Falling Over Fitzrovia
Gentrification may be crawling towards London’s East End, but attuned investors should set their sights on this centrally located district
Fitzrovia has long been the badly behaved sister of immaculate Mayfair and elegant Marylebone. Sandwiched between Oxford Street, the British Museum and Regent’s Park, it has an impressive central location which, coupled with its 18th-century architecture, makes it a prime area for London living—although that hasn’t always been the case. Fitzroy Square dates back hundreds of years to when Charles Fitzroy, Lord of the Manor of Tottenhall, decided to develop the area for his aristocratic friends. Picky as ever, the British upper classes decided they preferred Belgravia, forcing Fitzroy to turn his beautifully designed houses into workshops, studios and flats. Naturally, this attracted the artistic crowd, followed swiftly by the continental Europeans—and before long, it was one of the creative hubs of the city. However, while Fitzrovia may have been snubbed by 18thcentury aristocrats, the tech royalty of our era has deemed it more than worthy. Facebook’s new London headquarters opens near Fitzroy Square this year—and handily, its employees will be able to choose from five Michelin-starred restaurants nearby, not to mention hundreds of local pubs. Fitzrovia is also a short walk away from Tottenham Court Road where, from 2018, the much-anticipated Crossrail will be whipping people in and out of the city in 10 minutes.
STROLL: CHARLOTTE STREET
Thanks to the hundreds of German, Dutch, Portuguese and Italian immigrants who made Fitzrovia their home, not to mention all the English writers and artists, Charlotte Street—the area’s main thoroughfare—has long been a hub of quirky restaurants and dark-panelled bars. It also boasts a number of blue plaques, including one for writer Virginia Woolf and another for painter John Constable. On warm summer evenings, crowds spill out onto the leafy streets, clutching glasses of French rosé, German beer or jugs of sangria.
THE CENTRAL LOCATION AND HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE MAKE FITZROVIA AN IDEAL DISTRICT FOR LONDON LIVING
One of the great things about living in Fitzrovia is that you can befriend the locals, which should make it a little easier to get a table at Ollie Dabbous’ in-demand restaurant, where a two-month wait for a reservation isn’t unusual. Two signature dishes are the coddled egg with smoked butter and mushrooms, and the barbecued Iberian pork with savoury acorn praline, on a pan-european menu that only uses the very best of British ingredients.
VISIT: SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM
If you want to get some seriously impressive design tips, go to Sir John Soane’s Museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. When he wasn’t designing London’s most famous buildings, Soane collected art, furniture and ornaments. He also poured all his architectural ingenuity into the house—don’t miss the Breakfast Room, which has a beautiful domed ceiling with convex mirrors, and the Monument Court, which is made out of almost-translucent alabaster.
SCOPE: RATHBONE SQUARE
Great Portland Estates has achieved the previously impossible and created a brandnew space in the heart of central London. Formerly a warehouse for a post office, Rathbone Square is now a slick development, half of which will provide offices to Facebook’s London staff, while the other half will be converted into 142 airy residential flats. Built around one of the first new garden squares in central London in more than a century, it is scheduled to be move-in ready this autumn.
RIGHT The Library Dining Room at Sir John Soane’s Museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields