My husband and I going to Europe for the first time and are considering staying at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich area London. Is this area safe?
The area you are considering is far off the beaten tourist path, in the far southeast section of London, not close to any Underground (Tube) lines. There is a Docklands Light Rail station at Woolwich Arsenal, but it would take about 45 minutes crossing through 17 stations and 2 line changes to get into central London. If this is your first time in London, unless you know someone in that area and would be staying with them for free, I wouldn't stay there. There is a military barracks there. I believe it's the area where an off-duty British soldier was brutally attacked and killed last week in what MI5 is calling a terrorist attack.
Can you explain why you are considering a hotel so far out of the center of London? Why not stay closer to what you come so far or see, and where you can walk out your door to enjoy the wonderful ambiance of London?
Hi: I visited the Woolwich Arsenal in 2012 because it was the site of the Olympics shooting competition. On the way to the competition I took a bus from the train station to the Olympics venue and did not see anything unusual about the area. However, at the conclusion of the competition I walked to the center of town to catch the Docklands Light Rail to get back to central London. I definitely did not feel safe in the area. The area looked very Third World to me. No way would I want to stay in the area, and the recent brutal killing just added to my negative view of the area. Of all the places I visited in London this is the neighborhood where such a murder would have have greatest likelihood of taking place. There is only so much that I can say on a respectable public forum so you can email me if you want details. However, one of the first responses to your question was also negative so you probably don't need more information.
Leaving aside if Woolwich Arsenal is a "safe" place to stay, however did you find this hotel? All the websites seem to refer to a building still under construction, with invitations to people to invest in buying individual rooms. There is the intention that it will be operated as a Holiday Inn Express, but it does not feature on the Holiday Inn website. The past twenty years has seen an explosion of basic hotel chains in Britain, but many of the hotels are not well positioned for tourists visiting major destinations like central London. There must be other hotels available which will suit your needs better.
As someone who lived & worked in the area for many years I'd say calling it 3rd world is unfairly harsh on my old manor - 2nd-world at least now, thanks! Woolwich has water (from the well down on the high street - bit of a git if you live up the hill but it's better than nothing and it keeps the squaddies fit), sanitation (Big Pete comes round with the gong wagon every tuesday - grows some crackin' tomatoes on it too, half a dozen for 50p), education (well, for the toffs), there's talk of electrification of the high street, and women got the right vote nearly 3 years ago! As long as they weren't looney. Or poor. Still, Karen I'd have to recommend you reconsider your choice of location. Woolwich is a now just a city bankers weekday dormitory down at the Arsenal. The stockbrokers head to the country for the weekend and it is a bit soulless for a holiday location! And as some posters above mentioned - it's a heck of a lot of train travel each day unless you have a specific reason to stay there, and during the week you're going to be in the commuter trains in from Dartford. Southern trains during the morning rush are not quite as bad (yet) as the Tokyo tsukin jigoku but still to be avoided unless you like playing Sardines or "Who's Armpit Is That Anyway?" Oh and Nakesha do tell us more about your cell phone jammer! Do you have a shipping address to which I should send my astonishingly large cheque? One question though - can it drain off the fat like the George Foreman one?
Woolwich was the site of the first branch in the UK for McDonalds - and it is still there. Crime rate is much higher than for Woolwich in many other parts of London, such as Stratford, West Ham and Lewisham.
On our first trip to London years ago my husband and I stayed in that area not knowing any better because we found a cheap campgroud to stay in - I think the place was called Abbey Wood and it was just south of Woolwich. The area at that time was pretty dicey and there was no tube station. You had to take the train in and it took FOREVER! I would find something else closer to town. If money is tight, check out airbnb.com for reasonable lodging options that are not hotels.
Abbey Wood railway station does have 8 trains an hour to central London - which will become one of the eastern termini of Crossrail, so will become even better connected with up to 20 trains an hour (as will Woolwich). Timewise is shorter than the further-flung stations on the Northern Line. Not sure why anyone would choose to stay in these parts of London though - rooms will be relatively cheap but this arises from lack of demand.
Thanks so much for the laugh Aiken! That was awesome...
To answer your question, if you are wanting to see some of the sights, you will want to stay closer in, near Westminster or the British Museum or Tower of London. The area you have named will not be convenient at all for sightseeing. We can all recommend some alternative places to stay, if you wish.
Hi all: I want to clarify my comment about Woolwich being "third world". I admit that I was being harsh with that comment. A more accurate description is that it is similar to an American city's "inner city" with a large low income "minority" population. Several of the guidebooks that I used to plan my trip to London mentioned Brixton as being an interesting place to visit during the day but not at night. No mention was made of Woolwich because, as was pointed, there isn't anything to see or do there. The neighborhood as seen from a bus from the train station to the Arsenal is bland and is probably not that unsafe. However, the downtown area near the Docklands Rail was "inner city" without any interesting sites/sights. I don't know if the city of London provides crime statistics by neighborhood but I would not be surprised if this was a high crime area. What surprised me about Woolwich is that it is not that many train stops from Greenwich which is a classy neighborhood from all I have read and seen (been there).
Geor, There was nothing at all wrong with your comments. They were fine; you were reporting what you saw and the impression that it made on you. Your opinion is important because other travelers coming here will wonder if there is anything cool to see in that part of town, any museums, and you have reported that there are none of those things. Unfortunately, the "recent event" in that neighborhood will remain in the minds of a lot of people for a long time and influence their opinion of the neighborhood. I don't think it's at all politically incorrect to say when a neighborhood feels dangerous. Sometimes you just get a bad feeling about a place when you're there; an instinct, a vibe. Do I think areas/streets/locations that have had a crime or terror attack should be avoided? No. If the criminal activity in the area takes place on a daily basis; then, yes, avoid such a place.
Woolwich is actually in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. I referred to the crime stats above. Woolwich is above the average for London but also somewhat lower than some other areas.