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London visitors - No need for hotel in central London

Just wanted to help since I have been to London multiple times - There is no reason to try to find some hotel in the center of London. I see repeated questions about staying in Victoria, Westminster, Kings Cross and even Piccadilly Circus!! Everything in zones 1 and 2 (most 'touristy highlights') are within a 10-15 minute tube ride max from most other areas in those zones. And the further you go out, the cheaper and less crazy busy it is. And further out places have more of a local feeling. Kensington/Earls Court, Paddington, Bayswater,and Southwark are all safe residential cheaper places to stay, surrounded by plenty of shops, pubs, tube stations and even high streets for shopping. Avoid Brixton, Shepards Bush and the East End - Hackney, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, as these are not good areas you want to be wandering back home to your hotel at 1am after theatre... I have been seeing very cheap hotel deals for those areas ($35-$40 a night) but it is not advisable. What I love about places like Earls Court, etc, is that there are grocers and the post office, restaurants and pubs nearby the hotel so you can walk back to your hotel at night and you feel much safer because there aren't the myriad pickpockets/shady creepos hanging around looking for easy prey. Embankment and CHaring Cross have a lot of those, so don't keep your money in your pockets... Bottom line - stay residential. Buses come every 5 minutes on average, and taking buses around London for my first trip years ago gave me a spectacular cheap tourist experience (city bus rides are free on a travel card, no matter what zones you have for the tube, you can ride the bus in and out of any zone). And if you do ride a bus and get lost, just ask the driver to call the next stop at the closest tube station, and you can get your bearings and hop on the tube to wherever your next adventure is taking you :)

Posted by
3551 posts

nice info and I like a neighboorhood that I can walk to alot of tourist sights or better yet bus.I stay nr Kensington Park. Sure you can tube it around very easily but the cost and time factor should be considered. Evolving areas east end and docks are just that evolving and tourists may not feel that comfortable quite yet. Afterall you are on vacation why keep turning your head and be uneasy? In SF we have an gritty area that is "evolving" sure hip restaurants are there (becuz rents are cheaper)it is along the subway route(BART) but there is also alot of violence there that visitors may not know about.
Cheap is not always the preferred way to go, moderate & upward for London equals safer in IMO.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi, Thanks for the info and tip on Earls Court. I've only stayed at Kings Cross... several times and once at Paddington, also a post office at KC. Both have their positves and negatives, a trade off. Earls Court has been recommended to me before as well as the YHA hostel there, so it's good hear another positive confirmation of the place.

Posted by
35 posts

Claudia: I go to London every year. I know it pretty well. Just because a place is 'hip' doesn't mean it is safe or somewhere that is appealing. I also have friends in London that warned me of the places not to go. Hoxton, Elephant and Castle, and Kennington are 3 other places to avoid for safety reasons. Even near Canary Wharf has a very bad area. During the Olympics, people stayed in the East End probably because for reason 1, they might not be familiar with London and therefore unaware of the reputation, 2, there are a lot of hotels springing up there, offering cheap prices, and 3, everything else was probably already booked to the hilt. Doesn't matter how 'hip' it is, it is just wise to avoid bad areas. .

Posted by
8876 posts

Wonder what the all folks who stayed in Brixton, Shoreditch, Hackney, et al. for the Olympics would say. The reality is that these areas are experiencing gentrification like mad. The East End is the new hip area of London or haven't you been across the pond in awhile? http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/londons-new-east-end. Fantastic new restaurants, incredible art galleries, boutique hotels, the film festival, etc. are generating a big buzz. Just as vibrant as Bayswater. This doesn't look shabby does it? http://townhallhotel.com/home Your remarks about not being good areas to wander back home after theatre was also said of Islington and Canary Wharf 15-20 years ago. London is constantly evolving. Have never stayed in central London on any of my numerous visits. Bloomsbury, Hampstead, Islington, Camden Town, Maida Valle, Bayswater, Canary Wharf, Shoreditch, Pimlico, Belize Park and Lisson Grove are neighborhoods I've enjoyed. Each unique in their own way. Truman was in office when I was born. Had NO problems staying in the East End and walking from the tube to my accommodation after theatre at any time. Can't wait to return for some coffee at Leila's Cafe, a drink at Callooh Calley, explore the Broadway Market, have some BBQ at Bodean's and some innovative food at Fifteen and enjoy searching for new hidden galleries.

