The 6 Coolest London Neighbourhoods You Have To See

So you’ve got your photograph with a Beefeater, visited Big Ben and Buckingham Palace and taken in a show in Covent Garden. Iconic tourist attractions that are popular for good reason (ie. They’re Great!) and will probably always remain at the top of your plethora of travel memories. However…

You want to travel deeper, experience the more ‘local’ side of London – visit those London neighbourhoods with instagrammable curb appeal or the trendy areas that promise lovely surprises and a very different angle. 

London isn’t a city, it’s a collection of towns – all with different stories and their own unique aesthetics. Area’s like the edgy East End where a mishmash of cultures have blended and the varieties of food on offer will blow your mind, not to mention the street art! Or Notting Hill, where you’ll constantly be wondering ‘haven’t I seen this street in a film?’. These are definitely 2 of the coolest neighbourhoods in London and on top of those there are 4 more we are dying to tell you about. So, are you ready to travel deeper?

Our Top 6 London Neighbourhoods

Visiting our top 6 neighborhoods is a piece of cake; just hop on a bus or tube and you’ll be at your destination in under 10 minutes. We’ve put together a map to give you an idea of where they all are in relation to each other. Allow at least a few hours for each London neighbourhood so you can really feel the local vibe. 

And, 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. 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. Besides, isn’t it always nicer to be eating with the locals in an evening? We have included a personal hotel recommendation in each of these hip London neighbourhoods

Welcome to our guide to the coolest neighbourhoods in London

London Neighbourhoods Map

Chelsea And Knightsbridge

As fans of Made In Chelsea will already know, The Kings Road is the place to be seen. A very wealthy London district south west of the centre, 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 King’s Road for a mid-day coffee and a Cartier wristwatch.

It has always been one of London’s richest neighbourhoods and many a lord and lady now rest in the local cemetery, 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.

cute cafes Chelsea

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 these areas of London are obviously going to be on the more expensive side. There are a few celebrity hang-outs in this neck of the woods too like the Bluebird Cafe, The Ivy and eclectically British Maggie Jones’s which could justify the inflated menu prices.

On the edge of Knightsbridge you’re also close to some of London’s best museums 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%.

chelsea in knightsbridge is one of the best areas to visit in London and definitely one of the poshest
helen2
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 – they are a great choice for this London area since there is always the option to cook at home if the restaurants are too pricey.

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 unnoticed 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 t-shirts 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 water’s 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 jewellery stalls that shouldn’t be missed and the retail emporiums that have set up shop under the railway arches at Camden Passage make this one of the coolest neighbourhoods in London for finding unique gifts.

little venice on Regents Canal in London - Best walk for kids
Park your bottom and eat lunch at Camden Market, London
Camden town is one of the best neighbourhoods to visit in London and great for celeb spotting, including on nearby Primrose Hill

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 alleyways. It’s no wonder this hip London neighbourhood shows up as 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. This is one of those London trendy areas that makes you want to sell up and move to the city!

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 Grant’s 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 Gruber’s 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
Gin distillery in London on Portobello Road in Notting Hill neighbourhood of London
London's coolest district and neighbourhood
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 vinyls. 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. It is undoubtedly one of the coolest neighbourhoods in London!

free street art tour london

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 doughnuts, 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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhood’s 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 complete 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 street art walking tour
Brick Lane food
best cinema in London, Shoreditch cool area
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 London area for nightlife 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 neighbourhoods 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.

the painted hall should be on everybody's best things to see in london list
The Painted Hall in Greenwich

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.

Greenwich view from the Thames in London
The Cutty Sark Museum in Greenwich is one of the best places to visit in this part of London. A highlight of Greenwich
the famous tulip staircase at the Queens House in Greenwich - one of the best things worth seeing in this London neighbourhood
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.
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.

Hampstead And Highgate

Hampstead and Highgate is one of those neighbourhoods Londoners continually aspire to live in one day. If you have a house here you know you’ve made it! It’s posh but not like Chelsea-posh where every second person is connected to royalty, more like self-made wealthy business owners or famous artists. Hampstead famous residents include the likes of Ricky Gervais, Jamie Oliver and Harry Styles and many of them as close to the Heath as they can get. 

