Kensington property profile – a guide to one of London’s premier shopping areas

Kensington London W8 and SW7

Kensington is still just as its creators intended, the popular choice for the rich and powerful. The court of William and Mary moved to Kensington Palace in 1689. The hamlet had arrived as a fashionable suburb with status.

Kensington Square is one of London’s oldest squares. It dates from 1685 and features an array of blue plaques. One is for former resident John Stuart Mill a well known liberal philosopher. While poet and novelist GK Chesterton lived at 32 Sheffield Terrace, a street of three-story white houses.

Most of the present day buildings in Kensington were created in the 19th century during the reign of Queen Victoria. The main building activity was just after the Great Exhibition in 1851.  The repeal of the window tax allowed construction of houses with larger and more windows. As a result the streets were laid out wider to allow more light. Also, they were planted with trees to provide summer shade and a pleasant outlook.

The council fights hard to maintain the leafy Victorian and Georgian character of the area. As a result there are few opportunities for developers to squeeze more new buildings in. However recreating old buildings will always be a popular pursuit.

As a Royal Borough, the area has many embassies while Kensington gardens, planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds, features a children’s playground which serves as a wonderful memorial to Princess Diana.

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Holland Park is 22.5 hectares of gardens, children’s play facilities, a cafeteria and large areas of woodland abundant with wildlife. The sports areas include facilities for tennis, football, golf practice nets, cricket practice nets and netball. Finally, there is the beautiful Kyoto Garden, a Japanese garden donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991.

Interesting Facts

  • St Mary Abbots Church in Kensington has, at 278 feet, the tallest church spire in London. The Victorian Gothic building was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott , and was completed in 1872.
  • Swinging 1960’s iconic fashion house Biba had its flagshop store on Kensington High Street
  • German pilots used the Albert Memorial as a landmark during World War I

Property Types

Kensington is defined to a large extent by the beauty and majesty of its palace set in the sumptuous gardens which were re-designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th century.


Queen’s Gate is a popular bolt hole for the Diplomatic Corps with plenty of embassies and ambassadorial homes amongst the grand stucco terraces that dominate the busy sweeping thoroughfare.

White rendered detached houses, stucco terraced dwellings, brick and render terraces and linked housing predominate. While Plane Tree House, a prize winning 1960s flats development, is a notable exception.

The exclusive Kensington Palace Gardens is as close to a private road as you can get with its imposing gates at either end. Also the constant attention of the Diplomatic Protection Corps wards off the undesirable or unwelcome.

Commerce and culture

Kensington High Street is the heart of the area. It has a busy commercial centre with a generous array of shopping options for the affluent. South Kensington is the other hub of social activity. Clusters of small shops lead to Exhibition Road, the place to look for the area’s museums, schools and colleges. The Natural History Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Science Museum are all within walking distance

 

You’ll find fashion stores such as Zara, H&M, Gap, Miss Sixty, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, TK Max, American Apparel and Uniqlo; shoe shops Dune, Clarks, Russell & Bromley and Kurt Geiger; books at Waterstones.

Marks & Spencer has a flag ship store here selling food, furniture, clothing and pretty much everything else. The largest Whole Foods in the country opened to much fanfare in 2007 in the Barkers building.

The restaurant upstairs prepares a whole range of foods and is a very popular destination for lunch. Kensington High Street also has a Waitrose. In addition there is a large section of skiing and outdoors shops. For example Snow & Rock, Columbia, Kathmandu and Ellis Brighman.

Transport

Kensington has three underground stations, all in Travelcard Zone 1. South Kensington, Gloucester Road and High Street, Kensington are all served by the Circle line and District Line. While the Piccadilly Line links South Kensington and Gloucester Road with the West End.

A number of local bus services link Kensington with surrounding districts though black cabs remain the public transport of choice for many residents.

Schools

The area is home to the prestigious Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music, as well as numerous other illustrious and world renowned institutions.

