The Best Areas To Stay In London As A First Timer

London is a vibrant and dynamic city that sees over 30 million tourists annually. The city is filled with fantastic restaurants, live music galore, fascinating museums and exhibitions, and a whole bucket-load of incredible history.
An iconic view overlooking the River Thames – from the Shard skyscraper. Photo : Benjamin Davies | Unsplash

Editorial Note: Earth Curious contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

If you’re visiting the home of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace for the first time, here are five areas worth exploring, depending on what you’re looking for!

Thanks to the city’s fantastic public transport system, you can easily get to all of these spots by underground tube, red bus, or black cab! For each spot, we’ve shared some top attractions and experiences and a range of accommodation options for all budgets.

Here are 5 great areas to stay in London!

1. West End: For theatre lovers and proximity to the main attractions

Energetic Soho offers a plethora of restaurants, shops, and entertainment experiences. Be sure to pop into Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Photo: Miquel Parera | Unsplash

The West End is a great place to stay for first-timers in London. The area comprises plenty of popular areas, including Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Soho, and Piccadilly Circus, meaning that it’s close to loads of iconic sites. The West End is also the central hub of London’s theatre scene, offering visitors a similar vibe to Broadway in New York. Catch a famous theatre production like Mamma Mia, Matilda the Musical, Wicked, or the Lion King.

Since it’s in the heart of London, this is an ideal spot if you want to walk to some of the main attractions like Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Piccadilly and Reagent Street have fabulous fine dining options for foodies, as do Leister Square and Chinatown.

Soho is another popular West End spot famed for its amazing shopping strips and incredible nightlife!

Where to stay:

$$$: The Trafalgar St. James
$$: The Resident Covent Garden
$: Ridgemount Hotel

2. Kensington or Chelsea: For luxury and elegance

Stunning Kensington, comprised of upscale Victorian buildings and charming streets. Photo: Vitalijs Barilo | Unsplash

If you love the finer things in life, the affluent areas of Chelsea and Kensington are certainly worth a peruse. Located in the southwest of London, these areas boast luxury boutiques, world-revered restaurants, and an incredible array of museums and galleries. Most popular attractions are easily accessible via tube (and usually around a 20-minute ride away), and popular locations like Nottinghill and Hyde Park are easily walkable from these suburbs.

The famed Royal Albert Hall concert hall is also located in Kensington, so be sure to see what shows are on when you visit. And keep your eyes peeled because you might spot a celeb donning some designer wear!

Where to stay:

$$$: The Ampersand
$$: Blackbird:
$: CG Kensington

3. Shoreditch: For trendy nightlife and artistic charm

Trendy Shoreditch with its vibrant street art. Photo: Sandro Cenni | Unsplash

Shoreditch is a hipster’s paradise. This is a must-visit spot for anyone with a penchant for vintage shopping, independent cafes, tasty gastropubs, and a love for live music. This quirky suburb in east London is a great spot for creatives and anyone keen on the city’s cultural scene.

The area has a bustling nightlife and is also seen as a pioneer of British theatre, street art, and fashion. There are also some incredible local markets in Shoreditch, including Brick Lane and Spitalfields.

Where to stay:

$$$: Batty Langley’s
$$: The Hoxton Boutique Hotel
$: Prime Backpackers Angel

4. The South Bank: For exhibitions and entertainment galore

Stroll along the stunning South Bank. Photo: Mark Saxby | Unsplash

The South Bank area is located next to the River Thames and is a popular pedestrian strip spanning two miles.

This favored tourist hub is often dubbed the ‘cultural heart’ of the city. It’s filled with famous museums like – the Tate Modern and the Design Museum – various pop-up galleries and exhibitions, Shakespeare’s iconic Globe Theatre, and loads of free events. As you stroll down the river in summer, you’ll enjoy an array of buskers, performance artists, and various entertainers like fire dancers. During winter, you’ll spot roasted chestnut stands along the river.

Visitors can explore the South Bank Centre Food Market with its scrumptious street food stalls, tasty sweet treats, artisanal coffee, cocktails, and beers. There are also some delightful restaurants along the riverfront and some epic nearby attractions, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye observation wheel (which sees over 3 million visitors annually!)

Where to stay:

$$$: Bankside Hotel
$$: Premier Inn London County Hall
$: The Steam Engine

5. Camden: For live music and an eclectic alternative scene

Vibey Camden Lock Market is a shoppers dream! Photo : Javier Martinez | Unsplash

Camden is a dynamic and alternative district in northwest London. Known for its iconic market, trendy eateries, independent cafes, and incredible shopping and entertainment options, it’s a great place to explore.

Camden is also a musical fundi paradise. The Roundhouse and Koko Cathedral are two iconic musical landmarks in the area, and renowned acts, including Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Prince, and Madona, have graced their stages. Camden is also home to many famed musicians, including the late Amy Winehouse, whose statue is found at Camden Market.

Where to stay:

$$$: Relais & Chateaux Camden Harbour Inn
$$: Holiday Inn, Camden Lock
$: Newmarket Ale House

The Takeaway

Whether you love culture and fine dining, live music and art galleries, or history and city walks, London has something for everyone. There are so many vibey areas in London, each offering something new and unique for travelers. Thanks to the city’s incredible public transport, you can easily explore all of these areas no matter where you’re staying.

If you’ve been to the so-called Swinging City, we would love to hear about your favorite areas! And if you loved London, why not travel a little further afield and explore these 11 iconic UK regions?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts