Is this London’s Coolest Street?

9 September 2009, London Lite

By Jessie Hewitson

STYLE BIBLE VOGUE CALLS IT THE MOST FASHIONABLE ROAD IN EUROPE, BUT YOU CAN STILL AFFORD TO BUY IN THE AREA.

WHICH London neighbourhood contains the most fashionable street in the whole of Europe, according to Vogue? No, not swanky Knightsbridge, well-heeled Chelsea or even super-hip Dalston.

The title belongs to Chamberlayne Road, the main thoroughfare running through Kensal Rise.

Just north of Notting Hill and west of Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise is described by the style bible as a leafy, residential haven, bursting with “local character, vintage stores and buzzing gastropubs” — and plenty of celebrities agree.

Famous Kensal Rise residents include Jade Jagger, Sophie Dahl and her fiancé Jamie Cullum, Daniel Craig, Thandie Newton, Eddie Izzard, Dermot O’Leary, Louis Theroux and designer Phoebe Philo.

As well as great restaurants and a surprisingly large number of delis and antique shops, Kensal Rise’s fashionable residents have been attracted to this part of north-west London during the past five years or so by its rows of good-looking Georgian and Victorian homes, and the fact that Queen’s Park and Brondesbury Park are close by.

Portobello Road is a leisurely 15-minute stroll away, Paddington a half-hour walk or a 10-minute cycle along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal. There are also good Tube and train links – it takes an easy 20 minutes to get to Oxford Circus on the Bakerloo line Tube, and London Overground trains from the area go to Richmond to the west and Stratford to the east, in double-quick time.

Prices are a carrot, too: for an area that Vogue has raved about, it’s still surprisingly affordable, with a typical decent one-bedroom period flat starting at £200,000 and going up to £250,000, according to local agent Kay Meshkin-Pour of Mile estate agency. TWO-BEDS range from £275,000 to £300,000, and those with outside space from £290,000 to £330,000. Three-bed houses fetch between £550,000 and £600,000. According to rental portal upad (upad.co.uk), average rents in the area are £1,945 a month for a two-bed, and £3,494 for a four-bed.

“The main reason people are moving to Kensal Rise is it’s a fantastic place to live and still relatively cheap,” says Philip Seidl, who lives in the area and works for buying agency Black Brick Property Solutions. “It’s close to Maida Vale, St John’s Wood and Notting Hill and convenient to get to town. The area attracts lots of professionals from TV, music, film and fashion who spent their twenties hanging out in Notting Hill or Soho and now want a house and a garden. They often want to be within cycling distance of the BBC and Westfield shopping mall.

“Lots of people rent in Notting Hill or West Hampstead in their twenties and then they come to buy here. The people who live here have become much younger over the years. Lots of the buyers we get are now in their early thirties.

“People move here because of the vibe. It doesn’t offer the biggest houses in London and it’s not as cheap as it once was — but it has a great atmosphere.

Everyone knows everyone else, there are lots of cool shops and places to eat here, and it’s a very friendly place to live.”

Locals rarely leave the area at weekends — why would they? Cool bars and restaurants include Paradise.

By Way Of Kensal Green, a legendary pub-cum-restaurant-cum-club where Mark Ronson, Lily Allen and Sophie Dahl are among the regulars, and swish gastropub The Chamberlayne, Thandie Newton’s favourite boozer.

Then there’s family-friendly Gracelands café, Miro’s tapas restaurant, the William IV pub and The Diner, an American-themed affair serving cocktails and burgers.

There’s also the stylish art house cinema Lexi, offering grown-up snacks and drinks.

Foodies delight in the number of delis and trendy boutiques Supra and Eulabee ensure residents are clothes in the latest threads, with their homes decked out in vintage treasures from Howie & Bell and Niche.

MANAGEMENT consultant Zoe Guilford, 32, lives in Kensal Rise with her flatmate

Becky Jones, a 32-year-old beauty PR, in Zoe’s four-bedroom apartment.

“Five years ago I went for dinner at a friend’s in Kensal Rise, fell in love with her home and bought mine in the same new-build development. Originally I was looking at Kentish Town, but I got a lot more for my money around here. I loved the great transport links, yet it still had a villagey feel to it. A lot of the people in Kensal Rise are creative types — one neighbour’s a DJ, and there’s also a designer and a few musicians. We’ve all grown up a bit now, so we don’t party every night, but there’s still a lovely social aspect to living here. Another major plus is having some wonderful pubs — lots are gastropubs and the food is amazing.

There are also lots of delis popping up. “I’m fiercely proud of the area: when I first moved in I’d tell everyone that I lived on the outskirts of Notting Hill — but nowadays I tell people proudly that I live in Kensal Rise.”

Zoe’s apartment is now on sale for £750,000 through Foxtons.

KATHRYN APPLETON, 37, runs a soft furnishings business and lives in a five bedroom house which she bought in 2004 for £395,000.

“It’s massively convenient living here,” she says. “It takes about 20 minutes to get into town on the Tube, Portobello Road is just a 20-minute walk away and you can get to the M25 by car quickly.

“But it’s the shops and restaurants that make this area so special — I go for dinner at The Chamberlayne or the William IV, which has amazing tapas, or I see a film at the Lexi cinema. I feel that the area has so much more than your usual high street offerings — not that many areas outside of central London have a cinema, for example. There are also lots of interior design shops, clothes boutiques and places to go with the kids.

“It’s also Deli Central — I take my daughter to ballet each Saturday and we stop off at Minkies for a coffee and a slice of cake afterwards, which we both love. There’s also a Tesco that has just opened, which is very convenient.

“You can be very self contained living here — I can’t imagine anywhere better in London.

“When we bought, we got amazing value for our money, and our house price has gone up considerably — but more than that, living here offers us an amazing lifestyle.”

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