The neighbourhoods around Hyde Park have collectively become known as prime central London, prized by buyers for their varied and elegant housing stock, plentiful open space, great amenities, and easy access to the West End.
But it would be a mistake to consider PCL a homogenous trophy property zone.
Each individual section has a distinct character and vibe from youthful and slightly bohemian to safe, discreet and private.
Black Brick has an intimate knowledge of the streets of PCL, and has helped generations of buyers find their dream homes in this rarefied sub-section of the British capital.
The undisputed grande dame of PCL, Knightsbridge has evolved from a bleak swathe of countryside where 14th century highwaymen preyed on wealthy travellers to an internationally-known brand famous for its luxury shopping and real estate.
This compact neighbourhood sits due south of Hyde Park, and its landmarks include Harrods and Harvey Nichols, the glass pavilions of One Hyde Park, London’s first ultra luxury serviced apartment building, and a comprehensive selection of designer boutiques. Dig deeper and you will find a rich trove of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants on Beauchamp Place, and Walton Street.
Modern Knightsbridge dates from the late 18th century when landowners began building squares and terraces of houses – its red brick Queen Anne revival buildings signal ownership by the Cadogan Estate, white stucco fronted houses tend to be held by the Grosvenor Estate. More recently it has been a favoured spot for upscale apartments which have attracted international buyers looking for a lock up and leave property, particularly given the current weakness of the pound.
The rise of Imperial College, widely considered one of the world’s top ten universities, has added parents buying digs for their student offspring to the area’s buyers.
Black Brick was hired by an American client who wanted to buy a pied a terre in a prime Knightsbridge address, which could be used by their daughter, who was living in London. We found them a stunning lateral flat on Cadogan Square and helped them secure it for £3.475m, £275,000 below its asking price. Read the case study here.
Social life in Knightsbridge tends to be as upscale of its housing: think Michelin starred restaurants not fashionable artisanal cafes, and five star hotels with stylish cocktail bars rather than traditional British boozers.
The Saatchi Gallery and Royal Court Theatre are both within walking distance, as are the museums of South Kensington.
While family houses are thin on the ground in Knightsbridge – many of its large houses have been subdivided – the area does have good schooling options just across the border in South Kensington. Older girls can go to Francis Holland School on Sloane Square, although there are limited options for boys right on the doorstep.
Inextricably linked with the British royal family, Kensington has been home to Kings, Queens, and senior royals for more than three centuries.
It is also the gateway to the south side of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and a long-established bastion of prime central London.
To be truthful its main street, Kensington High Street, is not its best point. Yes, it has useful shops and restaurants (Whole Foods Market, an outpost of The Ivy), but many of its stores are everyday chains, and it can get uncomfortably crowded. Prince Harry is said to have enjoyed a trip or two to the local branch of Nandos.
Locals prefer to hang out behind the scenes, enjoying its gorgeous garden squares, stylish gastropubs, and lovely neighbourhood restaurants like Ffionas on Kensington Church Street and Locanda Ottoemezzo, on Thackeray Street.
Its most famous street is the heavily guarded Kensington Palace Gardens, which has been home to some of the richest men and women on the planet, including Roman Abramovich,
the Mittal family, and Jon Hunt, founder of Foxtons estate agents.
Other popular options include the elegant streets of the Phillimore Estate, Abingdon Village, south of the High Street, and Victoria Road, which is prized for its low, wide houses.
Black Brick recently helped an international family relocating to London buy a magnificent £37m house on Phillimore Gardens. The property was being sold off market, and our clients loved it so much they exchanged contacts within three weeks, after Black Brick had negotiated a £2m discount off the asking price. Read the case study here.
Kensington is popular with all sorts of buyers – downsizers, and international buyers after a pied a terre, but it is a particularly big hit with families thanks to its great choice of prep schools. These include Thomas’s Kensington – Prince George and Princess Charlotte attend the school’s Battersea outpost. In the state sector, its three primary schools are all rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.
Pickings are a little more limited for older students. The Lycée Francais Charles de Gaulle and Queen’s Gate School, a girls’ school rated “excellent by the Independent Schools Inspectorate are close by, and many students travel to St Paul’s or Westminster schools.
When it comes to culture Kensington punches above its weight with a trio of great institutions on the doorstep: Opera Holland Park, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Design Museum.
Hipper than Kensington, less sedate than Knightsbridge, Chelsea has a long track record of appealing to the young, creative, and fashionable.
Its charming streets have attracted everyone from Victorian artists, who set up their studios in this once-affordable spot, to models and pop stars during the swinging sixties, to the Sloane Rangers of the eighties. Many people consider it the prettiest part of prime central London, with pastel painted houses on streets like Bywater Street, redbrick mansions on Cheyne Gardens, some very prestigious garden squares lined with tall slender townhouses, and modern highly-serviced apartments.
The King’s Road, the beating heart of Chelsea, has a global reputation for its boutiques and restaurants. The Saatchi Gallery is amongst London’s leading contemporary art galleries, and each May the Chelsea Flower Show really brings the area to life.
But beyond the main drag locals tend to hang out elsewhere – like up and coming Lots Road, charming Elystan Street, and Pavilion Road, which The Cadogan Estate, which owns a big swathe of Chelsea, has been working hard to revive post-pandemic with new restaurants and boutiques, and artisanal food shops are opening up.
For young families, Chelsea is prep school heaven, including Hill House, alma mater of both Prince Charles and the actress Anya Taylor-Joy. Older pupils can go on to Hill House’s senior school on Hans Place, and the Lycée Francais Charles de Gaulle is an easy walk.
With so much going on Chelsea is also a great place for a pied a terre, and Black Brick recently helped a Canadian couple in search of an apartment with high ceilings and period features. We found them a flat on Sloane Gardens, an area which has benefited from the Cadogan Estate’s investment programme. The one bedroom flat was being sold off market, and we helped them buy it with a bid of £1.75m – £45,000 less than the asking price. Read the full case study here.
The combination of Notting Hill’s grid of garden squares and the grander boulevards of Holland Park is a recipe for property heaven.
Whether you want a huge family villa, a cute mews cottage, or something in-between you will find it in this north-west outpost of PCL.
There is far more to W11 than Portobello Road, the tourist honey-trap market which runs through the heart of Notting Hill, although it does bring a sense of fun and vibrancy to the area every weekend – which explodes into life during the annual Notting Hill Carnival.
Notting Hill is the perfect choice for social butterflies who want to be able to hang out at Electric House, Soho House’s local outpost, watch the world go by from one of its quirky cafes, and plug into an area with a strong community feel.
Holland Park is Notting Hill’s sensible big sister, a primarily residential area on its western flank with wide, leafy streets of townhouses.
Black Brick recently helped an American client, who we had previously acted for in the purchase of an apartment in Notting Hill, upsize to a family house.
They knew the area well enough to have some very clear views about which streets they wanted to live on, and we found them just the home on Kensington Park Gardens, which came with a highly prized key to one of the area’s famous garden squares. We found the house off market and given how in demand houses on this street are we advised them to pay the asking price of £21m to secure the house. Read the full case study here.
There’s also a good mix choice of top-rated state primary and prep schools, although the area’s famous Holland Park School (seniors), known as the “socialist Eton” thanks to its popularity with affluent but left-leaning parents, has recently been downgraded from “outstanding” to “failing” by Ofsted amidst claims of bullying and lack of pastoral care.
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