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Neighborhoods and apartment rental agency in London

I am planning a trip for late June to London with my husband and 20-something-year-old kids. We're looking for a lively neighborhood to stay in that is walkable to sights yet not overly touristy. Thinking we'll avoid Leicester Square and the Theatre District for accommodations, yet I understand many historical sights are near that area.

*I have heard South Kensington is pretty, and near Kings Road and Sloanes Square could be nice. But I've also heard the area is "pretty sedate", and that we will most likely head back toward Westminster and beyond in the evening (dinner, show, pub) so it seems like a lot of back and forth.
*I found a small but nice place in Mayfair - a touch small but maybe worth the location close between Hyde Park and Grosvenor Square.
*I can't seem to find anything in Marylebone or Bloomsbury (although both of those areas seem "spotty" to me.) One street is pretty, the next one is modern high rises.
*I haven't explored Soho or Covent Garden much as a few friends have said they are overly touristy in the summer. I don't mind tourists (I'm one) or crowds; just don't want to stay in the middle of the neon.

I would love names of reputable rental agencies. I did get one from Rick Steve's London book (LondonConnection) but I find very few verified reviews on it. I would also love your thoughts on specific neighborhoods to enjoy for pubs and wallking around, and as a home base.

Posted by
4171 posts

Have you used Booking.com to look for apartments? Try that. You can do all kinds of filtering to suit your needs.

Posted by
961 posts

I have used them for hotels but not apartments. I "kind of" trust AirBnB if something goes wrong but have not heard much about Booking.com for apartments.

Posted by
4171 posts

You might find the same place listed on both, but it will likely be cheaper on Booking.com. If the apartment has a name, once you find it somewhere you can also search the name and maybe find it on other listing sources or with a stand alone listing for it or the owner.

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Airbnb. I trust the Booking.com reviews much more.

Posted by
16679 posts

We have used the TripAdvisor vacation rentals platform two time for London rentals and once for Switzerland, all with excellent results.

I have set the link to the beautiful 2-bedroom apartment we had for three weeks a could of years ago, and you can re-set to filter for your own preferences.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g186338-d8363557-Gorgeous_Waterside_Apartment_near_Tower_Bridge-London_England.html

We loved both the apartment and the Southbank location. The riverside path is lined with restaurants, bars and pubs, from moderate to upscale and trendy to traditional. It is an easy and beautiful,walk along the river to the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, Borough Market (leaving the riverside path a bit) and National Theatre. Cross the river and you have the Tower of London and St. Paul’s. Catch the 15 bus eastward from either spot tomreach Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and nearby sights.

Posted by
6113 posts

Booking.com and Trip Advisor rentals are better than Airbnb IMO. You get better information on the property’s actual location, whereas Airbnb is vague.

The historical sights are spread all over, so no one location is better than another. I wouldn’t describe South Ken as pretty, but it’s a popular location and it certainly isn’t sedate. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants, although it isn’t in the theatre district.

I don’t think of Marylebone or Bloomsbury as being full of high rise property. These would be good locations. Many places in central London are touristy, as most locals can’t afford the property prices.

Shoreditch is a bit edgier and is lively. Islington and Camden are similar.

Posted by
1097 posts

What Jennifer said. Anything "walkable" will only be to certain things and not others. London is huge. Just pick something near a Circle line Tube stop and you'll be OK.

Posted by
33123 posts

I can't seem to find anything in Marylebone or Bloomsbury (although both of those areas seem "spotty" to me.) One street is pretty, the next one is modern high rises.

That isn't my impression of either Bloomsbury or Marylebone. I quite like both - and don't recognise the modern high rises - I can't think of any.

If you want dead at night then Mayfair is the place.

Posted by
357 posts

Ivy Lettings and Coach House Rentals are two agencies that have good reviews.

Posted by
3392 posts

Bloomsbury doesn't really have high rises aside from a few that are clustered together...the rest of it is beautiful row houses, nice shopping streets, and the buildings associated with University College London, the British Library, and the British Museum. With your college-aged kids it might be perfect as there are lots of young people around. Waterstones bookstore is a hangout for the students there (my son is one of them!) and there are tons of things geared for that age group in the neighborhood. I'm not sure what you mean by "spotty"...it's actually a very expensive neighborhood and very "London" in feel.
I also think that Notting Hill would be a good area with younger people in tow...lots of bars, restaurants, pubs and a lively atmosphere.
Personally I would NOT want to stay in Soho, Leicester Square, or Covent Garden...that cluster of neighborhoods is very busy and crowded.
The last few times I've been to London I've used both booking.com and airbnb for apartments. Both worked out great!

