Introducing West London
For centuries, the west was truly wild, with pigs outnumbering people three to one in Notting Hill as recently as 150 years ago. Fulham was an out-of-bounds area of debauchery and gambling, and family mishaps and intrigue lies behind the vast estate that was to shape Ladbroke Grove.
Leaving its wilderness years behind, west London is today perhaps the most outwardly alluring part of the city. Holland Park, Ladbroke and Westbourne Groves especially, with their ice-cream coloured houses, superb city planning and upscale boutiques make this a hard-to-leave area. Pubs, cafés and restaurants abound for shopped-out visitors, including the renowned Ledbury, located on the road of the same name, with Aussie chef Brett Graham wowing tastebuds and winning Michelin stars.
The palatial shopping centre Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush has a floor area equivalent of 30 football pitches, and was successful in luring high-end labels such as Dior, Gucci and Burberry away from their central London flagships, as well as serving as HQ for the glamorous on-line fashion giants Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter.
The hub has made an attractive area more so, with Shepherd’s Bush mixing cultural vibrancy and a select property market for a typical London dynamic – the food market vibrates with the sound of stallholders shouting out their offers for fruit and veg, while locals scurry off to the well-kept secret Patio on Goldhawk Road, for home cooked Polish food and shots of icy vodka.
Head west towards the river and things take a more dawdling turn. In sun-dappled Hammersmith, proud locals spill out from beer gardens along a peaceful water vista edged by a pub-trimmed walk. A foray to this slow-flow stretch of London, also encompassing Chiswick and Kew, is like stepping back into a gentler era, where time has a higher value and should be savoured, as the locals of this western London enclave are able to do.