Ditch the tourist crowds and head to these up-and-coming neighborhoods that three stylish locals call home.
“My wife and I live in Barnsbury, just north of King’s Cross. It’s basically an 18th-century village within the city: tree-lined streets; elegant Georgian terraces. I love to sit in the lush green park at the center of Lonsdale Square. The neighborhood is set to be a new style hub: Central St. Martins art school, which Mike Leigh and Stella McCartney both attended, just moved to a new campus here. Large Glass (392 Caledonian Rd.; 44-20/7609-9345), an art space that hosts convivial openings, is a must, as is the Booking Office Bar (pictured; Euston Rd.; 44-20/7841-3566; drinks for two $30) at St. Pancras station, which is now a Renaissance hotel. It’s grade-one Gothic splendor, this vaulted room with paneling all the way around.” —Ben Evans, director, London Design Festival
“Marylebone is my favorite neighborhood. Head to the quirky Wallace Collection (Manchester Square; 44-20/7563-9500), a 19th-century private house turned museum. Some works are presented in secret: you have to push back curtains and open drawers. Next, stroll Marylebone High Street, a chain-free strip with interiors stores such as Nordic-skewing Skandium (86 Marylebone High St.; 44-20/7935-2077) and independent bookstore Daunt Books. I always end up at Rococo Chocolates for their thin dark-chocolate wafers infused with violet, ginger, or cardamom.” —Maureen Paley, director, Maureen Paley Gallery
“World’s End, the boho-chic western tail of King’s Road, in Chelsea, was the focal point for Swinging London. It’s a real mix: little old ladies who’ve lived there for 60 years; old chaps in velvet jackets swanning along with dogs; moms with Bugaboo strollers. Bea’s of Bloomsbury (370 King’s Rd.; 44-20/7242-8330; tea for two $6) is a cozy spot for tea. The antiques auctions at Lots Road (71 Lots Rd.; 44-20/7376-6800) are another treat—you never know what you’re going to find. It might be an alligator made of bronze or a pair of 1950’s chairs. My husband and I love the hearty Tuscan suppers at La Famiglia (7 Langton St.; 44-20/7351-0761; dinner for two $100). Zucchini flowers and pasta pomodoro—that’s what I always have.” —Alannah Weston, creative director, Selfridges
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.
Chocoholics rejoice at this shop in the Marylebone district, home to some of the most sought-after cocoa creations in London. Part of a small, award-winning chain founded in 1983, Rococo is best known for its beautifully wrapped sweets crafted with quality ingredients and inventive flavor combinations. Favorites include the lovely champagne truffles, chocolate raspberry nougat, playful pralines disguised as quail eggs, and hand-painted chocolate art shaped like charming kittens and toothy crocodiles. Of course, customers also rave about Rococo’s 50 chocolate bars in flavors like orange and geranium dark chocolate, creamy cardamom white chocolate, and smooth cinnamon milk chocolate.