LONDON - NEIGHBORHOODS

Westminster

Perched along the north bank of the River Thames, 'Royal London' as it is nicknamed, boasts more than a few London landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the United Kingdom's House of Parliament, which all share the cobblestoned lanes under Big Ben's timely shadow. The British Empire, and once the world, was ruled from Whitehall. Royalty, government, and monumental London come together in the shadows of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Walk near the Kings and Queens buried in Westminster Abbey and take your own quiet stroll through St. James's Park and Green Park. Whitehall leads to Trafalgar Square and the incomparable National Gallery, with the National Portrait Gallery just next door. From the grand Admiralty Arch, the Mall runs alongside the elegant St. James's Park, leading straight to Buckingham Palace.

Accessible by St James's Park and Westminster Tube stops, Westminster is located within the City of Westminster and bordered by Covent Garden, Lambeth, Belgravia, Mayfair, and The West End.

Covent Garden

Just east of Soho, Covent Garden's iconic square and surrounding bars and museums is one of the busiest, most enjoyable parts of the city. Continental-style, open-air cafés create a very un-English environment. Warehouses, once cavernous and grim, now accommodate fashion boutiques and a huge variety of shops favored by the trendy. A network of narrow streets, arcades, and pedestrian malls, the area is dominated by the scene of a food market in the 1830's and a flower market in the 1870's. Today the indoor-outdoor complex overflows with clothing shops, crafts stalls, and entertainers, and the modernized Royal Opera House opens onto the square. Covent Garden is a part of London's 'Theatre District.'

Accessible via the Covent Garden tube stop, it is within The West End and bordered by Holborn, Soho, St. James's, Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury, Westminster, and the City of Westminster.

Bloomsbury

As a neighborhood that has never grown too big for its breeches, Bloomsbury maintains its distinctly village vibe in the midst of central London. Bloomsbury exudes high culture without pretenses. The neighborhood gave its name to an influential group of English intellectuals, including Virginia Woolf. Garden squares and Victorian era hotels contribute to the streetscape's nonchalant beauty, while dairy markets and butchers still populate Bloomsbury's street corners. The University of London is here as well as the Law Courts and the British Museum. With the British Library parked just north at St. Pancras, a greater number of books can probably be found in Bloomsbury than in all the rest of London. Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot would be pleased to note that some of London's most beautiful domestic architecture and elegant houses still line the area's prim squares.

Accessible via the Temple tube stop, Bloomsbury is within the borough of Camden and bordered by Holborn, Soho, St. Pancras, Covent Garden, The West End, and Islington.

The West End

The term 'West End' refers to the genre of musical-type theatres in London, as well as the compilation of neighborhoods: Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus, which house theaters. Late nights end in the morning in this party-past-the-break-of-dawn central London neighborhood. From its commercial plazas (Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus) to its side streets and back alleys, the West End whirs with unyielding energy. If you can afford it, staying in the West End is still the quintessential London experience. On your doorstep is a glorious whirl of all that the city stands for: world-class theatre, historic sites, and shopping that spans the full range from the dirt-cheap to the truly expensive.

Accessible by Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden Tube stops, The West End is bordered by Soho, St. James's, South Bank, Covent Garden, Mayfair, Bloomsbury, Westminster, City of London, Marylebone, and City of Westminster.

Marylebone

Just a short step away from the tourist crowds, Marylebone still has the feel of a real neighborhood with rich, red windowpanes that contrast regal, white stone buildings. Intimate bookstores, family owned patisseries, and high end boutiques help the neighborhood maintain a cozy village vibe, despite its central London address. Harley Street, the traditional home of England's best doctors, has recently become the heart of the UK's flourishing plastic surgery industry. The beautiful architecture (the Wallace Collection is a must) and the open spaces of Regent's Park make this a fine area to have a wander, while Marylebone High Street is absolutely charming, lined with traditional pubs, beautiful boutiques and shops (including the flagship Daunt Books) and excellent local restaurants as well as a farmer's market every Saturday. A short walk from Marylebone is the home of the most famous fictional detective in the world Sherlock Holmes' bachelor flat at 221B Baker Street and the popular waxworks at Madame Tussauds.

