Where to stay?I've stayed at several different hotels and hostels and I definitely have a favorite area. It is not only the Harry Potter obsessor in me that makes this true but it is ironic that my favorite area to stay in is King's Cross. It has a huge Underground station that is attached to St Pancras-another Tube station--and has a National Rail station. It is a perfect place to get to anywhere you need to go because numerous Underground lines stop there so there should be minimal line changes wherever you need to go. Cons? The actual area isn't that exciting. There are very few places to eat, it's very residential and business oriented. It's not a fun place to go out or walk around but that doesn't matter to me. Personally, I'd rather be close to a great Underground station that can get me everywhere I need to go. I'll go elsewhere for food and entertainment. A short 5 min walk from King's Cross Station is The Tune Hotel. It's a budget hotel that is incredibly clean and comfortable for the solo or duo travelers. It has a pay as you go system so because the cost of room is so inexpensive (in London's standards), if you want wifi or towels, etc you have to pay extra but the costs are not outrageous. Depending on the room it can be quite small. The first time I stayed the room was quite spacious, second time it was really small but it was just me so it didn't bother me. Tip: I booked my most recent stay on Expedia and--surprise!--ALL of those 'extras' came with my room fee! After the morning I had that was such a great surprise.
Where NOT to stay?On a different trip, my friend and I stayed ate the Umi Hotel in Bayswater. NEVER. Again. Granted, that hotel is now shut down, for good reason I'm sure. First, the hotel was terrible. Ripped upholstery on the furniture, a broken shower door, and it just felt old and dusty and musty. No bueno. And the area in general was not my favorite. The townhouses around Bayswater were beautiful but like King's Cross, not a lot of restaurants around the hotel. AND the Tube station was a good 15 min walk away. Which isn't too far you might be thinking but then you add 30 min to every outing and it's annoying. Plus it wasn't a popular station so we had to change multiple lines to get anywhere we wanted to go. I learned the value of close proximity to a Tube station on that trip. I honestly couldn't give fewer fucks about staying in a "touristy" area if it gets me near a good Tube station. I'm in a foreign city to see the things its known for, not to pretend I'm a local. Excuse my digression, that heated moment brought you to by personal encounters with travel snobs and it is a topic I plan on discussing another day.
Covent Garden & Southbank
If you're looking for a place to get lost in, Southbank into Covent Garden is it. When I found myself in London in the dark at 4 pm, my native Londoner friend told me Covent Garden and their marketplace is super cute. So I set out and started at Waterloo, walked through Southbank and visited Foyle's bookstore--amazing!--and went across the bridge to Covent Garden. It was incredible. Through the entire walk and night, I found myself forgetting all the travel jet lag, lost baggage, and exhaustion and I was just in the moment. I loved this neighborhood. Southbank crossing the bridge into Covent Garden was an amazing way to spend an evening wandering solo. Like I said, London is my soulmate city and it was solidified it in those moments. I didn't care about where I was going, I walked around the market--why does Covent Garden Market have a Shake Shack and Wisconsin doesn't?--, saw St Paul's Church, wandered through Seven Dials--which is beautiful and on the list of 'To Do' but I'll combine them here--and seriously just got lost. Well opposite of that, I wasn't worried about getting lost because there's a tube station every few block with signs directing you and people everywhere so I also didn't feel unsafe wandering around at night. But I did just literally walk aimlessly and it was one of the best nights I've had traveling. There are a ton of restaurants around Covent Garden including in the Market and a lot of exciting energy going on. It was enough for me just to walk around and get high off the energy of this place!
Camden TownMy London friend and I hung out in Camden Town looking for a pub to eat and we were not disappointed! There are a ton of pubs and restaurants and a super easy place to find food if you're staying in King's Cross because it's only a Tube stop or two away from St Pancras.
Next week I'm posting my travel Q&A so if you have any questions that have popped up since reading, no question is off limits. Don't be afraid to ask!