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What part of London is best for my stay??

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Jan 31st, 2011, 10:51 AM
  #1
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What part of London is best for my stay??

I am traveling to London with my girlfriend for 4 nights before we leave for Rome. Check in Mar 26-11 checking out Mar 30-11. I have originally wanted to stay in the Soho area but it seems to be way out of my budget. I would like to pay approx $200USD per night (including tax). Since Soho is an expensive area I have decided to stay elsewhere. We are both in our young 20s, active and enjoy going out at night. Essentially, I was wondering if you could suggest a neighborhood for two tourist from the US looking to explore and see all the major sites while being in a nice and safe area to where we can enjoy ourselves at night. We are looking for a central location in London. Thanks for all your help!!
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Jan 31st, 2011, 11:33 AM
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OK -- you have to understand some things about central London. There is no area (well none that typical visitors would find themselves) that isn't safe. None that are close to all the sites. None that are inconvenient from sites since the public transport will get you anywhere.

So you can stay in just about ANY neighborhood w/i the rough boundaries of the Circle tube line and be w/i reasonable travel from any site, theatre, pub, concert, restaurant.

Some areas are hipper than others -- but everywhere will be w/i reach of every other area.

$200 = approx £125 That will get you a decent room in a lot of areas but not in the very most central locations. It will get you a very central place if you stay someplace like a Travelodge -- but those are sort of down market (better than a motel 6 in the States but not as nice as a HI Express)

Safety and getting around at night won't be a problem.

So do you want to stay REALLY central -- or just semi-central w/i a reasonable distance of 'stuff'. And is location more important than the vibe?
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Jan 31st, 2011, 11:42 AM
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Ok, London is huge, so there isn't only one best area to stay in, because at some point you'll want to travel to the other areas. That said, if you're looking at hotel addresses, I believe that the postal codes with the lower numbers (W1, SW1) are closest to the city center.

The following was taken from some postings by the late, great Londoner Mr Ben Haines. I've copied it into my own London file because I think it summarizes in a helpful way. These are opinions; others may of course have other ideas.

“In my view, Earls Court, Paddington and Kings Cross are too far out to be close to the "hub". Of course you can go anywhere fast by tube, or on top of a bus, but most attractions lie on a fairly straight line from South Kensington via Victoria and Trafalgar Square to the City and the Tower. Which is to say the District Line. So the best hotels for sightseeing lie around the Strand: Charing Cross Hotel, Royal Aldwych Hotel, Strand Palace Hotel, Savoy Hotel, and Waldorf Meridien Hotel. Most of these are expensive. That leaves the following:

South Kensington. "Quiet, main hotels…few shops, plenty of restaurants at the tube station, contains four great museums." elaine's note: The South Kensington and Gloucester Road tube stops connect directly with Heathrow and many other locations. Walking distance to Knightsbridge (Harrods).

Chelsea. "But are there hotels there ? Anyway: trendy, expensive, active, many expensive shopsand restaurants with an international and yuppie clientele, no tube stations, so you take busses to Sloane Square and then carry on by Circle line. Attractions are the Museum of Army History and the Physic Garden."

Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Mayfair, St. James. “These are posh territories with mostly expensive hotels and shops, although there are a few small hotels that are moderately-priced. Buses from Hyde Park Corner go virtually everywhere.

The Strand. "Contiguous with the West End, and has much in common. But the handful of hotels on the Strand, Aldwych, and Villiers Street seem to me in the best position of all, with many tourist attractions within a quarter mile, and nearly all the others a few stations away on the Circle Line."

Bayswater. "Trendy…and thus a big range of restaurants and in fact pubs too, many shops, mixed hotel and residential area, tube stations at Bayswater and Lancaster Gate, near to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, but farther from most tourist attractions.

West End. "Trendy, noisy, full of shops, restaurants and pubs, crowded at weekends, tube stations all over, Near the Royal Academy (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/, good café, good gift shop), the theatres, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Transport Museum, Theatre Museum, and Westminster."

Bloomsbury. "Mostly hotels and colleges of the University of London, fairly quiet but well used far into the night by tourists and students, many restaurants, but better value restaurants 300 yards east on Lambs Conduit Street, plenty of tube stations, area includes the British Museum, the Brunei Gallery, and the British Library. Parking is usually available in the garage under Bloomsbury Square." elaine's note: There's a lot of literary history in this area as you will see on the blue plaques on the front of many buildings, and there are many moderately-priced hotels. I’ve stayed in that area, and I highly recommend it, especially if you can stay near the Russell Square or Tottenham Road stations which are central. Russell Square is a straight ride from Heathrow. At the edge of Bloomsbury there are a number of modest hotels/B&Bs on Gower St (near Goodge St tube stop) such as the Arosfa, Ridgemount, and Academy. Those are also a 7-10 minute walk from the Russell Square tube stop.

