It’s a strange time to live in London, isn’t it? It’s a London that’s back on form, after long months of stifled venues and empty streets; but it’s also a London rife with pings, masks and lateral flow tests. The strange mixture of a London back on its feet (mainly thanks to the vaccination program) and a London desperately trying to swerve another lockdown-worthy Covid outbreak at all costs makes for a baffling social cocktail; especially when you consider the property market.
This time last year, there was a rallying cry for space, space and more space. Most of us were working from home full time; many had opted to give a puppy a home during one of the lockdowns; and we were all aware of the transformative nature of being near to a park during an enforced lockdown. All this is still true for many; but now, though, things are starting to change. Employees are heading back to work in their droves, so proximity to public transport is creeping back up the priority list; and now that pubs are open, the idea of having a ‘neighbourhood local’ is one of tempting merit for many.
"A desire for both space and connection..."
The result? A desire for both space and connection; park and pub; room to breathe (and walk the dog) and the ability to feel part of the vibrant, bustling city that London truly is. It’s a tall order, then, to find a location that ticks all the (often contradictory) boxes; so, with the help of some revealing research conducted by Savills and some insight from Knight Frank on our number one choice, we’ve put together a list of the best places to live in London: ranked, of course. You’re welcome.
#10 Victoria Park
Clocking in at tenth place is this East London haven of green space. According to Savills, Victoria Park is one of just two exceptions to the price softening of prime North and East London markets in the past year; which suggests its reputation as a desirable location is fast preceding itself.
It’s not surprising, really; Victoria Park itself is one of the most aesthetically pleasing parks in London, so having that on your doorstop is reason enough in itself to start an East London flat hunt. Just picture yourself on your early morning run, following the twists and turns of the river and jogging across the panoramic green landscape of the park; and then making your way home via one of Hackney’s innumerable vibrant coffee shops. Sound good? We think so, too.
Ok, we know what you’re thinking. Chiswick is dull. It’s somewhere you move when you’ve got two children under five and a family 4×4 — not somewhere you’d look to spend the best years of your life, soaking up London in all its glory and doing things you’d never dream to tell your parents about. But stick with us; because Savills’ research indicated that Chiswick is currently one of the four most desirable places in South West London — and, indeed, in London as a whole.
To be fully transparent, a lot of the drive towards Chiswick is fuelled by its proliferation of family homes, and the myriad space they offer. But it is worth noting that Chiswick is rife with spacious properties — just the thing, if it’s looking like you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future — and its proximity to the river and leafy spaces like Ravenscourt Park make it quite the hotspot for all those wholesome activities you no doubt discovered during lockdown (we’re talking running, dog walking, gardening…all that good stuff).
Wandsworth is another South West London destination to make Savills’ top four. We know what you’re thinking: transport wise, it doesn’t win any prizes. But if you’re happy to sacrifice proximity to a tube station, we’d suggest adding Wandsworth to your own personal list of places to consider.
There’s the river, for one thing; and the benefits of being riverside really can’t be underestimated, together with those of the ample green space in Wandsworth Common. But more than that, Wandsworth is truly on the rise when it comes to a fun, lively atmosphere; and given its popularity when it comes to large family homes, it’s certainly got ample choice for anyone looking to upgrade. Just got a promotion? Looking to propose to your significant other? Now’s the time to start looking…and if you end up in Wandsworth, you owe us a drink.
First things first: Islington certainly doesn’t win the prize for green, leafy space. But what it does win prizes for is proximity to the centre of London (ideal for the return of the commute), swathes of jaw-droppingly attractive Georgian squares bursting at the seams with charming period properties, and ample choice of bars, restaurants and the much-beloved pubs.
If you’re desperate for a bit of greenery, you’ll be much closer to Hampstead Heath than you would in South West London; and the Heath really does take the cake when it comes to finding a slice of countryside in London. But chances are, you’ll be having far too much fun at any one of Islington’s many establishments — Upper Street alone will have your diary sorted for the rest of the year — to worry too much about where you’ll go for your daily walk.
If we were feeling shallow, we’d be singing the praises of Battersea based on the Instagrammable value of Albert Bridge alone. But, luckily, our values run slightly deeper; so instead, we’ll wax lyrical about the proximity to the river, the sleek, well-heeled greenery, sparkling fountains and blooming flower displays of Battersea Park and the number of socialising opportunities on offer.
