London is a city made up of ancient villages which have been knitted together as the city has evolved. And those neighbourhoods which have managed to retain their distinctive village-like character and charm are amongst its most sought after addresses.
The sheer scale of the British capital – more than 600 square miles, 283 postcode districts, 272 stations in the London Underground network – can feel overwhelming. Little wonder that buyers gravitate towards locations which have everything they could possibly need within easy walking distance.
London villages come in many different styles – leafy, stylish, and hip. And these are Black Brick’s pick of the very best:
The London village with a certain je ne sais quoi – pick up a copy of Le Monde and then breakfast on deliciously authentic café au lait and croissant in South Kensington, an area nicknamed the 21st arrondissement of Paris given its huge popularity with French nationals.
Buyers from across the channel love South Ken because it is home to the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, the epicentre of expat life in the city, and the prestigious Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle school.
There is plenty to recommend South Kensington to non-French buyers too. It is beautiful,
with its streets and squares of elegant white stucco townhouses and luxury apartment buildings. Buyers who want a compact house can house hunt along its pretty mews. Black Brick recently helped clients pick up a charming three bedroom home on Petersham Mews. This couple wanted to be close to their West End offices, and they were after a three bedroom home with outside space. The house we found was on the market for £3.7m but we managed to negotiate a deal at £3.525m, a discount of almost five per cent.
Families gravitate towards South Kensington because its schools, state and private, are high performing. The location is excellent, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens provide ample green space, and the neighbourhood is famously home to some of London’s greatest museums and the Royal Albert Hall.
South Kensington’s village credentials also rest on its outstanding range of restaurants and bars, as well as an increasing number of private members clubs. There are old stagers like Launceston Place, once a favourite haunt of Princess Diana, and still dishing out a modern British menu, some super French restaurants like Margaux, and stylish hotel restaurants like Blakes. Dining at home? The Saturday farmer’s market on Bute Street is a great place to pick up some delicacies.
The ultimate leafy north London village, in the perfect location – right beside Regent’s Park and within walking distance of the West End, yet far away enough from the hustle of central London to feel like another world.
The houses of St John’s Wood are particularly splendid, from the white stucco mansions of Hamilton Road to the Gothic villas of Acadia Road.
There is also a very good supply of traditional mansion flats, and a small but high quality supply of new boutique developments.
A client of Black Brick, who had bought an apartment in St John’s Wood, returned to us for help with upsizing to a house. Demand for houses is strong in this area, but we were able to source an eight bedroom home on Cavendish Avenue, very close to the long-time home of Sir Paul McCartney. After a sealed bids auction our client bought the house for £7,65m.
One of the reasons St John’s Wood is so appealing to buyers is its thriving high street,
which is full of smart cafes, gastropubs, and brasseries (and a disproportionately wide selection of hairdressers and spas).
Buyers include Americans, drawn by proximity to the American School, and there is also a good range of prep schools. Hampstead and Highgate’s outstanding senior schools are an easy school run away for older pupils. City workers rate St John’s Wood for its excellent commuter links, and NW8’s mansion flats are a hit with downsizers.
Perhaps the only fly in the ointment of St John’s Wood is the presence of the Abbey Road studios. The studio has become a mecca for Beatles fans from all the world, all keen to photograph themselves on its famous zebra crossing. The ensuing traffic jams can be a frustration.
If you want to combine London village lifestyle with a prime central London address, then Belgravia, tucked discreetly between Knightsbridge and Buckingham Palace could be just the thing.
Belgravia has the kind of grand and iconic housing stock buyers expect from PCL, all white stucco townhouses set on immaculate garden squares.
But it also has an increasingly impressive range of good-looking neighbourhood restaurants, bars, and boutiques all curated by the Grosvenor Estate, which has been keen for the area to shake off its reputation for being good looking but rather dull.
The estate has worked hard to breathe fresh life into Belgravia’s main shopping streets, notably Elizabeth Street and Motcomb Street. And slowly, over the past decade, both have seen an influx of new restaurants, useful shops, boutiques, and cafes.
In 2019 the estate decided to inject a touch of trendiness to this resolutely upscale. Eccleston Yards is a former power station now rebooted as a complex of shops, restaurants, gyms, and offices where you can take pottery lessons, browse its regular vintage market, or just chill out.
Black Brick’s recent Belgravia buyers include an American couple looking for a pied a terre. We found them the perfect property on an outstanding garden square. Eaton Square is lined with beautiful townhouses with grand colonnaded entrances. and is considered one of the very best streets in London.
Residents enjoy access to some 15 acres of private open space, with tennis courts. After negotiating hard with the vendor we were able to secure the duplex apartment for £6.3m – a full £1m below its original asking price. Read the case study here.
Black Brick Property offer a number of professional property services around London, included managed sales, property investment and even vacant care for your home. Explore our full range of services by clicking here, or alternatively, if you’re ready to speak to a property expert, use the form below to get in touch.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.