Accessible by Baker Street, Edgware Road and Marble Arch Tube stops, Marylebone is bordered by Soho, Camden Town, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Paddington, The West End and City of Westminster.

Mayfair

The most upscale neighborhood in central London, Mayfair is home to elegant hotels for affluent foreigners and many impressive 18th century residences for people of fabulous wealth, plus the US Embassy in London. Discover first class shopping at exclusive shops along Bond Street. As a neighborhood steeped in sophistication, Mayfair offers wine bars and scotch lounges, decadent restaurants, impressive buildings and clean streets, making Mayfair a sought-after destination for evening strolls. The district includes several major shopping streets, including Bond Street, Regent Street, Jermyn Street and much of Oxford Street. Bounded by iconic Hyde Park to the west and ultra-trendy West End to the east, Mayfair's noble neighbors increase the appeal of its already enchanting endowments.

Accessible by Green Park, Bond Street and Oxford Circus tube stops, Mayfair is within the City of Westminster and bordered by Soho, Paddington, The West End, Westminster, and Marylebone.

Regents Park

North of London's West End lies a more serene and green London. Regent's Park is a grassy knoll, hemmed in by Marylebone Road to the south and the London Zoo to the north. At the northern tip of the park's boating lake, you'll find the delightful Open Air Theatre. At the southwestern corner of the park are Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Just north, Primrose Hill offers a sweeping view of London, as the adjoining park serves as an ideal place to eat a picnic, fly a kite, or to read in the shade of a tree. Hampstead Heath, a nearly 800 acre park located further north, brims with playgrounds, a jogging track, woodlands, grassy hills and ponds. A walk around the perimeter of the park is a must for devotees of classical architecture; the payoff is a view of John Nash's Terraces, a grandiose series of white stucco terraced houses, built around 1810 for the 'People of Quality' who demanded London homes as nearly as possible resembling their grand country estates. In summer be sure to take in the rose bedecked Queen Mary's Gardens.

Accessible via the Hampstead Heath, the Regent's Park and Baker Street tube stops. Just south of Regent's Park, you'll find two wonderful shopping districts: Marylebone High Street and Oxford Street, home to local department stores like Selfridges and Co. and Marks and Spencer.

Victoria Station

London Victoria station is one of the city's major train stations. London Victoria station is also where the famed Orient Express (officially the Venice-Simplon Orient Express) departs for its signature London-Paris-Vienna route. Some of London's most historic buildings, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace are all a 10 minute walk away. View the stunning collection of art at the Queen's Gallery, visit the fascinating Guards Museum or watch living history at the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Afterwards, take a stroll through the luscious Royal Parks that adjoin the Palace. Indulge in retail therapy; Victoria Place and Cardinal Place shopping centers have a selection of high-street shops as well as bars and restaurants.

Accessible by Victoria Tube Station. Victoria Station is in the Borough of the City of Westminster and bordered by Covent Garden, Lambeth, Belgravia, Mayfair, and The West End.

Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge is one of the priciest and most exclusive areas in London known for upscale shops and restaurants. South of Hyde Park, it is identified as one of two 'international centers' in London, alongside the West End. Neighboring areas include Chelsea and Belgravia making this one of the most expensive residential parts of London. Its towering, columned edifices are home to renowned department stores like Harrods, couture fashion houses like Jimmy Choo, and banks that handle finances for the Queen. The stores are luxurious and the homes extravagant so walking through this area is a pleasure. Spend a couple hours exploring Harrods and then stop into one of the many restaurants or cafes to relax your sore feet. It is also a great place to people watch, from the wannabe IT girls queuing to get into Vendome to the unfortunate rich men trying to entice them.

Accessible via Knightsbridge, Sloane Square or Hyde Park Corner Tube Station, Knightsbridge is bordered by Belgravia, Earls Court, Chelsea, Kensington and the City of Westminster.

