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Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

April 05, 2021
If you think that London is all about the British Royal Family, Mary Poppins, and fish & chips, think again! The British capital is a lot more diverse than movies and TV series give it credit for. Perhaps with the help of this London neighborhood guide, you'll discover the different sides of the British capital. Let’s start with a few general ideas of what you need to know about certain parts of the city.

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood



London Neighborhoods to Avoid

Considering that London’s crime rates are pretty high, it'll really help if you learn which neighborhoods to avoid first. One of them is Brixton, known as the city's mecca for drug trafficking. Considering that drug dealing is the highest-rated crime in London, you shouldn't even think about going here, even if it's during the day. On the other hand, Hackney, Stockwell, and Peckham are London's red-light districts. All sorts of sketchy characters gather in these places come nightfall, some even arrive as early as mid-day! 

Expensive Neighborhoods in London

You probably don't need anyone to tell you that London is an expensive city. The living costs here often go sky-high, even when you try to stick to a budget, so if you're worried about possibly draining your wallet (and bank account), you'd do well to avoid the most expensive neighborhoods here. They include Chelsea, Soho, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Camden Town, Belgravia, Marylebone, and the Royal Borough of Kensington. They're no doubt some of the best areas of London, but also the most affluent and high-class districts. You can practically feel your money slipping away even if you're just passing by! 

Best Neighborhoods in London for Tourists

Weirdly enough, some of those expensive neighborhoods are also the best for tourists to explore and stay in London. Chelsea and SoHo, in particular, are trendy districts with great nightlife and fashionable flairs. They embody the glamorous side of London, one that you've already seen in movies, TV, and even British fashion magazines. Westminster, on the other hand, is home to London's most iconic landmarks. There's the Big Ben Clocktower, Westminster Abbey, and The National Galleries, to name a few. And for a quirky yet idyllic side to London, look no further than Notting Hill. Its pleasant charms were more than enough to have Hollywood make an entire rom-com about it.

Westminster in London

As already mentioned, Westminster is one of the best places for tourists. In many ways, it serves as the center of the city, not just with its world-famous attractions, but also because it's the seat of power in the UK. Various government buildings are located here, namely the Houses of Parliament, the Supreme Court, the Royal Court of Justice, and more. Add to that the fact that Westminster is also among the most prominent districts of London and there's no longer denying that it's the heart of the city. 

Where to Stay in Westminster, London

Truth be told, Westminster isn't technically a district. The UK considers it an entire city called the “City of Westminster” and the area itself is somewhat of a city within a city. To make things easier, they've relegated it to a borough in London. And in this borough, there are popular neighborhoods like Covent Garden, Kensington, Chelsea, Belgravia, Mayfair, and SoHo. These are also the best places to stay in Westminster, whether you're simply a tourist or you plan to move to London altogether. 

What to Do in Westminster, London

Simply put, you can do practically everything in Westminster. Go sightseeing and discover London's most iconic landmarks. Shop till you drop in the trendy districts of Covent Garden and Belgravia. Eat out at Chelsea, home to some of London's best restaurants. Enjoy the nightlife in SoHo after watching a play in the West End. And explore the affluent neighborhoods, Mayfair and Kensington, and discover the high-class side of the city.

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. James's in London

As the area where Buckingham Palace is located, it's only natural that St. James's is one of the more upscale neighborhoods in London. An array of high-end restaurants, designer boutiques, and famous West End theaters surround the British monarch's home, all of which cost a pretty penny. And to no one's surprise, these are also the same places where the royals shop, eat out, and more. Not just because they're near Buckingham Palace, but also because these hotspots are known for their exquisite offerings and high-quality service. You can just imagine how luxurious they all are! 

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

SoHo in London

If you see London as this classy cosmopolitan city where people are always out and about, dressed in designer fashions, riding the fanciest cars, and going to parties every night, you're probably thinking of SoHo. The neighborhood is one of many districts that define the trendy Londoner lifestyle, one that movies and TV series have often glamourized on screen. And while they're not always accurate, it's safe to say that SoHo really is that fabulous. It’s here where you'll find the famous Oxford Street, known as London's busiest shopping street, Shaftesbury Avenue, a haven for theater-goers, and Carnaby Street, the birthplace of the Mod style. 

What Does Soho in London Stand for?

