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Darlington Hyde Park (London)

I know this hotel is a forum favourite - I stayed here for a night recently en route from the Netherlands to my UK home in the West Country. I liked the hotel a lot. So friendly and well-priced.

I had a really nice-sized single room up on the fourth floor, with a great view across the rooftops and even to the London Eye. And yes, there’s a lift (elevator).

There’s no air conditioning and the room was VERY hot when I first walked in, but there are proper opening windows in both the bedroom and bathroom so I managed to get it a bit cooler.

I’d booked on Booking Dot Com so my price included continental breakfast (if you book direct with the hotel you get a cooked breakfast). I felt the breakfast was perfectly acceptable - a range of cereals and yogurt, toast and jam, coffee, fruit. Nice breakfast room, too.

The staff were very happy to hold my luggage too.

I do just want to add: I know London really well. I lived there for quite a while, and I visit often. I have only recently moved to a part of the UK that is served by trains from Paddington station, and this was my first time staying in the Paddington area (I had an early train the next morning.)

I really disliked it. It felt a bit squalid and tatty, and the choice of restaurants was poor compared to other areas where I often stay (eg Bloomsbury, South Bank, South Kensington/Earls Court). There were a lot of American tourists around, possibly still seduced by the Heathrow Express into staying there. And I just wanted to say to all of them: please don’t judge London based on your first experience of Paddington.

Posted by
8251 posts

I’ve been visiting London since the 70’s.

Often stay in the Paddington area. Nothing wrong with it.

There’s Tudkin Flavors of Malaysia which I go to on each visit. There’s also the comfortable Mitre and Victoria Paddington pubs where I have enjoyed respites. 63 Bayswater is where I’ve often stayed. Never disappoints.

Convenience of the Lancaster Gate tube and the ability to stroll into Hyde Park at the Serpentine at 5am also works for me.

Difference of opinion regarding Paddington neighborhood. Is it Mayfair? No. SoHo? No. Fulham? No. Is it unsafe, unaffordable? No. Does it have charm? No.

Has great public transport options. Hyde Park. Countless cafes and restaurants on Queensway.

Posted by
427 posts

I mean, everyone’s mileage varies, Claudia. But I know many parts of London pretty well (I lived there for some years in the early eighties) and I got quite a visceral reaction of dislike to Paddington. Yeah, sure, transport links are good - but so are those in other areas.

I do very much like Queensway and Bayswater - plenty of good places to eat there. I particularly liked the little Asian cafes tucked away in Queensway Market. I would not describe them as Paddington, which is the specific area I’m talking about. Earlier in my trip I stayed at Vancouver Studios and very much like that area.

Given that this is a forum for reviews, I felt it important to say what I felt about the immediate Paddington area. I just wanted people to know not to judge London by it if it’s their first impression.

Is it unsafe, unaffordable? No. Does it have charm? No.

I don’t disagree with any of this.

Posted by
8251 posts

Merely pointed out that after staying in that neighborhood since my college days in the 70’s that I never felt unsafe nor did it disappoint me. In fact the area gentrified and yes, the convenience to Paddington and the Heathrow Express and now the Elizabeth Line is, IMHO, is an advantage.

Posted by
15110 posts

As one of those Americans who has been “seduced” by the Heathrow Express—the cheapest, fastest, and most comfortable way into London from Heathrow—-I have to weigh in on the Paddington neighborhood. We stay here for one or two nights on our way to Italy or elsewhere in the Continent, because we always fly British Airways and have to change planes at Heathrow. We use the layover as an opportunity to sneak in a little time in our favorite city.

If our destination is actually the UK, however, and we are spending from 3 nights to 3 weeks in London, we stay in the area we like best, near the river on one side of the other, in the City of London or the South Bank between Tower Bridge and the Millennium pedestrian bridge.

