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Where To Stay In London For The First Time

Need some advice on where to stay in London for your first visit? I’m here to help. Whatever your budget, I have a recommendation for where to stay in London for first-timers. 

This is one of the most important factors when planning a vacation, and in a city as big as London the amount of options can be overwhelming. 

Now, I’ll admit that as a Londoner there are only a few occasions when I’ve needed to use hotels in the city, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give great advice. 

I know the city very well and, as a seasoned traveller, I also know what’s important when booking accommodation. 

Treehouse Hotel

Tip: Book your accommodation as early as possible. London has a huge range of places to stay but the city also attracts huge numbers of visitors. Leaving it to the last minute may mean the best options are unavailable. 

Quick Guide: Where To Stay In London For The First Time

Budget Pick

Urbany Hostel

For those on a tight budget, Urbany is the perfect choice.

mid range Pick
Big Ben, Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament

Park Plaza County Hall

Park Plaza County Hall is perfectly located near Westminster to keep you in the city centre without costing a fortune.

luxury Pick

The Ritz

London’s most iconic hotel – famous for its service, afternoon tea and, of course, the film Notting Hill.

Best Places To Stay In London For Convenience

For most first-time visitors to London, the most important thing is to stay somewhere central to make the most of your time. That still leaves you with plenty of choice for all budgets. 

📍Budget OptionUrbany Hostel

Urbany Hostel is a great choice for visitors on a tight budget. When it comes to keeping costs down sometimes you have to sacrifice on location, but Urbany is still in a central location for a very low price tag. It’s a short walk to a few Tube stations as well as Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.

The main downside to Urbany is it’s age-limit. If you are over 40 you won’t be able to stay there, in which case I recommend Wombat Hostel which doesn’t have an upper age limit. 

📍Mid Range OptionNyx Hotel Holborn

This hotel is a great choice for your first time in London.

It’s very close to the British Museum, a short walk from Covent Garden, and with easy access to the Tube at Holborn station on the Central and Piccadilly lines. Perfect for a convenient location at a reasonable cost at a lovely hotel. 

📍Luxury OptionThe Ritz

One of the world’s most famous hotels, The Ritz is perfect for first-time visitors with an unlimited budget. It’s one of the city’s most expensive hotels, but it is also an exceptional choice.

The building and rooms are beautiful, the location is excellent, and the service is fantastic. 

Best Places To Stay For Families

📍Budget Option Premier Inn County Hall

Premier Inn County Hall is a great price for a central location. It’s on the South Bank next to the London Eye. 

Premier Inns are a great option to consider in many places around the UK. They aren’t on websites like Booking.com so you have to book through their own website, which means that many visitors to the UK aren’t aware of them. 

I’ve stayed in quite a few of them and have never had a bad experience in any of them. They aren’t luxurious, but they are clean, safe and comfortable. Just don’t mistake them for the Northern Lights as happened in Norwich recently!

They often have rooms suitable for families, and you can save money by booking a non-refundable rate. If this one is booked up for your dates, other Premier Inns in central London will be similarly priced.

Big Ben, Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge

📍Mid Range OptionPark Plaza County Hall

This hotel is next to the Premier Inn County Hall, but is a little bit nicer! It’s just a few minutes from highlights such as the London Eye, and then across Westminster Bridge to the Houses and Parliament and Big Ben. A fantastic location and the prices are pretty reasonable for families. 

📍Luxury Option Most high-end hotels don’t have family rooms, so you would have to book two rooms. The Savoy has some family rooms but they are outrageously expensive, so my recommendation would be to stick with the Park Plaza County Hall.  

Unique Places to Stay In London

📍Mid-Range OptionCitizenM Bankside

Truly quirky and unique hotels tend to come at a higher cost. CitizenM is a cool hotel close to the Tate Modern and Borough Market. For its location and quality, it’s a bargain, but this is London and it’s not a cheap city. 

The bar at Treehouse Hotel

📍Luxury OptionTreehouse London

Another beautiful hotel in a great location, Treehouse is a fantastic choice. The hotel’s rooftop bar is one of its highlights, and many of the rooms offer excellent views over the city. 

📍Extra Special Option – Shangri-La at The Shard

This is one of my bucket list hotels, but as I live in London I need a special occasion to justify it!

Waking up with a view of London’s skyline is a pretty amazing experience. The hotel is also in a fantastic location and I highly recommend the restaurants. Shangri-La is next to the river, close to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and all the best bits of the South Bank.

If budget isn’t an issue, this is a pretty unique place to stay.

Best Places To Stay For Solo Female Travellers

I have done my fair share of solo female travel, so I know what the important things are – a safe location, close to transport options, and comfortable enough to spend time in if you don’t want to venture out at night. 

📍Budget OptionHostelle

If you are travelling on a tight budget, the best option is a hostel with female-only dorms, or a fully female-only hostel. Hostelle is the latter. To save money it isn’t quite so centrally located, but it is just a 3 minute walk to Bethnal Green station on the Central line, down a main road. It’s clean, safe and cheap, perfect for solo female travel on a budget in what is otherwise a very expensive city. 

📍Mid Range Option Montague on The Gardens

This lovely hotel offers single rooms (in addition to standard doubles) to help you save a bit of money. It is next to the British Museum and within walking distance to Covent Garden, Oxford Street and more. 

The Savoy

📍Luxury OptionThe Savoy

Another of London’s most famous hotels, The Savoy has an excellent location, within walking distance of Covent Garden, the South Bank, Trafalgar Square and more.

There are also several Tube stations nearby so you can get around the city without having to walk a long way when you return in the evening.

If, like me, you prefer as a solo traveller to stay in your accommodation in the evening, the hotel has several excellent restaurants. The American Bar in the hotel is one of the world’s best hotel bars. 

FAQs: Visiting London

How many days in London is enough?

I would recommend at least 3 full days to get the most out of the city. Check out my 5-day itinerary – it’s organised to prioritise seeing the best of London, so if you can only do the first 2 or 3 days in that itinerary you’ll still get to see a lot of London’s highlights. 

What is the best time of year to go to London?

I would recommend late spring and early autumn. In the height of summer, everything tends to get quite busy, the Tube is unpleasantly hot, and many hotels either don’t have air conditioning or if they do it’s not very effective. May and September tend to offer good weather for walking around, and off-season prices. 

Is it easy to get around London without a car?

Trust me, you don’t want a car when visiting London. Using public transport is far superior to getting stuck in traffic, navigating the city’s one-way streets, following the rules for streets that you can only drive down at certain times of day, and struggling to find parking. 

Is London expensive to visit?

Unfortunately, yes. It’s an amazing city and there are ways to cut down your budget – stay in hostels, make the most of free attractions, and buy food at supermarkets instead of restaurants. But it’s not a cheap city. 

Final Thoughts

Now you have your recommendations on where to stay, your next step will be to work out what to do. For some inspiration check out my list of best things to do solo, the perfect 5-day itinerary, and suggestions for the best places to visit outside of London if you have more time to spend here. 

Happy Travels!

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