Top 5 Coolest Areas Worth Exploring In London

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London is full of personality and tourists come in their droves every year to absorb a bit of it. This is the capital city of a nation that has been great for centuries and top attractions like Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Covent Garden all contribute a little to the historical picture of bygone years. But perhaps you’re not interested in the history of London and just want a photo of a Beefeater, or a selfie with an extended pinkie finger at ‘Claridges Afternoon Tea’ – I don’t blame you; when in London! Whatever the reason you booked your trip, central London will not disappoint.

It’s an absolute must that you visit these top tourist spots – they are popular for good reason, but if you’d like to experience a bit of real London and see a different side, then there are so many cool and interesting neighbourhoods that you can visit. Find out where the trendy kids hang, the best markets and prettiest areas of London are with our Top 5 list – this way we’ll ensure you get all the insta-worthy shots, see the coolest places and leave knowing you’ve really done London, absorbed its awesomeness and can give it a big fat tick.

The Top 5 Area’s Of London Worth Exploring

Everywhere in London is accessible – just hop on a bus or a tube and these top 5 neighbourhoods are only a 10 minute journey away. Allow at least a couple of hours for each district, or longer if you really want to feel the local vibe. If you’re in London for a few days and the cost of a central London hotel is raising your blood pressure, we would definitely recommend considering one of these areas as a base because you will certainly be able to pick up a cheaper hotel and you won’t be ripped off so much by tourist food prices in the centre. And besides, isn’t it always nicer to be eating with the locals on an evening? I have included a personal recommendation of a hotel in each area.

Chelsea And Knightsbridge

As fans of Made In Chelsea will already know, The Kings Road is the place to be seen. A very wealthy district in South West London where the locals and their over pronounced English accents ooze power, money and influence. This is old money around here, gentrified home-owners who have often not done a days work in their lives yet think nothing of a little outing to the Kings Road for a mid-day coffee and a Cartier wrist watch.

It has always been one of London’s richest neighbourhoods and many a lord and lady now rest in the local cemetary, but this is exactly why Chelsea is a great place to while away a few hours. Residents could always afford the best houses and when money is no object, it made sense to add in a handful of green spaces between the estates too, making it all the more prettier to wander around with your chai latte and miniature dog.

chelsea in knightsbridge is one of the best areas to visit in London and definitely one of the poshest

Get A Feel For The Neighbourhood

Dotted between the preened residential streets and parks are the best looking boutique retail joints selling everything beautiful from bespoke flower arrangements to fancy hair-do’s and fillers. Gorgeous window displays and hand-painted shop fronts to give Paris a run for its money.

Dining options in this area are obviously going to be on the more expensive side but there are a few celebrity hang-outs in this neck of the woods like the Bluebird Cafe, The Ivy and ecclecticly British Maggie Jones’s which could justify the inflated menu prices.

Knightsbridge is also home to some of London’s best museums too and in keeping with the grand architecture of the area you would enjoy a visit for the buildings alone : The V&A and the Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road are so impressive and absolutely free. And, don’t miss the Saatchi Gallery set in the Duke of York’s old headquarters for some of the most mind-blowing contemporary art you will ever see.

Top Tips – The coffee shop L’eto has several branches in this area and the cakes are to die for, arrive 30 minutes before closing time and all their food is reduced by 50%.

cute cafes Chelsea

photo’s courtesy of Helen at Justhelenmarie on Instagram
Hotel Choice :

Right in heart of Chelsea are the fully serviced apartments, the Chelsea Cloisters. There are about 250 apartments to choose from, with different sizes and amenities. Most have kitchens and available car parking. Prices start from around £80 a night and the rooms are very modern, clean and comfortable.

Camden Town

Regardless of the fact everyone is in need of a good bath around here and there are more dreadlocks than Bob Marley’s funeral, Camden is a right of passage and you haven’t seen London till you’ve visited. Amy Winehouse’s former neighbourhood is one of the most colourful you will see in London, and that’s just the people : think tie dye, rasta and batik at every turn. Curiously, the area started as a hub to the British railway industry and although the canals and railway bridges are a substantial part of the picture in Camden, they almost go unoticed alongside the vibrancy of the markets and music connections in the area.

Camden Market is one of London's top tourist attractions and best food markets. It's a really cool area

Get A Feel For The Neighbourhood

From the minute you leave the tube station you will find yourself on a human conveyor belt (Camden Market is London’s 4th biggest attraction) past shop after shop of Nirvana tshirts and Doc Marten boots, all with one thing in mind : food. Way before markets like Borough and Leather Lane came along, Camden was churning out chow mein and churros like nobody’s business. It might be 12 o’clock in London but this amazing food market has every time-zone’s cuisine covered : shwarma, sushi and steak in a cardboard food tray, now just find yourself a pew and enjoy a bit of people-watching whilst you eat. Primrose Hill and Regents Park aren’t a million miles away either, so if a picnic’s more your thing…

Camden town is also home to some world famous music venue’s, like the Roundhouse and the Electric Ballroom, and it’s not totally unheard of that bands hang out in some of the nearby pubs like Dublin Castle and The Lock Tavern. 

