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The Top 10 London Neighborhoods: Where to Shop, What to Eat, and What You Don't Want to Miss

As it turns out, a "hop across the pond" is not as quaint as it sounds. When exploring all of the London neighborhoods you're about to encounter, you're left with a keenly intense feeling: a mixture of exhilaration, curiosity, and wonder. This is because as you meander these 10 neighborhoods, you quickly realize that there's only this one city in the world unique enough to be the home of a historic and regal British monarchy and the irrepressible punk movement of the '60s: London. Learn all about where she's been and where she's going in this list of the top London neighborhoods.

Our London Neighborhoods Top 10: 1. City of London

One of the primary London neighborhoods has got to be its main hub. "The City" - as its better known - is where all the initial action takes place. This is London's commercial, financial, and entertainment core. It's also where you can find a whole host of historical buildings and places of significance like St. Paul's Cathedral and the Bank of England Museum. 
For proper "City" experience in this essential of London neighborhood, head to the Tower of London. This rather austere and impenetrable fortress today hosts families and children enjoying the Jewel House, the wall walks, the ravens, and even the partially macabre church of St. Peter ad Vincula, home to the tombs of the Boleyns. How's that for an introduction?
London neighborhoods are always bustling with history and architecture. Head to the Tate Modern, always packed with art-lovers, culture-enthusiasts, and architecture-buffs. There are rotating exhibits such as "SUPERFLEX", where installations of swings have been installed in Turbine Hall. The Tate Modern also features film screenings and solo exhibitions. When you're done, take in a free play at the Lunchbox Theater, a hidden gem among the various other London neighborhoods. You'll find lunch-hour workers taking a break to view its quirky and original one-act plays. The venue also hosts evening paid shows and concerts.
Perfectly situated to explore the City of London is our Novotel Tower Bridge.

2. Bloomsbury

London neighborhoods like Bloomsbury are considered perhaps the most "literate." This is thanks to its famous publishing house of the same name and, of course, Virginia Woolf. Bloomsbury's little cobblestone roads and old-fashioned street lamps coupled with amazing mix of modern and historic buildings and a clear love for all things literature, it's hard not to be amazed.

Stop by Lamb's Conduit Street, where you can go shopping for vintage and folksy threads while still curling up with a good book. If you're looking for spot of tea, you'll have more than your fair share of choices at cafes like Knockbox Coffee and the signature Bloomsbury Coffee House. The interesting thing is that many of these venues are located in the basement, prime underground locations for artsy and literary intellectuals of the 20th century.

Make sure to take a stroll around the greenery of Russel Square Park with its overflowing fountains, generous foliage, and plenty of park space. It's a good idea to pack a picnic lunch and dine, al fresco, in the park one afternoon. Bloomsbury is also home to the British Museum and the University of London, making this spot in Central London one of the most academic in the rundown of London neighborhoods.


3. Chelsea

London neighborhoods like Chelsea are all about the high end and, as such, they're not exactly cheap. Yet it's also one of the safest neighborhoods in London. This posh London neighborhood has plenty of curb appeal and can be surprisingly down-to-earth in its own way. No list of London neighborhoods is complete without popping by, so you'll want to begin by checking out the oldest botanical garden in London. Yes, it's located in Chelsea! Founded in 1673, the gardens are meant to be walked through and explored, but you can always enjoy them from above while snacking on a sandwich at Tangerine Café.
You may not think that a building that looks as grand, majestic, and overpowering as the Saatchi Gallery on King's Road might be free - but you'd be wrong! The Saatchi Gallery is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon, opening your mind and cultural palate to a whole host of contemporary artists from all over the world. If this whets your appetite for something even crazier, head to the Curzon Chelsea Cinema which, as "art house" film lovers will tell you, is famous for its screenings as well as its live concerts, ballets, and uniquely flavored popcorn. 
Pub-goers will have to make a quick stop at The Phene, since pubs are like a rite of passage in all London neighborhoods. You'll get to experience the classic pub fare like a good ol' pint of ale and yet more unexpected but no less "British" staples like a punnet of quail eggs. All this in an ambiance of deep wood and a magnificent balcony facing the Margaretta Terrace and you'll feel like you've been whisked away to another time.
Two more spots worth mentioning (and required to cross Chelsea off your list of London neighborhoods) is the Chelsea Farmers' Market and shopping on King's Road. While the former promises a relaxing morning of browsing through great produce, specialty oils, wines, vinegars, and cheeses as well as gardening bookstores, the latter is all about outlet shops like Zadig & Voltaire.

4. Richmond

A royal park made for a royal place, Richmond Park is an oasis in the middle of a bustling British city, and one of the most picturesque of London neighborhoods. Located within the park are the beautiful Kew Gardens, filled with countless stags, deer, and various other wildlife. No surprise, as this was the favored hunting grounds of Henry VIII himself - what is a surprise, however, is how it still flourishes today, incredibly well-maintained and frequented by visitors both local and foreign. You'll quickly realize that London neighborhoods like Richmond are rare.
Richmond is all about nature in the metropolis, so take your fill at the next stop, Ham House. Frequently favored as an ideal filming location among other London neighborhoods, the gorgeous grounds are well cultivated and dotted with decadent statues, cherry trellises, and lavender parterres. Head inside for an equally stunning interior, replete with antique furniture, rococo mirrors and historic tapestries. No matter which of the other London neighborhoods you head to after this, Richmond will stick out in your mind like a green vista.