Posted by
6670 posts

I won't opine on what areas are safer or not (as a Roosevelt baby I've learned humility at last) today vs. years ago vs. years hence. But I agree with Tami that there's no need to sleep in the most expensive central parts of London as long as you're in the low-fare Tube area. We stayed two weeks in South Kensington and did fine, the other places Tami mentions would certainly have been fine too. We also spent a couple of nights in a hotel near Victoria and didn't find it any more convenient, except for a crack-of-dawn train to Dover. For me, the test is: Can I easily go back to my hotel or apartment during the day for a rest, or to pick up something I need, and easily get back into sightseeing or dinner or theater mode later that day/evening, without spending too much time or money traveling back and forth? Another consideration is how quiet the neighborhood will be at night, i.e. forget Piccadilly Circus!

Posted by
11507 posts

I loved staying between the Gloucester and Earls Court tube stations in Kensington.. could walk to V@A museum and Natural History Museum.. and two good sized grocers, and having two good tube stations etc. Felt safe walking by myself at night back to hotel. ( Stayed at Base2Stay Kensington) and a Premier Inn was just down the street, so streets while quieter were not dead.

Posted by
14580 posts

What I saw of Hollywood some years ago, it's definitely not Sea Cliff. I didn't know that about Elephant and Castle. It's not that far from the Imperial War Museum, was passing through E and C to get to the Museum. Maybe after sunset one has to be on guard going through it.

Posted by
35 posts

Exactly the area I love, Pat. I felt oddly safe walking back to my hotel at night on Cromwell Road because it is such a busy street all night, I never felt alone.

Posted by
4159 posts

Claudia, Lisson Grove was terrible ! But of course that was when Eliza Doolittle grew up there ;-)

Posted by
8876 posts

Wasn't saying that because a neighborhood was considered hip it was a safe neighborhood. Downtown LA is a perfect example of that misnomer. Was saying is that neighborhoods evolve and the East End is going thorough such a metamorphosis at present. I agree you don't have to stay in the city centre to be able to see the sights. For countless trips I stayed in Bayswater at the Vancouver Studio Apartments. Sadly, often found fellow Yanks who stayed there distraught over the "ethnicity of the area." Guess they expected the leafy well manicured streets and homes of Hampstead or Belgravia to dominate London. That told me they were tourists not travelers who couldn't realize that Bayswater and the abutting Notting Hill totally reflect London, one of the more diverse cities on the planet. 10 years ago people wouldn't be caught dead visiting Brick Lane or Spitafield's without being cautioned about the neighborhood. Been going to London for over 40 years. Constant evolution. Constant. Personally, my new haunt is the Kentish Town/Camden area. Great flat to stay in, quiet neighborhood, a good pub, a Sainsburys, a Barclays bank and nary a tourist to be seen. My idea of a perfect visit to London. Finally the ONLY bad moment in countless London excursions occurred in Cafe Gloriette when a friend's wallet was stolen from her purse. The cafe is a few blocks from Harrods in Knightsbridge, one of London's most affluent neighborhoods.

Posted by
8876 posts

Exactly. Hollywood is an ethnically diverse neighborhood that looks nothing like 90210. It would compare to Bayswater in London, not Earl's Court. Sea Cliff is comparable to Bel Air or St. John's Woods.

Posted by
10401 posts

FYI - 90210 is Beverly Hills, not Hollywood.

Posted by
345 posts

And I loved my area around Victoria, staying in a student dorm. Buses and Underground to everywhere, trains, and walking distance for when I wanted, or when lines went down or were busy. I also tend to stay near the BT Tower/British Museum, and like that area too. Always feels safe, yet walking distance to Leicester Square, British Museum, etc. And good Underground and bus connections. I'd much rather stay in walking distance to my favourite areas, not just because of closures. Being back home, give me that noise, that short walk to amazing things. The same amount of walking that I took to Leicester Square gets me to... the post office, sigh.