City of London

Not to be confused with London as a whole, The City of London goes by many names - The City and The Square Mile. As the site of the Celtic settlement the Romans called Londinium, this is the oldest part of London, yet thanks to the critically acclaimed glass towers it looks like the newest and is responsible for London's iconic skyline. The City is now the soul of the world's financial markets; it houses the Bank of England, London Stock Exchanges as well as Lloyd's of London. Within and around the Square Mile are some of London's most memorable attractions, including St. Paul's Cathedral and storybook Tower Bridge. The sleekly modern Millennium Bridge links St. Paul's with the South Bank, while nearby, the glass-and-steel Swiss building (known to all Londoners as 'The Gherkin') is the most unique addition to the City's 21st-century skyline. St. Bride's (its distinctive multitier spire gave rise to today's wedding cakes), St. Giles Without Cripplegate, and St. Mary-le-Bow are also found here. The infamous and wonderfully historic Tower of London is at the east border of the City.
The City by night is among the most stunning sights in London, a ghost town of towering skyscrapers and stunning churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral. Around the edges of the city are some of the best arts and entertainment venues in London, including Fabric nightclub, Smithfield Market, and the wonderful Barbican Center, where much of the capital's best classical and contemporary music, theatre and art can be found.

Accessible via the St. Paul's and Mansion House tube stops and bordered by Holborn, St. Luke's, South Bank, The West End, Whitechapel/Brick Lane, Southwark, and the borough of Islington.

Tower of London

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a landmark setting, strategically at a bend in the River Thames, for both protection and control of the City of London. It is a historic castle founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. The Tower has served variously as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

Accessible via the Tower Hill tube stop on the north bank of the River Thames. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill.

Southwark

The neighborhood is home to many of the city's iconic landmarks - London's most famous bridges, buildings, and museums are located in Southwark. It is the historical home of the capital's arts and entertainments industry. London's first theatres, the Globe, the Hope and The Rose were all built there in the 16th century and Shakespeare's plays were first performed there. The rebuilt Globe theatre is now one of the best theatres in London, while the neighboring Tate Modern, housed in the stupendous Bankside Power Station, is among the world's most popular art galleries. London's modern City Hall and the magnificent, gothic Southwark Cathedral, complete a remarkable set of buildings that show five centuries of London's architectural achievements. Just across from Westminster, don't miss the London Eye (a gigantic wheel offering unrivaled views of the city) and the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall, which is part of the South Bank Center. See the skateboarders under the Royal Festival Hall and visit the South Bank Book Market under Waterloo Bridge. Loads of free entertainment every summer including music, theater and performances.

Accessible via the London Bridge and Southwark tube stops. Southwark is bordered by South Bank and the City of London.

Lambeth

Lambeth rests across the river from Westminster. Unpretentious and readily accessible, this brick and stucco neighborhood puts you in the middle of London without having to deal with the crowds. Its riverbank perch provides stunning views of The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It is a central London neighborhood that blends high culture and pub culture with ease, with its own palace to rival Westminster's, as well as gold-gilded taverns. Lambeth Palace is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The garden museum is a lovely place to rest or dig up some horticultural information. Two bridges connect Lambeth to its across-the-Thames counterparts. Lambeth Bridge was originally built for horse ferry crossings and is London's shortest bridge.

Accessible via Lambeth North, Waterloo or Vauxhall Tube Station, Lambeth is bordered by Vauxhall, South Bank, Westminster, Southwark, and the City of Westminster.

Bayswater

Bayswater is one of London's most cosmopolitan areas, London's Arabic, American, and Greek communities make their homes in pillared Georgian terraces and neat garden squares, with a great expanse of Hyde Park's landscaped English parkland almost on their doorsteps. The culturally diverse inhabitants of Bayswater live in one of London's most architecturally traditional areas. The area has attractive streets and garden squares lined with Victorian stucco terraces, mostly now subdivided into flats and boarding houses. The surrounding hotels offer a fabulous base from which to explore central London. Queensway and Westbourne Grove are its busiest main streets, both having many ethnic cuisine restaurants.

Accessible via Lancaster Gate, Queensway and Bayswater tube stops, Bayswater is in the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Paddington

Paddington is widely known for its famous railway station, a terminal that services multiple underground lines and connects passengers to nearly every point in the city. There's more to Paddington than trains and transit though - sleek shops, independent markets, and corner cafes surround the bustling hub. For those that aren't commuting through, Georgian homes and public squares offer clean, well-lit places to spend their days. Thanks to its conveniently located tube station, getting into and out of this northwest London neighborhood is simple.

