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Best Areas to Stay in London


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Hi.  We will be coming to London for a few days before and after our cruise next summer.  We have been to London a few times, but not in many, many years.  We used to always stay in Mayfair, and were leaning towards staying there again this trip, but thought maybe we should explore other areas.  When I searched, there were so many areas that popped up that I was curious at to any areas we should consider?   When it was just my wife and I, we had no problems taking the tube to get around, mostly to West End for shows.  This trip will be with our son, so not sure what we will be doing.  

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17 minutes ago, RSLeesburg said:

Hi.  We will be coming to London for a few days before and after our cruise next summer.  We have been to London a few times, but not in many, many years.  We used to always stay in Mayfair, and were leaning towards staying there again this trip, but thought maybe we should explore other areas.  When I searched, there were so many areas that popped up that I was curious at to any areas we should consider?   When it was just my wife and I, we had no problems taking the tube to get around, mostly to West End for shows.  This trip will be with our son, so not sure what we will be doing.  

It helps if you list some of the things that you hope to do, because that will help determine a good location for you.

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1 hour ago, gnome12 said:

It helps if you list some of the things that you hope to do, because that will help determine a good location for you.

Oh.  Good point...lol.  

 

At the moment, I am thinking that we will do the the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London, and hopefully one musical if we can agree on something.  Maybe London Eye too, as this is something we have never done.  

 

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Well, those locations are fairly well spread out across the central area. Whereever you stay, you're going to be getting the Underground to some of them.

 

Staying round the Whitechapel area would be handy for the Tower of London and is slightly off the beaten track for many international tourists, so could be a bit different.

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Just to be sure, why do you like Mayfair? Because we do as well. The places you want to visit are all over London, so you're going to be taking the Tube. Which is reasonably convenient in Mayfair. If you enjoy Mayfair and have accepted the cost of being there, then I'm not sure I'd change. Because you're still going to have to take the Tube to the places you want to see.

 

There are a lot of reasons to enjoy Mayfair and the surrounding areas. From Buckingham Palace to Jermyn Street and the Row. Oxford Street and Bond Street. Hyde Park and Green Park. And Michelin starred restaurants. If those are why you've enjoyed staying in Mayfair, I don't know what else is really going to compare. But I'll defer to someone who lives in London. 

 

If you've just defaulted to Mayfair, then I'd probably look at the Waterloo/County Hall area. But you're still be taking the Tube...

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30 minutes ago, Harters said:

Well, those locations are fairly well spread out across the central area. Whereever you stay, you're going to be getting the Underground to some of them.

 

Staying round the Whitechapel area would be handy for the Tower of London and is slightly off the beaten track for many international tourists, so could be a bit different.

 I thought the same about the spread of the sights of interest.

But since on the OP's last visit they stayed in Mayfair, I do wonder whether Whitechapel might be a shock to the system 😉.

 

Perhaps Bloomsbury ?  It has much the same architecture and ambiance of Mayfair, it's handy to the British Museum,  a walk of 15 mins or less from Covent Garden, theatreland, Soho, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Victoria Embankment. And Holborn tube station offers direct tube trains in four directions.

Or a hotel with rooftop bar overlooking the River Thames around Tower of London / Tower Bridge / Katherine Dock?

Those areas should cost less than Mayfair, which is still the most expensive property in London (according to my Monopoly board 😄)

 

County Hall / Waterloo, mentioned by Markeb, is a favourite area of mine - not as chic as Mayfair etc, but less expensive and well-located.

 

JB 🙂

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4 hours ago, John Bull said:

Those areas should cost less than Mayfair, which is still the most expensive property in London (according to my Monopoly board 😄)

 

County Hall / Waterloo, mentioned by Markeb, is a favourite area of mine - not as chic as Mayfair etc, but less expensive and well-located.

 

 

My thoughts as well, JB.

 

If they like Mayfair because it's Mayfair. It's hard to imagine another area that would equate. We've been able to stay in Mayfair (Marble Arch area and Green Park area) because of hotel points, and love it. For many of the reasons I posted above. If the OP can stay in Mayfair and really enjoys it, it's Tube regardless and hard to recommend anything else.

 

I've only stayed in County Hall/Waterloo on business, and it's a great location. But it's not Mayfair...

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12 hours ago, John Bull said:

I do wonder whether Whitechapel might be a shock to the system

My intent was to suggest a contrast from the previous experiences. A contrast, not a shock to the system, though. It's an area of much interest and, to my mind, has a very nice "feel" to it.

