Millions upon millions of travelers are drawn to the vast metropolis of London every year. They come because of the iconic landmarks of the British state, from Buckingham Palace to the soaring Gothic spire of Big Ben and beyond. They come to seek out hearty pubs and fish-and-chip stalls, frothy ales and Michelin-starred bistros alike. They come for the thousands of years of haunting history, for the prestigious theatres of the West End, and the seemingly endless array of galleries, museums, and attractions that pepper the banks of the gurgling Thames River. To put it simply – there’s something here for all types of globetrotter!
These days, a huge number of the annual 19 million visitors to the Big Smoke will choose to bed down in a London Airbnb. The reason? Unlike hotels, they can whisk you out to interesting neighbourhoods with unique bohemian and local vibes. They’re also often cheaper than traditional stays, and can offer a little extra space and convenience to boot. This guide is a great place to begin…
Yep – feel free to use Airbnb as much as you like in London. There are zero restrictions in place for travelers enticed by the vast range of flats and penthouses and townhouses across the Big Smoke. Landlords using Airbnb in London will have to adhere to the so-called 90-day rule. It’s been in place since 2017 and means that no single complete property can be let for more than three months at a time during any one year. It won’t affect your experience of the service as a guest, however, because Airbnb have worked with authorities in the capital to ensure listings are automatically made unavailable once they cross the threshold. Book away!
Where should I stay in London Airbnb?
Let’s get one thing straight – London is huge! The largest city in the UK and one of the largest in Europe, it ranges more than 52km across the Thames basin in the south-east of England. This Airbnb guide to London will focus on some of the most popular areas for visitors, starting with the obvious landmarks of Westminster(1), the nightlife hubs of Soho and the West End(2), the retail precinct of Covent Garden(3), and the business powerhouse of the City of London(4).
Then, we’ll hop over to the A-lister meccas of Chelsea and Knightsbridge(5), where Ferraris and champagne bars dot the streets, before checking out the sleek penthouses on the menu in Marylebone and Mayfair(6). Further out from these mainstays, there’s a chance to see what bohemian and punky Camden(7) offers, and a quick visit to hipster-favourite Shoreditch(8) for those after something a little left of field.
Amazing political attractions
Good access to the West End and West London
Bustling and busy
Not a great amount of Airbnbs to pick from
Westminster is probably the London you’ve seen on the news. The beating heart of English politics, it’s where Big Ben bongs overhead and the Houses of Parliament adorn the sides of the Thames with their filigreed spires and stained glass. Downing Street is just a short stroll down Whitehall if you want to catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister, but Westminster Abbey is also on site if you’d prefer to see the place where kings and queens have been consecrated since the 11th century. A stay here is a stay in the very heart of the English state.
Soho has been a byword for hedonism in London since anyone can remember. Take theatre-packed Shaftesbury Avenue, where playhouses have been entertaining Londoners back beyond the turn of the 1600s. In later decades, the streets to the north of that became known for bumping jazz bars like Ronnie Scott’s, gritty Irish pubs, and LGBTQ venues. To the south is soy-scented Chinatown, which is great for a taste of the capital’s multicultural character. Book an Airbnb here if you love nightlife, theatre shows, and don’t mind retiring a little later than usual.
Look up: There’s a forest of glimmering skyscrapers and steel-clad high-rises in the City of London. The iconic Square Mile, it’s the beating financial hub of the UK. Expect to see suited business folk moving between the sandwich shops and coffee places at efficient speed – meetings beckon. But sights beckon, too. This is the area that hosts the haunted Tower of London (on its eastern side) and St. Paul’s Cathedral (right in its middle), not to mention the old alleys and lanes that come off Fleet Street (to the west). Airbnbs are likely to be sleek and modern, but often come housed in old London townhouses that date back centuries.
The heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is formed by the two areas of Chelsea and Knightsbridge. The stomping grounds of London’s A-listers and celebs, they are a land of purring Ferraris and designer clothing. Don’t be surprised if you see more oyster and champagne bars than traditional English pubs, a trend that’s mirrored in the uber-cool Airbnb rentals – think elegant apartments in Victorian rowhouses that brim with antique furnishings. But museums and gardens also abound, from the enthralling Natural History Museum (a family favourite) to the iconic Serpentine of Hyde Park a little to the north.
The dual districts of Marylebone and Mayfair join together to connect the green spaces of Regent’s Park and Hyde Park. Combined, they are among the most prestigious postcodes in the city (just check the Monopoly board!). Bisecting them both is the famous shopping mecca of Oxford Street, where you’ll find major flagship retailers and department stores by the bucket load. To the south is Mayfair, hosting prestigious Michelin-stared restaurants and some of London’s most opulent hotels. To the north is Marylebone, home to the Sherlock Holmes museum and mainstay draws like Madame Tussauds.