But, if all the frenzy is making you a bit dizzy, the Regents Canal is the perfect place to escape. Drop down to the waters edge and take a nice stroll in the direction of Little Venice, past some of the London Zoo’s enclosures, for a more serene and slightly different view of London. Alternatively, grab a water bus (from £9) which will save your legs and take you all the way.

for a more detailed post on this lovely London walk, read here.

Top Tips – Camden market has some amazing bespoke silver jewellry stalls that shouldn’t be missed.

Camden town is one of the best neighbourhoods to visit in London and great for celeb spotting, including on nearby Primrose Hill

little venice on Regents Canal in London - Best walk for kids

Park your bottom and eat lunch at Camden Market, London

Notting Hill

Notting Hill and Portobello Road have been posing for postcard pic’s since the 1980’s when Hugh Grant put it well and truly on the map. This is where you will find the pastel painted Victorian terraces so often photographed for Instagram and also some gorgeous little Mews tucked away down cobbled alley ways. It’s no wonder this area has been the backdrop for so many British films and tv programmes!

Notting Hill is one of the best districts of London to find photo spots

Get A Feel For The Neighbourhood

You could easily spend several hours on Portobello Road alone, digging into the treasure troves of antique shops and art galleries , navigating the treasures on the market stalls, but you mustn’t miss out the side streets just away from the hustle and bustle because there are plenty more hidden gems to be found – aka Colville Mews and the nearby Westbourne Grove for some top nosh and boutique shopping experiences.

Farm Girl at 59A Portobello Road dishes up the best brunches and people queue out the door for their rose latte. And if it’s a serious sweet tooth you have then the Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road is now world famous for its many cakes and sweet things – you must try the rainbow cake.

Top Tips – for movie buffs look out for Hugh Grants iconic blue door to his flat from the film Notting Hill at 280 Westbourne Park Road. And, check out Alices Antiques on Portobello Road which is identical to Mr Grubers shop in the film Paddington 2.

Notting Hill has the best colourful houses in London and a high street full of hidden gems to explore

London's coolest district and neighbourhood

Gin distillery in London on Portobello Road in Notting Hill neighbourhood of London

hotel choice :

On the top floor of Portobello’s Gin Bar and Distillery are several rooms to rent. I just love the 1960’s British decor the rooms have, complete with Ercol furniture and your own record player and vinyl’s. Notting Hill is easily one of the best places to wake up and grab your coffee early morning, right before the area fully comes to life again. And, before your head hits the pillow you’ll never be short of a night-cap in this gin-renowned establishment!

Shoreditch And Spitalfields

Edgy and trendy, Shoreditch is where the cool kids hang in London. Historically you are treading into an area of migrants from both the French revolution in the 1600’s and the Bangladeshi’s and Jews in more recent history : it’s a melting pot of colours and smells and cultures at every crossroads! But today it’s where the arts are celebrated and modern life is the best version of itself.

Londons famous street art can be found around Brick Lane

Get A Feel For The Neighbourhood

It’s all kicking off on Brick Lane and if you only have time to focus on one section then make it this one. For a large part people come here for the food, like the famous salted beef bagels and donuts, plus the best curry houses in London. But, it’s also an area of fashion too : some of London’s biggest retro clothes shops and vintage stores rub shoulders with custom-made pop-up shops and cat-walk newbies. Finally, the Brick Lane neighbourhood is also very popular with tourists wanting to explore some of London’s best street art and graffiti, including pieces by Banksy, Stik and ROA. Trust me – you’re going to need your camera around these parts.

for a more detailed post on the Best Of Brick Lane, read here.

But it doesn’t end at Brick Lane. Spitalfields, in my opinion, is one of the best markets in London and is surrounded by a ton of fabulous shops and eating establishments too (including some of Jack the Rippers old haunts – for real). And add to all that the absolutely relentless amount of awesome nightlife in Shoreditch and you begin to realise you have hit upon the neighbourhood of London’s sophisticated arty-types; couples with mortgages and proper jobs who somehow still manage to find the time for supper-clubs and gin tasting. Oh yes, they’ve not had kids yet! Regardless, these friendly east Londoners are generally up for a conversation and it’s easy to be part of the neighbourhoods vibe.