Waterloo. "Coming up, but still pretty dull. Quiet, few shops but a number of restaurants, residential, poor tubes but good busses north over the river to most tourist attractions (notably Westminster), and has its own attractions: the three South Bank concert halls, the National Theatre and National Film Theatre, the big wheel (the Eye), and a riverbank walk of half a mile to the Tate Britain and the Globe."

Victoria and Westminster. "South of Victoria station is an area almost wholly given to cheap hotels, with pubs, shops and restaurants to match. Like Bloomsbury in that it is well peopled until late at night, but has plenty of quiet streets. Victoria station is good for tubes and busses, and for trains to the sturdy towns, the gardens, and the fine countryside of Kent. Nearby attractions include…the Queen's Carriages and the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, St James Palace (much nicer than boring Buckingham Palace) and St James Park, one of the best."

"Nowhere in any of these places is unsafe: you should stay away from none of them. Some three miles out of town in several directions are large estates of apartment blocks, social housing, where the police walk in pairs. But they are ugly, and no tourist is ever there. As you see, the cheapest area is Victoria, as near as possible to the station, for trips either way along the Circle Line or on the tops of busses to many attractions."
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Jan 31st, 2011, 11:50 AM
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Look into Shoreditch. Lots of funky bars in the area around Hoxton Square. A bit rough around the edges.
Alternatively, South Ken/Chelsea/Fulham would be o.k., too. It's a bit more grown up and upmarket, but still a lot of good bars around.
London's sights are scattered over the city anyway, so regardless where you are going to stay, you will have to use the tube and buses anyway.

I recommended to take a look at tablethotels.com on your previous thread.
Of the hotels there, the Zetter, the Rookery, the Andaz and the Town Hall are all roughly in the area of Hoxton/Clerkenwell and approximately within your budget. The Andaz being connected to Liverpool St. station could be quite convenient for getting around.

If you can stretch your budget slightly, you could get the Kensington Hotel in South Kensington (5 min. walk from the tube station, convenient for the museums and for a couple of good bars, clubs and restaurants on the other side of the city).

http://www.tablethotels.com/

http://london.liverpoolstreet.andaz....tels/index.jsp
http://www.thezetter.com/
http://www.rookeryhotel.com/rok_index.html

http://www.doylecollection.com/locat...ton_hotel.aspx

For full disclosure I live in the city and haven't stayed in these hotels. I know the Andaz' public areas quite well (and like them) and friends have stayed there and liked it. I know the Kensington Hotel and the Zetter from passing by and they look better than average and I would probably prefer the Kensington Hotel's location. I am not familiar with the Rookery and the Town Hall.

I recently passed by the 54 Boutique Hotel and it may be an acceptable budget choice. It's just North of Cromwell Road close to the V&A, Natural History and Science Museums between South Ken and Gloucester Rd tube stops.
http://www.fiftyfourboutiquehotel.co.uk/
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Jan 31st, 2011, 12:06 PM
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20-something? Going out at night? Shoreditch.

At that price, you should have some options. Shoreditch House and the Hoxton pop to mind. The Crowne Plaza would work too.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 12:09 PM
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Alternately, you could get a good deal on Priceljne. You could probably get something in the $100-130-range in one of the central zones.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 03:12 PM
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The late, great Ben Haines had many virtues. But he was a man of his time and was close to home-bound from about ten years ago.

On Kings Cross, he was plain wrong at the the time and his views are wronger still today. Kings Cross/St Pancras is now the best-connected single place on earth, within reasonable walking distance of much of tourist London, direct train or tube connections to international airports that carry more international passengers that all America's airports combined, direct tube trains to more places in London than any other station - and direct trains to more places, in more countries, than any other station in Britain. To use a favourite term of Ben's: calling Kings Cross peripheral is simply surreal.

On Paddington, he was and is also wrong. Many people dislike the area (it suffers from the appalling stigma of being London at its most characteristic: scruffy, beautiful domestic architecture and lots of really mediocre restaurants). But it's walkable to much of tourist London (I do just that several times a week) and has a seriously interesting canal (along which you can walk to Liverpool and Oxford) virtually running inside it.

Otherwise, for things to see: search Ben on this site and his comments on what to see are cclose to infallible.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 06:30 PM
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I think you should stick to the area you want and use Pricleine. Since you are a couple a room with one double bed is no problem. Just be sure you stick with 4* - since UK 3* is not the same as US and they can be quite unpleasant at times.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 07:53 PM
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OK, agree with all otehrs who say, quite rightly, that you can easily get to where you want to go via public transport. What you want to see is going to be very spread out.
The good news is you CAN afford a very nice hotel. YOu could use Priceline (as NYT says above) or Hotwire. For ex, on Hotwire, you can get the Holiday Inn Camden Lock (near Camden Market--and a fun area--can any current Londoners update?)for $155/night, and other 4 star hotels near Victoria, for the same.