In keeping with the affluence of the area independent secondary schools far outnumber state schools, by a factor of four to one. There are four of the latter and slightly more primary schools.

Eating Out

Where to eat:

Kensington offers a vast selection of fantastic restaurants, generously scattered along the lively High Street and surrounding streets of W8.eating out in kensington

Maggie Jones’s  Traditional farmhouse-style British menu, set within a cosy, rustic and informal restaurant themed like an old barn.

 

Kitchen W8 – Michelin-starred, stylish contemporary and neighbourhood
friendly restaurant offering high-end modern European cuisine.

 

 

Kensington Place – Modern British brasserie with arty decor and fresh fish from the next-door market.

 

 

 

The Churchill Arms  A famous watering hole, once frequented by Winston Churchill’s grandparents, with a delicious Thai Kitchen set in a butterfly-themed conservatory offering a menu of family recipes.

 

The Windsor Castle – Delicious seasonal pub grub and a legendary Sunday Roast menu, with a delightful addition of a pub garden complete with heated areas ideal for alfresco dining.

 

Sticky Fingers – A family friendly American Diner, born to legendary Rolling Stones rocker Bill Wyman.

 

 

 

Wholefoods Market – Eco-minded chain with natural & organic grocery items, with a Prepared Foods department, including a deli, an ethnic restaurant, burger joint, neighbourhood diner, Parisian café, pizza joint, BBQ shack, sushi/seafood bar, raw foods bar, taco bar, salad bar, sandwich bar, olive bar and wine bar.

 

 

 

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie – A modern British grill restaurant comprising a main restaurant, a tranquil secret garden terrace for al fresco dining and a semi-private table for ten for an extra special experience.

 

Going for a drink

With a great choice of trendy and sophisticated pubs, bars and coffee shops in Kensington, you’ll be sure to find the perfect spot.

Tea/Coffee

La Caffettiera – Delivering the perfect Italian coffee experience, with an excellent selection of freshly prepared sandwiches and pasta.

Patisserie Valerie – Long-standing chain patisserie serving coffee and light meals, plus luxury handmade cakes and patisserie as well as offering a continental menu

The Orangery – Set in the grounds of Kensington Palace, a relaxed and elegant setting for breakfast or lunch and the only royal palace in London where you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea.

Wine, Beer and Cocktails

The Kensington Roof Gardens – Set 100ft above London and comprises three gardens spanning across 1.5 acres, a private members Club and Babylon Restaurant. The Kensington Roof Gardens is an ideal venue for every special event, from dinners to discos, weddings to business meetings and also BBQs on summer nights.

Dirty Bones – A neon-lit diner serving up New York style comfort food and excellent cocktails alongside live music.

Kensington Wine Rooms – A stylish bar with high stool and banquette seating, for wines by the glass and Modern European bites.

Bodo Schloss – Restaurant, bar and old fashioned disco, offers award winning quality drinks with a cocktail menu designed to titillate the senses and transport you straight to the alps.

Bayswater property profile – a guide to one of London’s most cosmopolitan areas

Bayswater property overview

What’s it all about?

All Bayswater property benefits from close proximity to London’s greatest green space, Hyde Park. Its residents can boast a palace, lake and horse riding stables virtually in their front garden, all in Zone 1.

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The Albert Memorial – Hyde Park
Italianate Garden, Hyde Park

 

The amazingly varied restaurants and food stores that line up along Queensway reflect its cultural mix.   The area has some unusual contrasts. Bayswater is cosmopolitan yet comfortable, cutting edge yet cultured. There’s a strong sense of community here with a residents’ association and local magazine. There are many shared garden squares. As a result, people tend to know their neighbours.

Historically famous for London’s first department store Whiteleys, as well as for having the highest concentration of hotels in London, the Bayswater of today has changed a lot. Many of the hotels are undergoing conversion into residential blocks. Also there are big plans to develop Whiteleys and inject new life into Queensway. The architecture here is among some of the most impressive in London. Bayswater property includes grand white stucco terraces and garden squares.

