Together making up an area known as Clerkenwell, this area amply demonstrates how new life and vitality can emerge out of a dense urban fabric. It acts as a kind of fulcrum between the City and the vibrant suburbs to the north and also takes office overspill from both the Square Mile and the West End.
The Barbican is the home of the eponymously named Arts Centre which hosts major cultural events and is the London home of The Royal Shakespeare Company whereas The Eagle in Farringdon enjoys the distinction of being the country’s first gastropub which is hardly a surprise since Smithfield meat market is on its doorstep. A place for cattle- and horse-trading since the middle ages, Smithfield signals a modern transition with nightclubbers packing into the Victorian warehouse buildings-turned-dance venues most nights of the week.
Transformation continues in Clerkenwell as a whole, as a district once known for its light industrial buildings and lively printing presses provides sought after loft space for stylish conversions. Animated by journalists from The Guardian newspaper and a number of internationally renowned architectural figures, such as Zaha Hadid, this strategically located neighbourhood embodies that typically London alchemy in which the old world and new ideas fuse into something exciting and unexpected.
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One of the most exclusive residential areas in the heart of London offering easy access to Victoria, Westminster, Chelsea, Pimlico, Knightsbridge and Mayfair which means excellent transport facilities and a vast range of sights and amenities easily accessible by foot. Most of Belgravia belongs to the Grosvenor Estates, the UK's largest private landlord headed by the Duke of Westminster. Belgravia offers excellent base for exploring attractions along the Thames: Chelsea Embankment, Battersea Park as well as the charming Millbank area that leads strait to lively Westminster and Embankment. Elegant streets lined with white stucco terraces, secluded mews houses and opulent leafy squares of Belgravia have retained the unique 'village' feel with many traditional artisan shops, markets and stylish restaurants attracting many visitors year after year.
(for following areas: Leadenhall, Liverpool Street, Bishopsgate, Monument & The Square Mile)
Since it’s gentrification in the 1970’s, when its old vegetable market was moved south of the river, Covent Garden has attracted a largely youthful crowd with its numerous bars and many designer boutiques selling the latest street styles. With the refurbishment and expansion of the Royal Opera House, however, an older, more culturally inclined group demanding higher standards of food and drink has had an impact. The Palladian-style piazza, designed by Inigo Jones in 1635, is the quarter’s centrepiece and tourist magnet, but the small streets and alleyways that surround it have much to offer the intrepid explorer.
A system of driverless trains linking converted warehouses with ultra-modern office complexes gives Docklands the sleek and futuristic look that only total revitalisation can bring about. As the name suggests, this area was once the site of London’s main sea port which fell into disuse owing to the development of bigger facilities further down-river and led to a number of ambitious regeneration projects.
A great selection bars, restaurants and fashion outlets contribute to an exciting new environment for living and working in and with the aforementioned Docklands Light Railway providing speedy access to the City and the South Bank, you feel connected both commercially and culturally.
This commercial and cultural juxtaposition is reflected in the presence of two main London destinations which sit at Docklands opposite ends. To the north is the Excel centre, a world-class exhibition space with its’ attendant five-star hotel and banqueting facilities, whilst to the south across the river lies the O2 centre which hosts all manner of international attractions from the world of entertainment.
Located at the start point of the main arterial road out of London to Heathrow Airport and the West, Hammersmith cannot avoid being a crucial transport and commercial hub, but its charming views across the River Thames lend an idyllic touch to the area’s bustling pace. Many multinational companies, taking advantage of the proximity to the UK’S premier international airport, occupy office space here and with the picturesque Thames valley and the strategic M4 corridor within easy reach it is definitively a relocation hot-spot.
Hammersmith has for a long time specialised in providing cultural outlets and venues with the Hammersmith Apollo probably the most famous. The main thoroughfare is packed with shops, cafes and places to eat. Or, just a short Tube or taxi journey will take you to Westfield, London’s largest shopping mall comprising 265 shops under one roof including a boulevard of restaurants and trendy bars.
A village that never quite realised it was part of a capital city; Hampstead is situated in splendid isolation amongst the large and hilly parkland or Heath from which it takes its name. Truly a world apart from the rest of north London suburbia, Hampstead is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations as well as being home to a collection of notable cultural attractions.
