County Hall & Waterloo Hotel district visitor briefing

What to expect for those contemplating staying in County Hall and Waterloo area

London Eye & County Hall From River Thames Boat

London Eye & County Hall from River Thames boat

On the south bank of the River Thames, directly opposite Big Ben on the opposite bank is County Hall, an imposing building that a long time ago housed the Greater London Council. Nowadays the Mayor of London is housed in a more modern affair opposite the Tower of London. Westminster Bridge links both banks.

The County Hall building now contains the Marriott County Hall and Premier Inn County Hall hotels and still has room for the London Aquarium and a McDonald's amongst others. Next to County Hall are two large hotels, the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge and the Park Plaza County Hall. In the last few years large chain hotels have opened all around them.

County Hall

All of these hotels at County Hall, and a few other chain hotels in the vicinity have only opened their doors in the last decade or so. So what was only a few years ago mostly offices and commercial premises next to London's busiest railway station, Waterloo is now host to a cluster of large hotels. Because of the proximity to the many government offices in London, room rates are softer at the weekend and holiday periods.

The geographical location for the tourist is excellent, it's a wonder this area was not developed for hotels before. You can walk directly across Westminster Bridge to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in the heart of the area first time tourists want to visit. Next door to County Hall is the London Eye. Originally put up for the Year 2,000 celebrations, it's popularity has meant it is now permanent.


All along the South Bank of the River Thames the area is being developed with tourism in mind. In the last decade as well as the London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern Art Gallery are examples of leisure developments that have become major attractions in London in this area. Of course. with the visitors have also come an influx of restaurants and bars, with many of the developments being done with some style. So you can see the area is an up and coming area for tourism.


Original London Tour <br>Hop On, Hop Off Sightseeing Bus

Original London Tour
hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus

Nearly all the hotels are large, perhaps why nearly all the hotels around County Hall are chain hotels with a bias towards the luxury end of the market. The balance on restaurants also seems to be more heavily leaning towards the chains, rather than independents compared with other more established hotel districts.


As you get closer to Waterloo Station most food outlets are geared to the needs of the commuters using the station looking for food on the go.

As well as being on the doorstep of many of London's A list of tourist attractions its also a good base for sightseeing tours.


The popular hop on, hop off sightseeing buses all stop at County Hall (for the London Eye).


The London Eye has a river pier and there is another, Westminster Pier on the other side of Westminster Bridge. Many scheduled boats leave throughout the day along the river, the most popular destination being the Tower of London. But you can go as far as Greenwich eastwards all year and in the summer months as far as Hampton Court, a trip of several hours.

Although the County Hall location is excellent for daytime sightseeing its not the most riveting district in the evening. The nightlife, shows and general buzz at night in London is not here, in fact its very flat in the evening here. Although in the summer if you want a quiet evening a stroll along the River Thames or Whitehall is an excellent idea, most people will head out of the district to the West End entertainment and restaurant district.

The hotels in the County Hall / Waterloo area also attract a lot of business and government related guests, after all the UK's government is based on the opposite side of Westminster Bridge. As a result room rates tend to be much softer at the weekend, especially in the 4/5 star hotels, so its a good place to look for a weekend break.


Elsewhere in the district

Once you get away from County Hall itself, hotels tend to be isolated. Again the hotels are dominated by chain hotels most of which are more biased towards the value for money mid-range hotel sector than the upmarket hotels around County hall. By isolated, I mean there are no other hotels around and perhaps just commercial and residential properties, restaurants may be limited to the fast food kind. There will always be at least a very frequent bus service and an Underground station a short walk away.

In summary most of the hotels are good 3 star, sometimes veering towards 4 star hotels in mostly modern purpose built buildings operated by a chain offering value for money, (at least at the weekend anyway). The hotels are really bases, when you leave the hotel you will be catching a bus or the Underground out of the area most of the time.


County Hall in relation to rest of Central London

London Hotel Districts

Getting around London from County Hall / Waterloo

As noted in the County Hall section of this page, one of the strengths of the County Hall area is its central location for tourists. You should be able to get to most places you want to see in Central London within 20 minutes using the Underground, if they are not within walking distance.


Most visitors should be purchasing an Oyster Card or Travelcard, the most convenient places in the district to buy from is from the ticket offices of the Underground Stations. The railways 2 for 1 admission promotion can be taken advantage of by buying Travelcards at the railway ticket office of Waterloo Station.

The London Underground broadly shuts between about midnight and 5am. If you are a night owl there are quite good night bus routes across Westminster Bridge that will get you to wherever you want to go in Central London.

Waterloo Station is London's busiest railway stations and is primarily a commuter station. Boarding the Underground at Waterloo in the morning rush hour is about as bad as it gets regards crowding on the platforms. You might want to walk to an alternative at this time.


A popular option for visitors to get orientated with London is to use the hop on, hop off tour buses. There are two major operators, the Original London Tour and the Big Bus. Both of these have a major stop at County Hall for the London Eye.

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