Discover this laid-back London neighborhood with an independent streak.
Despite being right in the heart of London, the thriving neighborhood of Marylebone (pronounced mary-le-bone) maintains a fairly low profile. Those who do discover a world of independent cafes, homegrown designer shops and markets, epicurean emporiums, and lovingly restored Victorian pubs. Though the stream (or bourne) that once ran along St. Marylebone Church and gave Marylebone its name has long since been built over with slender Georgian town houses and cozy squares, you need only turn to the tranquil Paddington Gardens at the neighborhood’s center for a glimpse of the area’s rural past. The overall effect—of a sort of village unto itself—is a gentle reminder that small-town living can happen even in the largest of cities. —Alison Tyler
Cabbages & Frocks Market: On the St. Marylebone Parish Church Grounds, this Saturday market sells everything from locally designed clothing to vintage accessories to a selection of food specialties. Created by the organizers of the popular London Fashion Designer Sales, the Cabbages & Frocks Market has a selection of fine and organic Continental and British gourmet items, including olive oils, breads, olives, cheeses, cupcakes, Japanese delicacies, and balsamic syrup and vinegars. The clothing selection includes retro and vintage items, and there are also sections dedicated to housewares, children’s clothing, hand-blown glass, and jewelry.
Cath Kidston: Well-known British designer Cath Kidston started out selling secondhand painted furniture and vintage fabrics before eventually designing her own fabrics. These days, her vintage-inspired floral prints can be found on everything from bags to kitchenware. Girly, vintage-inspired patterns include ginghams, polka dots, and roses, and they appear on accessories like wallets, handbags, travel accessories, umbrellas, and footwear. The Marylebone shop also carries Kidston's quirky patterns on women’s clothing, piggy banks, fabric, and wallpaper.
Daunt Books: Deceivingly large, this Marylebone bookshop has original Edwardian oak-paneled galleries filled with a huge selection of books. Skylights provide plenty of natural light for viewing books, and there is even more to see on the basement and mezzanine levels. Daunt Books is known for its extensive travel collection, which is segmented out by country and features everything from traditional travel guides to maps to food guides. The store also has a wide range of non-fiction, history, biographies, short stories, and poetry selections.
Emma Bridgewater: Located in London’s Marylebone area, this Emma Bridgewater shop sells her hand-painted Yorkshire pottery. Run by Emma and husband Matthew Rice, the British company makes all of its ceramics in a 19th-century factory on the Caldon canal. The fun, funky pieces include various plates, mugs, jugs, and breakfast tableware that are embellished with polka dots, hearts, flowers, amusing mottoes, and matter-of-fact labels like sugar or coffee. All items are both dishwasher and microwave safe, and the shop also carries stationary, cutlery, and textiles.
Inn 1888 East: The traditional pub concept meets Thai at this Covent Garden spot. Formerly Devonshire Arms, the pub maintains some of its roots with British fare making an appearance in the upstairs’ menu. Imbibers raise pints of GK Abbot and IPA in the laid-back living room atmosphere with two open fireplaces. The menu starts with appetizers like duck spring rolls before continuing on with main dishes like spicy jungle curry made with green peppercorns, roast duck in a tamarind sauce, and phad Thai.
Mandeville Hotel: The Mandeville Hotel is centrally located in Marylebone, a short walk from the fashionable shops on Oxford and Bond Streets. Designed by leading decorator Stephen Ryan, the hotel’s lobby, bar, and modern British restaurant are all adorned with vibrant retro furnishings, from red leather couches and orange velvet armchairs to a floral-patterned bar and lime green pottery. The 142 guestrooms, each individually styled, continue the colorful 1970’s theme with bold prints and duvets in bright fuchsia or orange. The Mandeville is also known for its afternoon teas—one for women and one for men (with whiskeys and roast sirloin sandwiches).
Montagu Place Hotel: Only the faintest signs of life outside can be heard from Montagu Place Hotel, a secluded, 16-room Georgian town house in regal Marylebone. A narrow, winding staircase leads to three styles of bedroom (Comfy, Fancy, and Swanky), all with original stone fireplaces, large sash windows, freestanding bathtubs, and divinely plump beds covered in chenille blankets. Although the hotel doesn’t serve dinner, some of London’s best gastropubs are a short walk away.
Prince Regent: A traditional pub, the Prince Regent features a daily-changing menu that emphasizes fresh ingredients from artisan producers and selected British farms. Located in Marylebone Village, the pub has a brightly colored interior with stunning chandeliers, gold-framed mirrors, and over-sized artwork, and there’s an on-street terrace that’s perfect for people-watching. The menu consists of upscale pub fare like handmade West Country beef burgers, beer-battered haddock and chips, and slow-cooked lamb shank shepherd's pie. On Sundays, the pub offers home-cooked Sunday roast.