My sister and I are heading to London in January for a week before starting a tour through Europe. We have never been to London before so we want to see as much as we can eg. West End, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, British Musuem. Just wondering what suburbs would be the best to stay in- close to the action and/or close to public transport?
We would be wanting to stay in hotels (but not super expensive ones).
Thanks for your help!
The UK is an expensive place and London even more so. January rates might be a little lower but, to be honest, London doesn't really have a low season.
London really is absolutely vast and doesn't really have 'suburbs' in the way I suspect you are thinking. Although accommodation may be a little cheaper outside the centre of London you will spend time and mone travelling to and from. To be honest, staying as centrally as you possibly can really is the best option on a first visit.
The vast, vast majority of London sights and sites that most first-time visitors want to see are in Zone 1 of the London transport system. Zone map (for the Underground...Tube) here:
There are of course buses as well, but anywhere within easy walking distance of a Tube station will give you fairly easy access to the rest of London...though you should be aware that the Tube can be very crowded at commuter times and that fares are not cheap even if you have an Oystercard.
Information about all London transport on the official Transport for London website:
I'd advise you to look at the reliable and long-established www.booking.com, used by many VT-ers, to see what hotels are available for your dates. The site has very extensive listings, excellent mapping and its reviews can only be posted by those who have booked through the site and completed their stay.
You can also look at a couple of well-established chain hotels which do not list all of their properties on booking.com:
Travelodge (sometimes have very good advance discount rates):
Premier Inn (by far my favourite UK hotel chain):
Easyhotels are clean, basic and cheaper than many in London:
I have seen many tourists staying in Premier Inn or IBIS in Barking. Walk to station was about 10 minutes and C2C rail network that costs less than 4 GBP taking to Tower Hill (Fernchurch street) in less than 20 minutes.
C2C is a train company. It does not own or operate any rail network. The company just has a franchise to run trains on that particular route.
In the UK the company which owns or operates trains on a particular route isn't really relevant because, on most routes, there aren't competing train companies.
If you want to explore train (i.e. not Tube) options into central London from places further out you need to look at the official UK railway website. It will give you train times, details and (most importantly) fares for all train routes, regardless of operating company:
This map shows you all railway and Tube services into central London:
We have visited London 3 times over the last 7 years, always stay walking distance to an underground station.
In June we stayed 7 days at the Novatel Paddington, a very nice hotel less than 5 minutes walk from Paddington Station.
Paddington station is a major railway station with several lines and the south west railway service all operating . It also has the Heathrow Express train service. Much to see and do in Paddington, including some of London's major parks within an easy walk etc etc.
On this (rare) occasion I have to disagree with leics - London does have suburbs and I live in one of them, Ealing! You can definitely find cheaper places to stay out in the suburbs, but it's a trade off against increased travel costs and time. I would certainly not go further out than Zone 3 on the Tube network, and would recommend choosing one north of the River Thames as transport links are better there. To give you an idea, the daily cap (the most you will pay in a single day) for travel with an Oyster card in zone 1 only or in zones 1 & 2 is £6.50, whereas if you add in zone 3 it goes up to £7.60. If you're interested to look at accommodation in zone 3, the travel time from Ealing, as an example, to central London is between 35-50 minutes.
But for convenience somewhere more central may suit you better, although in a city the size of London it's not possible to stay close to all the action and sights, and you can't avoid having to take public transport. Paddington has been suggested and is convenient, though not an area I especially like myself. I would recommend looking at Gloucester Road, South Kensington or maybe Bloomsbury - all have good lower to mid-range hotels and are very convenient for public transport and for some of the sights (parks and a number of museums in the case of the first two, the British Museum and Covent Garden in the case of Bloomsbury).
Sarah, I do know what you mean but (and sorry) places like Ealing etc really aren't 'suburbs' to me nor, I suspect, to many from elsewhere. I'll try to explain my thinking:
Suburbs are primarily residential areas purpose-built at the edge of existing larger towns or cities, mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries. Hence the name. But London districts like Ealing, Barking, Hampstead, Wimbledon etc all existed as separate villages/small towns long before they became absorbed into London's sprawl.
