Experience true luxury
For those of you who dream of shopping at some of the biggest name brand flagship stores in the world and sipping on a drink in the most fabulous bars in London, you should head to the Belgravia and Fitzrovia districts of the city.
Known as one of the most expensive residential areas in the world, Belgravia is the area of London comprised of the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Knightsbridge and Chelsea.
Knightsbridge lies south of Hyde Park and west of the theatre district, so there is always plenty to do just a short train ride or walk away. Most of the area, which is called the Grosvenor Estate, is still owned by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Group, a family property company. It is characterised by its grand terraces of white stucco houses, and is focused around Belgrave Square and Eaton Square.
Belgrave Square is most characterised by the large statues and sculptures which include statues of Christopher Columbus, Prince Henry the Navigator, and a sculpture entitled Homage to Leonardo, the Vitruvian Man, by Italian sculptor Enzo Plazzotta. Eaton Square is characterised by the white stucco houses lining the streets. The Duke of Westminster himself has a London home in this square, which has made Eaton Square a very fashionable address to live.
It has been one of London’s most fashionable residential districts from its beginnings and many fashion design houses have their retail flagship stores and studios within the area including Phillip Treacy, Jenny Packham and Jimmy Choo. It is also home to banks such as Coutts, who are bankers to the Queen. In the district, you will find some of the finest fashion brands, independent shops and restaurants. It is the place to go if you want a high-end dining and shopping experience, but it’s also fun to walk the streets admiring the sheer size and beauty of the houses and wondering what, and who, is behind the doors. The area is home to some of the most famous celebrities in the world, including singer-song writer and actress Sarah Brightman, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, celebrity cook Nigella Lawson and fashion icon Elle Macpherson.
Among the abundance of high-end, luxury hotels you can check in to, there are a variety of fabulous restaurants and bars such as the Boisdale of Belgravia, a Scottish restaurant situated in an elegant Regency townhouse. The Tangerine Café Bar at the Millennium Hotel serves a sophisticated and delicious afternoon tea. Ebury wine bar provides a great wine tasting experience, serving a range of wines from around the world. The Library bar gives an air of royal sophistication and the guest list includes movie and entertainment stars, foreign dignitaries, wealthy business moguls, and even the occasional royal. The bar provides a space to enjoy cognac, wine and premium cigars. Managed by Salvatore Calabrese (one of the world’s cognac authorities and author of popular books on cocktail mixing), the bar offers a refined setting with sofas, antique furnishings and loaded bookshelves.
Another area which is worth visiting is Fitzrovia, which is frequently described as an urban village with a bohemian history and home to some celebrities. Tucked away between Marylebone, Soho and Bloomsbury, it is peaceful and attractive, with small pubs and restaurants and a variety of good hotels. The area was first referred to as Fitzrovia in the 1930s, being named after the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street where a group of writers used to gather.
Fitzrovia is a sort of hodge-podge and it always has been. There was no clear aim when it was created like there was with Mayfair,” says publisher, Felix Dennis.
Wide streets lined with tall buildings interjected by cosy side alleys, all of it dominated by the BT Tower, one of London’s tallest and most iconic buildings. Tottenham Court Road is the major shopping street and is the best place in London to look for home furnishings and electronic goods.
For the historical literature buffs, George Bernard Shaw lived at 37 Fitzroy Street in the early 1880s and then in Fitzroy Square from 1887.
37 Fitzroy Street was later the London home of L. Ron Hubbard, writer and founder of Scientology in the 1950s. The house now hosts an exhibition of Hubbard’s life and work, and is open to the public by appointment.
With a wide variety of restaurants, bars and theatre performances, it is one of the ultimate London playgrounds for those looking for good food, art and culture. The New Diorama, a theatre close to Great Portland Street, boasts a street-front café and a garden area surrounded by a fountain and public art, perfect for a Saturday night outing.
Fitzrovia is home to one of London’s best wine bars, Drakes Tabanco where Sherry is the main attraction. Also available are excellent, Spanish, sparkling, white and red wines. Craft beers from Rosita are also on the list to attract non-wine lovers.
As two of the most iconic and unknown districts in London, Belgravia and Fitzrovia are must sees this summer, even if it is just walking the streets and picturing the 1900’s version of the districts.