Brexit talk might be dominating, well, everything, but London’s very much still a fun, booming, culture-filled city. With 857 art galleries, around 17,000 music performances a year and storied Unesco sites like the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Tower of London to visit, you’ll definitely need a few nights’ accommodation to make the most of it.
If you’d prefer to absorb yourself in one of London’s local neighbourhoods rather than bed down in a hotel, we’ve found the best Airbnbs the city has to offer – covering everything from a Hampstead bolthole for dog lovers, to a base for shopping trips, a budget Hoxton home and a historical stay in a Huguenot weaver’s room.
Best for: cultural immersion
This arty home places you in prime position for exploring the galleries of the South Bank, such as the Tate Modern and the Hayward. It’s also close to theatre and film institutions The Young and Old Vic theatres, Shakespeare’s Globe, National Theatre and the BFI, as well as untouristy cafés tucked away on Lower Marsh. This peaceful one-bed flat in a characterful 1950s estate building overlooks a rose garden, and there are DVDs and coffee table books to leaf through, covering topics ranging from art nouveau to vintage film posters. An eclectic but curated art collection on the walls gives it a put-together feel that’s reflective of its cultural surrounds.
Average price: £145 per night
Best for: shopping
While this modern apartment comes at a reasonable price for the area, it has plenty of hotel-like touches, including a Nespresso machine, Egyptian cotton sheets, fruit bowls and free toiletries. Decor is monochrome and wood, with black-and-white photography and cityscape murals and the odd Scandi throw, while previous guests have commented on its sparkling cleanliness and thoughtful touches like milk in the fridge.
You’re in close proximity to the architecturally marvellous Design Museum and this apartment is well placed for shopping: both Westfield and Notting Hill’s Portobello Road are both within walking distance, while Chelsea’s King’s Road is a short bus or taxi ride away.
Average price: £125 per night
Best for: food and music
This colour-popping two-bedroom flat is kitted out with a modern bathroom and kitchen – not that you’ll want to eat in much. Any food-loving Londoner worth their salt will tell you that Brixton Village is the place to dine around here, with tables representing pretty much any country in the world.
It’s also streets away from Grade II listed gig venue the O2 Academy Brixton – worth it for the Art Deco features and Venetian Rialto bridge-inspired interior alone, though the music won’t disappoint either, with previous acts including Lauryn Hill and Johnny Marr. And when you get back to the flat, there’s a balcony overlooking a communal garden to unwind on, plus a cosy sofa to chill on in the open-plan living area, which is decorated with graphic prints of London sights.
Average price: £125 per night
Best for: budget stays with a local
For an affordable stay in a private room in a local host’s flat, this is a hard one to beat. You’ll lodge with Sara, Benjamin and their poodle Rei in a typically east London flat. Mid-mod furniture: check. Urban Outfitters-style graphic sheets and rugs: check. Add to that some quirky photography for personality (identical white long-haired dogs, a portrait of Bruce Willis in his younger years), plus a balcony and a roof terrace with city views, and it’s a pretty sweet deal. The bathroom is shared, but guests are also encouraged to cook in the kitchen, make themselves at home in the living room, and have a go on the piano.
Average price: £64 per night
Best for: luxury riverside living
This swanky three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in a Vauxhall high-rise has all the trappings of an upscale stay: spa, hot-tub and pool access, an on-site gym and valet parking. Marble and walnut touches, design-conscious furniture, bold art prints and a full kitchen with handy touches like a wine cooler and breakfast bar give it a homely-meets-hotel vibe. And do make use of the balcony: the 180-degree river views from the 30th-floor vantage point might have you questioning whether there’s much point negotiating a crowded rooftop bar.
Average price: £650 per night
Best for: design
Decked out by a London architect, this two-bedroom Victorian-era London townhouse turned ultra-white design dream has original feature fireplaces, wooden floors, chic curated furniture and characterful graphic art. Bathrooms are hotel-like, while the bright kitchen opens out to a decked outdoor space with string lights and leafy bamboo. Try and get this place on a Saturday night, since it’s in prime position for a Sunday morning trip to buzzy Columbia Road Flower Market and Shoreditch’s design boutiques.
Average price: £645 per night
Best for: dog lovers
Host Jane lives here in pet-friendly Hampstead with an adorable Wheaten Terrier called Dilly. The pretty flat is on the top floor of a Victorian house, and you’ll have a bright and airy private bedroom and your own bathroom. Unwind in the chaise longue or in the wicker chairs on the balcony, with views over the Heath, after a day exploring the city, visiting nearby Keats House, splashing in the swimming ponds or soaking up Hampstead’s village vibes. Considering the location, it’s a steal price-wise.
Average price: £65 per night
Best for: groups
History lovers will enjoy the feel of this Grade-II listed 19th century building, tastefully decorated with wooden furniture, brimming bookshelves and plush woven Persian-style rugs. It’s been recently refurbished, so the bathrooms and kitchen are new, while the four bedrooms have space to sleep up to 10.
Located in Mayfair, it’s within walking distance of Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, The Ritz, Berkeley Square, Bond Street and Piccadilly – plus there are plenty of blue plaques to spot in the area, dedicated to the ilk of Harry Gordon Selfridge and Handel. If you’re staying in, board games will keep groups entertained, and the cupboard’s stocked with free soft drinks and beer.
Average price: £550 per night
Best for: plant lovers
With its behemoth cheese plant, leafy ferns and rattan furniture this may look like a SS19 Habitat catalogue, but the Weaver’s Room in this 300-year-old Georgian townhouse is reflective of Spitalfields’ Huguenot past. The unique light-filled building is typical of architecture brought over by Huguenot weavers at the time, and the space is filled with colonial furniture and Chinese art. The Weaver’s Room is part of a B&B, so you’ll have a traditional breakfast cooked for you too, with optional midday tidy-ups.
Average price: £128 per night
Best for: hanging out with the in-crowd
Cosy hipster-luxe is probably the best way to describe this two-bedroom open-plan apartment in an 1890s Hackney townhouse. The decor is black, white, beige and greys, save for the occasional mustard cushion, leafy green plant or flash of wood, with Scandi throws and textured, fluffy cushions. Nespresso coffee will keep you pepped up for trips to London Fields and its lido, trendy Broadway Market, the Burberry Outlet and sample sales at The Box. And the bath in the grey-tiled bathroom is good for a soak after long days exploring.
Average price: £140 per night