Most recently (last March), on our way home from Bologna, we spent 2 nights in a new and modern Aparthotel on Sussex Gardens, the Stylotel at the opposite end of the block from the Darlington hotel. The previous visit we had a spacious apartment at the Native Hyde Park location on the next corner going southwest. Other times we have stayed at the very nice Hotel Indigo on points. We know our way around the neighborhood and enjoy walking down to the nearest gate into Kensington Gardens, at the end of Brook St. If it is morning, we have on several occasions seen the kids on ponies coming out of the Bathurst mews in that area for a ride in Hyde Park.

My husband has a favorite indie coffee bar just up London Street for his morning cappuccino. And we have discovered several restaurants we like—Bizzarro for reasonably good Italian food with friendly service in a lovely setting; Ozuki pan-Asian for surprisingly good Japanese food in a tiny bistro that reminds me of a place in Kyoto; and the afore-mentioned Mitre Pub for good gastropub fare in a traditional if slightly noisy setting.

Yes, parts of the neighborhood can feel a bit “off” at times, but I put that down to the pandemic and slow recovery. Many places are still struggling to stay in business, having trouble hiring enough employees, etc. Social services and city services such as trash collection may be strained to the limit.

We are having the same troubles here in my US hometown, and I would hate to see Seattle judged by its current condition.

Would I recommend the Paddington area for a longer stay in London? No. But as a convenient place to land for a night or two, we like it very much. Along with the much-maligned Heathrow Express. ( I buy our tickets way ahead to get the £5.50 price).

Posted by
13221 posts

Golden Girl, thank you for your review!

Last spring I was debating about whether to stay in Windsor before my flight back to the US or the Paddington area. I google street-viewed the area and decided it looked the same to me online as it felt to you - squalid and tatty so opted for elsewhere.

I agree it's not representative to the London that I enjoy as a solo traveler. I have never lived in London but also have been visiting since 1973 so have been in different areas for longer stays.

Posted by
699 posts

Paddington is not very nice. It’s busy, there are no good restaurants and it’s dominated by St Mary’s Hospital which is seriously ugly and huge. It feel like a place people have to be rather than somewhere they want to be.

The new development at Paddington Basin is quite pleasant in that very ordered, managed way that these developments always have. My daughter climbed on one of ‘art installations’ and got told off by a security guard. I’m not keen on places where children can’t play freely.

Posted by
5128 posts

Thank you, Golden Girl. I will be going to London next year after 24 years away, so I'm sure everything has changed a lot. I've been making notes on various areas to stay, so sounds like it would be a good idea to avoid this one.

Once I get my itinerary arranged, I'll probably be back looking for hotel recs. :) But it the meantime, it's good to read some of the current reviews.

Posted by
2979 posts

I just “walked” Praed, London snd Spring Streets and saw a bit of street construction, but not a bit of litter or anything shabby or seedy, unless you consider a kebab shop or Burger King to be seedy. A Hilton Hotel. Several places selling London bus tours, a tourist souvenir shop, a currency exchange, a Ladbroke’s—- I guess that is a betting parlor? A nearby wine shop, lots of cafes and restaurants, none of them fancy and many of them ethnic. And ethnic people, mainly middle Eastern and South Asian people, like everywhere in London.

No it is not beautiful or elegant, but I didn’t see anything squalid. No trash on the streets. Or any boarded up shops like San Francisco and Seattle.

Posted by
5128 posts

Sasha, I don't think she said there was trash on the street - did I miss something? I just don't understand the responses to GG because she doesn't like the area, especially when everyone here has admitted that it's not the most charming area to stay in.

There are lots of areas I've stayed in over the years that I didn't care for and others have raved about. And vice versa. But I would never condemn someone for not liking an area and posting about it. We all know how relative travel likes and dislikes are. My favorite countries and cities are probably at the bottom of someone else's list and a lot depends on the time of year and the weather and the circumstances.

I'm curious - you said you walked through there but did you stay there? Just wondered what your frame of reference was. Certainly staying in an area can give you a different perspective than someone who stayed elsewhere.

Posted by
2979 posts

Mardee, I was responding to Pam’s post and her description of the area as squalid and tatty.