Top Tips – Don’t miss the chocolate shop Dark Sugars on Brick Lane. And, for an evening of deliberate cool and luxury, choose the Electric Cinema for the most comfortable cinema experience – you may as well be in your own living room compete with table lamp and Fair Isle blanket, but you’ve invited your coolest friends to join you.

Brick Lane near Shoreditch in East London, the cool neighbourhood to visit
Brick Lane and the Truman Brewery

best cinema in London, Shoreditch cool area

Brick Lane in Shoreditch is the best area to visit for street art in London

Hotel Choice :

The Hoxton has long been a favourite of mine, ever since the days they released rooms for £1 and started a round of impromptu weekend breaks to the city. It’s swanky, sleek and cutting edge and the staff are amazing. This is a great area for night life so the Hoxton is the perfect place to lay your head after an evening of cocktails.

Greenwich

Greenwich is definitely one of the most fascinating areas of London and has been for the longest time! Both King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I started life here in a palace that was built to please the Kings and Queens of History. This will come as no surprise when you position yourself at the top of the hill in Greenwich park and see the view of London beneath you – the perfect vantage point for any member of Royalty presiding over their subjects. It continued to have Royal connections for hundreds of years and thankfully much of the architecture still stands so visitors to London can experience this focal point of Royal history and opulence. It’s also a hotbed of London’s best museums and one of the best markets you will visit whilst staying in England’s capital.

searching for the best views of the London city skyline? Make your way to Greenwich Royal Park for the best vista over the city of London.

Get A Feel For The Neighbourhood

How better to scout out an area than to get a bird’s eye view? Make your way up to the top of Greenwich Park near the Royal Observatory for one of the best city vista’s but also to experience a royal park that has stood since the 1400’s. King Henry VIII introduced deer to the park for his own hunting pleasure and they still roam about in their own private enclosure. The Royal Observatory is one of many museums in the area you can visit, but our favourite is the National Maritime Museum : We really didn’t expect to find the Maritime that interesting but there is so much to see and do, including the coat that Lord Nelson was wearing the day he died, the world-famous Turner painting of the battle of Trafalgar and a giant ship in a bottle! There are also the Cutty Sark and the Queen’s House Museums that are worth an hour of your time too.

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat  in Greenwich then the top choice would be Greenwich Market itself; it’s a London favourite and covered up for those bad weather days we get here occasionally in England. But it’s not just food – a mix of crafts, clothes and collectables surrounded by independent businesses with an entrepreneurial arty feel.

Top Tips – For the most instagrammable staircase in London, make sure you visit the Queens House to see the tulip staircase. The Brit’s sure like their tea so if you’re after the perfect souvenir then you must see the Cutty Sark‘s gift-shop collection and maybe book an afternoon tea to complete your London bucket list. Or, if you’re looking for alternative things to do – something not many people know about – catch the only cable car in London, across the Thames on the Emirates Airline, for the best views of the city and the most relaxing way to take in the city skyline.

The Cutty Sark Museum in Greenwich is one of the best places to visit in this part of London. A highlight of Greenwich
The Cutty Sark tea clipper museum

 

 

 

Greenwich view from the Thames in London
A view of Greenwich from the Thames
the famous tulip staircase at the Queens House in Greenwich - one of the best things worth seeing in this London neighbourhood
The famous tulip staircase in The Queens House
hotel choice :

As much as there are no outstanding choices for boutique style or high-end hotels in this district of London it is certainly a good choice for budget hotels like Ibis, Premier Inn and DoubleTree by Hilton. Being that little bit further away from the city centre, prices are good and you’re only ever a 5 minute walk from the Greenwich tube stop. For the best deals on these budget, but still great, hotels – click here.


So there you have it – London’s coolest 5 neighbourhoods to visit, whether it be beautiful buildings, amazing food or hanging with the Londoners in the know. There is something for everybody, no matter what you like to see and do. If you have anymore favourite areas, be sure to let me know in the comments below – we’re always up for exploring!

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London is more than Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, it's a city of amazing neighbourhoods and districts with so much to see, do and explore. So once you have seen the main sights on London, which area's are worth your time? Check out this city guide to the coolest neighbourhoods, the prettiest streets and the best area's for markets and food. #london #nottinghill #camden #greenwich #shoreditch

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tracy says:

    Ahhh I miss London!
    We love Greenwich and for the quirkiest accommodation have to recommend St
    Alfegas – a wonderful B&B full of antique furniture and amazing artifacts (including a mummified cat from an ancient Egyptian tomb)

  2. Jurga says:

    What a great guide to a different London, Alex. I love your story-telling so much, it’s like being there and experiencing it all for myself. Can’t wait to explore more of London, these local neighbourhoods, far from the main tourist routes!

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