I'm looking for a safe neighborhood to rent an apartment for a week in London that is well-located for exploring the city and possibly a day trip to the countryside. Doesn't need to be fancy, just safe and interesting with pubs around. We stayed in the Barri Gotic in Barcelona and loved it so the most popular neighborhood isn't necessary. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
We stayed in the Bayswater area, which borders Hyde Park to the south and minutes away from Paddington Station. We were also fairly close to Herrods Department Store. We didn't rent an apartment, but had nice accomodations that were small, but clean and tiday. We were literally a five minute walk to the Lancaster Gate Tube, which is across the street from Hyde Park. There was a cute pub right across the street from our hotel and several in the area from my internet search. Also quite a few Indian restaurants and some American fast foods if you like. But even more important, it was very safe. We were out walking (husband and kids) very late at night and never felt afraid. I had one homeless lady come up to me and ask if I could spare a pound, so she could use the loo in Paddington Station. But I never felt threatened by it. I think most neighborhoods in central London are safe, from what I've read from Rick's books and other posters.
Also, Ashley, Paddington would be a good starting point for a day trip to Windsor or Bath!
I have stayed in budget hotels in the Victoria Station neighborhood. Not sure of apartment availability, but I saw no issues with the neighborhood and Victoria Station offers good train, bus, and tube connections to all of London
The last time I was in London. I stayed at a hotel near Paddington Station that has been recently renovated and it was very nice and affordable. It's called Park Grand London Paddington.
We've stayed in South Kensington and found it convenient, pleasant and safe. There are many such neighborhoods really. Proximity to the tube Circle Line makes it especially easy to reach many places you'll want to see.
Though the neighborhoods right near the major train stations are getting better, those ones tend to be the row upon rown of so-so small hotels. I would suggest Bloombury. You can get to Camdentown and Hampstead easily from there. You can walk or take a shorter bus ride to the West End/Covent Garden, without being in the middle of all that. You aren't far from King's Cross/St. Pancras. There are a lot of students and workers in the area, but also the British Museum, Dicken's House, bookstores, University of London, etc. I think it has more to offer than Bayswater or South Kensington--if you have to rely on the Circle and District Lines, it will take forever to get around. Good luck.
And I keep leaving out S, so I am undercutting my own argument! Bloomsbury. Not superflashy, but dependable and fairly central. And you can get to a train for day trips without being right on top of the station.
Where do you like to stay in Bloomsbury?
The Bayswater and South Kensington areas are both great to stay in. You can get some nice apartments in either area and not to expensive. I'm going to have to disagree with a statement above...the District Line and Circle are both great and it's doesn't take forever to get any place. We use them all the time, every time we are in London.
South Ken/Chelsea/etc. are some of the most expensive neighborhoods in central London. They are extremely safe and well located, but you will pay a premium to live there. The best train stations are Waterloo, Victoria, and Clapham Junction. Even if you are not living near a train station, you can easily hop on a tube to get to them. If you are looking for a little less of the hustle bustle city feel and tourist, I'd try to rent a place near Clapham. It may be hard to find a short term rental as this is an in demand location for locals. Lots of restaurants, bustling night life, and great train links. There is also the Northern tube line in Clapham North and Clapham Common which is a 10-15m walk from Clapham Junction. Rent is definitely cheaper in clapham as it is further removed from the heart of downtown (zone 2...whereas zone 1 is the heart of London. Typically, zone 1 and 2 are considered central London). Otherwise, I'd try to stay near Waterloo as it has excellent transportation links and is on the other side of the river from big sites like big Ben, parliament, Westminister abbey, etc.