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Where To Stay in London For A Weekend of Sightseeing – Area Guide

One of the questions that typically dumps into my mail inbox is where to stay in London for a weekend of sightseeing?

As a first time traveler to London I understand that it can be tricky to find a good hotel in a nice area. It took me a lot of trips to London to fully get under the city’s skin and get to know the different areas and neighbourhoods of London.

In this guide I will describe the best (and worst) areas in London for you to stay in when you’re traveling to London.

You should also read my huge guide: recommended good value hotels in Central London.

Where to stay in London?

You’ll find out right now.

Where to stay in London as a tourist

Below, I describe a number of good areas in Central London where you’ll be close to the major sights and attractions of London.

Paddington & Bayswater

Personally I stayed in Paddington on my first 4-5 trips to London and it’s really something I can recommend if you are traveling to London to see the sights, shop and get the classic ‘London Experience’.

Paddington and Bayswater are located just north of the amazing Hyde Park, there are several tube stations and also great bus routes to the rest of London. Paddington and Bayswater are indeed good areas in London for any traveller. 

hyde parkPaddington & Bayswater is very close to Hyde Park.

Marble Arch and Oxford Street are within walking distance from most hotels in Paddington, the trip will rarely take more than 15-20 minutes.

The huge Paddington Station is where the express train from Heathrow Airport terminates and there’s 4 (!) tube lines that runs through Paddington St.

You can also get pretty easy acces to Paddington if you’re flying into Luton Airport (by bus), Gatwick Airport (by train and tube) and Stansted Airport (by train and tube).

Read the guides: how to get from Gatwick Airport to Central London and how to get from Stansted Airport to Central London.

Tube stations in the Paddington and Bayswater area include:

      • Lancaster Gate
      • Paddington
      • Bayswater
      • Queensway

Nearby sights and attractions include:

    • Hyde Park
    • Speakers Corner
    • Madame Tussauds 
    • Notting Hill and Portobello Road
    • Oxford Street

Security:

Very safe. Extremely suitable for families traveling with children. There are many hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops in the area, but it does not feel too touristy.

Why stay in Paddington & Bayswater?

The hotels are cheap, it’s close to Central London, but you’re not in the middle of the bustling city – for example you can escape the crowds in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Perfect for a weekend in London with lots of sightseeing.

Want to find a hotel in Paddington & Bayswater? The selection is huge and it is a good area to look for if you’re looking for a cheap (by London standards) hotel.

Read my reviews of a few good value hotels in Paddington and Bayswater here.

Covent Garden


Covent Garden is a mecca for those who are shopping spree in London and will simply stay right where it’s all together.

There are always open shops and walking in the street in Covent Garden, which is located in the heart of central London – as the map below shows:

Prices of hotels in Covent Garden is so just a tad higher than, for example the aforementioned Paddington & Bayswater, but you save so possibly a little money on transport into, for example. Soho and the shopping streets.

Tube stations around Covent Garden:

  • Covent Garden
  • Leicester Square

Nearby sights and attractions:

Security:
Safe. This is Central London, so you can move around quite safely in the streets and there are people everywhere.

There are also night clubs in the area, so there may be drunken people at night, but you never feel uncomfortable – I personally think it is very charming, that there is little life in the streets.

Why stay in Covent Garden?
Covent Garden and Soho is literally the beating heart of London.

If you want to stay in a super central area and be able to walk around to many of the city’s attractions, then you’ve got to book a hotel in Covent Garden.

Check out the hotels in Covent Garden here.

King’s Cross


You probably already know King’s Cross for the enormous train & tube station, King’s Cross St Pancras, which operate trains to the rest of the UK and the Eurostar train to Paris.

The King’s Cross area has undergone a major transformation and is now quite nice with many exciting restaurants and good hotels.

Furthermore transport links are terrific and it also makes sense to book a hotel in King’s Cross if you are just on a quick trip to London and landing in Luton – King’s Cross is where the train from Luton Airport arrives.

