Fall­ing Over Fitzrovia

Gen­tri­fi­ca­tion may be crawl­ing to­wards Lon­don’s East End, but at­tuned in­vestors should set their sights on this cen­trally lo­cated district

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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.


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.



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.


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.


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

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