“Best” can mean different things to different people, “Best” is often code for cheapest or best value but equally could be levels of luxury or pampering.
For the purpose of this discussion we’re really looking at the most convenient hotel districts for stereotypical types of visitor to London.
So first lets take a look at the major hotel districts and their proximity to airport transport services.
Stansted To Central London Transport & Hotel Districts To Avoid
The bad news is that Stansted is a long way outside London and road based transfers on buses are prone to traffic congestion and delay. The only train service goes to Liverpool Street in the heart of the financial area of London, an area very few leisure visitors stay. You will probably have a significant journey from Liverpool Street to your hotel. (Though at weekends when the businessmen are away there are good deals in the Liverpool Street/Tower Of London area).
The good news is that transport services between Stansted and Central London are many, reaching most major hotel districts in London. Only the South Kensington, Gloucester Road and Earls Court hotel districts are not to be recommended if you are flying into Stansted, they are on the far side of London from Stansted.
Apart from these all Central London Hotel districts are as good as each other and your choice is probably going to be largely driven by the character and budget range of an individual hotel district.
You basically have 3 strategy choices then getting from Stansted to your hotel in Central London
a) Get the Stansted Express train to Liverpool Street, the most expensive option and then complete your journey by London Underground.
b) Use the National Express, Terravision and easyBus bus services that visit hotel districts Victoria, Marble Arch, Baker Street and Swiss Cottage and run very close to Paddington and Tower Bridge.
c) Use the National Express and Terravision services to Stratford on the edge of Central London avoiding the worst traffic congestion and switch to the Underground
Note: The London Undergrond is shut down from around midnight to about 5:30 a.m.
Stansted Airport To London – All Transport Options Compared
A Broad Summary Comparing London’s Main Hotel Districts
West End – Geographically the most central in London. Mostly 4 /5 star hotels with high prices.
Stansted Express to Liverpool Street then Underground, National Express Bus to Marble Arch, National Express or Terravision Bus to Stratford then Underground.
Bloomsbury- Only 15 minutes walk from the heart of the West End. Very interesting district with lots of bookshops, collectors places and quirky attractions. Wide range of all types of accommodation but a step change in price down from the West End.
Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then Underground, National Express or Terravision Bus to Stratford then Underground
County Hall – A cluster of hotels, mostly very large 4 stars by the London Eye. Can offer good deals at the weekend. Walk across the River Thames to Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Good location if you have a cruise from Southampton (direct rail link)
Stansted Express to Liverpool Street then Underground, National Express or Terravision Bus to Stratford then Underground to Waterloo.
Victoria - The full breadth of accommodation from cheap and nasty to top of the range. Premium to districts like Kensington and Paddington but much less than West End. Excellent location if you have a cruise from Dover or Southampton. Tends to be more expensive at weekend.
Terravision Bus Direct
Mayfair & Knightsbridge – The most exclusive part of London with some of the most expensive hotels. If you have to look at the price of something you want, then don’t come here.
Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then Underground, Terravision Bus Victoria then taxi
City Of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge - The commercial district of London. Hotels can be exorbitant during the working week but at the weekend bargains at nice 4 star hotels can be found. Direct trains to Gatwick, Stansted and Luton and Dover and Harwich cruise ports.
Stansted Express to Liverpool Street or Terravison or National Express Bus to Liverpool Street
Marble Arch, Oxford Street – Cluster of hotels around London’s busiest shopping street of all grades. Big price premium on hotels well under a mile away at Paddington but rates are volatile so woth checking for bargains. Direct airport buses to Stansted and Luton airports.
Stansted Express to Liverpool Street then Underground, National Express Bus to Marble Arch (western end of Oxford Street)
Paddington – Revolves around Paddington train station, terminus of the Heathrow Express train and trains to the west of England and Wales. A district for those wanting value for money, the full range of hotel grades are available. Lancaster Gate close by is not quite so hectic, with more space and is more elegant.
Stansted Express to Liverpool Street then Underground, National Express Bus to Marble Arch then bus,walk,taxi, National Express or Terravision Bus to Stratford then Underground.
Regents Park & Baker Street – A mixed bag of hotels dispersed over a wide area. Very good value sometimes around Swiss Cottage with a Marriott and Holiday Inn Express. Pleasant enough area with direct airport buses to Stansted and Luton.
National Express Bus Direct
Kings Cross St Pancras – We reckon sets the benchmark if low cost is you main purchasing criteria. Lots of relatively good quality bed and breakfast and no frills budget hotels. Almost unbeatable as a transport hub. Direct trains to Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton plus Dover cruise port. If you have an old out of date guide book it may say this is a district to be avoided, all that is long gone – much rejuvenated area and now London terminus for Eurostar trains.
Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then Underground, National Express or Terravision Bus to Stratford then Underground.
Bayswater – A budget accommodation district mostly of independents. Queensway is the heart of Bayswater and is a very good district for those on a budget. Take care with your accommodation choice and you should have a great time without blowing your bank account. Can be expensive at weekends.
Stansted Express to Liverpool Street then Underground, National Express bus to Marble Arch then bus or Underground Queensway/Bayswater, National Express or Terravision Bus to Stratford then Underground.
Very Early / Late Flight
The Stansted Express is not available to connect for the earliest and latest flights from Stansted. The London Underground being closed from midnight to about 5:30 a.m. is also significant for many hotel districts if you are arriving late or departing early.
By publc transport the National Express and Terravision services originating from Victoria are your lifeline at these times. The National Express service also stops at Marble Arch, Baker Street and Swiss Cottage. Night buses from Bayswater and Paddington to Marble Arch are good too.
Liverpool Street Hotels – Also includes Tower of London area
Victoria Hotels – Terminus of easyBus Bus To luton Airport
Regents Park Hotels – Swiss Cottage and Baker Street Area
Kings Cross St Pancras Hotels – Value for money accommodation, a great transport hub
Bloomsbury Hotels – On the edge of theatre district
Marble Arch Hotels – Hotels by London’s main shopping Street
Paddington Hotels – Hotels on the north side of Hyde Park