I’ve previously stayed in a couple of a hotels in King’s Cross, both of which worked excellent. The immediate area is not as charming as for example Covent Garden, but it is central and with fantastic connections to the rest of London. And the hotels might be cheaper…

If you choose to stay in the King’s Cross area do not miss to take a walk along the Regents canal to Camden Town – it is beautiful and very quiet, a different side of London than you may not find in the guide books.

Tube stations:

Security:

Safe, but it may be a little bit rough around the edges right in front of the train station. Given that there is a major railway station, the area attracts a few homeless people. I have never experienced anything unpleasant, even on the way home from a night out.

Why stay in King’s Cross?

There are some pretty cheap hotels, transport links are amazing and you are only 2 stops on the tube from Oxford Street & Soho and you can reach most of Central London in 10-20 minutes by either bus or tube.

Check out the hotels in Kings Cross here.

Other good neighborhoods to stay in

The next areas on the list, you can also opt to stay in when you go to London. I recommend the above, but there is nothing wrong with finding a hotel in these areas/boroughs/neighbourhoods:

  • Westminster
  • Bloomsbury
  • Notting Hill
  • Belgravia
  • Earl’s Court
  • Fitzrovia
  • Holborn
  • Kensington
  • Mayfair

Many boroughs and areas are also known under different names. Write a comment below if you are unsure about where in London you should stay and I’ll try and help you find the perfect area for you.

Areas in London to avoid

These areas are not necessarily bad because there is crime or the likes, but simply because there’s been beaten a stack of hotels up in a deserted place, far away from the city and anything exciting.

It makes me sad every time I hear about travelers who have booked a hotel in:

Royal Victoria Dock


The worst example is undoubtedly when someone has chosen to stay almost inside the City of London Airport – in the Royal Victoria Dock area.

These hotels are well-known hotel chains whose prices are way down, so I understand that you may be tempted to book the cheap rooms in these well known good hotels.

It is however expensive and extremely time consuming if you want to see the sights or just want to get in to Central London. Stay away, fellow travelers 😀

Peckham


Brixton has been gentrified and is now quite secure and even pretty trendy, Peckham remains an area south of the Thames I would recommend everyone to stay away from when booking a hotel.

Peckham is known to be a pretty dull area and not much is going on down there, so just stay clear.

The next boroughs of London is debatable, but if you are an ordinary tourist who just want to experience London’s best sights and attractions, you may want to avoid booking your hotel in these areas.

However, you should not be afraid to go there during the day.

  • South Bermondsey
  • Tottenham
  • Croydon
  • Stockwell
  • Kilburn
  • Barking
  • Dagenham

As a tourist in London however, you have very little to fear. I am in London many times a year and have so far never experienced anything uncomfortable in the English capital.

Have a great trip to London & please write a comment if you have questions about where to stay in London.

Kristoffer

Kristoffer

I may not be a born and bred londoner, but I've had my fair share of trips to the English capital. Since 2013 I've been writing travel guides to London and I visit the city regularly so I can provide the best London Travel Hacks for you to read.

10 Comments

  • Lori

    Hello Kristoffer. I appreciate your recommendations. I’m flying from the U.S. and meeting my son, who is studying in Spain, for a quick weekend in London, before heading back to Spain together. He’s 20 and I’m not……..we need two beds (I’m going to be jet lagged) and he’d like to be close to some clubs or a little nightlife. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    October 2, 2017 at 6:27 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi Lori

      I’m sure you’re going to enjoy London!

      I think the Shoreditch area will suit you fine. It’s a pretty trendy area but still really close to some of the famous tourist attractions in London – especially if you find accommodation close to Liverpool Street Station. I’ve just made a link to Expedia so you can check out all hotels close to Liverpool Street Station in London: https://londontravelhacks.com/link/hotels-liverpool-street-station

      Other areas with great nightlife include Camden Town and Soho (will be expensive to stay there though).

