London is an old city (the Romans called it Londinium) and previously the center of the British Empire when the British Isles and its various companies and governors controlled around 70% of the world’s land surface.
No longer the Great Power it once was, the United Kingdom is steeped in history and culture – and, owing to its past colonies around the world, is home to a thriving multicultural society.
The best place to see this and more is the social, financial and cultural powerhouse of this island nation – London, of course.
Filled with historic sites that date back many centuries, like the 13th century Westminster Abbey, or the thousand-year-old Tower of London or the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the church is believed to have stood since 604 AD.
Then there is the grandeur of the Georgian age, the splendor of the Victorian age, the sights of Westminster, the smart streets of Mayfair, the museums, the pubs; combined with the hip parties of the East, the eateries of Soho, the bars of South Bank and more.
Here we have provided you with an accommodation guide for your stay in London.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet London (Travel Guide)
Where to Stay in London: Best Districts & Hotels
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From farmland in the 16th century to a thriving liberal and multicultural hub of the city, Soho has come a long way. It was known until the late 19th century as the fashionable area for the aristocracy, but they moved further to Mayfair.
But for about 200 years, until the late 20th century, Soho was notorious as the home of London’s sex industry. Nowadays remnants of this remain in a few adult shops and massage parlors, but its many pubs and restaurants are evidence of a new round of gentrification.
London’s gay community is centered around Old Compton Street in Soho, and there is a number of gay-friendly pubs, bars, and clubs around the area, including the famous G-A-Y.
Alongside these and many other pubs besides, food is a big deal in Soho – on Brewer Street, for instance, there are a number of Japanese restaurants, and independent eateries are to be found all over the area.
The proximity to Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, the ‘West End’ theatre district, Chinatown, Covent Garden, and with the famous Carnaby Street in the area, means that Soho is all you’ll ever want in London.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Soho:
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Soho:
Top budget hotels we recommend in Soho:
Top hostels we recommend in Soho:
Located on the western side of Regent Street – the opposite side to Soho – this is an affluent area of the city and is known for its beautiful streets and rich residents.
Largely rural until the 18th century, much work was done on the area by the Grosvenor family who created three squares – Grosvenor, Hanover, and Berkeley Square – surrounded by luxury homes.
Unlike many other areas in London, Mayfair has never lost its association with affluence and as such has remained a desirable place to live and especially to stay in London – its world-famous hotels include Claridge’s, The Ritz, and The Dorchester.
To the south there’s St. James Park and Green Park – where you’ll find the opulent Royal residence, Buckingham Palace – and to the west is Hyde Park. To the southeast are the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
For shopping, Oxford Street is conveniently just to the north. This is where to stay in London if you don’t want to be in the middle of everything, enjoy green open spaces, and most importantly if you like a bit of luxury.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Mayfair:
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Mayfair:
Top budget hotels we recommend in Mayfair: Park Lane Mews Hotel
Located north of Hyde Park, Paddington is perhaps most famous for Paddington Station. It was designed and built-in 1854 by industrial engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
This also happens to be home to Paddington Bear, the iconic children’s character named after the station. The station is great for connections to elsewhere in London (three different tube lines connect here) plus for onward journeys to the rest of the UK.
Iconic station aside, Paddington is near to the picturesque Little Venice area, where canals lined with independent boutiques and restaurants make for great exploration. This is where to stay for a cheaper alternative to other park-side districts.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Paddington:
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Paddington:
Top budget hotels we recommend in Paddington:
Top hostels we recommend in Paddington:
Meanwhile in London’s East in Shoreditch. Bordering a mix of corporate skyscrapers in Liverpool Street, this area couldn’t be more different: Street art, hip cafes, trendy nightclubs, renovated pubs, markets, vintage shops, and more besides, populate this buzzing area.
Lively both day and night, Shoreditch is where to stay in London for someone looking for an alternative side to the city.
The area around Spitalfields Market to the south is well known not only for its interesting stalls and eateries but for being the location of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders in the late 19th century – a tour can be easily arranged around here.
Also nearby is Brick Lane, where you’ll find a phenomenal range of South Asian restaurants along one street.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Shoreditch:
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Shoreditch:
Top budget hotels we recommend in Shoreditch:
Top hostels we recommend in Shoreditch:
A little further out from the center of town than other areas, Kensington is where to stay in London if you are interested in museums on a grand scale.
Along Exhibition Road you’ll find the beautiful ornate Victorian building that houses the Natural History Museum, as well as the Science Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum (known colloquially as ‘the V&A’) – the world’s largest art and design museum.
Bordering Hyde Park is the Royal Albert Hall, an iconic Victorian concert hall.
But it’s not just history and culture: there’s high-quality shopping to be had here, too. The internationally renowned Harrod’s and Harvey Nichols is located in nearby Knightsbridge, as are a number of high fashion stores and designer boutiques.
Plus, with Hyde Park to the north, St. James’ Park to the east, and Holland Park to the west, there are a number of green spaces to stroll around to get away from cars and buildings.
Top luxury hotels we recommend in Kensington:
Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Kensington:
Top budget hotels we recommend in Kensington:
More on England:
- 3 Days in London Itinerary: The Only One You Need
- 10 Day Trips From London Worth Taking
- The Ultimate 3 Days in Paris Itinerary
- 13 Day Trips From Paris (That Are Worth the Trip!)
- Where to stay in Paris: A Guide to the Districts
- 10 Stunning Places to Visit in Paris (Do Not Miss These!)