Contrary to what many people believe, the meaning of Soho in London is different from that of the New York neighborhood. The latter's SoHo means “South of Houston Street,” referring to the area within Manhattan. Soho in London, on the other hand, refers to an English 16th-century hunting cry, “So-hoe!” It harkens back to the time when the area used to be nothing but grazing lands and open fields. 

What to Do in Soho, London

Shop, shop, and shop! When people claim London as a fashion capital, they're mostly talking about Soho. Though other neighborhoods have their fair share of fashionable boutiques and big department stores, Soho is where you can get high fashion. There's Oxford Street, for example, which is where various British designers have set up shop. Just as famous is Carnaby Street, where the Mod style of the 1960s and London's “Youth-quake Movement” emerged. To this day, independent boutiques still line this famous street. 

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Covent Garden in London


There's no doubt that Covent Garden is among the most popular neighborhoods in London. The area is home to numerous attractions, high-class restaurants, beloved London theaters, and more. If you want to be at the center of all the action in the British capital, this is where you ought to stay. You're guaranteed to have the most exciting time if you explore Covent Garden! 

Where is Covent Garden in London?

You'll find Covent Garden in the West End of London. It's actually one of the many neighborhoods inside the City of Westminster, the central borough of the British capital. But since it's so big, some areas of the neighborhood are part of the London Borough of Camden too. 

What to See in Covent Garden, London

Over the years, Covent Garden has turned into the entertainment and foodie hub of London. There's the Royal Opera House, for example, where exemplary performances are always offered. The London Transport Museum and London Film Museum draw in car enthusiasts and cinephiles respectively. And don't forget about the Apple Market, one of the most famous food markets in the world. There's no telling what you might find in this treasure trove of fresh produce. Perhaps you can even whip up a first-class feast with whatever you buy here, the kind that can rival the dishes served in the upscale restaurants that constantly put Covent Garden on the (foodie) map. 

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mayfair in London

The Mayfair district embodies the elegance of London. This is where you'll find the classic Georgian townhouses, high-class hotels, and more. As such, this is also among the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. If you want to rent a luxury apartment in London, this is the best place for it. Practically all of the properties available here are prime real estate, each worth every single cent you spend. 

Where is Mayfair in London?

You can find Mayfair in the West End of London, another of the City of Westminster's affluent districts. Part of why it's a famous area is its close proximity to Hyde Park, one of the most beloved parks in London. The affluent area sits towards the eastern edge of the famous green space. 

What to Do in Mayfair, London

There are two sides of Mayfair. The first is the upscale district where you can eat and shop. You'll find the famous Saville Row here, home to the finest tailors in London. This is the best place in the entire world to get a suit! But if you prefer a ready-to-wear outfit that's just as high-quality, go to Bond Street. The place is lined with designer stores and boutiques, from local labels the international brands. 

The second side of Mayfair is Hyde Park, arguably the main park in London. If New York City has Central Park, London has Hyde Park. One of the largest green spaces in the city, there's so much to do here. Hang out with friends, enjoy a picnic with your special someone, walk your dog, and more.


Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Marylebone in London

There's no denying that London is a busy city. Not only does it have a massive population, but there's also so much to see and do, it's no wonder tourists flock here every chance they get. In such a bustling metropolis, is there a place where you can live in peace? Yes, there is and it's in Marylebone! While it's not exactly a suburban neighborhood, it is a chic area that's largely residential. You can rent a London luxury apartment here, you're guaranteed to have more peace and quiet compared to the other districts. 

Is Marylebone a Good Place to Stay?

You already know the answer to this, right? Since Marylebone is a residential area, it’s more than just a good place to stay. It's arguably one of the best places for anyone to settle down. If you plan to move to London, this ought to be at the top of your list of London neighborhoods that you consider making your new hometown! Beyond just the plethora of luxury apartments, the nearby hotspots are simply independent stores and small bistros, which rarely invite rowdy tourists and cosmopolitan residents anyway. 

Is Marylebone, London Safe?

Yes, Marylebone is a safe district. In fact, it's among the safest neighborhoods in London. Though there are still a few cases of pickpocketing here and there, there are rarely any violent crimes committed here. 

