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Where to stay in London is freaking me out!

I've gone down several rabbit holes and am OVERWHELMED with where to stay in London. I've gone googley eyed and am more confused than when I started researching this! I've read so many threads on here about where to stay. Looked at so many places on other sites...There's too many!!!
Here is what my "Dream London Hotel" would be.
-Easy access to Tube/train access- this is our first trip, we are noobs and we are a bit intimidated with London.
-Neighborhood with things to do Restaurants/bars/shops, but not total over the top tourist central
-$200/night (give or take a bit) budget
-Could be a BnB, could be a hotel. Could not be a hostel.
We will be in London Sept 23-28. Must see Tower of London, Churchill's War Rooms, and Kew Gardens. Lots of other "possible" visits

Does this sound like a certain area to anyone? Or am I dreaming? :) I have a bad feeling I might be dreaming....

Posted by
38 posts

I like South Kensington - right on the (Piccadilly) tube line from the airport...very nice/"posh", safe area with plenty of restaurants/cafes/etc that's pleasant to just walk around...plenty of travelers but not overly "touristy" feeling...walking distance to V&A, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Kensington Gardens...easy tube/bus access to other sites/sights.

Posted by
1221 posts

For our first trip to London, we ended up in the Holiday Inn Express- Swiss Cottage. Relatively cheap by London standards, clean and well kept and just across the road from the Finchley Road tube station (relatively close station in to all kinds of fun stuff) and a shopping center with grocery store and assorted restaurants. The key is to get a room on the back side of the hotel where the only noise tends to be from the kids at the nearby primary school out on recess or for gym class rather than a room in the front of the building overlooking noisy Finchley Road.

It's an area relatively close in to the center of things but generally not on the tourist radar

Posted by
8632 posts

scapoose, it sounds like many areas. You'll need more criteria. Otherwise you'll just be reading more reviews.

Posted by
1540 posts

Take a look at

It is my go to hotel in London - no elevator, small family run,

2 blocks from Kings Cross Metro and train station.
Breakfast is a bit extra and it is a large English Breakfast.
I walk all over and it is a short walk to the British Museum.
I buy a tube pass for the week I'm there and hop on public
transport. I find the location so easy and I feel very safe walking
around at night.
Hope you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
677 posts

We’re going on our first trip in April. We booked The Hoxton Holborn. It’s very close to the Holborn tube with two great lines - Piccadilly and Central. We did the room size second up from smallest and the price was a little over $200 a night with a free very light breakfast in the morning. It’s surrounded by restaurants. Stylish, which we like. And it’s got a lot of good reviews. So I’m hoping very much that we enjoy our pick! I’ll be happy to report back when we return.

Posted by
1878 posts

I have stayed in the Belgravia/Pimlico area several times and it's a great location, recommend by Rick too. This is the area around Victoria Station, well connected by the Tube and some good bus lines run from that area too.

You’ve described almost every part of London. All the following might suit. All have restaurants and good transport links.

Bloomsbury (central yet quiet with some older hotels)
Covent Garden (very central, lively)
The South Bank (right by the river, central & lively)

South Kensington - slightly less central but lots of transport & restaurants and for some reason seems very popular on this forum
Earls Court - slightly further afield but nice neighbourhood

Personally I dislike Pimlico and Victoria - Victoria because it’s so busy and full of roadworks while Pimlico feels really dead to me. I also hate Paddington, which feels a bit squalid, and I feel sorry for tourists who stay there simply because of the Heathrow Express.

Posted by
661 posts

Anywhere in Zone 1 north of the Thames will have good transport access and many places to eat, drink and shop either on your doorstep or very close by. Premier Inn’s are always a good, simple choice. Maybe find 5 Premier Inn’s in Zone 1 with good ratings and put them in a hat and leave it to chance. You’ll have a great time wherever you stay.

Posted by
1314 posts

Hi Scapoose -

If you did decide to venture outside the Central Line, another vote here for the south bank of the Thames. We look around the Southwark and Bankside areas. Lots of options hotel wise, lots of restaurants, but admittedly not as many Tube options (although there are connections). If the weather is fair a stroll across one of the many bridges over the Thames will give you access to more Tube lines, but frankly, London is a city that begs to be walked if you can. You see and discover so much more!

Have a great trip!