Yes I have stayed in a hotel near Paddington but not recently so I looked around on street view to see how it looks now.

Posted by
2548 posts

I just stayed there at the Darlington in May. I liked it just fine. We were taking the Heathrow Express the next day and so I picked that area. The Darlington is nice for a budget place, well-run, and I walked all over from there - Hyde Park, Victoria and Albert, Harrod's, and over to Buckingham Palace. It was a really nice stroll. I went out to dinner by myself at a place between the Darlington and Paddington Station and then took an evening walk around the neighborhood before heading back to the hotel. I was not uncomfortable with the neighborhood at all. It was busy and fun, with people sitting outdoors at restaurants.

Posted by
45 posts

I just stayed at the Darlington last night (also on the 4th floor - I really liked the peekaboo view of the wheel), and it is definitely a decent place for its location and price. The lift was broken in the morning, which was a bit of a pain, but they took my luggage for the full day, which was better than the night manager had predicted.

On Heathrow Express vs. Elizabeth line, they start and end at the same spot - 21 min. for the former and 29 min. for the latter. Only you know how much your time is worth. I found the Elizabeth line just as comfortable, at least at 11pm when I finally got in. If you ever end up arriving to Paddington very late, there is a 24/7 Tesco near the station.

As an aside, I took advantage of the convenience of the Elizabeth line to move to the Canary Wharf Marriott and so far so excellent, but I used points - the rack rate was over 250 GBP.

Posted by
8251 posts

The prime reason I’ve often stayed in the Paddington area is due to my preference for a room at 63 Bayswater. For years it was tough to beat the price for safety, convenience and the fact breakfast was included in the rate.

Loved the access into Hyde Park via the Lancaster Gate is across the road. As an early riser love that the gates to Hyde Park open at 5am. Lovely early AM strolls. Joggers, dog walkers and runners out and about. Loved seeing all the water fowl and for years hearing and spotting the green parrots.

Enjoyed the short stroll to The Mitre pub where I enjoyed late lunches or a quick pint.

Staying there provides comfort and familiarity. Who doesn’t like that and honestly other than arriving at Paddington and in days of yore grabbing pounds from the Barclays bank ATM. Not a shopper so in all my stays in the area never went to any of the shops by the Hilton hotel.

63 and the neighborhood works for me. No apologies. Pretty certain from Nov -Dec it will be occupied by people visiting Winter Wonderland.

If I choose to fly over in November and/or December I’ll stay in another neighborhood. Did that in 2021 when I stayed in Chiswick and Richmond.

Love staying and exploring London’s neighborhoods. I’m a walker and its fun to meander.

Posted by
9199 posts

Golden Girl, thank you for your post. It’s very helpful and i appreciate it.

Posted by
4351 posts

Mardee: I liked the OP’s South Bank recommendation. Tube options are weaker but for walking to historic areas it’s great. Can arrive by overground train from Heathrow via Elizabeth Line w/transfer. IMO much more comfortable than luggage on the tube.

Posted by
5128 posts

Well, hey, I opened up a discussion at least.

Yes, you did, GG! 😊 I found it helpful - I've been to London twice and the last time was 1999. Both times I stayed in Bloomsbury, which I liked but was thinking of branching out on this trip. The South Bank sounds nice - I will definitely check it out!

Posted by
4084 posts

If you have Hilton points, Paddington can be a convenient place to stay-and it does have an elevator and AC. I confess that when we stay in London, ambience is not a consideration in our choice of lodging-my husband wants to use those Hilton points.

Posted by
2445 posts

My recent stay in London in April I stayed at 63 Bayswater which I thoroughly enjoyed. Helpful, pleasant staff and a breakfast room that invited conversations among people staying there. The Heathrow Express was a drawing card for me as well and convenient access to the subway and across the street from Kensington Gardens. It’s not a fancy hotel but the room rate was very moderate, £110 a day. Completely adequate for a solo traveler.

Posted by
902 posts

I've made some mild edits throughout this thread to soften some tone. Thanks, everyone.