Kings Cross and Paddington stations are less than three miles apart from each other, but they offer quite different experiences of London.
Each offers great access to the city centre (under 10 minutes by tube or on foot), but while the former puts you closer to east London, Paddington offers a gateway to the west. So which should you choose and why?
The two locations offer quite different experiences of London, with upmarket Kensington and Knightsbridge near Paddington and trendy Islington and Shoreditch close to Kings Cross. If you can’t decide which is best for you, we’ve tried to summarise the key differences for you…
Obviously, Paddington and Kings Cross are both large train stations, offering great rail access. Kings Cross St Pancras even makes it easy to hop onto the Eurostar and be on the continent in a few hours.
And it’s just a short walk from Euston, passing the British Library on your way. It’s also easy to hop on the tube from either location, with Kings Cross linking six lines and Paddington to four. As well as both underground and overground trains, they are both great locations for airport access.
The Heathrow Express goes directly from Paddington, while Kings Cross St Pancras has great links to Gatwick and Luton as well. They each offer a range of options for getting about within London, around the country, across Europe and even the rest of the world – not surprising for major “hub” stations.
Places to Stay
Both locations offer both luxury and budget places to stay. You may assume that accommodation close to these central train stations will always be expensive, but you can always find ways to stay.
One of the best options to explore is our favourite Tune Hotels, who have properties near both stations. They offer an affordable way to stay in a central location and explore the surrounding areas.
The Paddington hotel is only 400m from the station, with Little Venice and Kensington Gardens nearby too. Over at Kings Cross, the hotel is just 300m to walk to when you get off your train. Within minutes of leaving the Kings Cross hotel, you can be at trendy Granary Square or the O2 Academy Islington.
These hotels can offer you affordable prices because of their clever model.
You only have to pay for the essentials when you book your room, meaning you get a 5-star bed and a luxurious power shower. Anything else you want, you can just add to your bill on a “pay as you use” basis.
Eating and Drinking
When it comes to food and drink, the two areas around Paddington and Kings Cross can offer quite different experiences. Explore around Paddington and you could wonder into Mayfair to discover some Michelin-starred dining.
Visit Hibiscus, or head to a 5-star hotel such as The Connaught or The Dorchester to enjoy what they have to offer.
In Kensington, you can spend time in quiant old pubs or seek out a slick, contemporary bar to rub elbows with the elite.
Over in East London, it’s a different story. Although there are complaints of parts of this side of the city becoming gentrified, much of it is still a little rough around the edges. And that is a really big part of its charm.
Areas like Islington and Shoreditch offer up an eclectic range of places to eat and drink, from French bistros to Mexican burritos.
While not as elite as parts of central and west London and not jam-packed with Michelin stars, you’ll certainly stumble across a lot of gems.
Things to Do
Both Paddington and Kings Cross offer excellent access to hundreds of things to do. Of course, if you’re staying near Paddington, you won’t be far from the museums and galleries of central London.
It’s easy to reach them from Kings Cross too, including the British Museum, which is in nearby Bloomsbury. And, as Tune points out in their Pop Culture Tour of London blog post, you can’t miss out on Platform 9 3/4.
But if you want to venture further west or east, there’s even more to explore.
Tune’s blog post 10 Fun Things to Do in East London gives you awesome ideas within easy reach of Kings Cross. And over in the west near Paddington, you can browse the wares on Portobello road or shop on Oxford Street.
These two different pictures of London will appeal to a range of people. There are great reasons to stay in both areas, so choose your favourite carefully! And if you choose based on rate or availability, then both are equally convenient for your desired activities in “zone 1″ central London.