Posted by
1101 posts

Like Rick says, just say somewhere on the Circle line and you'll be fine. I second a PP's recommendation of Kensington - love that area. It's more upscale, neighborhood-y, and a bit quieter, but still close to everything.

Posted by
1243 posts

Hi. I stayed at the Premier Inn County Hall as a noobie, and several times since. Make sure you google it that way and include the County Hall location as there are a few Premier Inns in the area. The location offers restaurants; grocery/supermarket in Waterloo station; ATM machines; a great place to walk/stroll in the evening: Southbank Walk. Close to Waterloo underground and train station and Westminster tube station. Easy walk over over the bridge to Westminster and Parliament. Plus, with fairly easy walking, you can visit many sites from this location, including Tower of London, Borough Market, Shakespeare's Globe. In fact, here is a link to something called the Queen's Walk. I never saw this before, but have done the walk :-)!

Westminster tube station is on the Circle, District, and Jubilee lines and Kew is reachable on one of those, I believe. Bus routes stop at the corner going over Westminster Bridge. In the past, the rear of County Hall, where Premier Inn is, has been a pedestrian zone as the London Eye is right on the other side of the building. Having this buffer along with accessible little shops and restaurants is nice.

Don't be overwhelmed. You are not dreaming. This is doable. And this is my favorite location for low stress access to many sites. Another handy website is Transport for London: See the Plan a Journey feature. You can use County Hall as a location and plug in the sites you wish to see. You can edit types of transportation: tube, bus, train, river, walking, etc. If you don't like escalators, you can note that. Very user friendly.

Also, although you are asking about places to stay and not sightseeing per se, I recommend looking at the London Walks website as their (low cost) walking tours (just show up, not pre-ticketing) provide introductions to many places - many that I would not even have thought to explore on my own.

Have fun. You can do this.

Posted by
531 posts

My cousin and I are traveling to London in 2 weeks..we chose to stay at HUB by Premiere at Westminster Abbey since the location met our needs and HUB seems to get great reviews and rooms while small are designed to be efficient. Primary was their pricing which is well within your nightly budget. For a couple I would choose the larger room. There is a lounge and bar on site as well as breakfast area. Breakfast is an additional 6£ per night.

There are multiple HUB’s around London and all seem to be in great locations.

Posted by
3941 posts

Our last trip we stayed at an airbnb a few minutes walk from Hammersmith tube, which was great because right there we had the intersection of Hammersmith/City (pink - goes to Paddington), Piccadilly (Blue), and District (green - which goes to Kew and only a few stops to South Kensington and the museums). We wanted somewhere with easy access to Piccadilly for ease of getting to Heathrow in the morning for our flight home. There were tons of restaurants/pubs and shopping in the area - the tube station itself had lots of coffee shops and to-go food, plus a small grocery store. Most likely will stay in the same area next time.

Posted by
4064 posts

Google Maps can help. Search for an area of South Kensington (which I like too), then click on Nearby and you will see hotels, pubs, restaurants etc. in the neighbourhood, usually with website links. The function is not comprehensive and customer feedback depends on the booking sites. The Directions function will help you plan public transit routes. I can't give you a link because they vary depending on where you are based.

Posted by
33301 posts

I know where it is but I'm not allowed to say. PM her if you need it. She'll share - but not for the whole interwebs to see.

Posted by
1874 posts

I have stayed a couple times at the Luna and Simone in the Pimlico area south of Victoria Station. It is family owned, the #24 runs right outside the door, it is less than 15 minute walk from Victoria and all its connections. The neighborhood has great pubs, restaurants, small groceries and it fits in your budget. Not a fancy place and no a/c or lift, but I love the location.

Posted by
16868 posts

I am going to join ianandjulie and Debbie in recommending the South bank of the Thames, somewhere close to Waterloo. The Premier Inn County Hall or Premier Inn Waterloo would both be good budget choices in this area, but there are lots more.

Why? we have found that a hotel with easy access to the Thames Path greatly enhances our enjoymentof London. Once we discovered the pleasure of walking a pedestrian path right along the river, with wonderful views across the water to some of London's most iconic sights, I cannot imagine staying anywhere else. Although our next stay we will spend a few night on the other side of the river, near Westminster Abbey, courtesy of some Marriott points, we can easily cross over Hungerford Bridge to meet the pedestrian path for our walks.

You could reach Tower of London by boat from the London Eye pier ( Thames Clipper river bus, not a cruise boat) if you wish, or Tube, or . . . A beautiful walk along the river, crossing at Tower Bridge.

