The Best Area to Stay in London For Tourists and First Time Visitors

The Plum Guide team share their suggestions for where to stay in London if you're a first time visitor

~

Big Ben in Westminster - one of the best areas for tourists to stay in London

London will punch you in the face with its cornucopia of cultural choices. It’ll grab you by the retinas and make you see figures made of wax and dungeons with live actors that jump out to scare you. To the innocent tourist, it’s an overwhelmingly expensive temptress. To the indecisive, it’s a minefield. Sometimes we can’t even leave our houses because there’s just too much choice.

Where to Stay

But we say no! We won’t let your tourist posters tell us how to have fun whilst stripping our purses bare. We shan’t let you lure people into plain, overpriced central chain hotels. So here’s our guide to the best area to stay in London for tourists, at a decent price, to really experience (what we think) is one of the greatest cities on the entire planet.

Kensington is one of the best area to stay in London for tourists.

You can’t really rival Kenny for luxury. Stars and the sophisticated flock here, all with good reason. The properties are stunning and the cafes and restaurants first-class.

Stay here if you like:

Designer shopping, café-hopping, prestige white stucco fronted houses.

A typical day in Kensington:

Satisfy your need for culture at the V&A, which is a spectacle for the architecture alone. Browse (or buy!) the designer bags and fashion in Harvey Nichols, stopping for a glass of champagne at its Fifth Floor Bar. Then grab a table at one of the many cafés or restaurants on the high street to people-watch over a leisurely lunch.

"Be sure to also check out what’s on at The Royal Albert Hall. It’s the most beautiful of buildings, inside and out, with incredible acoustics."

If you’re in the party mood, head to Piano opposite High Street Kensington tube for one of the best piano bars in the city. Request your favourite songs and sing your heart out. It’s cosy to say the least, so get there early to make sure you can squeeze in. Be sure to also check out what’s on at The Royal Albert Hall. It’s the most beautiful of buildings, inside and out, with incredible acoustics.

Unpack your bags here:

Relax in sumptuous surroundings on a grand garden square. Cashmere throws and pristine bedding ensure you’ll have a serene night’s sleep, whilst the luxury sitting area and study space provide everything you need to work and play, in the heart of Kensington.

Onslow Square: whilst the luxury sitting area and study space provide everything you need to work and play, in the heart of Kensington.

The grand and royal feel to this elegant two bedroom home in possibly the most desirable Kensington location is palpable as soon as you enter. With comfy furnishings and modern appliances to match, this home will undoubtedly provide a great stay.

As close to the throng of the city as you can get without being right in the middle, Bermondsey gives you the cool vibe of Urban London, but with prime access to the big sights. You won’t see it in many guidebooks as it’s not widely known as the best area in London to stay for tourists, but this is one secret that we’re happy stays on the low-down. Berms’ neighbour, London Bridge, gives you transport links across the whole city, whilst the famous Borough Market will leave you drooling for more.

Stay here if you like:

Discovering new street-food, craft beer and gin, brunching, cool dinners out, cooking.

A typical day in Bermondsey:

Seek out Maltby Street at the weekend. It’s tucked away in the quieter lanes, but comes alive with street traders tempting you with insanely delicious cooking smells. It’s a tight street and it gets busy, but it’s all part of its charm! Oh and if you’re a gin lover, don’t leave without popping into Little Bird to people-watch over a gin cocktail.

"Here you’ll find some of South East London’s best micro-breweries, selling all kinds of weird and wonderful craft beer."

Come out of Maltby Street and you’ll find people sitting under brickwork arches. Here you’ll find some of South East London’s best micro-breweries, selling all kinds of weird and wonderful craft beer. Grab a space on one of the benches at The Anspach & Hobday Tap Room and enjoy a few tasters.

For dinner, hit Bermondsey Street; it’s an entire strip packed with trendy bars and restaurants. Take a wander down (it’s a long street, but it’s worth it!) and see which one takes your fancy. Head to somewhere like Antico for pasta and you can’t go wrong.

A typical day in London Bridge:

Borough market is an unmissable stop in you're in London

"Be sure to sample the raclette cheese at Kappacasein Dairy. It’ll change your life."

