater. It’s the perfect place to access many of London’s most important art galleries and museums including The Natural History Museum, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and The British Museum.

The green spaces of Kensington Gardens, Holland Park, and Hyde Park, plus numerous other smaller leafy squares are all within striking distance allowing you the option to enjoy the best of all aspects of city life.

If you find yourself in London at the end of August for the bank holiday weekend, don’t miss the fantastic street carnival celebrating the rich Caribbean culture in the city.

Best Places to Stay in Bayswater and Notting Hill

Here are a few top accommodation options in Bayswater and Notting Hill areas.

1. Modern Apartment near Hyde Park: Located just a 3-minute walk from the Royal Oak Station, this one-bedroom apartment is a great option for couples or solo travellers. Plus, the kitchen is fully equipped for your stay – although, with so many amazing restaurants nearby, you probably won’t want to stay in. Learn more about this apartment here.

2. Three Bedroom Flat in Bayswater: This is a great option for families and groups of friends. With 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, it can accommodate a lot of people comfortably. Everything in the apartment is new, including the furniture. The flat offers a garden, a terrace, and parking, which is hard to come by when looking for places to stay in London! Find out more about this Bayswater apartment.

3. Affordable Apartment in Notting Hill: Here you’re just 2 minutes away from the popular Portabello weekend market, and the Ladbroke Grove tube station. The location is excellent and the price is great as well. Find out more about this one bedroom apartment.

FAQs About the Best Areas to Stay in London

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about where to stay in London.

Panoramic view over the skyline of London, UK during sunset time from the city to the tower.
What Area of London is Best For Tourists?

The West End, which encompasses the areas of Soho, Covent Garden, and Leicester Square among others, is a great area for tourists as there’s so much to do. Here, you’ll find market stalls, boutique shopping, excellent restaurants, and quirky bars, in addition to many of London’s iconic landmarks and museums.

Where Should I Avoid Staying in London? (Where NOT to Stay in London)

Particularly after dark, a good rule of thumb is to avoid areas south of the River Thames, or outside the confines of the Circle Line, (although the area around London Bridge is as safe as other tourist areas in London).

A few areas I would personally avoid include Greenwich, Peckham, Tottenham, and Hackney. If you stick to main tourist areas and avoid dimly lit alleys and housing estates, you’re likely to feel safe.

What is the Safest Place to Stay in London?

The safest areas of London are the suburbs outside of the city such as Richmond, Kingston-Upon-Thames, and Harrow, but these are not within easy reach of the main tourist areas.

The City of London and West End doesn’t see high levels of violent crime, but can be prone to opportunistic thefts and pickpocketing, so don’t flash valuables in crowded areas.

Where to Stay in London for Shopping?

London is a fantastic destination for shopping and includes everything from market stalls to artisan boutique shops, department stores and more.

The area around Oxford Circus is a great place for shopping, as Oxford Street is London’s largest shopping street. Nearby Mayfair and Fitzrovia are also good shopping destinations, though the price tags can be much higher.

In Conclusion

There are so many fantastic areas to stay in London, each with a unique feel and offering of things to do. From the hip, artsy Shoreditch, to the foodie’s heaven of Borough Market, and the nightlife of Covent Garden and Soho, there’s something for all kinds of traveller in London.

The great thing is, London’s 24-hour transport network means it’s easy to get around, so wherever you stay, you’re not confined to one area.

Wherever you stay in London, whether it’s your first time or one hundredth, this list of the best areas to stay in the city should make planning that trip to the UK’s exciting capital that much easier.

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“Where to Stay in London (First Time Visitors)
The Best Places to Stay in London, England
“Where to Stay in London: Best Places and Areas


Steve Rohan Author Bio

Written by

Steve Rohan

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. In 2015 he moved to China to teach English where he lived for over six years. He has lived and taught in the cities of Harbin, Luoyang, Sanya, and spent a few months in Hong Kong, before returning to England in 2022. He has visited over 60 countries to date and usually opts for overland travel (yes, even between the UK and China). Steve has travelled extensively across China, and Central Asia. Having lived much of his life within a 50-mile radius of London, the city is his second home and he knows it like the back of his hand.

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