 

My trips to the capital are always for specific purposes. For example, the area around County Hall  is a shortish walk from the Imperial War Museum which I visit for research purposes. Other trips are specifically for restaurant visits. For those we always stay near Euston, as it's then convenient for the train.

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Following along for future reference.  On our only stay in London, we spent a few nights just across from the Liverpool Street station in an apartment above Dirty Dicks.  Wasn't a bad location at all and between buses and tubes, we managed to get around quite well.   But then again, it was an apartment that looked nice (looked nicer than it was) and the price and size was right. Those were the main criteria as we knew no better. 

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On 7/20/2021 at 9:13 AM, D C said:

Following along for future reference.  On our only stay in London, we spent a few nights just across from the Liverpool Street station in an apartment above Dirty Dicks.  Wasn't a bad location at all and between buses and tubes, we managed to get around quite well.   But then again, it was an apartment that looked nice (looked nicer than it was) and the price and size was right. Those were the main criteria as we knew no better. 

 

Without hijacking the OP's thread too much, there are a lot of individual criteria on where to stay in London. Cost and convenience are obviously the primary drivers for most people, but convenience is hard to define.

 

There are locations that are more convenient for travel from Heathrow or Gatwick. There are locations that are convenient for follow on travel to Southampton (if it's a pre-cruise visit). There are locations that are convenient to attractions (but not all popular attractions). There are locations that are convenient various shopping districts, the theater, museums, etc. There are locations that are convenient to walking to various dining options. And probably most important are locations convenient to the Tube. Like Manhattan or DC, there are a lot of attractions in London that really require walking (or a cab) as they're in between distances where the Tube may not be convenient. For instance, the one time I stayed in the Waterloo/County Hall area, we walked to the West End. You can take the Tube from Waterloo to Leicester Square, but we didn't.

 

The nice thing about Mayfair, and to a large extent County Hall/Waterloo, is you're close to a lot of things to do. Different in some ways for the two areas. I'd say they're both areas where you can wander around easily in the evening and find a nice place to eat, or visit an outdoor attraction in the long summer days.  In Mayfair, that includes at least a couple of Michelin restaurants that I'm aware of, as well as being near Buckingham Palace, the Pall Mall, etc. In County Hall/Waterloo, that includes the London Eye, Westminster Bridge, and Westminster Palace and the Abby nearby. But in my limited experience, different dining options. Both are convenient to the West End theaters.

 

Short visits (1-3 days, including recovery from the international flight and a departure to Southampton) are probably the most difficult. Do you go convenience for travel to Southampton, or spend more to be closer to sites of interest? 

 

My very brief philosophical input as a non-resident who has had the luck of being a relatively frequent visitor over the last decade or so.

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On 7/19/2021 at 4:44 PM, markeb said:

Just to be sure, why do you like Mayfair? Because we do as well. The places you want to visit are all over London, so you're going to be taking the Tube. Which is reasonably convenient in Mayfair. If you enjoy Mayfair and have accepted the cost of being there, then I'm not sure I'd change. Because you're still going to have to take the Tube to the places you want to see.

 

There are a lot of reasons to enjoy Mayfair and the surrounding areas. From Buckingham Palace to Jermyn Street and the Row. Oxford Street and Bond Street. Hyde Park and Green Park. And Michelin starred restaurants. If those are why you've enjoyed staying in Mayfair, I don't know what else is really going to compare. But I'll defer to someone who lives in London. 

 

If you've just defaulted to Mayfair, then I'd probably look at the Waterloo/County Hall area. But you're still be taking the Tube...

Hi - sorry, I was tied up at work all day and did not get a chance to write back.  We used to own at 47 Park in Mayfair, and found the area super easy to get around.  Still remember walking to Selfridges to buy knit hats when it snowed one February and shut the city almost completely down.  
 

We no longer own at 47 Park, but could stay at Grosvenor or Chesterfields, but then we started to think why not try a different area.  We will definitely look at some of the areas JB mentioned.  This is just a pre-cruise visit, maybe 3-4 days before and 1-2 days afterwards.  I saw one hotel - Taj 51 that looked super cool, and was recommended for families.  But our cruise is not till next July, so still have some time to look around!  
 

PS:  Appreciate all the replies!  

 

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On 7/19/2021 at 5:22 PM, John Bull said:

 I thought the same about the spread of the sights of interest.

But since on the OP's last visit they stayed in Mayfair, I do wonder whether Whitechapel might be a shock to the system 😉.

