Deciding on where to base yourself in London can be confusing. Many of its top attractions and things to do are spread throughout different areas.
With so many neighborhoods, selecting the ideal places to stay can be overwhelming for the first time visitor. But we are here to help.
Sometimes local resident, sometimes visitor, and travel writer Karen Worrall shares the knowledge she’s picked up over the years during her time in this epic city. Here you’ll get the low-down on some of the best neighborhoods in London to make your base.
Plus insider tips on interesting things to see and do.
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The city of Sherlock Holmes, the stomping ground of Charles Dickens novels, the birthplace of smog and Jack the Ripper, but also the Swinging 60s and royalty, London intrigues and beguiles. No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone here.
London has been in a center of ‘civilized’ society for centuries. With attractions like the royal family, palaces, pristinely manicured parks, the Houses of Parliament and world-class museums drawing in curious folk from outside the city for millennia.
It has been, since the 1200s, one of the world’s most fashionable places, with many global trends starting here.
More recently, the 1960s saw Carnaby Street become the epicenter of fashion and style, while musically, the British Invasion made London one of the most important musical havens and places for aspiring stars to be, and still is.
London is chic, relaxed, chill, “too cool for school” in that it doesn’t have to try to impress. It just is London. Prices for real estate and rent are often astronomical, but with good reason. It is a fascinating place to be.
In London, Anything Goes
The culture of London is very much that of ‘anything goes’ as Cole Porter said in his musical of the same name.
I once went to a screening of Sing-along-a-Sound-of-Music with a good friend, with us dressed up as brown paper packages tied up with string in London, and not one person batted an eyelid at us in the six-block distance that we giggled our way from the post office where we procured said string, and packaging to the theatre. (True story).
That is what London is like. You can do whatever, whoever, and be, whoever you like, and I love it for that.
I have spent a lot of time in London over the years, and I always return when I want to feel ‘like me’ again. It feels like a place to be you, and reset.
London is huge. It can take over three hours to get from one side to the other by the Underground – or Tube, never mind how long it would take by bus or car.
Therefore, the most important thing to consider when deciding where to stay is how you get from there to the main things you want to see.
Central London Neighborhoods
Since London is so massive, the different neighborhoods and areas in it often feel like completely different cities. However, many of the main sights are in the nucleus of the city, which is a relatively small area of London’s total distance of over 600 square miles.
If you’ve ever played Monopoly (UK edition) you’ll know all areas in London are not created equal.
As it is very easy to spend 90 minutes or more commuting to the ‘good stuff’, (as many London residents who have to live way out to be able to actually afford their rent on regular waged jobs will tell you), I will focus on neighborhoods that are all fairly central to the main sites, so you don’t spend half your time in London on the tube.
I’ll outline my top picks of the best places to stay in when visiting London.
St James Park – A perfect place for Picnics