Churchill War Rooms would be an easy walk across Hungerford Bridge ( which has walkways well separate from traffic for pedestrians) and down Whitehall. Make sure you book a timed entry ticket in advance.

For Kew, you can gain 2-4-1 tickets by talking the train from Waterloo Station to Richmond, and the No. 65 bus to the Victoria Gate from there. Cross the road in front of the station to stop C and ride the 65 for 5 stops for that entry gate. Hold on to your train tickets ( used the manned exit instead of putting the spent ticket through the turnstile). Younwill also need a voucher which you can print out on the Days Out website. Or look for the booklets full of vouchers at the train station. Note that riding the Tube to Kew will not give you 2-4-1 access.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you everyone! You have helped narrow it down. I'm usually quite decisive, but this has overwhelmed me for some reason. Edinburgh and York were easy to choose, not so London! I still haven't decided but have narrowed it down. I truly appreciate the advice.

Posted by
16868 posts

I should add that the area right around Premier Inn County Hall can be quite crowded due to the London Eye queue. I personally would choose the Waterloo Premier Inn over County Hall for that reason.

Posted by
2631 posts

I've been to London twice: first time (also my first trip abroad and I was alone) I stayed at Baileys Milennium in Kensington, right across the street from Gloucester Rd tube station and easy access via the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. Close to nice restaurants and shops, near the V&A and Harrods. Renovated Georgian town house and rather fancy, might be out of your budget but for my first trip it was a lovely experience.

Last Sept I chose Hotel Caesar in the Bayswater area, 4 blocks from Paddington Station and as far to the high street with shops and restaurants and 2 more tube stations, walking distance to Portobello Road for the market. Quiet upscale hotel on Queen's Gardens--lovely little park in the middle of the street--spacious room, lovely décor, attentive staff and good breakfast included for around $170 US per night.

London is easy, try not to overwhelm yourself. If you're near a tube station you'll be easily able to get to all your must-sees.

Posted by
8866 posts

Sorry but a secret is a secret. Besides it has been mentioned on the Forum just not by me.

Seems the OP has found a neighborhood and accommodation.

Posted by
23 posts

A secret place to stay is quite intriguing Claudia...I haven't made any reservations yet if you want to share :)

Posted by
15668 posts

I spend 3-4 months/year in London. Most of those nights are at the Nadler Kensington.

In a residential area yet a five minute walk to the Earls Court tube station. Plenty of restaurants, shops, and pubs near the tube station. Fifteen to Twenty minutes into the center of London by tube. Fifteen minute walk to the Museums in South Kensington.

Numerous people on this board have stayed there.

I have stayed at other hotels but I prefer the location, staff and amenities of the Nadler. I'll be back in six weeks.

Posted by
1 posts

I don't understand the consternation on picking a hotel. I have been twice to London and stayed in South Kensington and Westminster area. Do your homework, find a hotel near transportation and make a decision. It sounds like you need to get your thoughts organized rather than expecting the forum to make the decisions for you. Good luck and enjoy the trip.

Posted by
14580 posts

I have always stayed in the Kings Cross area, usually within 2-4 minutes from the station in B&Bs. They have 6 characteristics...

(1). full English breakfast, or the other choice is the "Continental Breakfast"

(2) no elevator

(3). no AC

(4) usually but not exclusively a surcharge of 3% if paying with a credit card instead of cash.

(5). If the reservation is made over the phone with the front desk, then there could be a 5% reduction in the rate, as opposed to using , say, I've used that 5% option.

(6). The rooms are en suite, even though for a single there is the possibility of getting a room with the WC and shower down the hall, which obviously is cheaper.

All this works absolutely fine for me, as you know what to expect when I'm there in May or June.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you for all the advice, I have made reservations! Not quite central, but near a main tube line....staying in Notting Hill @ All of your good advice helped me narrow down the search and not make it so daunting. Having never really traveled anywhere like London before, I was just overwhelmed by the thousands of choices.

Posted by
8866 posts

Nice choice. You’ll be a stone’s throw from Portobello Road Market.

If you have a sweet tooth I recommend a 10-15 minute walk to Melt Chocolate. It’s across the road from The Castle Gastropub. Near Holland Park tube station. There is also a Daunts Books and Paul’s if I remember correctly.