London is one of the most popular cities in the world for tourists with over 19 million people visiting the British capital in 2016. However, given the large size of London, one of the most challenging issues for all travellers and especially first-time visitors is determining what is the best area to stay in London for tourists. Each London neighbourhood can provide travellers with a completely different experience of the city.
Furthermore, given London is fairly spread out, choosing the best area to stay in London for first time visitors is particularly crucial to ensure you don’t spend unnecessary time commuting to the sites you want to see.
So without further to do, here’s our guide to the best London neighbourhoods for tourists to help you decide where to stay in London for first time visitors or if you’re a returning tourist who simply wants to experience another side of one of the most exciting cities in the world!
Want a quick answer? Here are some of the top areas and accommodation choices for your trip!
Best Area in London For Sightseeing – Belgravia, Kensington or Knightsbridge: Astor Hyde Park Hostel (Budget), Eden Plaza Kensington (Mid-Range) & Park Grand London Kensington (Luxury)
Best Area in London For Shopping – Soho: SoHostel (Budget), Z Hotel Soho (Mid-Range) & Sanderson Hotel (Luxury)
Best Area in London For Families – Paddington or Knightsbridge: Publove @ The Green Man (Budget), Hotel Edward (Mid-Range) & The Capital (Luxury)
Best Area in London For Nightlife – Shoreditch: Dictionary Hostel (Budget), The Hoxton (Mid-Range) & Ace Hotel (Luxury)
Best Area in London For Live Music – Camden: Hostel One Camden (Budget), The George Hotel (Mid-Range) & The Principal (Luxury)
Where to Stay in London For First Time Visitors
If it’s your first time in the British capital, it’s easy to get confused about where the best area in London for tourists is. After all, the city is huge, many of the attractions are spread out across the city and prices vary across the city.
The first thing to remember is that you simply can’t be close to everything in London and you will, therefore, need to prioritise. If you want to stay in London to be close to the typical sightseeing spots then West London is ideal. If you’re visiting London to experience the nightlife then areas like Shoreditch or Camden are where you want to be.
Wherever you choose to stay in London for the first time, you’ll need to make use of the extensive public transport system to get by. I suggest downloading the CityMapper app before arriving as it provides real-time public transport times and tells you exactly how to get from point A to B using the transport network. If you’re arriving from outside of the EU, then buying a prepaid SIM card with data before you arrive is a good idea so you can easily get your accommodation.
Regardless of where you stay in London as a first-time visitor, you’ll never be able to experience and see everything that the city has to offer in one trip so I suggest choosing from the places below based on your trip preferences!
While this guide primarily focuses on the best hostels and hotels in each area it’s also worth considering staying in an Airbnb if you’re on a budget. There are a number of private and ensuite rooms available and this is a particular good option if wanting to stay close to areas such as Shoreditch or Camden.
Best Place To Stay in London For Sightseeing – Belgravia, Kensington or Knightsbridge
If you’re wondering where to stay in London for your first time visiting and the primary aim of your trip is to see all the major sites and visit the world-famous museums then you might as well stay as close as possible to them! All three of Belgravia, Kensington and Knightsbridge are located in West London and are only minutes walk from some of London’s most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminister Abbey.
Whilst this part of London is undoubtedly more expensive, the proximity to the sites makes these three suburbs the best area to stay in London for first-time visitors and tourists whose primary aim is to sightsee!
Astor Hyde Park Hostel – great budget option in this area offering a mix of dorm and private rooms. The hostel has a brilliant common area, large kitchen and cheap breakfast available with proceeds going to charity. Click here to see their latest prices
Eden Plaza Kensington – mid-range hotel located just a few minutes walk from the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Also well connected with nearby Tube stations. Click here to see their latest prices
Park Grand London Kensington – luxury option located close to Earl’s Court Tube Station. The hotel has a contemporary design and is popular with business travellers in London. A good option if you want to splurge in this area! Click here to see their latest prices
Click here to browse other options in the best area to stay in London for sightseeing!
Best Place To Stay in London For Shopping – Soho
If you’re coming to London for the first time to explore some of the world-famous shopping that the British capital has to offer then look no further then staying in Soho. Soho is located within walking distance of Oxford Street, arguably London’s most famous shopping street with over 300 shops featuring some of the world’s best-known brands. You can also walk to Covent Garden for more boutique shops and possibly even go to the Knightsbridge to visit Harrods department store.
Soho is also full of restaurants and bars, as well as being within walking distance of most of the major theatres if you want to see a West End show during your time in London. All these things undoubtedly make Soho one of the best places to stay in London for first-time visitors and tourists who want to enjoy one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in London.