Once again, this is not a London location that can boast much about its transport links. But if you’re happy restricting your commute to train and bus, Battersea’s social scene is growing livelier by the second. The proliferation of restaurants at Battersea Power Station’s Circus West Village will ensure that you never want to leave the safe haven of Battersea ever again (Fiume, anyone?); but it’s also an easy distance to Clapham or Chelsea for anyone looking to spread their wings. Win win.
It’s another location that can’t say much in the way of its wide open spaces; but it’s so central that you wouldn’t have much ground to complain. And you wouldn’t need a particularly spacious flat (or house), either; you’d just never be there. All your time would be spent dashing into Soho, frequenting Marylebone’s restaurants or soaking up Bloomsbury’s cultural scene.
If you’re working from home indefinitely and find yourself in dire need of a suitable location to walk the puppy you adopted during lockdown, you’d want to position yourself near the Regents Park side of Fitzrovia; in which case, your nearest tube would likely be Great Portland Street. But if you couldn’t care less about leaves and trees, then London’s your oyster; Fitzrovia will ensure you’re right at the heart of the action.
Wondering why Mayfair’s not our number one? It’s a valid question; but Savills found that Mayfair is one of the areas typically favoured by international buyers (together with Belgravia and Knightsbridge) to see a delay in price recovery; a fact which is no doubt due to ongoing restrictions on international travel.
But there was no way we’d leave Mayfair out of our top five. Its social credentials will ensure it always skyrockets to the top of the list — breakfast at The Connaught? Lunch at Harry’s Bar? Dancing the night away at Annabel’s? Mayfair’s your sparkling, urban oyster — but when you couple that with its proximity to London’s very best parks and its comfortable status within the very heart of London’s centre; well, you’d be hard pressed to beat it.
Savills’ research indicated that West and South West London are seeing immensely strong growth, particularly when it comes to large family houses. While Fulham may not have been listed among their top locations in this regard, mention of South West London’s popularity got us thinking; and when it comes to good old SW, Fulham is always going to be a strong contender where we’re concerned.
We’re aware we’re probably starting to sound like a record whose needle has got stuck at the ‘outdoor space’ section of the property market recital; but Fulham’s outdoor credentials really can’t be beaten. Panoramic scenes of the river are matched only by the autumnal splendour of Bishop’s Park in the evening light; the transport links are excellent (assuming you can handle the speed — or lack thereof — of the District Line); and when it comes to cosy pubs, Fulham has the edge every time. Anyone for a drink at The Tommy Tucker?
#2 Notting Hill
We know; it’s not as idyllic as it’s depicted in the film, nor as vibrant all year round as it is during Carnival season. But according to Savills, it’s one of three central London locations seeing the strongest levels of demand (together with Bayswater and Holland Park); and we certainly can’t disagree. Luca Faloni speaks fondly of Notting Hill as his neighbourhood; and we’d highly recommend following Faloni’s lead.
It ticks all the boxes, really. It’s got a uniquely vibrant social scene, full to the brim with eclectic coffee shops, buzzy bars, sleekly stylish restaurants and cosy pubs. You’re a stone’s throw from Holland Park, and minutes from central London — and it’s got that certain something about it. It’s a world famous destination for a reason (helped, of course, by the likes of Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant); and any gentleman who lived there would be a lucky gentleman, indeed.
And so we come to the big one; the number one, in fact. And for this momentous, pivotal point in our London property round-up, we sought the opinion of one of the experts in order to do it full justice.
“Chelsea remains a highly regarded and sought after address, thanks to the fantastic amenities which the area has to offer; the iconic King’s Road offers both larger department stores and independent boutiques, and a superb farmer’s market which takes place in Duke of York Square every Saturday,” says Toto Lambert, a Partner in Knight Frank’s Chelsea Office.
“Chelsea also offers a wealth of restaurants, cafés and bars — some of my personal favourites include Stanley’s, Oka and (for the health focused crowd) Juice Baby and The Good Life Eatery,” Lambert continues. “A true wellness hub, Chelsea is home to some of the best boutique gyms, studios and healthy hideouts in London: Core Collective, KOBOX and Triyoga, to name a few. [And] whether your healthy hideout lies within SW3 or outside of London, Chelsea offers brilliant transport links to both Heathrow and the beautiful English countryside.”