Technically speaking a corner of the theatre-filled West End, Covent Garden is worth a special mention because it’s one of London’s premier shopping hubs. The Italianate pagoda known as The Apple Market stands at its centre, hosting oodles of curious haberdasheries and artisanal food stores. Around that swirls a maze of roads where high-street fashion brands mingle with ski shops and haute couture names. You’ll never be short of somewhere to hit the tills, not to mention stylish teahouses and pubs to boot.
Break out the spiky necklaces and ready the leather jacket, Camden is the off-beat punk hub of London. It’s to the north of the city centre, spreading out in a mass of rough-around-the-edges rock bars and alternative music venues. Markets cram onto the streets around lively Camden Lock selling all manner of vinyl records, band patches, and street food – often with a distinctly Asian flavour. There are loads of Airbnbs in the vicinity and they typically come with a slightly more affordable price tag than their compadres closer to Piccadilly.
Shoreditch was one of the first districts to put East London on the map back in the 90s. Flying the flag for Hackney as a whole, it’s a hubbub of creative art workshops, tattoo studios, and edgy eateries. Shoreditch High Street is the place to be, what with its pubs, Carib BBQ joints, curry houses, and endless shopping melange of record joints, photography outfitters, and – most notably – vintage threads emporiums. For something quieter you can venture north from here to Hoxton or even multicultural Dalston (the new hipster favourite).
Nothing says ‘Soho’ quite like this exquisite pad in the midst of the West End. Living spaces of muted grey tones are bolstered by contemporary furnishings with an edge of Scandi cool to create a pad that’s every inch the place you’d like to retreat to after hitting the playhouses and jazz bars. A colossal flat-screen TV and vintage fireplace only add to the draws, while the bathroom is a symphony of marble that’s hard not to fall in love with. Get booking!
Tucked neatly into the handsome Georgian-Victorian rowhouses of upscale Knightsbridge, this sumptuous and spacious house rental can host up to six people at any one time. Highlights include a cosy and unpretentious living area with a dining space and old hearth, along with a minimalist kitchen that’s both bright and functional. There’s also a full bathroom with a sit-in tub – perfect for unwinding after long days of shopping in Harrods!
You’ll get a trio of separate bedrooms in this flat on the Thames. They are all comfy and contemporary, with large beds and plenty of wardrobe space. Groups can gather to share stories of the British Museum at the dining table come evening or settle in for a laze on the L-shaped sofa. But it’s the location that should really put it on the radar for families – right between the London Eye, the landmarks of Westminster, and the theatres of the West End.
The list of features is long in this top-quality Airbnb. You ready? Five stories – check. A private garden with al fresco seating – check. Four individual bedrooms but space for up to 17 guests in total – check. Italianate designer kitchen – check. Big groups simply can’t go amiss in this beautifully done out townhouse, which sits a mere five minutes’ walk from the major transport hub of King’s Cross.
Bag yourself a space in the backpacker favourite of Clink261. It’s a tried-and-tested hostel with shared dorms set out over classic bunks. The vibe is low key and casual and there’s a colourful common area with button-push sofas and Pop Art installations where you can meet and mingle with likeminded travelers. A stay at Clink261 also means you get to join the free in-house walking tours of London that take place regularly throughout the week.
Surrounded by the chic boutiques and wine bars of Knightsbridge, this Airbnb Luxe listing promises the height of personalised service. Behind an Elizabethan façade of beautiful white-painted stone, the property contains its very own private sauna and health facility, along with sprawling dining rooms and lounge areas. Meanwhile, the master bedroom really lives up to its name with a walk-in vanity cupboard and iron-wrought balcony. Oh, and Harrods is just a stroll down the street!
Booking hotels in London can leave the mind boggled and the wallet empty, especially if you’re looking for somewhere to stay that’s near the iconic landmarks in the heart of the capital – Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London. That’s where Airbnb comes in. The listings tend to be a little easier on the bank account than classic hotels. What’s more, they dot all corners of the metropolis, so you can reduce the cost of a stay by venturing to lesser-known corners of London, where prices are bound to be lower.
Still, it’s worth noting that Airbnbs aren’t actually the same as hotels. You’ll either be renting a standalone room in a flat or an entire pad to call you own. That means you don’t get all the bells and whistles of a trip to the Ritz. You’ll need to cook your own breakfasts, tidy your own room, and plan all your own travels. A place like the Belgrave Hotel is a prime example of what’s different in an establishment. It’s a classic London hotel set amid the brick-fronted buildings of lovely Pimlico. Alongside sumptuous four-star rooms, you’ll get the bonus of daily housekeeping, air conditioning, and optional breakfasts each morning. It’s something to think about…
London is a colossal cityscape that spans out from the snaking River Thames in a mosaic of amazing neighbourhoods and boroughs. Each can offer a wholly different sort of city break, so it’s a good idea to check out the vibe and atmosphere before booking your Airbnb in the ancient English capital.