By Nina Derham in London—
Choosing accommodation in London can be tricky. The city is so vast that if you are on the hunt for cheap accommodation, you run the risk of ending up a long way from the main sights and spending the majority of your visit battling with the Tube!
Trust me, nobody wants that, so I’ve summarized my favorite central London neighborhoods for a smooth stay in the capital:
Best for night owls: Soho
If you want to limit the need to use public transport and really immerse yourself in London’s buzz then Soho is your place. The neighborhood comprises the streets running behind Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus and up to Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road and it buzzes day and night.
The area used to be renowned as a somewhat seedy, red light hub, but it has cleaned up its act and today trendy restaurants and bars stand alongside cabaret clubs and drag shows, giving it a truly unique vibe. It is certainly lively and staying here will not guarantee you a quiet night’s sleep. However, it does mean that shops, theaters, restaurants, bars and nightlife are quite literally on your doorstep so you can really make the most of what London has to offer.
London’s National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery are also just around the corner in Trafalgar Square, and a lot of other areas are walkable. Regent’s Park is a short stroll away or you can head to Charing Cross and across the river to the South Bank in a matter of minutes.
Click here to read reviews of recommended budget hotels in Soho.
Best for serious sightseers: Bloomsbury
Another wonderfully central location, Bloomsbury is one of London’s prettiest and most traditional areas, filled with beautiful Georgian architecture and punctuated by tree-lined streets and large, leafy squares. Traditionally the city’s literary quarter, today the area is home to the University of London and a whole lot of museums.
Although located on the other side of Tottenham Court Road from Soho, the pace of life in this part of town feels more relaxed. While nightlife, shopping and theaters are all nearby, residents of Bloomsbury have easy access to the British Museum, the Charles Dickens Museum, the Foundling Museum and many more quirky attractions such as the Cartoon Museum. Gower Street is lined with affordable B&B’s, perfect for couples and small groups of friends, the Arosfa Hotel comes highly recommended.
Click here to read reviews of recommended budget hotels in Bloomsbury.
Best for city dwellers: Southwark
Southwark’s old cobbled streets really give a taste for what London once was. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to get a real taste of city living and wander the streets that Bridget Jones traversed in the movies. Today the area is home to an exciting amalgamation of old and new, as beautiful old buildings stand next to iconic new landmarks like The Shard.
Located just south of the River Thames, visitors to Southwark have easy access to everything on the South Bank, from free, open-air performances at the National Theatre in the summer, to festive Christmas markets in the winter. In terms of sightseeing, Southwark is packed with things to see, including the Tate Modern, the tasty foodie treats at Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Dungeon and the Design Museum. Without a doubt, the neighborhood’s jewel in the crown has to be the majestic Southwark Cathedral, London’s oldest church cathedral building.
Click here to read reviews of recommended budget hotels in Southwark.
Want to read about more London neighborhoods? Check out our previous article on choosing the right neighborhood for your trip.
Your favorite London neighborhood?
Do you have a favorite neighborhood for your trip to London? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Also in our guide: Heading to London and looking for an affordable place to sleep? We’ve been there. Our editors hunt down and inspect budget hotels in London and recommend only the best. To see all the neighborhoods we’ve visited in London, check out our London guide.