Borough Market is undoubtedly one of the best things about London Bridge. Unmissables include the brownies and coffee at Monmouth, but don’t be put off by the queues or lack of space. They a) go down quickly and b) are SO worth it. And we’ve tried a lot of brownies and coffee. Also be sure to sample the raclette cheese at Kappacasein Dairy. It’ll change your life.

If you fancy working off all those delicious carbs, or you’re just very very cold in this British weather, try a hot yoga session at Hot Yoga Society. Just book online and go - all mats and heat are provided.

You’ll also be close to London Bridge (shockingly), Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, so you can get them checked off your list easy-peasy. And you’ll be just down the road from Southbank, so you’ll have easy access to the Royal Festival Hall (great for cocktail) and the Tate for your art fix.

Unpack your bags here:

Hicks Penthouse (Bermondsey)

Us Londoners lust after pads on the Thames. We scowl at how pretty and beautiful they are as we walk past them on way to work. And you can be the smug residents that wave at us gleefully from your river-view balcony, coffee in hand. 2 minute’s walk from Bermondsey tube, this place is a steal. The Thames path will take you straight into the city in 40 minutes and makes the best morning walk.

Hicks Penthouse is a lovely pad on the Thames, thanks to that amazing view it really doesn't get any better that this.

White Copperfield (London Bridge)

Enjoy life in an architectural, design-lover’s heaven, that we’re sure even Kevin McCloud would give a thumbs up to. Sitting pretty on a quiet street, it’s an angelic haven from the hustle and bustle outside. With the Tate down the road, you can spend many an afternoon browsing some of London’s most exciting exhibitions.

White Copperfield, in London Bridge neighbourhood, is a design lover haven. Stay here to be close to one on London'd most instagrammed buildings.

If you want all the excitement on your doorstep, head to Covent Garden. Thanks to its lively night life and countless of shows it is one of the best areas to stay for tourists in London.

If you want all the excitement on your doorstep, head to Covent Garden for easy access to, well, just about anywhere. It’s the best area to stay in London for tourists planning a few theatre trips, and less time spent travelling equals more time for pre-show dinner and drinks.

Stay here if you like:

Being slap-bang in the action, going to the theatre.

A typical day in Covent Garden:

Neal's yard is famous for its coloured homes and is a favourite tourist area

"You’ll be right in the middle of the West End, so if you are going to the theatre, head to Sarastro on Drury Lane for good food in weird and wonderful theatrical surroundings."

Swerve the crowds in the market and head straight to Seven Dials. Here you’ll, unsurprisingly, find 7 streets of boutique shops and cafes sprawling off the central roundabout. Spend an afternoon popping in and out of shops to browse independent homewares, jewellery and records. Then rest your feet at the bar in the Brasserie Max to escape the crowds.

You’ll be right in the middle of the West End, so if you are going to the theatre, head to Sarastro on Drury Lane for good food in weird and wonderful theatrical surroundings. You have to see it to believe it. The toilets are QUITE something…

Unpack your bags here:

Get historic with a charming 2-bed apartment, with views of the stunning Royal Courts of Justice. Enjoy leisurely mornings with hoards of natural light, topped off with a balcony in the bathroom for a wonderfully airy, calm experience in the busy throng of the city. Mmmm. There’s also a great choice of coffee shops a stone’s-throw away from your door.

A charming apartment, with views of the stunning Royal Courts of Justice, Strand  me is right in the centre of Covent Garden.

If you’re after something different, then it doesn’t get more wonderfully whimsy than this. Step into your own theatrical wonderland, right in the middle of Covent Garden. Lie back and immerse yourself in the enchanting décor, before marvelling at the sauna bathroom. With so much to look at, we’ll be impressed if you even make it outside.

As the name says, this home is the King of Covent Garden. The luxurious apartment will give you the chance to make the best out of one of london's best areas, Covent Garden.

The great view over Greenwich, one of the best areas to stay at if you don't like crowded areas and touristy places.

Lush, green and buzzing with things to do, Greenwich is far enough to escape the hubbub of the city, but close enough to zip into the centre within 20 minutes with its choice of tube and DLR stations.