Hampstead Village - the coolest London neighbourhoods to visit

Get A Feel For The Neighbourhood

Architecturally the area looks like many others across London, with the only difference being the houses have only one doorbell! But occasionally, nestled in among the tall Mary Poppins-like Edwardian terraces, you’ll spot some really creative homes. Look out for Ian Flemming’s old pad where he got the inspiration for Goldfinger, on Willow Road. And the ornate Holly Village on Swain’s Lane with its highly decorative Gothic homes which immediately have you questioning if you are actually still in London.

Hampstead’s high street, on the other hand, is a little more crooked and quaint. Georgian townhouses and wobbly cottages are tastefully painted and decorated with topiary and window-boxes, whilst the shopfronts appeal to your consumer side. Add to that a couple of alleyways and several great London pubs and you have yourself the kind of area that’s really hard to leave. In fact, we often stay in Hampstead Village when we’re visiting the city because it’s no hardship trying all of the coffee shops and artisanal eateries! Plus, there’s a gorgeous little retro cinema called the Everyman for those cold winter evenings.

Some tourists visit this area to celebrity-spot and others end up on Hampstead Heath at Parliament Hill for one of the best views in London. A couple visit the infamous Highgate Cemetary where many a famous person has been laid to rest. But regardless of what drew them here, most would admit that this picturesque neighbourhood of London is worth more than the sum of its parts. 

Top Tips – Do not leave Hampstead before visiting the wonderful Hill Garden and Pergola in Golders Hill Park, it’s one of our favourite places in London. We think it’s worth getting off the beaten path for (more details can be found in our Hidden Gems post). There are 3 really interesting museums in the area too; Keats House, The Freud Museum and Burgh House.

We love the sourdough pizza at Franco Manca and the icecream at Oddono’s.

Hotel Choice: 

You will love The Mirabilis Apartments at Wells Court – they are gorgeously modern and perfectly located. You can happily believe you’re a local for a few days in these surroundings! 


So there you have it –  the 6 coolest neighbourhoods in London according to us! 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 any more favourite London neighbourhoods, 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

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Taylor says:

    We love Greenwich (Greenwich Double Tree Hilton is a fave of ours when guests are treated to a giant warm chocolate chip cookie on arrival!). At your recommendation, we experienced Dark Sugars Hot Chocolate in Brick Lane area (BEST HOT CHOCOLATE EVER) but we haven’t really explored Notting Hill or Chelsea. It’s another excuse to go back for more (and more HOT CHOCOLATE!)

  2. Beth says:

    Great description of these neighborhoods! I need to get out of my side of town (SW) and get exploring more. Currently experiencing the East End more these days. I really like how you included solid accommodation tips. Will remember to share this with future visitors to London! #FarawayFiles

  3. These are my favourite London neighbourhoods too! I lived in London for several years in the early 2000s and your post makes me miss it. I may have added Islington and Hackney to the list. Gorgeous photos #FarawayFiles

    1. Alex says:

      Yes, they are great areas too. I really need to explore Hackney more.

  4. Sol Solntze says:

    I don’t often regret moving out of London, but every now and then something reminds me of some of the good bits of living there. This post was one of them. Ahhh, London.

    1. Alex says:

      Hmm, I’m not sure I would ever want to live there, but it is a great city to visit

  5. Christine says:

    I know most of these areas pretty well – except Notting Hill and Portobello. I often pass on the tube whilst I’m heading back to Paddington but I’ve never actually got off and wandered around. When I’m next in London that’ll be my goal! #farawayfiles

  6. I am planning a short trip to London in the coming weeks, and this is just what I needed – inspiration for visiting a place I’ve been several times before – thanks! #farawayfiles

  7. Hilary says:

    Great tips l! I’ve yet to visit Greenwich and Notting Hill 😳 but plan to get to both on my next visit! Your photos are lovely and truly instaworthy! #farawayfiles

  8. Great guide of London. I have lived just south of it my whole life and I know most of these areas very well. I must explore Greenwich more though. I don’t know why I haven’t! xx

    1. Alex says:

      Greenwich is a gem of an area if you love history

  9. Fab post, Alex! You’ve picked some of my favourite London neighbourhoods. I love they all have a different feel. And great tips about where to stay and eat too. Superb share for #FarawayFiles

  10. What a fantastic mirror on some of the best of London. You’ve done a great job of showing why London is one of the best cities in the world. I lived there for 3 years but inexplicably never did Notting Hill except for the carnival?!! #farawayfiles

  11. 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!

  12. 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)

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