dealchecker's guide to London

In London you can expect to find an intoxicating mix of the ancient, medieval and the modern all thrown together, jostling for your attention amongst a whole world of cultures, emerging fashions and diverse neighbourhoods. Once you stray from central London you will find numerous areas with a smaller town-like feel, proving that you needn't stay in a hotel in London's central area to feel a part of this fascinating city. You'll probably the cheapest hotels in London slightly further from the centre but take heart - the tube will get you to your desired destination in no time. Shopaholics will find the same: whilst Oxford Street will always be the main hub, you'll find homemade, vintage, cutting-edge fashion and a lot more besides dotted around the city's many areas.

Choosing a London hotel

Give our simple search a whirl to find great deals on a huge range of London hotels, with options available right across this huge metropolis. That's the easy part sorted out.

The tough part is deciding where you want to stay in London, because that guides a lot of your experience in the capital. Decide whether or not you want the cheapest hotels in London or if you're willing to pay a bit more to be nearer to the centre of the city. The good news is so long as you're walking distance from a tube or bus stop you'll have instant access to all the major sights! Hotels in tube map zones 1 and 2 are the most likely to be the most pricey, but the attractions will be a lot closer - sometimes within walking distance!

Because there are so many neighbourhoods to choose from, we've put together a quick guide to give you a feel for where you might like to stay:

The West End - the heart of the action, this is the theater district, but also packed with shops, restaurants and museums. Book early to get the best deal, safe in the knowledge you will have plenty to do right on your doorstep.

King's Cross - a transport hub and central London hotel haven, there are plenty of cheap chain hotels here. The area's been through a lot of redevelopment recently with chic new shops and markets appearing, but expect to travel to the big London attractions. It's easy to get everywhere from here though!

Victoria - similar to King's Cross, but in the south of the city. There are more attractions here - Buckingham Palace is the big one!

Waterloo - right by the Eye and with quick access to the river and Westminster this is an often-overlooked area with some great cheap hotels in London.

London Bridge - home to The Shard, London's new shiny skyscraper, this area is close to the City and with good links to the West End too, but it won't be the cheapest!

Paddington - the transport hub for the west of the city, there are plenty of cheap hotels here, although not much to do in the area, especially at night.

The City - staying here won't be cheap but at the weekends it's really quite quiet! Great transport links and you'll be able to wander the modern skyscrapers and historical buildings from your London hotel's door.

Chelsea and Knightsbridge - with star attractions like the Science Museum on your doorstep, this affluent neighbourhood certainly makes for a photogenic stay in London, although you'll pay the price in your wallet!

Islington - has a nice town-like feel with lots of Georgian terraces. It's not cheap, but it will get you out of the hustle and bustle without being far from the action when you want to dive back in.

Shoreditch and Dalston - these areas are rife with cooler-than-cool people and places to be seen, so make sure you read some fashion magazines before you get to your hotel in London if you're staying here! Cheaper than many areas, although transport links are slightly fewer.

Docklands - offers a different feel altogether, and Thames-side hotels for less. A bit out of the way unless you're off to an event here, expect a longer travelling time into the central regions. Great for cheap weekend deals when Canary Wharf is quiet.

What to do in London

Once you've picked your London hotel you will find a huge number of attractions to keep you busy. First timers won't want to miss the traditional pomp and ceremony of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and then you're well places for all the museums and galleries in central London. Why not start with a stroll along the South Bank for amazing views, world famous sights and some of the city's best cafe culture.

For the best look at the skyline, you could splash out on a visit up The Shard, take a flight on the London Eye, or ride the Emirates Airline in the Docklands area. For free views, try Hampstead Heath, Greenwich Park or Primrose Hill - you could take a picnic in the summer.

Don't forget to seek out some of the city's amazing architecture - there are numerous walks you can go on to take you on a tour, or download a podcast and take yourself! St Paul's Cathedral is a must-see, whilst the remnants of the London Wall, the Tower of London and the Globe Theatre are all barely less missable!

And if the sun is shining, you could do a lot worse than making like a Londoner and heading to one of the many green spaces. Any and all patches of grass in the sun get crammed at lunchtime, but with a bit more freedom you can find space. Hyde Park, Regents Park and Green Park are all in the heart of the city, whilst Greenwich Park, Hampstead Heath and Alexandra Park are all a little further out.

One thing you certainly shouldn't miss out on when you're in London is the amazing street food markets. Whitecross Street Market is the capital's oldest dedicated market for street food traders, but Borough Market has a long history. Exmouth Market, Berwick Street Market, Kerb in Kings Cross and Eat.street are also well worth tracking down. You'll get restaurant quality food at takeaway prices AND see a new part of the city. That's what we call a win.

If you've come to get a whole new wardrobe, then prepare to pound some serious pavement! Oxford Street offers more than a mile of big brands, and Carnaby Street is also a must-hit destination. Get it all in one place at Westfield Stratford or White City, or check out the alternative culture by diving into Camden's many markets. Head East for vintage and hipster cool, with Dalston, Hackney and Brick Lane all prime locations. For designer togs you'll want to head to Kensington High Street, home of Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

When to visit London

The high season is the summer when demand for cheap hotels and cheap flights to London is at its peak. The weather is worst over winter but this means it may be the best time to find great London hotel deals - and London's many pubs are great for warming up! Perhaps the best time to visit is in spring or autumn when the weather can be pleasant and the streets and attractions aren't yet crowded with the summer rush. Want more ideas? Try our guide.

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