Plug in your dates on Hotwire.com , and see what you get that is 4 stars and above.

Then go to Betterbidding.com "Other countries, Hotwire" and match the icons with the names of the hotels you see on Hotwire. There is an additional fee on Hotwire, and tax, which will probably bring the $155 to more like !190--but once it's paid for, you can relax and plan the rest of your trip!
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Jan 31st, 2011, 10:03 PM
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One caveat about Priceline. You are guaranteed a room that can hold two people, but not necessarily a double bed. I have definitely ended up in rooms with two twins.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 01:26 AM
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Check hotels.com for special offers. There are some around the $200 although some rates do not include the 20%VAT. For example the Copthorne Tara in Kensington, the Grafton in Tottenham Court Road by Warren Street tube station, Radisson Vanderbilt in Cromwell Road and the Rathbone Hotel just off Goodge Street which is nearest the original desired location in Soho (approx £125 for a double not inc VAT or breakfast, 4 star hotel)
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Feb 1st, 2011, 01:50 AM
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I'll throw another couple ideas out there - Camden and London Bridge area. There are Premier Inns (basic but affordable accomodation) in both of these locations.

Camden is a bit edgy but there's a big market and lots of restaurants - think young/hip/punk crowd. http://www.google.co.uk/images?hl=en...og&sa=N&tab=wi
Not within walking distance of a lot of the regular tourist sites, but on the Northern Line and quick to get into the thick of things.

London Bridge area has Borough Market and lots of pubs etc along the river that are fun and it is in walking distance of a lot of things...plus its on the Northern and Jubilee Lines which make it easy to get most everywhere.

http://www.premierinn.com/en/london-hotels.html
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Feb 1st, 2011, 02:06 AM
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<< In my view, Earls Court, Paddington and Kings Cross are too far out to be close to the "hub". Of course you can go anywhere fast by tube, or on top of a bus, but most attractions lie on a fairly straight line from South Kensington via Victoria and Trafalgar Square to the City and the Tower. Which is to say the District Line. >>

Earls Court is also on the District Line - and the Piccadilly Line for travel to the British Museum, Brtiish Library, Heathrow or St Pancras for the Eurostar. It's about 5 minutes further to travel than South Kensington into the tourist sights and significantly cheaper
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Feb 1st, 2011, 02:21 AM
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For example the Copthorne Tara in Kensington

I would not pay $200 for the Copthorne Tara. If I got it on Priceline for $100, I wouldn't complain (though I would still be disappointed), but it is not worth $200 per night.

In general, I wouldn't spend more than $130 or so for the 3/4-star hotels in Kensington/South Kensington/etc., as you can get something on Priceline for that price or, often, lower.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 05:46 AM
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Why don't you try an apartment rental by owner instead of a hotel? They are generally a fraction of the price of a hotel in downtown London and you CAN stay in one of the areas you prefer. They are fully furnished and will have everything you need except maid service. I'm familiar with Ownersdirect.com but am sure that there are members who are familiar with other apartment rental websites they could suggest.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 07:56 AM
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We stayed a night in the Paddington area because of location, but did not care at all for the area. I also would not choose to stay in the King's Cross area. Lots of transportation in those places, but not so charming.

I agree with using Priceline. You can check biddingfortravel to see what people are winning. Apartments are nice too, but maybe you would prefer some services/assistance if it's your first trip to London, although it is very easy to manage without.

I can't advise as to young and hip areas, but I think wherever you end up, you will like London.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 08:23 AM
  #17
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I really appreciate all your help!! Some questions/answers to the posters...

I really like the Camden and London Bridge waterfront hotel I found on priceline/hotwire, but I'm not really into that whole edgey scene so I may stay away.

How is the Westminster Area?

Is being on the other side of the Thames River a bad decision?

I think I have narrowed it down to Kensington and Westminster.

Any suggestions on Bloomsbury or Chelsea? Thanks so much, I will keep you all posted!
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Feb 1st, 2011, 08:37 AM
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You probably know this, but I am talking about bidding for a hotel on Priceline. There are 2 parts to Priceline; one is 'name your own price', which is where you bid for a location/zone and star level but not a specific hotel.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Camden is edgy, but London Bridge area isnt.

Its my favorite part of London - the shots in Bridget Jones's Diary outside her flat are shot mostly at Borough Market. There is a lovely riverfront 'boardwalk' from Tower Bridge past London Bridge all the way past Waterloo and the Eye that has pubs, flats, restaurants and businesses with great views of St Pauls etc.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 09:09 AM
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I like the Bloomsbury area when we stayed there, its been awhile. Check our the Morgan Hotel in Bloomsbury. Also have you check our www.londontown.com for hotel ideas.
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