Top 10 places to live in London
Where should you live in London? Here's a list of the most interesting and desirable places to live in London - all within a few miles of London's centre.
If you're looking to live in London, how can you choose the best neighbourhood for you? London can roughly be divided into four main areas: north, south, east and west, although most Londoners would probably describe themselves as either ‘north Londoners’ or ‘south Londoners’, depending on whether they lived north or south of the river Thames. In this article, the north, east and west areas are all situated north of the Thames.
Islington is a very central, desirable (and in the main, expensive) area running from Islington High Street up to Highbury Fields, with two main roads running through it: Upper Street and the Essex Road. It’s divided into smaller areas like Barnsbury and Canonbury, with streets and squares lined with elegant Victorian and Georgian houses, although there’s a fair amount of social housing here too. The area attracts media types, politicians (including Tony Blair) and wealthy lawyers and bankers, as it’s only minutes away from the city. There are lots of eclectic shops on the main streets and antiques and stalls in Camden Passage. The internationally acclaimed Almeida Theatre and the King’s Head, the first pub theatre in the UK, are both here.
A little further out to the north east of Islington is the arty, trendy Stoke Newington (‘Stokie’ to those who know and love it), served by the trusty 73 bus. It’s got two main streets: Stoke Newington High Street, which is a typical inner London street with multicultural food, clothes and household shops; and Church Street, which is where you’ll find all the retro shops, bookshops, gift shops, florists, cafes, restaurants and bars you can handle. Houses are mainly Victorian, with the larger ones converted into flats. Bouverie Road, off Church Street, is a prime location. Clissold Park and the Victorian Abney Park Cemetery are two great green places to enjoy.
Camden Town is an extremely lively area just to the north of St Pancras Station, with some of the best clubs and live music in the capital, including Electric Ballroom, Jazz café and Koko. It’s got loads of bars, restaurants and trendy shops, market stalls around Camden Lock, the legendary Roundhouse arts centre – and great transport links to the rest of the city. The streets are crammed with Victorian houses and newer estates. If you want to escape the frenetic atmosphere, you’re close to Regent’s Park, the Grand Union Canal and Primrose Hill.
Clapham consists of Clapham North, Clapham Common, Clapham South and Clapham Old Town all set around the vast green open space that is Clapham Common. Famous residents include Vivienne Westwood. Clapham high street, which runs down through Clapham North to Clapham Common, has a mix of chains, independent stores and masses of eateries – and the Clapham Picture House cinema. Clapham Old Town is the old market area with the oldest houses, boutique clothes and gift shops, cafes and delis. Northcote Road, known as ‘nappy valley’ because it’s so popular with young families, has a street market and vintage shops. Abbeville Road, in Clapham South, has a villagey feel and is one of the most desirable roads in Clapham.
Situated in southwest London, right on the river Thames, and only a short walk across the river to Fulham, Putney is the starting point for the famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. It’s a very lively area of Victorian and Edwardian houses, flats and large mansion blocks with several main streets filled with high street chains and independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. The Half Moon Pub at Putney Bridge is a traditional British pub and one of the best live music venues in London. Putney Heath to the south is a large area of heathland and park with sports facilities.
East Dulwich, in southeast London, is a fashionable area of Victorian and Edwardian houses and flats lived in by young (and not so young) professionals and families. A lot of actors, journalists and city folk live here – it’s only 10 minutes into London Bridge by rail and there are plenty of buses into the centre of town. Chill out in one of the many excellent restaurants, cafes and bars or browse amongst the independent shops and galleries – interiors, books, clothes, delis and gifts – on Lordship Lane or the stalls in the eclectic Northcross Road street market. Peckham Rye, Dulwich Park and Dulwich Picture Gallery are all in the vicinity.
Shoreditch and Hoxton
This area used to be where London’s cheap clothing was made but today, the old warehouses and industrial buildings have been turned into hip loft apartments, nightclubs, bars and restaurants: the new Soho. Get a ‘Hoxton haircut’ or a meal in Shoreditch’s Hoxton Square. Check out Brick Lane, the ‘curry mile’ when you’re feeling hungry. Don’t expect a lot of green spaces and trees. Do expect concrete and old council estates. But it’s the happening place to be for artists, musicians, foodies, media, and other cool types who live and hang out here.
Leafy Bow might be the place to live if you want the edgy vibe of Shoreditch or Hoxton but you just don’t want to be in it 24/7. It’s still in the East End, so it’s close to the city and beyond and it’s got the large Victoria Park (sometimes called ‘Vicky Park’ or ‘People’s Park’) in the middle, with streets of nice houses around it – plus a funky market on Roman Road every Saturday, selling everything from food and crafts to clothes and antiques. One of the UK’s biggest and best shopping centres Westfield Stratford City is also close by.
Notting Hill and around
You’ll find lots of grand stucco houses (some divided into flats) and smaller converted mews homes (where the horses and servants used to live) in Notting Hill. It’s very expensive, with the Portabello Road market running through it and some of the best shops and restaurants in London. If you go a little further out though, Queen’s Park is far more affordable, there’s a nice park in the middle, and you’re not far away from everything Notting Hill has to offer, at a fraction of the cost.
The centre of Hammersmith may be dominated by a huge flyover and lots of cars, but it’s not far from the West End and the city (with great Tube and bus links), the residential areas are very nice, and you can stroll down to the river Thames and enjoy a drink in a riverside pub like the Dove any time you like. There are some great restaurants down towards Goldhawk Road. Ravenscourt Park is nice – and Brackenbury Village has a charm all of its own.
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Photo credit: Mike Quinn (Islington), Ewan-M (Islington), ceridwen (Stoke Newington), Justinic (Camden apartments), Misterzee (Camden Town), Patrick Mackie (Camden canal), Ewan-M (Clapham Common), Metro Centric (Putney bridge), Peter Trimming (Putney green), A R Driver (East Dulwich), garryknight (Shoreditch and Hoxton graffiti), mariosp (Brick Lane), Richard Slessor (Victoria Park, Bow), Lupin (Bow), 1graysan (Notting Hill), Alex Segre (Hammersmith).
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