recommended area for family to stay in London

Our family of 5 plan on renting an apartment for a week in London next summer and would love to hear some recommendations on what areas to look in. I have been using homeaway and finding a lot of options, but really have no idea on where would be the most convenient. We plan on doing many of the typical tourist sites, but we like to stay in areas where we can shop at markets, eat at neighborhood restaurants, etc. and get a good feel for the community. Obviously being near a tube station is very important. We found a few potential rentals in Greenwich but not sure if that's a good area.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give us!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

To piggy back on Marco, it may be fun the first time if the sun is out and there is space on the boat, but I would think that using to commute to tourist sights would become very expensive, slow, and less interesting. Especially in the rain and at commuting times.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

In London terms, Greenwich is some way from central London - is is also not well-served by the tube (though it does have the DLR using which you can connect to the tube). The downside with Greenwich is that when you visit sites in central London, you need to start and end your day with a relatively lengthy journey (and Greenwich borough is a big area, if you're in say Shooter's Hill, it could be over an hour each way, with multiple connections to get to, say Trafalger Square - though it is easier from other parts of the borough, of course - if you are right on the river, for instance). If you are content with that travel (and of course, some sites are actually in or next to Greenwich so it's very convenient for them), then it meets your other criteria quite well - there are markets, including the covered Greenwich Market, and Greenwich town itself is a safe, decent neighbourhood with cafes, pubs and (some pretty limited) shops. (Greenwich town is part of the bigger Greenwich borough - is that where you're looking?).

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2010 posts

As noted by Keith Greenwich is a bit of a distance from THE sights. Have no idea of your budget but areas I'd choose to stay in for a first trip to London would be Kensington, S. Kensington, Bloomsbury, Belgravia, Earl's Court, Bayswater, and Marylebone. Remember to keep transport time and costs down you need to stay in Travel Zones 1 & 2. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/standard-tube-map.pdf
You might also peruse the airbnb website for rentals.

Posted by Joann
Regina, Sask, Canada
11 posts

Thanks for your opinions on Greenwich. A few of the places we were looking at are right along the Thames. A couple in a development called Royal Arsenal Riverside. The listings mentioned using the Thames Clipper as a transportation option, but I haven't even researched what that is.
There are quite a few that are further south in Greenwich but I was worried about travel time to sites.

Posted by Joann
Regina, Sask, Canada
11 posts

Thanks Claudia, but after looking a bit at Kensington, we determined it was out of our budget. We were looking in the range of about $200/night, but most in Kensington are $500+/night so a big difference when staying a week. I will look into a couple of the other areas you mentioned though as I hadn't checked those yet.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
772 posts

Thames Clippers is a river boat service. Although you can pay a single fare by pay-as-you-go Oyster card with a 10% discount to the cash fare at £5.40, it isn't part of the travelcard system (although again you get a discount if you have one, this time a third). It can therefore get a bit expensive, even though I dare say it might be fun the first time you use it.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

Realistically, 200 dollars (Canadian?) per night for a week in somewhere that sleeps five is going to restrict your options. Having never tried to book an apartment in London myself, I did just try this site - www.homeaway.co.uk (I know nothing about its reputation - it just came up first on Google), and searching for 3 bedrooms at £1000 per week maximum, it came up with a small number of places more central than Greenwich - including Maida Vale and Battersea. But I'm not surprised there was nowhere in Kensington or Belgravia - anything offered that cheap in those areas would set alarm bells ringing for me. Going back to the Royal Arsenal apartment you have found - there is nothing wrong with staying there as long as you accept the journey time into central London. In fact, the apartment you name is only 10 minutes walk from Woolwich Arsenal railway station from where there is a twice hourly, 30 minute service into Charing Cross. From there you can walk and use the tube/bus for the main central sites. Essentially, the location adds a commute to your central site-seeing day compared to being in say Bloomsbury. My commute into London is twice as long, but of course its different - I'm not on holiday. In the end you have to weigh up journey time/cost against apartment cost.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1689 posts

Also expect trains between Woolwich and central London to be extremely crowded if you're travelling at peak times (0730-0930 towards London, 1630-2000 away from London).

Posted by Joann
Regina, Sask, Canada
11 posts

I truly appreciate the time you've taken to respond to my request. We realize $1500/wk for 5 limits us, but unfortunately with airline costs what they are, we need to find some other ways to trim our budget. Also, with 5 of us, including teenagers, we need to find something that isn't too small as we all need a bit of space from each other. This is the first week of a month-long European trip and we can't start it off fighting :).
I did find a place that looks great on homeaway in Battersea, but I'm a little leary as there are no reviews on it. I do realize that would be much closer area to the main sites, so I will keep watching. The good thing to know is that if we decide on Greenwich, other than the distance into London, there haven't been any other negatives mentioned about the area. The last thing we need is to book somewhere unsafe.