5. Hackney

The best of the borough of Hackney is also the best of what London neighborhoods have to offer. Our guide to London neighborhoods wouldn't be complete without a customary trip to The Geffrye. As you've noticed, admission to many of the museums and galleries in these London neighborhoods are not just cheap - they're free! So take advantage of everything Hackney has to offer. While locals might complain about property prices, Hackney is actually one of the best neighborhoods in London for families - whether you're doing a short term or long-term stay. 
While the borough of Hackney is properly gentrified and so filled with trendy youth (secretly called "hipsters"), this ambiance actually makes for some pretty eclectic offerings. Like coffee! Try Long White Cloud, where fresh food is not just handmade on the premises, it's made of fair trade and organic ingredients. This sort of dedication to locally-sourced food is one of the best things about London neighborhoods. 
Next up is the weird and wacky world of Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, where the owners kept the original name just to mess with you. While the spot used to be an importer of old handbags and shoes, today you'll find an assortment of hand-made, stone-baked pizzas, fancy cocktails, long, wooden community benches, black leather sofas, and possibly spirits behind the counter. 
The Broadway Market and the Broadway Bookshop are two places you simply cannot miss if you want to experience the spirit of London neighborhoods. Yes, Chelsea and Bloomsbury may be lined with quaint old Victorian-style row-houses in beautiful finishes with charming streetlamps, but Broadway Market is where east Londoners go for a bit of fashion and food. Every Saturday, the market sets up shop against a backdrop of funky cafés, pubs, and indie music shops. Food is the main star here but the vibe is relaxed, boasting quality over all else, and variety and diversity in its selection.

6. Walthamstow

History, culture, hustle and bustle: "The Village", as it's also known, is one of the well-connected and diverse examples of London neighborhoods. It links perfectly to King’s Cross on the Victoria Line and there is an overground rail to Liverpool Street. Besides this, the Queen's Park is the homey and fun local watering hole where travelers and locals alike can stop and have a friendly pint - or more! There are plenty of local events like farmers' markets and beautiful green spaces like Lloyds Park and the rugged, 2,400 hectare Epping Forest kissing its border. With its affordable housing, great transit and multiple primary schools, Stow is one of the best neighborhoods in London for families that still manages to maintain its London flair.

This specific "London" vibe is evident in Bygga Bo cafe, a slice of Stockholm in a fiercely multi-cultural borough. If you're looking for bites while you stroll in Lloyd's Park, well, they've thought of that too: visit Le Delice in the Park for delicious breakfast tagine or roast baby chicken at old-school prices.

Those who love the quirky simply cannot miss the very aptly-named God's Own Junkyard, which is one-quarter art gallery, one-quarter museum, a dash of a thrift store, and perhaps what would happen if your grandma were ever to meet and make liberal use of neon signs to highlight her antique cabinets, courtesy of her hoarding tendencies. This is a serious smorgasbord of stuff including 80s memorabilia, arcane movie figurines, ridiculously over-the-top decorations, and forgotten tchotchkes. The best part? Once you're done being blinded by the neon lights or coaxed into buying kitsch, stop by the Wildcard Brewery, a micro-brewery with a bar that hosts beery beach parties, open mic nights and mini-music festivals on the premises.


7. Shoreditch

Widely touted as east-end London's creative hub, the best part about Shoreditch is how art is part and parcel of the locale. While central London is all about its museums, galleries, architecture, and massive symbols of its history, there's something distinctly unique and "homegrown" about London neighborhoods like Shoreditch.
Here, massive and bright murals cover the brick walls of nearly every building and stand out as an emblem of what the community is all about. This east-end borough is where artists go when they're both looking to be inspired and are inspired enough to want to create. Its unique blend of one-of-a-kind culture meeting urban scape allows Shoreditch to maintain its creative outlook - and is a major draw for visitors who want to see and experience what's at the cutting edge of the London art scene.
Let's begin, then, with a trip to the most popular bagel shop in all of London, the Brick Lane Beigel. Serving up the best "beef bagels." You can choose from Beigel Bake or Beigel Shop at all hours of the day. If you're looking for a gathering place to relax with your friends and take in the locals, it's the Queen of Hoxton on Curtain Road for you. The beautiful courtyard and trendy interiors will keep you occupied for hours with its great ambiance, ping pong tables, retro arcade machines, and a great BBQ menu. The basement gets converted into a mini club and the rooftop terrace, with stunning hanging gardens, gets packed fast!
Besides the great venues, Shoreditch also hosts co-working spaces, incredibly themed pop-up malls like Boxpark, where eating and drinking stalls are made entirely out of shopping containers, the best clubs like Cargo and XOYO, and the chance to play ping pong while enjoying a pint at Bounce. The streets are thronging with people checking out great restaurants featuring global street food like Canadian poutine. But one of the best ways to know the community and spend quality time in the afternoon is to head to one of the famous markets in Shoreditch. Take your pick between Backyard Market, Sunday Upmarket, or Pump Street Food Market, which creatively repurposes an old gas station. Would you expect anything less?

