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Where to stay in London

Hi - we (along with our 2 kids ages 10 and 8) will be in London for just under 24 hours on our way back to the US from italy and would like some suggestions on what neighborhood to stay in. The only sight we absolutely have to see is Kings Cross (kids are Harry Potter fans). Other than that, we just want to stay somewhere where we can make the most of the very little time we have in London, and somewhere accessible to Paddington so we can take the train from heathrow. I can't figure out from looking online if we should stay in the St. James area or Kensington or Mayfair or.... Any help would be very much appreciated. thank you!

Posted by
6238 posts

None of the three neighborhoods you've referenced are truly close to Paddington. The adjacent area is called Bayswater and it's often where I hang my hat when in London. I like, the close proximity to Paddington, the diversity, to option of two nearby underground stops, the excellent bus line availability, and the variety of restaurants. I've mentioned more than once on this forum a safe, clean and well priced place to stay in that area is the Vancouver Studio Apartments. Both Hyde Park and the Notting Hill neighborhood are within walking distance and a visit to Harry Potter's King Cross is but a 25 minute bus ride on the 205 from Paddington station. Or take the underground. If memory serves the Hammersmith and Circle line out of Paddington is a direct shot to King's Cross. Then again by hoping on a bus and climbing up to the second level to secure seating in the very front of the bus s you get a great POV of London with the nearly floor to ceiling windows. London is a very walkable city and with access to the buses and underground you'll be able to see a great deal. Just remember to give yourself three hours of padding before your flight. Heathrow can be a bit daunting with long, long lines. Who needs the stress? Arrive early.

Posted by
149 posts

I wouldn't base myself in Paddington solely to be near the train station. If there are 4 of you, you could probably hire a car for about the same price as Heathrow Express tickets. Take a look at http://www.justairports.com/index.htm If you do decide to take the train, I recommend Heathrow Connect. It's half the price of Heathrow Express and only about 10-12 minutes slower. http://goo.gl/KKPIQ You could also take the tube if you don't mind schlepping your luggage. That's the cheapest way of all. Have you considered a hotel near King's Cross? Or if you are looking for a central area that's walking distance to sights, try Bloomsbury, Victoria, or the area around Covent Garden/Trafalgar Square or Westminster. From the last 2 areas you can walk to Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Covent Garden, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, etc. I usually stay at the Strand Palace, but there are many, many hotels to choose from: http://www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk/, http://goo.gl/S1Lil Also look at http://www.wotif.com/ Consider purchasing a one-day Travelcard if you plan on hopping buses or taking the tube: http://www.londontoolkit.com/briefing/travelcard.htm

Posted by
3580 posts

I like to stay in the Paddington area, for the convenience to the train station. There are many hotels within a short walk from the station. Around Norfolk Square there must be at least a dozen. The square is a public park, and a good place to stroll or the kids to run. You could stay in the Kings Cross area where there are many hotels. (I've stayed only at the Crestfield Hotel there). From the Kings Cross Tube station the train goes all the way to Heathrow in about an hour. Four fares on the Underground (Tube) would cost less than four fares on the Heathrow Connect or Heathrow Express. You can probably get to the central parts of London easily by bus or Tube from either area.

Posted by
59 posts

Thank you all for your suggestions. I wish we could stay longer in London but this very short stay is unplanned and I just want to make the most of it. Would Piccadilly be a central area to stay in and easy to go to and from the airport? Thanks for your help!

Posted by
6238 posts

Piccadilly isn't a neighborhood. Mayfair is. Pricey area but central. The quickest albeit most expensive route from London to Heathrow is the Heathrow Express. 15 minutes. Paddington to Heathrow. Personally for a 24 hour stay I'd find accommodations near Paddington and make use of the bus and underground to see the sites during your short stay. Paddington station is virtually underground hub. For example, easy transport to via the Circle or District lines to Westminster. Exit Westminster ( use the exit that says Westminster Pier, London Eye) You'll walk right out and see the London Eye across the Thames. Think the kids will like that! Turn to your right and look up. Big Ben looms. Walk up the stairs and Parliament is right across the street. Westminsiter Abbey is also close by. Perfect way to start you 24 hour visit. For convenience and practicality a hotel near Paddington makes sense. Enjoy your stay.

Posted by
4631 posts

When I have a short stay in London with flights out of Heathrow, I like to stay near Earls Court or Gloucester Road tube stations. Both of these stations are on the Piccadilly line so it is a direct 40 minute ride on the tube to Heathrow. The Piccadilly line is also convenient for getting into the center of London. From Earls Court, you can get to Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square or Covent Garden in 15 minutes by tube. I like this area better than Paddington. My current preferred hotel in this area is the Base2Stay. Since you have two kids, you might also consider the Premier Inn Earls Court as at this chain children under 16 stay free. Kings Cross is also on the Piccadilly line.

Posted by
4631 posts

One more thing ... before you book your hotel (regardless of where you choose), check the website tfl.gov.uk for any planned closures of underground lines or stations. If you click on the live travel news tab, there is a place where you can check for planned works. With only 24 hours, you want to make sure that you don't choose to stay by a tube station that is closed.

Posted by
3 posts

I wouldn't limit yourself by trying to stay close to a specific site. Rather, I'd make sure to be close to a good tube stop that allows quick travel. One popular, safe, and very nice area of central London is South Kensington. You could stay at a hotel near the South Kensington or Gloucester Road tube stops which have the circle, district, and Piccadilly lines. From here, you could take the Piccadilly line to the Green Park stop and switch over to the Victoria line to hit up King's Cross. The museums are very close to South Ken, so you could easily drop in to see the Rosetta stone, mummies, amazing libraries, etc. You are also a 5-10m walk from Hyde Park, if you'd like to see a lovely and famous park. In regards to getting to Heathrow, you have several options. From South Ken, you could take the tube (Piccadilly line) and it would take about 45-50m and cost £2.90-4.90 per person depending on whether it is rush hour or not. The Heathrow express is out of Paddington, fastest route at 15m, but it costs around £18 per person. You could also hire a car, which is super convenient, takes around 35-45m depending upon time of day and will cost £35-60 depending on who you select. I'd recommend tube if going on a budget or driver if you have a little expendable income.