London city breaks by Sawday's

London is full of iconic and striking sights, from the dome of St. Paul’s looming above you to the Houses of Parliament and the sweep of Hyde Park. If you want to see more than the highlights, let the owners of our independent B&Bs, hotels, inns and self-catering places show you round town.

This is our mini guide to London’s lesser-known rhythms and regions, put together from our owners’ tips and our team’s time in the capital. It’ll help you add a few gems to a tour of the landmarks.

We inspect every place we feature, adding to our own knowledge of the area and making sure that we find you places of character and quality, run by people who love where they live. Browse our carefully-chosen collection by type of place, general area or the style of break you’re looking for. 

Places to stay in London

London is full of creative people making great places to stay, from art-filled hotels and townhouse B&Bs, to trendy self-catering flats and lively pubs. 

Our guide to London’s neighbourhoods

While it can seem overwhelming to the new visitor, London was once a collection of towns and villages, and there is still a distinct character to each of its areas. While every part of the city holds both its own landmarks and surprises, here’s a general guide to get you started.

 

Feel: Glamorous, upmarket, classy

Famous for: Theatres and bars, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A, Kew Gardens

We also love: Peaceful walks by the canals of Little Venice, the enormous expanse of Hyde Park, the flowers and herbs of Chelsea Physic Garden and informative tours of the Royal Hospital for veterans

Feel: Grand, historic, landmarked 

Famous for: The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, Westminster, The National Gallery

We also love: The ornate markets of Leadenhall Market and Old Spitalfields Market, Postman’s Park, the Geffrye Museum of the Home and the strange machines of Novelty Automation

Feel: Artsy, bohemian, hipster

Famous for: Curry houses on Brick Lane, trendy Shoreditch, Jack the Ripper, Olympic Park

We also love: Hackney for vintage shops and the walk through London Fields, the independent galleries in Hoxton and the neon madness of God’s Own Junkyard

Feel: Leafy, quiet, relaxed

Famous for: Tate Modern and the South Bank, Shakespeare’s Globe, Maritime Greenwich

We also love: Having lunch on Lordship Lane, pints in Wimbledon Village, Brixton’s markets, the shops and cafes of Forest Hill and the Horniman Museum with its over-stuffed walrus

Inspiration for your London city break

Treat nights in luxurious hotels with class and character, places for a weekend exploring the capital and hideaways for romantic breaks.

London travel tips

  • Now that the Oyster system is redundant, you can just use contactless for all transport
  • Contactless payments are automatically capped at the cost of a Day Travel Card. There’s no need to queue or ask for a special ticket. Just keep tapping away and whizz around town
  • If you take a second bus or tram within an hour of getting on the first one, you’ll only be charged once, as part of the “hopper fare”
  • Until the early hours of the morning, buses run so frequently that you don’t need to check a timetable (one of our very countrified team asked about this before a recent visit!)
  • The tube is great, but the map can be misleading. Sometimes it’s much easier to walk, even between stations that look far apart
  • The transport system is right-handed! When you beep your way through a barrier, the gates to the LEFT of the card reader will open. Left-handed people are often seen walking into a closed barrier in front of them.

Top activities and places to visit

  • Hampstead – as hidden a gem as you can get in London, with some lovely little shops on narrow streets as well as the graveyard that inspired Bram Stoker
  • Herne Hill in south London – five minutes from Brixton but with a much more relaxed vibe. Go for the Sunday market, get tartiflette and eat it in Brockwell Park
  • Walking the canal path from Camden to Little Venice – great for ticking off lots of sites (Camden Market, Regent’s Park, the Zoo, Lords etc) in a non-touristy way
  • Taking in a concert in the beautiful baroque setting of St. Martin’s in the Field
  • The surprisingly quiet walk from Marylebone and through Regent’s Park, finishing in trendy Primrose Hill for lunch
  • Watching the herds of deer in huge Richmond Park, which feels a world away from the city

Featured places