Accessible via Paddington tube stop, Paddington is within the City of Westminster and bordered by Bayswater, Mayfair, St. John's Wood, and Marylebone.

Chelsea

Chelsea, just south of Kensington and Knightsbridge along the Thames, used to house a couple of King Henry's wives and Queen Elizabeth I, when she was still a princess. Once a center of innovation in the 19th century when the area was a veritable Victorian artists' colony; the Beatles and the Rolling Stones lived in the neighborhood that has since lost in youth culture and settled into a small town atmosphere in the midst of the huge city. It's a wealthy area like Kensington and Knightsbridge. Major sights include Christopher Wren's magisterial Royal Hospital, the site of the Chelsea Flower Show, Cheyne Walk, where Henry James and Dante Gabriel Rossetti once lived and the King's Road, whose boutiques gave birth to the paisleyed 1960's and the pink-haired punk of the 1970's. Farther northwest is the Notting Hill neighborhood, one of the most attractive parts of London and home to Portobello Road Market and Europe's biggest street party, Notting Hill Carnival, which takes place at the end of August.

Accessible by the Fulham Broadway, West Brompton and South Kensington Tube Stops, Chelsea is within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and bordered by Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Earl's Court, and Kensington.

Kensington

Kensington's storybook elegance permeates the air. This is the archetypal London of white row houses, cobblestone streets, secret gardens and yes, even a palace. Kensington Palace, the residence of the late Princess Diana, rises elegantly off the formal Kensington Gardens, which connect with the larger Hyde Park. Old-world buildings seamlessly blend with the glass windows of artisanal cheese shops, pastry bakeries, and international consulates, lending the neighborhood an air of polished refinement and perfect finishing. Its opulence doesn't detract from the neighborhood's inviting nature.

Accessible via High Street Kensington, South Kensington and Earl's Court tube stops (Kensington and Chelsea) as well as via the Westbourne Park and the Ladbroke Grove tube stops (Notting Hill). Kensington is within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and bordered by Bayswater, Knightsbridge, Earl's Court, Notting Hill, Chelsea, and Hammersmith

South Kensington

The concentration of prestigious and world class museums in South Kensington is unique to London. In no other city would you find the likes of such luminaries as the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal Albert Hall within walking distance of each other as well as a large number of elegant hotels. It's no coincidence that these bastions of culture are clustered together and the name of the street that links them, Exhibition Road, gives a clue as to why they are – the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851 created the foundations for these grand institutions dedicated to the arts and sciences. It was this investment in the area that set in motion a building spurt with large terraced houses, which gives the district its current appearance as a high-class residential area; streets like the Boltons are among west London's smartest addresses. Catering for this type of resident are the designer shops around Brompton Cross. Within the district's cavalcade of streets lined with decorous houses are small, sleepy squares, delightful pubs nestled away in back lanes, and antiques shops, their windows aglow with the luminous colors of oil paintings. Not surprisingly, the capital's snazziest department stores, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, are also here.

Accessible via South Kensington and Gloucester Road Tube Stops, South Kensington is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. Neighboring the equally affluent centers of Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Kensington.

Islington

Islington is traditionally a mecca for the cream of London's liberaljournalists, writers and artists. This vibrant borough boasts athriving fringe theatre scene, a wealth of fantastic restaurants andcolorful nightlife. Islington grew from humble beginnings. What startedas an overcrowded London suburb transformed into a neighborhood ofhigh-class status. Buildings that began as inns and defunct socialhouses have sincebecome fashionable gastropubs, wine bars, andboutiques. Islington is the best place to buy antiques in London. Spendan afternoon browsing the specialist shops and boutiques in therenowned Camden Passage Antiques Market and strolling through elegantGeorgian squares, along peaceful Regent's Canal and through historicClerkenwell.

Accessible via the Highbury, Angel and Caledonian Road Tube Stops, Islington is bordered by St. Luke's, St. Pancras, Canonbury, De Beauvoir Town, Kings Cross, Clerkenwell, Bloomsbury, and Shoreditch.