With its iconic landmarks including the London Eye and Houses of Parliament, and its galleries and museums among the world’s best, London deserves its reputation as a thrilling city to visit. London’s food scene is as diverse as its population, embracing global flavours alongside home-grown cuisine. The city’s exciting, inclusive nightlife scene welcomes all visitors, while its village-like neighbourhoods provide diverse options for daytime activities. Summer is peak season, so aim to visit in late spring or early autumn.

The best neighbourhoods to visit in London

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Colourful grand houses in Kensington

Royals, smartly dressed city-dwellers and bohemian types alike call London’s smallest borough home. West of Hyde Park, the museum quarter boasts plenty of options for curious travellers. Stand in awe beneath the skeleton of a blue whale at the Natural History Museum and be enlightened by art and design exhibitions at the V&A. World famous Saatchi Gallery isn’t far from the Serpentine Gallery, at the Southern tip of Kensington Palace and gardens.

Once you’ve been inspired by art, use your creative energy to spy the best antiques and period pieces at Portobello Market, or hit the designer boutiques of King’s Road. Decadent Victorian architecture is on every corner, but the Royal Albert Hall is most impressive. Wander its perimeter to admire it from outside, before heading in to watch world-class musicians perform in its Italianate dome. For an equally stimulating evening, catch a culturally pressing play at the Royal Court Theatre on Sloane Square.

Fans of Italian cuisine are spoiled in Kensington and Chelsea. Bright and airy La Terrazza Kensington, homed inside Hotel Xenia, Autograph Collection, presents show-stopping plates. At decadent Blake’s Restaurant in Blake’s Hotel London, the inspired truffle pizza is the dish to try.

In West London’s many gastropubs, farm-to-plate is king; locals head for the charmingly humble Maggie Jones’s for their Sunday roast. For a swanky dining experience it’s Sexy Fish on Berkeley Square, where the menu – lead by robata-grilled fish – is accompanied by the world’s largest collection of Japanese whisky. If you’re just after a snack, pause in one of Notting Hill’s Instagrammable coffee shops; Farm Girl is a go-to for their rose matcha or charcoal latte.

To experience the character of genteel South Kensington, stay at Hotel Xenia, Autograph Collection; the Turkish marble rain showers and private terraces keep it both sophisticated and relaxing. Moments from Earl’s Court tube station, Residence Inn London Kensington offers a peaceful hub from home, while London Marriott Hotel Kensington is a stylish base.


East London’s Shoreditch is an urban sanctuary for young creatives and liberal hipsters. Admire the vibrant street art lining the walls of buildings between bustling bars and restaurants. Browse crafts and garments from life-long traders at Spitalfields Market before exploring the micro-boutiques that surround its perimeter. And search out East London style in the vintage stores of Brick Lane and Cheshire Street. At night, dance to the rhythms of world-leading DJs at XOYO and Cargo.

This buzzing neighbourhood has its moments of calm, too. A sunrise yoga class – 36 floors up at London’s Sky Garden – makes a memorable way to greet the day. Alternatively, start your Sunday with a celebration of scent and colour at Columbia Road Flower Market. Or stop off at Victoria Miro, a progressive gallery that you’ll find on a path-less-travelled off Regent’s Canal, to discover the work of established and emerging modern artists.

Great Eastern Street’s many artisanal coffee shops are perfect for a mid-afternoon break – enjoy a flat white at Attendant just as the locals do. Dinerama and Boxpark make ideal pitstops for casual yet fulfilling street food. For a restful meal, try simple classic yet reinvented sliders at Moor and Mead. Yotam Ottolenghi’s eponymous restaurant at Spitalfields delivers memorable twists on vegetarian cuisine. If heights are your thing, try the Rooftop Bar & Grill at Boundary London for its tantalizing, seasonally changing menu, and to toast the skyline with a signature Veuve Clicquot Rose d’assemblage 1818 cocktail. Need a late-night snack? Local favourite Brick Lane Beigel Bake serves up salt beef 24 hours a day.

Sleep peacefully above the hustle and bustle in one of Boundary London’s 17 guest rooms. Three minutes from Old Street tube station, Montcalm East, Autograph Collection offers a spa and pool with its city views.

