London’s 33 boroughs offer so much to so many that it is impossible to single out a specific area that is the most popular. The following information will be useful as a general guide to the various areas of London:
Situated in the heart of Westminster, Mayfair is an affluent area which boasts a number of exclusive establishments such as the Savile Row tailors and the Royal Arcade. Mayfair is also an attractive residential area but is one of the most expensive places to live in the capital.
Chelsea is part of the ‘Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and is a favoured area for US expats who make up over 6 per cent of the population. It is another expensive area of central London and offers a taste of what many expats envision ‘traditional London‘ to be like. Chelsea is also known for its football club, located to the north in Fulham.
One of the great multicultural areas of London, Notting Hill is mainly associated with its annual carnival and the Portobello Road Market. It was once a downtrodden area, but since the 1980s property prices have risen and now Notting Hill receives favourable comparisons with the more affluent areas to the west. Notting Hill has always drawn artists, both established and those seeking to eke out a living. It is another area popular with US expats.
Covent Garden has a fascinating history which has seen it change from farmland to market and now to one of London’s most fashionable areas. It is mainly known for the Royal Opera House (also called the Covent Garden) and the central square, site of the former open air fruit and veg market. Today, the central square houses numerous cafes, pubs and small shops.
Soho, in the fashionable West End of London, is an entertainment hot spot that has retained its rugged character despite the gentrification of Westminster. Expats from countries, including Italy, France and Russia set up businesses in Soho many years ago and they are still going strong today. South Soho, around Gerrard Street, comprises Chinatown, home to lots of Chinese-run businesses, including restaurants and bakeries. There are even bi-lingual English/Chinese signs.
Celebrities can often be spotted enjoying the vibrant 24-hour nightlife of Soho, and there are regular film Premieres at Leicester Square.
South West London
Fascinating Fulham is one of the most popular destinations for young professionals and is well-situated for easy transport around the capital, while being marginally less expensive than the more central areas. Much of Fulham is green and pleasant, and areas like Parsons Green and Eel Brook Common have a relaxed vibe. But there is also a lot of evidence of London’s industrial heritage, particularly in areas near the Thames such as Sand’s End. Fulham has a large population of Australian expats.
Another area which attracts young professionals, and is particularly popular with those with an interest in sport, Clapham is most well known for its 220 acre common which puts on various concerts and shows throughout the year. It is also associated with Clapham Junction railway station although the latter is actually in Battersea. A night out in Clapham tends to be more relaxed than other areas of the capital.
Wimbledon is popular with South African expats and is most famous for its annual grass tennis tournament. Known locally as ‘the village’, Wimbledon also hosts open-air theatre productions and an annual jazz festival at 34 acre Cannizzaro Park (just off Wimbledon common); the Wandle riverside trail (to Wandsworth and Croydon) and numerous old fashioned shops.
The Docklands area of East London attracts young people, particularly those looking to work in the banking sector. Once a thriving part of the Port of London, the docks fell into hard times due to both the economy and the bombs of World War II. Regeneration since the 1980s has once more made the Docklands popular, and there are stunning Thames views from many of the waterfront apartments that have sprung up along the bank.
As true a taste of the East End of London as you are likely to find in 21st Century London, Bethnal Green is an up-and-coming trendy area with a captivating history. The Colombia Road Flower Market, Brick Lane and Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood are just some of the draws in this loud, cosmopolitan neighbourhood.
Young people and families alike are attracted to the pleasant, green residential area of Islington with its superb links to the city centre. Although there are rough areas, much of Islington is elegant with Georgian Squares, canal walks and the famous Camden Passages Antiques Gallery. Football lovers will know that Islington is home to Arsenal FC and close to the impressive Emirates stadium.
About 5 miles north of London, in the leafy district of Haringey, is the attractive Muswell Hill suburb, a favourite destination for young professionals and families alike, which is not surprising given that the Sunday Times included the area among its top five ‘Best Places to Live’ in London’. Muswell Hill lies between Alexandra Palace and Highgate Woods and commands great views of the city.
Another trendy area of London, Camden Town is known for its underground music scene and canal-side open-air shopping areas (informally grouped together as Camden Market). Camden also boasts beautiful Regent’s Park to the south, with its open-air theatre and zoo.
North West London
West Hampstead is an attractive area with good city links but a characterful village feel. The area is very popular with families and young couples alike and is characterised by its attractive period architecture and the thriving ‘cafe culture’ of West End Lane.