 

Perhaps Bloomsbury ?  It has much the same architecture and ambiance of Mayfair, it's handy to the British Museum,  a walk of 15 mins or less from Covent Garden, theatreland, Soho, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Victoria Embankment. And Holborn tube station offers direct tube trains in four directions.

Or a hotel with rooftop bar overlooking the River Thames around Tower of London / Tower Bridge / Katherine Dock?

Those areas should cost less than Mayfair, which is still the most expensive property in London (according to my Monopoly board 😄)

 

County Hall / Waterloo, mentioned by Markeb, is a favourite area of mine - not as chic as Mayfair etc, but less expensive and well-located.

 

JB 🙂

Will look at these areas.  We are super flexible, and really just want to try something new.  Mayfair holds some great memories, but London has so much to see, it would be nice to see other parts of it.  

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12 hours ago, RSLeesburg said:

Will look at these areas.  We are super flexible, and really just want to try something new.  Mayfair holds some great memories, but London has so much to see, it would be nice to see other parts of it.  

Love the Covent Garden, Leicester Square,Trafalgar Square areas. 42 long stays in London and walked to almost everything. Of course after the first touristy visit we had no interest in “the sights”  but rather theaters and museums and restaurants. 
 

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1 hour ago, orchestrapal said:

Of course after the first touristy visit we had no interest in “the sights”  but rather theaters and museums and restaurants. 

On the wall in front o me, is a photo of me and my parents in Trafalgar Square. I'm aged about 8. So, been visiting London for some 60 years and did many of the "sights" years ago. My companion in life has also visited many times - the employer's head office was there - so trips were often the and back in the same day.

 

Nowadays, like you, trips now are for theatre and restaurants. In fact, we'd been planning a "there and back in the day" trip just for lunch at a favourite restaurant. It's a couple of hours on the train, each way. But the removal of the mask wearing requirement on trains means we don't feel it's safe enough now, for a while.

Edited by Harters
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1 hour ago, orchestrapal said:

Love the Covent Garden, Leicester Square,Trafalgar Square areas. 42 long stays in London and walked to almost everything. Of course after the first touristy visit we had no interest in “the sights”  but rather theaters and museums and restaurants. 
 

Yes.  We made three trips to London, and then our son came and we changed our travel habits a bit - we wanted him to enjoy Europe, but Covid hit and put a damper on our plans to visit sooner.  But my wife and her mom would love shopping at Covent Garden - and we loved walking around.  I particularly enjoyed the book shops Charing Cross Road.  And there were three restaurants we used to frequent each trip - one was a little bistro (Richoux), one was an Italian place (can't remember the name), and the last was a place my wife's parents loved - I think it was called the Three Sisters or Two Sisters in Shepherds Market.  

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Looks like your Sisters restaurant is no more. But, if you're back there at any point, foody friends thoroughyl recommend Kitty Fishers. Looking at the menu, it's very seasonal and very British. I'd be starting with the potted Cromer crab ( we were in Cromer a couple of years back and the crab is really good from that area). Main course of rabbit leg and a blackcurrant and lemon curd trifle to finish. I'm going to have to add it to the list for a future trip - maybe the meal we both call the Office Christmas Party.

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21 hours ago, RSLeesburg said:

Hi - sorry, I was tied up at work all day and did not get a chance to write back.  We used to own at 47 Park in Mayfair, and found the area super easy to get around.  Still remember walking to Selfridges to buy knit hats when it snowed one February and shut the city almost completely down.  
 

We no longer own at 47 Park, but could stay at Grosvenor or Chesterfields, but then we started to think why not try a different area.  We will definitely look at some of the areas JB mentioned.  This is just a pre-cruise visit, maybe 3-4 days before and 1-2 days afterwards.  I saw one hotel - Taj 51 that looked super cool, and was recommended for families.  But our cruise is not till next July, so still have some time to look around!  
 

PS:  Appreciate all the replies!  

 

Just an FYI…next summer in London is filling up fast. I just booked for next August and half of the 4 and 5 star hotels are completely booked. 

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On 7/21/2021 at 5:12 PM, RSLeesburg said:

Hi - sorry, I was tied up at work all day and did not get a chance to write back.  We used to own at 47 Park in Mayfair, and found the area super easy to get around.  Still remember walking to Selfridges to buy knit hats when it snowed one February and shut the city almost completely down.  
 

We no longer own at 47 Park, but could stay at Grosvenor or Chesterfields, but then we started to think why not try a different area.  We will definitely look at some of the areas JB mentioned.  This is just a pre-cruise visit, maybe 3-4 days before and 1-2 days afterwards.  I saw one hotel - Taj 51 that looked super cool, and was recommended for families.  But our cruise is not till next July, so still have some time to look around!  
 