Once here, residents tend to stay. Families take advantage of the good schools in the area, while professional couples and singles appreciate the easy commute to Central London. Finally,  they all enjoy the vast choice of local shops and restaurants.

Interesting Facts

  • A 1912 statue of Peter Pan stands in nearby Kensington Gardens, a location that inspired author JM Barrie. It is now a ‘talking statue’, which you can activate using a smartphone.
  • From the street, 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens look like normal houses but they are actually facades hiding an open section of the London Underground.
  • Many local streets are named after the River Westbourne, which had waters so pure they were once piped to the City. When the area was developed the Westbourne was diverted into underground channels and became one of London’s ‘lost rivers’.

Bayswater property and architecture.

Some grand Georgian squares and terraces exist in Bayswater. However, real urbanisation began with the arrival of the railway in Paddington in 1838. The first properties were plain cottages to house the railway workers, and modest homes for the area’s earliest residents. However first with artists and then wealthy merchants soon flooded in. As the area grew more affluent the properties became more grand. The smart Italianate terraces of the 1850s and ornate piles dating from around 1890 are still among the most desirable properties here.

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Porchester Square

Bayswater spent much of the 20th century in decline, with houses being split up into bedsits or converted into budget hotels. However, influxes of Middle Eastern, American and Brazilian populations, as well as government money, have helped transform Bayswater into the cosmopolitan part of London that it is today.

The majority of Bayswater property consists of smart, large white stucco fronted buildings that are four or five storeys high. These are often split into flats and many are arranged around attractive garden squares. The Hallfield Estate is a large postwar council estate designed by the architect Berthold Lubetkin, popular with fans of the mid-century style. Bayswater is also home to contemporary high spec apartment blocks. While flats dominate the property market, there are also some wonderful mews houses and five and six bedroom family houses in and around Connaught Square.

 

Going out

Eating: For British cuisine with some surprising twists, try Hereford Road. Head for Moroccan Sahara for a North African platter (bring your own bottle), or for a taste of Persia pop into Hafez. Locals return again and again to the traditional Cypriot Aphrodite Taverna. Local Greek restaurant, Halepi is also particularly popular.

Drinking: The Leinster Arms is a classic British pub with a traditional menu, as is the King’s Head. The Porchester, a recently refurbished bar with ‘posh pub grub’ is a little further from the park. The Swan prides itself on being family friendly, or if cocktails are your preferred tipple, pop into the underground Old Mary’s in the old servants’ quarters of what is now The Mitre Townhouse.

Visit: Take a stroll around Kensington Palace, where you can view the State apartments, galleries and grounds for a real insight into royal life. From there, head over to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, a favourite place for modern and contemporary art. For those of a more scientific bent, the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum is in Paddington, where you can see the laboratory in which Fleming discovered penicillin. If nostalgia appeals, pop over to the Museum of Brands and Packaging in nearby Notting Hill.

Culture: The Print Room is an arts space in an old Coronet cinema. The building is home to a vibrant fringe theatre and the plan is to restore the cinema itself as well. Every Sunday Bayswater Road becomes one big art gallery, with more than 150 artists and craftspeople displaying their work.

Whiteleys

Local amenities

  • One of the big attractions of Bayswater is Whiteleys Shopping Centre, which is home to a host of high street names, as well as boutiques, restaurants and a cinema.
  • Among other treats in the area visit luxury chocolatier Artisan du Chocolat and upmarket bakery Cocomaya. Seek out BoConcept for sleek modern furniture and The Dresser for designer clothing at sale prices.
  • The Idler Academy is a bookshop where you can get coffee, but doubles as a centre where you can take classes in such diverse activities as calligraphy, philosophy and self-defence.
  • One of only a handful of ice rinks in the Capital, Queen’s Ice and Bowl also offers 12 lanes of ten-pin bowling while All Star Lanes is also a popular choice.