What to Do in Marylebone, London

Marylebone is the kind of place where you can slow down and just hang out. Go window shopping through the various independent stores, vintage clothing shops, and more. You might be surprised at the hidden treasures you'll find here. Then when you get hungry, pop on over to the chic but compact eateries here and enjoy a meal in solitude. Sounds pretty idyllic, doesn't it? Especially considering you're still in London! 


Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kensington in London

Elegant Victorian houses, stately foreign embassies, and grand museums. These are what to expect in Kensington, an upscale area in London. It's one of the many neighborhoods located in the Royal Borough of Kensington. With its old-world appeal and historic charm, the neighborhood strikes the right balance between classic beauty and contemporary excitement. 

What to Do in Kensington, London

Kensington is for the Londoner who’s always out and about. If you want to go sightseeing, the place has plenty of museums to entertain you. They include the Natural History Museums, the Science Museum, and the stunning Kensington Palace. Prefer a bit of theater instead? Look no further than the iconic Royal Albert Hall, a prestigious venue that hosts classic and contemporary artists alike. And if you're a bonafide shopaholic, there's no doubt you can get your hands on some amazing pieces throughout Kensington High Street! 

Where to Stay in Kensington, London

The Kensington Palace Gardens is as posh and picturesque as it sounds. It's an entire street lined with English mansions, manors, and townhouses, most of which are occupied by ambassadors, diplomats, and the like. Though it's not exactly a place you can stay in, the areas near it certainly are. Any luxury home near the Kensington Palace Gardens is worth your while and hard-earned money! 

Is Kensington London a Good Place to Stay?

If Kensington is good enough for foreign dignitaries, it's good enough for you! Even beyond the embassies and mansions, there's still a lot in store for the everyday Londoner and/or tourist here. While it's not exactly the most exciting nor the most peaceful neighborhood in London, you won't get bored and you'll stay safe in the area! 

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Chelsea in London


When you search London on the internet, do you get images of colorful houses all lined up in a row? They look adorable, don't they? Sort of like they're playhouses for kids, right? Well, they are, in fact, actual homes. They're located in Chelsea, one of the most popular neighborhoods in London. Like SoHo and Covent Garden, it's among the trendiest districts in the city. There are luxury boutiques, high-end restaurants, chic galleries, a cool nightlife scene, and tons of luxury apartments in Chelsea. You might even spot a celebrity or two here! They either live in the neighborhood or hang out here frequently. 

Is Chelsea in London?

This may sound like a funny question at first, but it's not surprising why many people ask this. There are two neighborhoods both named Chelsea in different parts of the world. There's this one in London and the other is all the way across the pond in New York City. When speaking of the Chelsea district, you need to specify whether you're talking about the one in London or the one in New York. Especially since both are trendy areas filled with popular hotspots, upscale art galleries, fashionable boutiques, and more. 

Where is Chelsea in London?

Chelsea is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington in West London. It lies southwest of Charing Cross and on the north bank of the River Thames. It borders other popular neighborhoods like Kensington and Notting Hill. 

What to Do in Chelsea, London

Just as you'd expect, Chelsea is all about going out and about. You can shop, sightsee, drink, and have a gay ol' time here. You can definitely eat out here too! Though there are lots of great places to eat throughout the rest of London, Chelsea is a true center of the city's culinary scene. Think Michelin-starred restaurants, historic bistros, cool bars, and more. Want to know why London is considered a food capital? Look no further than the hotspots in Chelsea!

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Notting Hill in London

Any fan of 90s rom-coms ought to know what Notting Hill is all about. The setting for the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant-starring chick flick wasn't made up just for the movie. It's an actual neighborhood in London. And yes, the place is just as charming in real life. There are trendy cafes, kitschy bookstores, street markets, and more. Hollywood certainly did it justice! 

Where is Notting Hill in London?

You'll find Notting Hill in the Royal Borough of Kensington, fairly near the equally popular Chelsea district. The area lies west of Central London and on the north bank of the River Thames. 

What to Do in Notting Hill, London

Relax in a cafe, read a book in a bookstore, shop for vintage clothes, or eat at a pub. Though you can do things in Notting Hill that you can also do in other neighborhoods in London, this place simply has a different vibe. It's vibrant, sure, but it's a toned-down and idyllic vibrancy. One that won't have you itching to party until 3 am, but will have you hanging out with friends in a pub. Or drinking coffee in a cafe with a good book. Or shop for ingredients to cook a nice meal back at your luxury apartment. Or, like Roberts and Grant, engage in a heartwarming romance.


Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bloomsbury in London

Don't believe anyone who tells you that Bloomsbury, London is a boring neighborhood. It might not be as fashionable as Soho, as trendy as Covent Garden, as hip as Chelsea, or as vibrant as Notting Hill, but it's nowhere near boring. It's just not that person's cup of tea. Admittedly, Bloomsbury is not to everyone's tastes. This is the academic side of London, one where schools, libraries, museums, and more dominate. There are the top universities of London, the famous British Museum, and the charming Charles Dickens Museum. 

Is Bloomsbury, London Safe?

Considering the nature of the various institutions proudly standing in the area, it's pretty clear that Bloomsbury is a generally safe neighborhood. The crime rates here are comparatively lower than London overall. Still, it pays to be more aware of your surroundings if you're by yourself in the area, especially after dark! 

Is Bloomsbury a Good Place to Stay in London?

The short answer is yes, it is. The long answer, however, is it depends on what you're into. Or your current situation. If you moved to London to study, then this is the best place for you. Your campus might be located here, and even if it isn't, the area is still a lot quieter compared to other London neighborhoods. In fact, in terms of peace and quiet, Bloomsbury is the closest thing you'll get to a standard suburban neighborhood in London. 

What to Do in Bloomsbury, London

Love to learn? Then you'll love Bloomsbury! As already mentioned, this area is where many of London's top schools have campuses. At the same time, it's also home to the British Museum, a treasure trove of artworks and artifacts that teach about human history, heritage, and the like. If you want to laugh, you should also visit the Museum of Comedy, one of the best comedy clubs in London

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Holborn in London


Holborn serves as London’s law district, home to a bevy of government buildings, legal courts, and the like. Located in the City of Westminster, this is where you'll find the Royal Courts of Justice, Inns of Court, the UK Supreme Court, and the like. With these alone, it's easy to disregard Holborn as a boring district where only lawyers and politicians work. But there's more to Holborn than that! Like the trendier neighborhoods on this list, Holborn also has a pretty noteworthy culinary scene. 

Is Holborn London Safe?

Of course, it is! Holborn is home to the most important government buildings in all of the UK, after all. The security here is always tight, no matter the time of day. With that said, however, it's still not wise to just walk around Holborn all by yourself at night. You can never tell what might happen to you after dark. 

London Restaurants in Holborn

In London's law district, the best place to have any sort of fun is to eat out. Fortunately, Holborn has a lot of great restaurants on offer. Check out Noble Rot, for example, where the lamb and shrimp are absolute must-try! Ciao Bella, on the other hand, is an authentic Italian trattoria that piles on the bowls of pasta and bottles of red wine. You'll feel full in no time! And if you're not exactly sure of what you're craving, look no further than the Arcade Food Hall. This place serves cuisines from around the world, each more delectable than the next! 

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

North London

Home to Tottenham, Muswell Hill, Finsbury Park, Belsize Park, and Church End, North London is a lovely part of the British capital. It's a largely residential area that's mostly quiet, especially when you compare it to the chic neighborhoods in Central and West London. Londoners will have you thinking that it's a boring, mostly suburban place that once served as the home to the city's intellectual. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. At the very least, things aren't as hectic here compared to other parts of London. 

Is North London Posh?

Yes and no. It's posh in the sense that's a clean, organized, and put-together sort of area. As mentioned previously, it's mostly suburban and once home to various London intellectuals. At the very least, it's bourgeois. But when you compare it to places like Soho, Chelsea, Covent Garden, Mayfair, Marylebone, and the like, then it's not as posh as it initially seemed. These neighborhoods are the true affluent areas in London. 

Is North London Dangerous?

The general consensus surrounding North London is that it's a safe place overall. Though there are a few rough areas here and there, it's nowhere near as dangerous as other parts of the city. It has ample CCTV coverage and various police stations all around. You just need to be careful when you're out and about, especially if you're on your own and it's already late. 

Ultimate London Guide by Neighborhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As complex, diverse, and massive as the city is, this London neighborhoods guide shows you the central, most popular, and worthwhile parts of the British capital. It's important to know the best places in a city you plan to travel to.



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