      If you’ve got any more questions about your trip to London then feel free to ask away 😀

      October 2, 2017 at 9:03 am
  • Janine

    Hi there we are thinking of heading to London for the weekend in July from holland. We would be taking the eurostar arriving on a Friday and leaving on Sunday. Are daughter wants to do warner bros studio which I know is about 45mins away but we would also like to see some of London. Where would u recommend to stay. There is three adults and one baby.

    February 1, 2018 at 8:08 pm
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi Janine

      I’d definitely recommend the Kings Cross area for you guys! I’ve stayed around there the previous 3 times I’ve been in London myself and I love it. There are so many nice restaurants and cafees in the area, plenty of good hotels to choose from and public transport to everywhere in London is obviously very easy as Kings Cross St Pancras is one of the main train stations.

      It’s especially perfect for you as the Eurostar arrives into Kings Cross (St Pancras) and you could also get the bus to the Harry Potter Studios from Kings Cross 😉 Link to the Harry Potter Studios tour from Kings Cross: https://londontravelhacks.com/link/harry-potter-kingscross

      Have a look at the hotels in the Kings Cross area here: https://londontravelhacks.com/link/hotels-kingscross

      Have a nice trip to London 😀

      February 2, 2018 at 9:18 am
  • Rachel

    Hi there, can you give me your recommendations on where we should stay in central London. We are travelling end of September with our 2 teen daughters. We will be catching the tube or train from Heathrow into London for 4 nights and want to stay somewhere easy to get to with luggage….either an apartment or hotel. We plan on seeing a show at the Queens Theatre & New London Theatre and not sure about catching public transport at night. Then on Sunday we are heading to Paris on the Eurostar. Have looked at St Pancreas & Kings Cross and Convent Garden & Paddington. Obviously we also want to see all the touristy sites, eat in pubs,cafes & shop!
    Your advice would be appreciated. Many thanks

    June 1, 2018 at 9:21 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi Rachel

      My first thought when I read your comment was that Bloomsbury would be the perfect area for you to stay in. You can take the tube directly from Heathrow to Russell Square, you’re within walking distance of Kings Cross St Pancras (where the Eurostar departs) and in general there are good links with bus and tube to the rest of London.

      I’ve recently stayed in the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury and it’s a really nice hotel at a good price, their breakfast buffet is really good considering what other hotels in London is getting away with serving… Check the hotel out here: https://londontravelhacks.com/link/holiday-inn-bloomsbury

      Have a great trip to London!

      June 3, 2018 at 6:07 am
  • Mel

    Hi there were looking to book a trip to London for a week in late September or October. We definitely want to be in a central area so we can visit different parts of London..Mayfair, Chelsea, etc. But still want a nice charming area. What do you suggest? From your post it sounds like covenant garden is rhe place..where do you recommend staying? The hotels here look a bit pricey.What about Kensington or
    westminister? Thank you in advance!!

    August 9, 2018 at 12:50 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hej Mel

      Yes Covent Garden is indeed pricey in Covent Garden I’m afraid… Kensington and Westminster are good too – Westminster is very centrally located.

      Could you tell me a bit about your budget pr night and your preferred travel dates? Then I’ll take a look at what’s available on those dates.

      August 9, 2018 at 7:06 am
  • Pat

    Hi we are travelling to London and Paris from Sep 6 returning Sept 13 – 9 days with 4 in one city and 3 in the other. We like to spend a day on hopin and hop off and then site see the other days. Never been to Europe. Where would you recommend we stay and hotel recommendation. We are active people and will do a lot of walking if needed.

    August 11, 2018 at 1:05 am
    • Kristoffer
      Kristoffer

      Hi Pat

      Honestly it totally depends on your budget. All the mentioned areas in London in this guide are quite centrally located so you can just choose one of these and you’ll be fine. If you wanna stay in the heart of London I’d suggest Soho or Covent Garden but these areas are very expensive… I usually suggest Paddington and Bayswater to those with a more normal budget 😀

      Hope you find a nice hotel and that you will enjoy London (and Paris).

      August 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm

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