Londons Overlooked Neighborhoods
Like many Americans shipped over to London for professional reasons, my husband and I knew virtually nothing about the city when we embarked upon our 3-day whirlwind house-hunting trip. Our relocation agency told us to look in the London areas overrun by U.S. expatsNotting Hill, South Kensington, and Chelseafiguring that we wanted to stick to our own. It was only by sheer luck that we ended up in the authentic and much less expensive neighborhood of Marble Arch.
Rachel Askew, our agent at Chesterton, an estate agency in the area, estimates that Marble Arch housing prices are 20-25 percent lower than those in the other popular centrally located expatriate communities. Our home is located in a picture-perfect village block of cafes, flower shops, and wine merchants just two blocks south of Edgeware Road, a noisy thoroughfare. For us, however, Edgeware Road adds a bit of a gratifying kick (and a heap of fabulous Middle Eastern restaurants) to what might otherwise be a standard picturesque British neighborhood.
Just to the west of Marble Arch, Bayswater is another central London residential neighborhood with a mix of charm and convenience. Its array of breathtakingly quaint squares are almost completely unchanged from the time of their original construction.
Bayswater is also ideally positioned for exploring Notting Hill, Portobello Road (the most famous London market), and Westbourne Grove Road, areas offering shopping, restaurants, and colorful Victorian architecture. And notwithstanding its villagey pockets, Bayswater is no snobbish Notting Hill. It is where the real Londoners live, eat, and drink.
There are countless hotels and B and Bs for tourists in Bayswater (although not many in Marble Arch), most of which are pretty, white-faced Victorian townhouses. They vary greatly in price range and quality, so dont be swayed by the piercingly clean white facades.