London is one of the greatest cities in the world, and the best time to enjoy its vibrancy and vivacity is when you’re young, free and full of the joys of spring. There are so many amazing neighbourhoods to explore, characters to meet and cultures to absorb. But, with so much on offer, how on Earth do you decide on which neighbourhood to call home during your trip? To help you find your bearings, we helpful folk here at Plum Guide have narrowed down the best places to stay in London for young adults from north to south and everywhere in between.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the neighbourhoods that made the cut for this list of places to stay for lively young things.
North London: Islington
An older man walking along the street in Islington, with sidewalk cafes and eateries, London
Fancy staying in North London? Try Islington on for size. It's home to the busy shops of Upper Street, the pubs and bars along Essex Road, and the quintessentially London thoroughfare that is Camden Passage. Behind the main drag, lanes of grand Georgian houses line the streets in typical London fashion.
Upper Street is home to the usual high street suspects, a lot of estate agents, and a charity shop or two, but don’t be put off. It's on our list of the best places to stay in London for young adults with good reason – and not just because it's home to some of the finest serviced apartments in London. You’ll find some of the finest independent stores in London here, as well as many restaurants spanning all international cuisines, from big chains to small neighbourhood eateries beloved by locals.
Stroll down Camden Passage and have a look at the antique market (Wednesday to Sunday) for a mix of retro clothing, mid-century collectables and Victorian bric-a-brac at Hearts & Daggers. Grab lunch at Frederick’s and carry on the design trail at Modern Times for affordable 20th-century homeware and decor. Swing by Flashback Records and do a little vinyl collecting. In the mood for a film? Pop into the Everyman Screen on the Green and watch a flick on the 1913 single screen. Or, enjoy an afternoon walk along the canal towards King's Cross – the perfect summertime activity, in our opinion.
Evenings in Islington are slightly more reserved, so if thumping club nights aren’t your scene, this is a good base. That's not to say there aren't things to keep you busy – there are bars and pubs aplenty in this neck of the woods, too. A few blocks away from the main street are some quieter taverns if a casual pint is more your style. Or, catch the finest in contemporary dance at Saddlers Wells, take in a show at the Almeida or laugh yourself silly at The Bill Murray Comedy Club.
Staying in Islington as a young adult is perfect for an exciting sense of real London life. It's got something for everyone – truly, you won't need to leave the neighbourhood – yet you're only ten minutes away from the centre of town by Tube and bus.
East London: Dalston
Red and brown brick buildings on Dalston's high street, Dalston, London
Head east and base yourself in Dalston, where you can mix with the cool, young crowd in town. It's an underrated neighbourhood amongst tourists and city guides, but has plenty of character, some beautiful homes, and a party scene that comes alive each and every night. Nestled between villagelike Stoke Newington and hip Hackney, Dalston is the prime example of east London living, especially with Shoreditch a stone's throw away.
Use the weekdays whilst locals are at work to explore Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane, easily reached on the Overground (get off at Shoreditch High Street). Take a self-guided tour of the area’s impressive street art – it's one of our unique things to do in London – before visiting The Brick Lane Vintage Market for a one-of-a-kind piece to take home with you. Concept stores are also a dime a dozen in these parts, from Nordic streetwear to minimalist homewares. Planning to catch up on work during your stay? As a tech and creative hub, there are plenty of co-working spaces to choose from, too.
Now, onto the most important part of the day: nighttime, of course. Grab dinner at the many different restaurants lining Kingsland Road (our choice is vegan Ethiopian cuisine). Afterwards, take your pick from the various bars in and around the area. Stay local in Dalston at bars like Ruby's and Kraft Dalston, keep it chilled at pubs (we love The Victoria Dalston and The Scolt Head) or head into Hoxton for buzzing club nights and live music.
Best of all, easy access to Liverpool Street means you can zip around the rest of the city in a jiffy. No wonder Dalston and East London make our list of best places to stay in London for young adults.
South London: Brixton
Colourful stalls and multi-national flags hanging in Brixton Market, Brixton, London
If you want to be south of the river, then Brixton is one of the best places to stay in London for young adults. It's a bustling neighbourhood, rich in culture, food and atmosphere. Conveniently located, staying in a Plum home here will mean you're only fifteen minutes away from Oxford Circus and twenty minutes from the stylish shops of Chelsea and iconic museums of South Kensington.
Start your days in the neighbourhood off with coffee and brunch at the range of local eateries. Then, head to Brixton Village and browse the stalls, offering everything from fabrics and fresh produce to handmade jewellery and home goods. In the mood for a stroll? Brockwell Park isn't far away if you want to stretch your legs.
Brixton boasts great nightlife, too. It can get busy – especially when gigs are on at the O2 Acadamey – but you're spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants with great drinks and bars with great food. Pop Brixton is home to a range of various vendors nestled in converted shipping containers. It hosts live events, including Saturday night DJs and watch parties for football matches. After a bite, dance the night away at Phonox or upstairs at the Prince of Wales. If you're hungry again after a boogie or two, grab some jerk chicken at Refill (they're open 24/7).
Central London: Soho
Shoppers walking under the 'Welcome To Carnaby Street' sign on the pedestrianised retail street in Soho, London
It's relatively quiet during the mornings (by central London standards, at least), so it's a prime time to get out and explore. Swing by one of the many coffee shops for a pastry to enjoy in Soho Square Gardens before the afternoon crowds.
When Soho is in full force, you can retreat to The Photographers' Gallery for the largest public photography collection in London. A blend of historical archives and new talent, the gallery is a serene spot in an otherwise chaotic part of town. Another space for respite from the crowds is the iconic Liberty, our favourite department store in the city. A showcase of highly coveted things from designer fashion and cult beauty to unique homeware, it's most well-known for its enchanting florist and famed fabrics. Trendsetters will also want to stroll down Carnaby Street. It became famous in the 1960s as the birthplace of 'Swinging London' – today, it's home to restaurants, boutiques, and bars.
In need of some lunch? Check out the latest chef in residence at the Sun & 13 Cantons, share a clay pot of noodles at Kiln, or savour the best of British produce at 10 Greek Street. Craving something more low-key? Berwick Street Market is a great place to grab some street food, while the courtyard at Kingly Court is perfect for summer dining. Now, seeing as you're in London, it would be almost criminal to skip afternoon tea. Of course, the fancy hotels of Mayfair do it big, but Dean Street Townhouse does it best. Its Georgian dining room's plush, velvety darkness comes complete with ink bone china and naughty ‘lady garden’ wallpaper.
Now, onto Soho nights. It's both loud and lively, which is rather fitting for this list of best places to stay in London for young adults. You’re surrounded by all the West End shows, buzzing bars and, for foodies in London, so many of the city's best restaurants too. Go glamorous with dinner at Sketch (probably the most famous restaurant in London), then enjoy a nightcap at the various bars and pubs Soho is known for. Whether you fancy high-end cocktails, jazz clubs, or a relaxed pint, there's something for everyone here. Want to kick your night up a notch? Party it up at many nightclubs, ranging from gay bars and student-friendly haunts to Cabaret shows.
About Plum Guide:
Have you chosen your favourite neighbourhood on our list of the best places to stay in London for young adults? Next up you need to decide on your perfect Plum apartment in the home of the Big Ben. Our home critics painstakingly vet each and every home listed on our site, meaning you'll only ever be choosing from the top 3% of vacation homes. We're serious about standards, and we know you are too.