|by Sean O'Neill||United Kingdom, London, Hotels||15|
In west central London, it's smart to stay in the quiet area near Paddington Station, which provides speedy access to the city's iconic destinations.
Once gritty zones where the final drug deal in Trainspotting was filmed, the neighborhoods of Paddington and Bayswater have softened their edges to become a haven for value-priced hotels.
Hotels here—unlike those downtown—are quiet and roomy, and most are inside white and black Victorian town houses that have been refurbished. Couples and families make up most of the guests in the local hotels—not business people with expense accounts or backpackers who make lots of noise late at night.
Here's what to expect, plus four Budget Travel-recommended hotels:
Lying on the north side of Hyde Park, it's a short walk from here to the famous clothing shops on Oxford Street. On weekends, it's easy to visit the famous Portobello Road market from here. Hop on the Tube (or subway) at Lancaster Gate station and go two stops to Notting Hill Gate station.
Great access to transit
Heathrow is the airport most Americans fly into, and the Heathrow Express rail service takes you nonstop to Paddington. Drop off your bags at your hotel a few blocks from the station, and then get on with your first day of exploring the city quickly—without paying for any pricey black cabs.
Cool kids' shop
Be sure to buy a Paddington Bear, the famous character from the children's book series. Look for the kiosk on the eastern side of the station, close to the entrance to the train platforms under the station's cavernous roof (and just outside of the shopping concourse shrouded in glass), It costs £10, or about $16. You may also want to check out the statue nearby of Paddington. It's cute, and quite the contrast to the statues of generals seen elsewhere.
Mediocre restaurants (sigh)
Truth be told, this is not a food-centric part of town. Best to grab a breakfast to go at a small shop in or by Paddington Station, such as Marks & Spencer Simply Food, and set on about your day exploring the city.
BUDGET TRAVEL'S RECOMMENDED HOTELS IN THIS AREA:
This newly refurbished Victorian town house is next to Hyde Park. From $108.
This Georgian town house is a great choice for families, given its unusually spacious top-floor rooms. From $108.
A modern 140-room retreat in west-central London with touches of antiquity. From $141.
This traditional hotel near Kensington Gardens is known for its crisp, formal service. From $141.