PS:  Appreciate all the replies!  

 

Stayed at Taj 51 many times as members of Exclusive Resorts.  They have several units there.  The location is solid-not far from the Royal Mews and there is a great Indian Michelin starred restaurant affiliated with the property.  The residences are multi bedroom, bathroom with living room and small kitchen dining area so great for mornings and takeout but breakfast is lovely at the hotel.  Service is wonderful.

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Has anyone stayed at any of the Firmdale properties in London?  After staying at Taj51 for many years we’re ready for a different area and all the Firmdales seem well located.  Any feedback would be appreciated.

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22 hours ago, FolsomMike said:

Just an FYI…next summer in London is filling up fast. I just booked for next August and half of the 4 and 5 star hotels are completely booked. 

Noted.  I was waiting for flights to open up, but maybe I will book the hotel now.  Thanks for the tip.

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We've stayed in three different areas before our cruises from Southampton--once in Kensington, once in Waterloo, and once near Covent Garden. The last one, of course, was the most convenient to a lot of the attractions--and the most expensive. 

 

When I was on a month-long student visit, we stayed in Bloomsbury. That was not a bad location. It's very convenient to the British Museum. We would walk to the theatre in the evening but usually took the Tube back even though it was just a mile or so away. 

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15 hours ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Has anyone stayed at any of the Firmdale properties in London?  After staying at Taj51 for many years we’re ready for a different area and all the Firmdales seem well located.  Any feedback would be appreciated.

 

A hotel chain I'd never even heard of, so my comments only on location......

 

https://goo.gl/maps/Y32pMfWHJrD4RgmB7

Those clustered around Mayfair/Covent Garden are excellently located for theatreland & nightlife generally, Charlotte Street marginally less convenient.

Suffolk Place perhaps the ideal combination of night-life and short walks to places like from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall (Horseguards Parade, 10 Downing St, Churchill's War Rooms, & more other sights than you can shake a stick at) to Parliament Square (Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, Westminster Cathedral). Perhaps make it a circular walk -  15 minutes from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace & another 20 up The Mall or thro St James's Park, under Admiralty Arch into Trafalgar Square & back to the hotel

Dorset Square has limited sights in convenient walking distance - Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street, Mme Tussauds, and Regents Park.

Sumner Place for the museums district (V&A, Nat History, Space)

Beaufort Gardens only if you want to spend all your time in Harrods. Not even a handy tube station.

 

So for location my vote goes to Haymarket Hotel in Suffolk Place

 

Those are my thoughts, others may disagree

 

All shown on the map that I've linked

 

JB 🙂

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17 hours ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Has anyone stayed at any of the Firmdale properties in London?  After staying at Taj51 for many years we’re ready for a different area and all the Firmdales seem well located.  Any feedback would be appreciated.

I haven't stayed but I have been for lunch at the Ham Yard Hotel a few times. It's a good location and the public rooms are nice.

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3 hours ago, John Bull said:

 

A hotel chain I'd never even heard of, so my comments only on location......

 

https://goo.gl/maps/Y32pMfWHJrD4RgmB7

Those clustered around Mayfair/Covent Garden are excellently located for theatreland & nightlife generally, Charlotte Street marginally less convenient.

Suffolk Place perhaps the ideal combination of night-life and short walks to places like from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall (Horseguards Parade, 10 Downing St, Churchill's War Rooms, & more other sights than you can shake a stick at) to Parliament Square (Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, Westminster Cathedral). Perhaps make it a circular walk -  15 minutes from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace & another 20 up The Mall or thro St James's Park, under Admiralty Arch into Trafalgar Square & back to the hotel

Dorset Square has limited sights in convenient walking distance - Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street, Mme Tussauds, and Regents Park.

Sumner Place for the museums district (V&A, Nat History, Space)

Beaufort Gardens only if you want to spend all your time in Harrods. Not even a handy tube station.

 

So for location my vote goes to Haymarket Hotel in Suffolk Place

 

Those are my thoughts, others may disagree

 

All shown on the map that I've linked

 

JB 🙂

Thanks JB!  I appreciate you taking the time to evaluate the various locations.  I think I’ve narrowed down my choice to Hamyard, Haymarket or Soho but your observations are really helpful.  
 

I see you will probably hit 15,000 posts today!  Congrats.  I know I’ve read many of your keen posts before.  CC members like you have really made this forum into a valuable resource for travelers, not just cruisers.  Thanks again.

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