So that's why, to me, London doesn't have 'suburbs' as such but is comprised of many separate settlement areas which have existed for centuries and are now joined together into one enormous whole.
Does that make sense? :-)
But isn't that true of many suburbs? Those of us who live in and/or grew up in these places certainly definitely consider them as suburbs and they are referred to as such - in fact Ealing's nickname is "The Queen of the Suburbs" because back in late Victorian times it was such a desirable place to live. Many of the outer ones were purpose built, although often based around existing small villages (where I grew up in Ruislip is just such a place, part of the famous Metroland expansion much beloved of John Betjeman: [original link]). These places are absolutely suburban in nature and in name, and you will usually see them described as such. It has never occurred to me to think of them as anything but!
I'm in London now at a Hub which is run by Premier Inn but slightly cheaper. I'd have a
Look at Premier inns website, both the regular and Hub hotels are listed and I think they were having a January sale recently. I've also gotten good deals at Ibis which is part of the Accor chain which includes Novotel and Mercure properties.
Ibis hotels are often (though not always) listed on booking.com but here are the London listings on their site:
Sarah...it may just be a difference in perception and/or word usage between Londoners and non-Londoners. No worries. :-)
I presume you mean neighborhood rather than suburbs, as you list things that you want to do in London. It would be crazy to commute (albeit a small commute) when there is so much available in London. I too have stayed at the Novotel by Paddington Station. It is clean, modern and very reasonably priced. It is a little bit of a walk from the train station. Staying near Paddington is nice as you can take the direct train from Heathrow and back when you leave. We have stayed in other neighborhoods, but it always a pain in the butt to use the metro or taxi to get to Paddington, especially during commuting hours. From the Paddington metro you can go about anyplace, whether by underground, or bus...
We also stayed 2 nights at a Premier Inn hotel 200 metres from Kings Cross St Pancreas Station early July this year as we were booked on the Eurostar train to Paris. There are 3 Premier Inn hotels close to St Pancreas station, an excellent location with metro trains , shops restaurants etc. The hotel was good, full of travellers, good breakfast, renovated rooms with nice bathroom. If travelling by taxi make certain you know the full name of the Premier Inn hotel ( we did not and had to search for our travel documents).
I don't want to hijack this thread, but if you regularly spend time in Ealing we could maybe meet for a coffee sometime and discuss among ourselves whether or not it's a suburb?! (fwiw it is!)
Thanks for your help everyone! I am mostly looking at the Chelsea/South Kensington area. from what i can see online it seems to be close to a few sights, and then has good public transport to get around London. Would you agree with that in your experience?
Good area , we had a week in South Kensington way back in 1993 and loved it.
Enjoy and good luck.
The South Kensington area in particular seems to be popular with visitors.
It's a good idea to check where the Tube stations are in relation to your possible hotels in both areas. A walk of 15 minutes or so is no real hardship but it can be a pain if you're having to do it twice every day on top of the inevitably large amount of walking you'll be doing every day (London is best seen on foot).
Most Tube stations in Kensington are in Zone 1, most in Chelsea are in Zone 2 so both have fairly quick & easy access to other parts of the city.
Sarah, how long is the Piccadilly line supposed to be having serious delays? Because that has been a real pain this week, yesterday what should have been a 15 minute trip turned into almost an hour and that is for someone very familiar with London transport. If it's ongoing into January just make sure your hotel has multiple lines near it. If you are in South Kensington you should also have access to the circle and district lines
Officially they're saying another week, unofficially a TfL employee at Covent Garden on Sunday told us nearer two weeks, but it should be sorted by January. However having a choice of lines as you would in South Kensington is always good.
Chelsea tends to be dearer than S Kensington on the whole (not just for accommodation costs but eating out too, for instance) and is also less well connected in terms of transport so of those two I would favour S Ken