  • The Porchester Spa was a Victorian municipal baths and has been lovingly restored to its former glory to offer saunas, steam rooms and a plunge pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Paddington Library offers employment advice, reading groups and a programme of activities for young children.

Green spaces

Set in the very heart of London, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens make up more than 600 acres of green space, separated by the Serpentine and Long Water, and there is plenty to do and see in both parks. Hyde Park is home to the famous Speakers’ Corner, as well as memorials to the Holocaust and to Princess Diana. There is the chance to take part in many activities, including football, tennis, swimming in the lido, cycling and horse riding. Hyde Park also plays host to many different events, from rock concerts to Proms in the Park to the annual Winter Wonderland. Kensington Gardens includes pretty Italian gardens with fountains, the Diana Memorial Playground, the Albert Memorial, designed by George Gilbert Scott, and the Serpentine Gallery, enhanced by its recent Zaha Hadid designed extension.

Changing times

Bayswater property is being snapped up for redevelopment. Many of these are hotel buildings. In addition,  recently a record £27 million was paid for a 300 year old pub for conversion into luxury flats. An overseas investor has purchased Whiteleys and a large chunk of Queensway itself. The intention is to turn the area into a ‘shopping and eating out village’. Also plans to redevelop Waitrose in Porchester Road will create a social hub. Finally, the arrival of Crossrail at Paddington station in 2018 will mean the journey to Liverpool Street station becomes just 10 minutes.

Transport

Bayswater Underground station is in Zone 1, offering Circle and District Line services. Other nearby stations include Royal Oak, Queensway, Edgware Road, Lancaster Gate and Paddington.

Paddington station offers services to the western suburbs and beyond. Destinations include Devon, Cornwall, Bristol and Wales. Also there is the Heathrow Express, which will take you to the airport in 15 minutes.

There are superb bus connections to all over London. Take the 7 (Russell Square), the 23 (Liverpool Street), the 27 (Chalk Farm), and the 70 (Acton)

Bayswater is a 25 minute drive from the M4 and M25.

Great road access means it’s only 25 minutes to Heathrow airport.

Education

Bayswater and its surrounding areas provide a wealth of choice for parents when it comes to schools. For younger children, try St Mary of the Angels Catholic Primary, Hallfield Primary, or St Stephen’s Church of England Primary. At secondary level, Westminster Academy and Holland Park School have good reputations. Otherwise pick one of the independent schools in the area.            Choose Wetherby School at prep level and Lansdowne College or Tabernacle School at senior level. While City of Westminster College is close by and offers a range of further education courses.

 

Chelsea property profile – a guide to one of London’s most exclusive areas

Guide to Chelsea property London SW3

Chelsea’s status as one of the most most desirable of London addresses has barely waned in the last 50 years. The achievements of its football team in recent years has certainly boosted its brand value around the world.
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In short, property buyers can’t get enough of Chelsea property, always assuming they can meet the serious asking prices.

King’s Road, the iconic epicentre of the ‘Swinging 60s’ runs like a spine through a 500-year-old district that continues to define the cultural mix of the young, the hip and the rich.

The north east corner of Chelsea is right by the West End and is home to the Sloane Rangers.

Once the bohemian quarter of London, the area has retained some of that character. Also it has become the playground of investment bankers and film stars alike.

Chelsea Harbour

Chelsea’s roots as a fashion hub date to the 16th century. By the start of the 18th century Chelsea with its population of 1500 it was flourishing.  The private road running to the royal palace at Hampton Court acquired its name then as well.

Previously known as the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea in the County of London, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea was formed at the time of the creation of Greater London in 1965.

Property Types in Chelsea

Architecturally Chelsea property escaped some of the worst excesses of late 20th century city planning. The mix of 18th and 19th century dwellings maintain the character as a good-looking district for good-looking people eager to be looked at.

Chelsea offers a wide choice of beautiful townhouses and mansion flats at its heart, leading to riverside flats and houses along the Thames.

Inevitably, Sloane Square, the beating heart of the area, attracts the best prices, not least for the heightened demand for retail and other commercial property in the vicinity.