The Heath is rambling and hilly, embracing ponds, recent and ancient woodlands, a lido, playgrounds, and a training track, and it adjoins the stately home of Kenwood and its grounds with Londoners flocking here on sunny days to picnic, swim and enjoy views of London so stunning, that they are protected by law. Burgh House, Keats House and the Freud museum are all places of historical and architectural interest whilst the village High Street provides an eclectic mix of upmarket boutiques plus pavement cafes and notable restaurants.
When it's gentrification began some years ago, Notting Hill became known as the home of the "Trustafarians" (trust fund + Rastafarian), those twenty- and thirty-somethings who emerged from their privileged backgrounds and/or private schools in search of a kind of bohemia, albeit luxurious. So although gradually regenerated over the past decades and brought into the world's public consciousness by a movie starring Julie Roberts and Hugh Grant, Notting Hill represents a determined effort to preserve the air of an arty-funky lifestyle.
Walking around the designer shops and trendy cafes of Notting Hill today, you would never suspect that as late as the 1950's this was one of London's most impoverished areas, nor would you immediately recognize that it is the centre for the city's Afro-Caribbean culture. The latter distinction is celebrated every August Bank Holiday weekend, when the Notting Hill Carnival swings into gear and around two million people pour into W11 and W2 for days and nights of colourful pageantry, dance music and street-fair fun.
Fortunately for year-round visitors, the atmosphere epitomised by this event can be experienced more than once a year. Every weekend the antiques market on Portobello Road - the area's spiritual and geographical backbone - adds a suitable dash of gritty urbanism and multicultural vibe, while providing useful relics of old Victoriana. Shops and pubs lining the north end of Portobello Road represent the new blood in terms of talent and artistic edge whilst the convergence of Ledbury Road and Westbourne Grove is a smorgasbord of designers, galleries and eateries that could easily hold you in their thrall for an afternoon.
Separated from the uber-exclusive Belgravia by Victoria railway station, Pimlico never the less retains much of the eye-catching Regency architecture and bestuccoed charm of its celebrated northern neighbour. With tree-lined streets arranged in picturesque grids around a series of impressive garden squares, an air of genteel calm can be experienced here particularly in the streets which overlook the River Thames which borders the districts southern end.
The Thames lends an added dimension to travel in and out of Pimlico in that a riverboat service runs from Millbank pier to Waterloo and Southwark, not only enabling an alternative commute, but also establishing a direct link between the Tate and Tate Modern museums. You are also just one underground stop away from a high-speed express link to Gatwick International Airport.
Home to one of London’s liveliest and varied markets and also the location of the sub-continental taste explosion that is Brick Lane, Spitalfields is attracting its fair share of creative entrepreneurs.
Brick Lane market was first held in the fields near St Mary Spital hospital as far back as the 13th century and now contains everything from antiques to jewellery and textiles created by design school graduates. Much of the Victorian structure has escaped demolition and remains as an indoor space for stall-holders, the best day being Sunday. You can also supplement your shopping energy with a stop at the Square Pie Company, a stand serving authentic hand-made pies in their trademark square design.
Spitalfields was an early home to non-conformists, later a Jewish ghetto, and then beginning in the 1960’s, a community of largely Bangladeshi immigrants. The area was steeped in their culture, and Brick Lane became synonymous with home-style curry. But change continues, and both creative and culinary industries have experienced injections of new talent and innovation. The Old Truman Brewery complex has become a centre for fashion and design while young entrepreneurs have elevated the curry house from its humble origins.
If the name carries a suggestion of power and influence then the architectural layout of Westminster leaves one in no doubt. This is the place where the nation’s symbols of democracy meet royal privilege and church tradition.
Travelling south along Whitehall from Trafalgar Square to the River Thames, you pass government departments housed in imposing Victorian monoliths set back from an impressive boulevard containing statues and memorials which speak of past imperial glories. Whitehall’s southern end opens onto Parliament Square where the Houses of Parliament sits facing Westminster Abbey; church and state in one accord.
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Short stay at Space Apart Hotel, Hyde Park
The room was lovely and the staff even nicer. They were incredibly accommodating and I would definitely recommend it!
Alison Tocci, President of Time Out New York
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