SoHostel – funky hostel, only a few minutes walk from Oxford Street. Breakfast is included in the rate and they also have a TV lounge and bar downstairs to meet other travellers. Click here to see their latest prices
Z Hotel Soho – cool boutique hotel located right in the centre of Soho. The rooms have been stylishly decorated and there are a number of great cafes, restaurants and bars nearby. Click here to see their latest prices
Sanderson Hotel – a sleek luxury hotel which is only two minutes walk from Oxford Street. The hotel has amazing facilities include a modern gym, spa and a restaurant/bar downstairs. Very spacious rooms! Click here to see their latest prices
Click here to browse other options in the best area to stay in London for tourists who want to shop!
Best Place To Stay in London For Family – Paddington or Knightsbridge
Paddington and Knightsbridge are located on opposite sides of Hyde Park, making them a great option if you’re visiting London as a family. In case you’re not aware, Hyde Park is one of the largest green spaces in London with a number of playgrounds for children to choose from. The advantage of Knightsbridge is that you will also be close to the museums, many of which have exhibitions tailored specifically towards children such as the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
However, as Paddington is more of a residential area it means there’ll likely be larger places to rent for cheaper prices compared to Knightsbridge which is popular with many first time visitors to London. Paddington is also close to the London Zoo and has plenty of places to see for children that are fans of Paddington Bear!
Publove @ The Green Man – if you want to full English experience of staying above a pub then this is a great option! This hostel has been recently refurbished and sits above a London pub that is open 24 hours. Dorms only. Click here to see their latest prices
The Capital – if money isn’t a factor, then staying at this 5-star hotel will undoubtedly be an amazing experience. It’s located close to Harrods, has a Michelin-starred restaurant and offers traditional afternoon teas! Click here to see their latest prices
Click here to browse other options in the best area to stay in London for tourists travelling as a family!
Best Place To Stay in London For Nightlife – Shoreditch
Once considered the dodgy part of London, gentrified Shoreditch is now arguably the most trendy part of England’s capital making it the best area to stay in London for first-time visitors who want to experience London’s best nightlife, hip restaurants and cool cocktail bars. Whilst Shoreditch might be best known for its evening activities there is also plenty to keep you occupied throughout the day including exploring famous Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market or gazing at all the street art that lines Shoreditch’s streets.
Shoreditch is without a doubt one of the coolest parts of London and potentially the best area to stay in London for tourists who want to experience the city through a hipster’s eyes and also reduce their overall London trip cost.
Dictionary Hostel – this hostel is set in a converted warehouse (nothing is more Shoreditch!), has its own bar, free breakfast and located right in the centre of all the Shoreditch action! Click here to see their latest prices
The Hoxton – boutique hotel with funky and stylish rooms, located only a few minutes from Old Street Tube Station. Downstairs is a popular bar and restaurant that gets busy on weekends, however, rooms are completely soundproof. Click here to see their latest prices
Ace Hotel – trendy hotel located within a few minutes walk of Brick Lane Market. There is a juice bar and basement bar downstairs meaning you’re covered for pretty much any type of beverage! Click here to see their latest prices
Click here to browse other options in the best area to stay in London for first-time visitors and tourists who want to enjoy the nightlife!
Best Place To Stay in London For Live Music – Camden
Whilst these days Shoreditch might be considered London’s capital of cool, if you’re primarily interested in listening to live music during your evenings then it’s worth staying in Camden. In a lot of ways, Camden is quite similar to Shoreditch with its own set of cool markets to explore, hip eateries to try and bars to have a drink at.
However, what makes Camden stand apart from the rest of London is its live music scene which has many venues where world-famous artists have performed such as Prince, Blur, Coldplay and many more. Camden has also produced many musicians, most famously Amy Winehouse who has a statue dedicated to her in Camden Market.
The sheer music history in Camden makes it the best area to stay in London for tourists who want to immerse themselves in live music and see as many gigs as they can during their stay in London!
Hostel One Camden – one of the highest rated hostels in London, undoubtedly due to the great atmosphere they have created. There are regular free dinners, nightly activities and a homely atmosphere making it easy to meet other travellers. Click here to see their latest prices
The George Hotel – traditional budget hotel, located a ten-minute walk from Kings Cross Station. They serve traditional English breakfasts downstairs if you need to fuel up for a day of exploring! Click here to see their latest prices
Click here to browse other options in the best area to stay in London for tourists who want to listen to live music!
There’s a reason why London is one of the most popular cities in the world for travellers. The sheer number of neighbourhoods in the British capital can make it difficult to decide on the best place to stay in London for tourists.
However, the fact of the matter is that you’ll never be able to see all of London in one visit and therefore it’ll probably only be a matter of time before you return and get a chance to experience a different London neighbourhood.
When travelling in London, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning to visit in London? What do you think is the best area to stay in London for first time visitors and tourists? Let us know in the comments below!