Overseas investors find this part of town particularly attractive but purchasers will often have to consider relatively short leaseholds. The area’s main freeholder, Earl Cadogan, owns 90 acres of property in various areas of West London. These include Sloane Square, Knightsbridge and Chelsea.

The Earl traditionally only issues short leaseholds, though they are often extended for a fee under the terms of the Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban Development Act.

Community, Society and Entertainment

Sloane Square has Peter Jones department store as its fulcrum. Traffic from Knightsbridge, the King’s Road and Pimlico pours in round this. Named after Sir Hans Sloane, the 18th Century Chelsea Lord Mayor, the square is a mecca for shoppers.

Chelsea residents can draw on the energy of a steady tourist flow into the area’s excellent events and museums. including, the Duke of York pedestrian precinct and the Saatchi art gallery, Chelsea Harbour and the National Army Museum while the annual Chelsea Flower Show, the horticultural event of the year, dominates the summer season at the Royal Hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners.

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The Saatchi Gallery

Chelsea’s uber trendy cafes, bars and restaurants are also popular attractions for all ages. The region’s stylish image and excellent geographical location makes it one of the most expensive places in London.

Situated close to Belgravia, Chelsea is home to an abundance of high-end fashion stores, smaller independent clothes and shoe shops, with a wide selection of contemporary furnishing stores and antique shops.

Transport

Chelsea is served by Sloane Square Tube station which provides Zone One access to Central London via the Circle and District Lines, while nearby South Kensington Station offers options on the Circle, District and Piccadilly lines.

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The London Underground – Map

Additionally, Earls Court and Fulham Broadway stations border the area and are within walking distance for residents of Chelsea.

There is also a range of complementary bus services

Schools

Families are often attracted to Chelsea property thanks to the list of excellent schools under the auspices of Kensington and Chelsea Local Authority including six very popular state schools and with an even greater number of private establishments.

Queens Gate School

Kensington & Chelsea College offers over 900 full and part-time and evening courses in nine centres throughout the local area.

 

Mayfair property profile. A look at the most exclusive area in London.

Guide to Mayfair Property London W1

The area is bordered to the north by Oxford Street, to the south by Piccadilly, to the west by Park Lane and to the East by Regent Street. As a result, with any Mayfair property you are never far from the very best of shopping, the finest dining or from quality entertainment.

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Where is Mayfair?

How do we describe Mayfair? Simple: If you are very rich, it’s probably the place for you. If you are not, it definitely isn’t.

It maintains its status as London’s most exclusive area. Properties there cater to all tastes and desires among the impossibly opulent. Outrageously chic apartments, mansions fit for royalty and everything in between. Mayfair property has it all, as long as you have the pockets for it.

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With the best selection of property for the very wealthiest it is also (and this is no coincidence) perfectly placed. It is close to the main shopping areas and has easy access to the City.

Serviced offices
Mayfair mansion
Georgian town house
A fine interior

A brief history of Mayfair

Mayfair was mainly open fields until development started in the Shepherd Market area around 1686 to accommodate the May Fair that had moved from Haymarket in St James’s. It is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair that, from 1686 to 1764, took place on the site that is now Shepherd’s Market.

A mews near Shepherd Market

During the 1980s, Mayfair had mainly offices, but since then has been reclaimed as the most exclusive of residential areas. As a result, it now has a roughly even one third split between residential dwellings, offices and retail premises.

Recent prices are around £1,000 per square foot (psf), with the best on offer in Park Lane reaching £1500 psf. A realistic entry value for an address in Mayfair is approximately £1.5 million. The western edge of Mayfair is a little more exclusive while the east and north are more likely to contain the commercial property. The south of Mayfair is a little older than the west with a village feel. Shepherd Market in the south-west is notable as a fast developing, fresh and vibrant part of London.

Mayfair is also home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the country, so no surprise that it is the most expensive square on the Monopoly board!

Connaught Hotel
Park Lane Hotel