The South Bank

The London Eye

The London Eye gives fabulous views right across the city

Under the gaze of the London Eye, the South Bank offers world-class theatre, film, dance and art at every turn. Save a day to explore the tree-lined riverbank, following the arch of the river’s south side on foot or bike, and pausing to take in the spectacle of London’s storytelling architecture.

You can catch life-changing shows at the Young Vic, Old Vic, National Theatre or Southbank Centre. Those looking for something less frequented will find solace at 1901 Arts Club, where the sound of recitals and chamber concerts fills intimate rooms. It would be all too easy to walk past the Rambert Dance Company, but their modern dance performances will leave a long-lasting impression. You can time travel, too; watch one of Shakespeare’s epics at the Globe, just as Londoners would have in 1599.

Be transported to 1920s England in The Library at London Marriott Hotel County Hall; opulent oak bookcases frame your view of the Houses of Parliament as you treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea – with vegan options available. Seek a recommendation from the bartenders at Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar for the gin that suits you best – they have over a hundred to choose from. Meanwhile, at Spiritland Royal Festival Hall, your ears are catered to as much as your taste buds; vinyl-spinning DJs provide the score to imaginative small plates and cocktails.

The South Bank has plenty of exciting casual food options, too. Work up an appetite by strolling inland to one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, Borough Market, for even more local and international flavours.

Book a river-view room at the plush London Marriott Hotel County Hall, housed in the former city hall and kitted out with quintessentially British interiors. Minutes from the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, hand-picked furnishings and bespoke artworks give a stay at the Bankside Hotel, Autograph Collection a decadent feeling. For a hotel steeped in history, stay at The Dixon, Tower Bridge, Autograph Collection; stunning views from Tower Bridge are just a stroll away, so don’t forget your camera.

The West End

The West End at night

The West End is full of theatres

The West End affectionately lends its name to London’s theatreland, but the bustling area also encompasses Soho, Covent Garden and Mayfair. While catching a West End show is an obvious must-do, there’s so much more to explore among the area’s bright lights, cobbled streets and gorgeous Georgian townhouses.

Follow your feet and your curiosity will be rewarded. Striking architecture is everywhere – especially at Covent Garden Piazza, where opera singers will soundtrack your ramble across the square. Look out for politicians en route to the Houses of Parliament when you stroll through St James’ Park. On the other side of the green, relax with a cocktail on the terrace at St Ermin’s Hotel, Autograph Collection.

Just off of Oxford Street – London’s main shopping drag – you’ll find elegant Liberty’s department store and fashionable Carnaby Street. Mayfair is the destination if you wish to splash serious cash; it’s even home to the world-famous Sotheby's Auction House.

Bright, bold and playful describes Sketch, a quirky, 18th-century townhouse comprising multiple rooms for every dining occasion, from afternoon tea to a gourmet dinner. Coffee-drinkers will be stimulated by Algerian Coffee Store – a Soho Institution since 1887. For dinner with a view, head north to St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London in King’s Cross, which has a heavenly roof garden.

Nightlife lives in Soho. LGBTQ+ bars thrive on Old Compton Street, while round the corner on Frith Street you can sip on espresso martinis at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club during the Late, Late Show (Monday to Saturday until 3am). Make the most of London’s revered comedy circuit by catching rising comics and established comedians at Soho Theatre and The Comedy Store.

The location of W London, which has a Cool Britannia vibe, is perfect for nightlife lovers. If boutique elegance is more your style, try The London EDITION, which occupies a row of Georgian townhouses on the outskirts of Soho. For all the grandeur of Mayfair, look no further than the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane with its Art Deco design. Their Nineteen Twen-tea Afternoon Tea – with its savoury treats inspired by the 1920s – is an elegant way to experience an English tradition.

Go deeper

Covent Garden

Covent Garden was once a bustling produce market

Getting around London is easiest with an Oyster card or contactless debit card. Download the Citymapper app to navigate the city by public transport, and make the most of the river’s Thames Clipper to cross London. Black cabs are available everywhere, and London’s “cabbies” are revered for their incredible knowledge of the capital.

Most bars in London close by 11pm, making 7–8pm a popular hour for dinner reservations. While it’s possible to enjoy spontaneity in London, get tickets for shows and events ahead of time wherever you can. Only have 24 hours? Find out how to make it count.

Published: July 25, 2022

Last Updated: November 15, 2022

Article Tags:  London , United Kingdom

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