Chiswick sits just outside central London but has a feel that’s miles away from the city. It’s managed to retain its charm from its fishing village days and amped it up with a combination of the finer things (think Michelin-starred restaurants) and a down-home feel (Fuller’s brewery calls Chiswick home). If architecture is your thing, make sure to see Chiswick House. Rowers, take note: the annual Boat Race finishes just before the Chiswick Bridge.
Fact: the City of London is all of 1.12 square miles. Fun fact: even though it’s had a reputation as a somewhat dull place to visit (largely due to the financial services industry that dominates the landscape), thanks to redevelopment hotels, bars and restaurants, and even arts centres have taken off and enlivened nearby districts beyond the City---like Clerkenwell, a former warehouse district-cum-birthplace of the gastropub. No longer just a central location, this has become a legitimately fun place to be in London.
These areas are easily the youth center of London and have the hipster cred to match. If you’re searching for lively (there’s loads of live music venues), unique (with a flair for the gothic), and affordable shopping Camden’s your bag. Islington is sort of a bridge neighborhood with fringe elements that keep it fun, interesting, and full of surprises. And if you thought King’s Cross was nothing more than a massive railway stop perhaps associated with Harry Potter), you’re missing its resurgence into a cultural center featuring the British Library and other fantastic museums.
South Kensington is known as the 21st arrondissement and exudes “high” culture. The area is covered with prestigious museums and highbrow shopping while Kensington proper houses the monarchy along with grand parks (and more shopping!). Chelsea rounds out the area with not only top-notch football but also art galleries, boutiques, and in-demand restaurants. Thanks to its highbrow reputation and royal neighbors, the streets may as well be paved in gold.
This is where aristocratic London lives and it’s everything you always expected London to be: immaculate, traditional, and oh-so-very-exclusive. Everyone enjoys a walk along the lanes, admiring the architecture, picture-perfect parks, and some of the most-recognized streets in London (think Savile Row for starters). The most luxurious of luxe hotels are sprinkled generously throughout the area, especially on Park Lane, so dress the part if you plan on getting past the doorman.
Richmond-upon-Thames (widely known simply as “Richmond”) may be outside central London, but this in fact makes it more desirable than you’d think. Think of it as a laid-back sanctuary: a sanctuary for royals (Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace is located here), a sanctuary for wildlife (the London Wetland Centre calls Richmond home), and of course a sanctuary for anyone looking for wide open green spaces (Kew Gardens and Richmond Park, London’s largest is here).
Shoreditch is filled to the brim with seemingly odd juxtapositions of high-end and affordable eateries, galleries from the avant garde to classical, and unforgettable markets. Along with the East End, it’s also London’s (arty) party central centering around bars, lounges, and restaurants rather than megaclubs. If you want to keep the tourists at arm’s length and plunge into a sophisticated alternative London, do it here.
Ahhh, Theatreland. This is where London truly never sleeps and there’s always something going on. Honestly, this is tourist central but you’re almost obliged to love it because it’s so very London. Soho especially is filled to the brim as London's largest and most varied shopping hub---you'll find sleaze and posh right next door to one another, where trendsetters and tourists mingle, and where, above all, you find old shops and restaurants run by the same family who immigrated to this welcoming area from anywhere else. This is London variety at its best and it demands to be seen and experienced like no other neighborhoods in Central London.
Landmarks don’t come any thicker than in Westminster and Victoria, providing the backdrop to nearly every tourist’s “LOOK, I WAS IN LONDON!” photos. Don’t be fooled, though---the crowds are there for a plethora of good reasons and we recommend visiting every single one of these reasons if you’re a history buff (be warned that would take days). From the Houses of Parliament to the expansive Victoria Station, we guarantee that you’ll be here at some point and hope sincerely that you will indeed go home with one of those photos because, well, you were in London (and shouldn’t that be celebrated?).
A Belgravia address is often hyped---some may argue too much---but for anyone who’s after exclusive boutiques, antiques, and restaurants this is the place to be. You’ll find the finest of everything behind unassuming doors with naught but a name on a plaque next to the entrance (if that) around the corner from royal digs or more well-known designer shops. Knightsbridge is similarly exclusive but isn’t shy about it; Harrod’s, Harvey Nichols, and oodles of other top stores and luxurious hotels have laid claim to its shiny storefronts and enviable postcodes.