Maida Vale - An oasis of charm in the sprawling metropolis
Charlie Burton - Senior Commissioning Editor at GQ
An oasis of charm in the sprawling metropolis, Maida Vale feels like it belongs to a different era – perhaps, even, a different city.
The peaceful lagoon and canals of Little Venice are a defining feature and, with their attractive tree-lined banks and colourful houseboats, set the tone for the neighbourhood.
It’s primarily a residential area yet well-served by characterful local businesses. You’ll find unique eateries such as Cafe Laville, a brunch hotspot straddling Regent’s Canal; you’ll find distinctive pubs such as the Prince Alfred, with its gin palace interior and converted cellars; you’ll find hidden gems such as Clifton Nurseries, London’s oldest and arguably most beautiful garden centre. And then there are the endearing one-offs that cause so many families to fall in love with the place, like the Puppet Theatre Barge which has hosted endearing marionette shows since 1982 – though if you’re looking for more grown up entertainment, there’s always the nearby Canal Café Theatre (or, indeed, the Everyman Cinema with its plush sofa seating).
The stateliness of Maida Vale’s wide avenues and historic mansion blocks are a reminder that you’re in the capital and, sure enough, the heady buzz of London is a stone’s throw away. You could keep things local and head to the hip environs of north Notting Hill or just walk straight into the centre of town – Hyde Park is only about half an hour away by foot. But plenty of those who call the area home find little to keep tempting them away: after all it has a major green space of its own in the form of Paddington Recreation Ground, which at 27 acres is the largest park entirely within the City of Westminster. The neighbourhood also has a multiplicity of thriving social scenes, including that centred around the convivial bar of the Paddington Sports Club. Nestled away behind the houses, its tennis courts and bowling green are a well kept secret bang in the centre of town.
Charlie Burton is the Senior Commissioning Editor of GQ, the leading UK men’s lifestyle magazine, and also its technology columnist. He writes monthly commentary on the technology-driven trends that are changing the world and co-edits the publication’s tech reviews. Charlie Burton was formerly the Associate Editor of Wired magazine, the monthly chronicle of disruptive ideas and innovations, to which he continues to contribute articles. His first book, How To Win At Life, a collection of interviews with world experts about the things they do best, is out now. Follow him on Twitter @charlie_burton and Instagram @charlieburtongq