8. Notting Hill

Did you now Hugh Grant and various other local icons have actually created a campaign to raise awareness about Notting Hill's diversity? Not only is this one of the most special of London neighborhoods, it's also so iconic that no list of London neighborhoods would be considered complete without it.
In order to gain the true Notting Hill experience, however, you've got to have a little insider knowledge. If you glance on the surface, you'll be hit by an immediate flush of ethnic grocery stores and retailers, food spots, and locals milling about. But this is not just another borough. Here, hidden side streets are the order of the day. 
Start by simply taking a stroll on Lancaster road or Chepstow Villas for a veritable palette of colorful houses. Brightly painted in pastel-shades of eggshell blue, fuschia, goldenrod yellow, and fire engine red, this could easily be the most colorful street in the world. These beautiful houses will put you in a perfectly sunny state of mind, perfect for your next stop: Portobello Road Market. Does this sound fantastically exotic and mysterious? It's definitely meant to appeal to the global traveler and vintage-lover. Here, you'll find gorgeous vintage maps, lanterns hanging from the ceiling that look as though they've been transplanted straight from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and mosaic upcycled drawers. 
Next up, stop for a delicious and beautifully-crafted rose latte at Farm Girl and head for lunch at The Ledbury. These are on Colville Road, which is also where a delightful collection of boutiques and florists brighten the street. Books for Cooks, The Notting Hill Bookshop, and Lutyens & Rubinstein are the perfect spots for book and art lovers to head to next. If you love the vibe of hipster-designed interiors and great beer on tap, head to Trailer Happiness, The Walmer Castle, or The Westbourne for a fantastic dinner and a great night out.

9. Stoke Newington

Lovingly known as "Stokey", Stoke Newington is where young couples eventually move to when they've had just about enough of central London but still want to keep close to the core. Of all of London neighborhoods, Stokey is a slice of a more natural and authentic kind of good life. It's not quite as homegrown as Walthamstow (nor quite as affordable) but if you're simply here for a visit, stop by the most charming of London neighborhoods. With its picturesque parks, beautiful and historic buildings, interesting indie shops and spaces, as well as amazing bars on the menu, Stokey is worth more than a day for a visit.
If you want to do Stokey right, start first at Church Street. Here is where you'll find thriving bohemian bars and pubs along with great little cafes and boutiques featuring one-of-a-kind wares. It's enough to get lost in for an entire morning and push it well into the afternoon, but you'll want to mix it up a bit. If it's Saturday, make a beeline for the London's only all-organic farmer's market in front of St. Paul's Church on the High Street. Pack up a couple of muffins, cookies, bagels, and fresh produce and then head to either Clissold Park or Abney Park. If you find a shaded spot and sit still long enough, you might even spot a baby deer or two, grazing quietly at the end of the woods. 
If retro shopping is what you came for, don't miss the bargains at Dirty Blonde or Ribbons Taylor. These cute shops, almost always manned by the most helpful hipsters with a deep knowledge in vintage threads, also feature furniture and antique goods, as and when these come in. 

10. City of Westminster

Of course, no London neighborhood guide should miss mentioning the City of Westminster, home to the royal residences. Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the British Museum, and Buckingham Palace are just four major reasons to visit the City of Westminster. One of the easiest to access of all of London's neighborhoods, you can easily chalk out a whole week of sightseeing. Oxford Street's shops coupled with Soho's nightlife and the various iconic London experiences will keep you riveted to Westminster.

Your very first sojourn of the most famous of London neighborhoods should be dedicated to a classic: Westminster Abbey. Royal marriages proceeding here since 1100 notwithstanding, the gorgeous Gothic-style church is the very picture of regal design and British austerity. Its tall spires, vaulted ceilings, stunning stonework and beautiful, decorative statues speak of more than a thousand years of history, and it's an experience you simply cannot miss.

Next on the to-do list of London neighborhoods is the Elizabeth Tower. What about the "Big Ben"? Well, that's the official name for it! Take a couple of photos because public is not allowed inside. However, you can nip down to the historic Houses of Parliament and undertake a whole afternoon's worth of a guided tour, which will include the Royal Gallery and the Chamber of Commons. Be sure to pop by "Number 10", the colloquial name for the PM's offices and residences at 10 Downing Street (and try to imagine an apple-cheeked Hugh Grant dancing in there as Prime Minister). Once you're done that, head to the iconic London Eye, a symbol of the city's march forward into a new age. Located right on the Thames River, this 442-foot-tall, massive Ferris wheel gives you a view across the river as well as of the city. Take in the view of all of the London neighborhoods you've been discovering on your trip. It's an especially bejeweled view at night.

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