Stay here if you like:

Greenery, open space for walking and picnics, amazing views, somewhere a bit quieter.

A typical day in Greenwich:

"Don’t fancy getting the tube or train into the city? Hop on a Thames Clipper and arrive in style by boat."

Grab a coffee from Paul Rhodes Bakery and go for a morning stroll around Greenwich Park. The wide, tree-lined incline is a favourite amongst dog- walkers, cyclists and amblers alike. Make it to the top and you’ll be rewarded with drop-dead gorgeous views across the city. Extra points if you can name the famous buildings from the skyline.

An incredible view of London from the Thames.

Hang out in the square that surrounds the Cutty Sark. There’s often a band there at weekends, so you can admire the ship in all its glory before perusing handmade trinkets and gifts in Greenwich Market. And if you go at Christmas, you can get all your presents bought here in one sneaky swoop.

Don’t fancy getting the tube or train into the city? Hop on a Thames Clipper and arrive in style by boat. It also saves you paying for a sightseeing tour down the Thames.

Unpack your bags here:

With a huge fireplace, games room and man shed, this screams comfy family home. The living area is open and spacious, the kitchen beautiful and wooden, and the garden is oh so green. Is this really in London?! With plenty to keep the kids entertained, you’ll be free to venture out to explore the beautiful views of Blackheath and Greenwich Park.

situated in one of London's most sought after areas, Greenwich, this home comes with plenty to keep the kids entertained. You’ll be free to venture out to explore the beautiful views of Blackheath and Greenwich Park

The exposed bricks set a warm tone for this two bedrooms flat. Fall in love with Greenwich and its leafy parks, its nautical heritage and village feeling. Enjoy the sunny balcony and have fun with the objects, art and memories decorating this home.

Shoreditch is the new up and coming neighbourhood in London, perfect for tourists who want to enjoy some British hipster culture between a picture to Big Ben and a wave to the Queen.

In Shoreditch you’ll find a mixture of raw buildings, and curated quirk. Think exposed brickwork, converted storage containers and photo booths.

Stay here if you like:

Vintage shopping, things that have been converted into other things, street-art.

A typical day in Shoreditch:

Go to Dirty Bones and have their signature crumpets for brunch. It may feel strange having short rib or salmon on a crumpet, but embrace it with an open mouth and, trust us, you won’t look back.

"At weekends, independent traders flock to tempt you with a variety of pretty things."

A short walk away you’ll find Spitalfields Market. Men can get their beards groomed at Murdock London, whilst women can eat brownies in Konditor and Cook, naturally. At weekends, independent traders flock to tempt you with a variety of pretty things. Prices are decent, and you’ll lose yourself for an hour or two just browsing at everything from books to vintage maps.

Continue the shopping in the vast vintage market in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane – there are loads of signs so you won’t miss it! Be sure to take a look at what else is on at the brewery; it’s a big open space used for pop-ups and exhibitions, so it’s always alive with something new and delectably quirky.

At night, play table football in Bar Kick, or treat yourself to a meal at Hoi Polloi, which can be a little on the pricier side, but you enter through a flower shop, so you’ve got to give it bonus points for novelty.

Where to unpack your bags:

If an angelic being were to land on earth and build a home, we’re pretty sure it’d look like this. Flawless white walls, airy skylights and faux fur rugs transform this converted church apartment into the most chilled of hangouts. Swing the evening away with a good book in the hammock and look up at the stars from your sumptuous double bed. Hallelujah.

Flawless white walls, airy skylights and faux fur rugs transform this converted church apartment into the most chilled of hangouts

Embrace proper East London with a trendy loft apartment, complete with disco balls, warehouse style doors, and a hanging parrot chair. Feel like you’re in a cool sitcom with your own NY style fire escape entrance, grab a famous rainbow bagel from Brick Lane, and settle down for a movie night on the projector.

Want to stay in one of london's coolest neighbourhoods? Shoreditch and the east end bazar are  exactly what you are looking for then.

And if your head’s still spinning from all these options on the best area to stay in London for tourists, just ask our concierge for help and they’ll be over the moon to help find your perfect pad.

Stay in the world's most beautiful homes

Search for a holiday home

Neighbourhoods

Types