I'm about to book accommodation for London but don't want to travel 2 hours to the city center.
Can you tell me which part is the city center and bars/clubs?

Such a question could have been found after some googling but when I type google Central Station London, I assume city center should be where the central station is but it directs me to a gay bar.

Do you have advice on what to search for to get useful results?

  • 4
    Get a tfl tube map and check zone 1, it is more or less the city center.
    – DumbCoder
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 15:04
  • @DumbCoder Is this what you are talking about tfl.gov.uk/maps/?cid=fs069 ? I dont see zone 1
    – Anarkie
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 16:14
  • 1
    I imagine this is more what DumbCoder had in mind: bbc.co.uk/london/travel/downloads/tube_map.gif
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 16:33
  • 8
    2 hours from central London by train can get you to places like Manchester or York!
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 17:12
  • 4
    Your first mistake is assuming that London has a single "Central" station - London has 6+ "Major" railway stations, and a significant number of more minor/metro ones.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


The area you have described as the 'city center' with bars and clubs is typically referred to by Londoners as the "West End"....

The West End of London (more commonly referred to as simply the West End) is an area of Central London containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues (including the commercial West End theatres).

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_End_of_London

The "West End" is an informal term and does not have strict boundaries.

Hotels will always have a postal code. If you are booking a hotel, you can examine the hotel's postal code to see if it is inside the "West End" or immediately adjacent to it. Postal codes start with the Post Code Area, which is the first one or two letters followed by a number, which signifies the district.
Combining the area and district will tell you where it is relative to the 'city center'.

In your case, a postal codes starting with WC or W1 (City of Westminster) would be directly inside the West End.
Examples are W1G (Marylebone) and W1F (Soho) and W1K (Mayfair). Covent Garden and the 'theatre district' is in WC2.


Lots of visitors like to book in the Paddington district and there are countless small B&B's and tourist hotels to cater to visitors.
Establishments in Paddington would have postal codes starting with W2. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddington

Areas immediately adjacent to the West End would have postal areas/districts like W2 (Paddington), SW1 (Belgravia), and to the north, NW1, NW8, and so on.

As you get further out, the district numbers will generally increase although not always. You'll need to refer to a map for districts greater than 1.

NOTE: the 'City of London' itself uses post codes starting with EC. This is the financial district and does not have the night life commonly associated with 'London'.

There is an interactive postal code map at http://www.free-postcode-maps.co.uk/postcode-maps/towns/london-postcode-map.php#.VHn9_jGsV8E

Also see Where to stay for London nightlife?

  • 2
    Not true that the numbers increase as you get further out, other than 1 always being the closest in. For example, SE2 is miles out. Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 18:29
  • @MarkPattison, edited. Agree with you.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 19:07
  • Thanks a lot for the answers, my assumptions were correct about hyde park so Im going to book somewhere close to hyde park :)
    – Anarkie
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 12:44
  • 2
    @Anarkie - you're going into the nation's capital city on the biggest party night of the year, in the middle of the holiday season, when nearly everyone (other than shift/emergency workers) is off work the next day.... you've picked the wrong night to try to get a bargain! You may also find that you struggle to get into bars and clubs on the 31st, London will be absolutely packed.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 12:43
  • 2
    @Anarkie, you totally need to have something to show the IO. They will not be happy and you will CERTAINLY be detained -- -- even for one night.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 14:07

London's city centre could be considered to be the City, aka The Square Mile.
Which is it's own municipal zone with it's own police force.
It comprises much of historical London and most of the big tourist attractions are in it, or very close to it.

However it's a terrible place for night life. Very few people actually live there. And the entire area generally empties out completely on the weekends.

Better night life can be found in the areas surrounding it.
Each with their own particular flavour.

If you want 'hipper' bars/clubs you probably want to look to stay in East London. Particularly around Shoreditch.

If you want something a bit more restaurant based and middle class, try North London.
Perhaps Angel and wander along Upper St. Or if you like punk or rock & roll you could spend your time in Camden which has possibly the densest area of night life. Not necessarily the best. But there are lots of pubs and people there every night.

The West End is the theatre district and generally very touristy. But you can go further West and try Notting Hill or Portobello Road for properly posh, gentrified London.

All of these areas are 20 minute tube rides from the geographical centre of London but have much better night life.
Be aware though, that there are VERY few actual clubs in London for a city of its size.
Most socialising is done in pubs which do close around midnight.
However since most people start very early (think 6pm) we're mostly done by then.

  • 1
    "most of the big tourist attractions are in [The City], or very close to it." Close to, sure, but is there really a huge amount for tourists actually in The City? I mean, apart from St Paul's, the Monument and the Barbican, what did the Romans ever do for us? Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 22:23
  • And you're forgetting Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese ;-) I guess my point was that it is in the middle of things. You could say that stuff is mostly West... but what about the tower of London? Tate Modern? Brick Lane? Borough Market? The new Globe theatre? You're always going to be going through it or under it to get to your next stop on the tourist trail.
    – aychedee
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 22:37
  • The Tower is immediately outside the City to the east; Tate Modern, Borough Market and the New Globe are all south of the river and the City is entirely to the north; Brick Lane's a couple of hundred meters east of the City. So, yes, all of those are close to but not actually in the City. Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 23:52
  • 1
    I don't think you'll find that I claimed them to be inside the borders of the City. I was making the point that they were all around it.
    – aychedee
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 0:05
  • 1
    I guess most of the big attractions are actually in Westminster and not in the City
    – SztupY
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 9:05

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