Posted by
11350 posts

We stayed in an apartment in Chelsea near King’s Road, rented through London Perfect and we had an excellent experience renting through them.
There were plenty of nearby restaurants and shops. Good transportation options too.

Posted by
11439 posts

I will vouch for LondonConnection. We have rented from them 3 times and each was an exceptional experience. We have also stayed in Westminster, Mayfair, SOHO, and near St. Paul’s and found each location worked well for us. We have always stayed a week or more, BTW.

Posted by
961 posts

Thanks all!

I'm debating between three 2-bedroom apartments: 1) Mayfair near the Marriot Grosvenor House, 2) South Ken just off Kings Road near Sloane Square, and walkable to South Ken tube station and 3) Covent Garden on The Strand near Somerset House. They are all small but nice. I'm sure any would be fine!

We'll be touring everywhere: Victoria & Albert Museum, Harrods, Bikes in Hyde Park, walking tour around Westminster Abbey, British Museum, St. Paul's, the Tower of London, Burrough Market, Ronnie Scott's, historic pubs in Covent Garden and Knightsbridge, Brick Lane.

I would love pros and cons on the three areas in late June/early July. The South Ken apartment is the least expensive by $450 for my 5-night stay but I may spend that in uber and on the tube for 5 people.

Thanks!

Posted by
961 posts

Shoot! I hadn't converted the South Kensington property from gbp to usd. All three apartments are the same price.

Posted by
33123 posts

If you are off the Kings Road near Sloane Square wouldn't Sloane Square tube be far more convenient than South Kensington tube?

The Strand will be the noisiest. Plenty of buses. Sloane Square has lots of buses but will they go where you want to go? Mayfair will be the quietest. Not such great transport unless you want to go up and down Park Lane - lots of buses go there.

They all sound like expensive neighbourhoods.

Posted by
4230 posts

We used London Connection for our stay in September last year. https://londonconnection.com/ Very good, excellent service and plenty of apartment and neighborhood options. If you want lively, then Covent Garden may be for you. It's within the theatre district with tons of restaurants and pubs and easy access to sites or the Tube to get you to sites. Our apartment was on the corner of Shaftesbury Ave and Charing Cross Road. https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Gloucester+Mansions,+140A+Shaftesbury+Ave,+London+WC2H+8PA,+UK/@51.5133239,-0.1293405,18.75z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x487604cd639b9c8f:0xe6214b69d7626c98!8m2!3d51.5132565!4d-0.1289254

Honestly, it was probably a little bit too lively for our taste, there was a theatre across the street showing a Harry Potter production and there was road noise all night long, but we couldn't beat the location to eat anything and go anywhere.

Posted by
961 posts

I am working with London Connection and staying in Mayfair. Thanks for all the help! Next I need a place for one night, July 6 for 5 of us. Very tough to find under $400. Rental agencies don't want to rent for one night, but it's the night before my flight so we need to be back in London.

Posted by
8293 posts

Hotels are happy to rent for one night.

Posted by
299 posts

I love this website! Logging in because we need an apartment in London for one week in late June, and lo and behold - the first topic on the London forum is right on point! CaliMom, sounds like you and I may be there at the same time. I am also looking for reputable agencies:

Our son is 19 and taking a summer school class at the London School of Economics. We would go over a week ahead of time for a little sightseeing. I have never used AirBNB but I have to say that when I have looked into it, the cancellation policies are pretty stiff. Because plans can always change, I am never happy to hand over a large deposit unless I am getting most of it back.

Thank you! Happy travels to all!

Posted by
11439 posts

CaliMom you will love Mayfair! We had a two-week stay there using LondonConnection and it was lovely.

Posted by
11294 posts

Just agreeing with Norma - for one night, a hotel is much easier than an apartment. Furthermore, if you're just returning to London for the flight, it's easier to get a hotel near, or even better, in the airport. If you say which terminal you're flying out of, people can give suggestions (some "Heathrow airport hotels" are more or less convenient for specific terminals).

Posted by
11439 posts

For that last night before flying, try Premier Inns. You should be able to get two rooms for the amount you budgeted. They are all over the UK.