Bohemian and laid-back yet as city central as it gets, Fitzrovia offers London life with an intimate edge.
Immediately north of Oxford Street, bordered by Tottenham Court Road and within easy touch of Soho, Regent’s Park and Marylebone High Street, its location is A Grade, marked with a flourish by the soaring BT Tower.
Its older architecture is memorable too. Before Belgravia and Mayfair became London’s most aspirational addresses, it was the brick townhouses and Robert Adams architecture of Fitzrovia that attracted the great and good. When the glitterati moved south the literati moved in: walk around Fitzroy Square today and among the notable blue plaques are ones to George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. Dylan Thomas was a regular at The Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street while film maker and current Fitzrovia resident Guy Ritchie partnered with David Beckham to buy British boozer Lore of the Land in Conway Street.
Fitzrovia fizzes with fashionable creatives from across film, media and advertising industries while large scale employers include Facebook who opened their Rathbone Place office – designed by Frank Gehry - in 2018. Around 10,000 people live there and a further 50,000 come every day to work (in normal times). To be part of Fitzrovia’s on-trend and diverse community, here are the places to bookmark.
Where to stay
Charlotte Street is Fitzrovia’s main artery and pole position goes to Charlotte Street Hotel, one of the first in Kit Kemp’s much-loved Firmdale Group. Outside the wide frontage is painted a soft sage green and embellished with a huge Union Jack while inside the décor is a homage to the Bloomsbury Group. Kit’s carefully controlled riot of colours and prints matched by original artwork brings a comfortable, elegant and boho edge, perfectly reflecting Fitzrovia.
Downstairs arty types lounge over drinks and savoury bar snacks in Oscar’s Bar & Restaurant or retire to the screening room while upstairs luxuriously comfortable bedrooms have some of the best double glazing in London to ensure a good night’s sleep. Charlotte Street Hotel is ideal for couples, families and indeed anyone who wants a city-centre base overseen by talented hoteliers who know how to spoil their guests.
Double rooms at Charlotte Street Hotel start from £284; hotels/london/charlotte-street-hotel">firmdalehotels.com
Where to be pampered
Head directly to Charlotte Place, a charming, plant-filled and car-free stretch of small shops and boutique businesses off Goodge Street. First stop is Radiance London (radiancelondon.co.uk), a long-established beauty salon and a favourite with models including Lila Moss and Daisy Lowe. The most in-demand treatments include lash lifts, massages and bespoke facials with threading, tanning and electrolysis also on the extensive menu. The caring and genuinely friendly staff and luxe-yet-intimate atmosphere have given Radiance London a much-deserved loyal following.
Next cross directly over to Saco Hair (sacohair.com), another long-standing Charlotte Place business with starry clientele. Dawn French and Rosamund Pike are regulars here, coming for expert haircare and styling in a friendly, unpretentious salon. Founders Richard and Aldo are serious about building healthy hair for their clients – their latest product range, Supernature, is billed as ‘Superfood’ for hair – and offer modern, sexy styling or simply an instantly uplifting sleek blow dry.
Where to Eat
Fitzrovia’s restaurants range from cheap and cheerful Thai up to Michelin-starred experiences. Starting at the top, Hakkasan Hanway Place (hakkasan.com) opened in 2001 and has held its Michelin-star status continually since 2003 making it arguably London’s most famous Chinese restaurant. Its hidden doorway immediately off Oxford Street, its knowledgeable staff and clubby, atmospheric interiors are all part of the theatrical magic.
Elsewhere, there’s Japanese at Roka (rokarestaurant.com), tapas at Salt Yard (saltyardgroup.co.uk) and Barrica (barrica.co.uk) and ‘Modern British’ at Berner’s Tavern (bernerstavern.com). Coffee specialists rave about Kaffeine (kaffeine.co.uk) while brunch at laid-back Riding House Café (ridinghouse.cafe) is a perpetual favourite with the avocado-obsessive crowd. MasterChef’s Monica Galetti serves up her expertise at Mere (mere-restaurant.com) or, more affordably, the Taiwanese buns at Bao (baolondon.com) come heaped with praise.
Where to get your culture fix
The British Museum in Great Russell Street has over eight million pieces in its permanent collection, enough to occupy you for several weekends. Perhaps start with the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and the Egyptian Mummies. Other Fitzrovia Museums include The Cartoon Museum and Pollocks Toy Museum.
If you want to ‘shop small’ then Fitzrovia is the place. It’s heaped with boutiques and one-off shops yet also on hand for the department stores along Oxford Street: retail nirvana. Focus on Charlotte Street, Rathbone Street, Windmill Street and New Cavendish Street. Check out the contemporary art galleries on Eastcastle Street, go furniture shopping in Tottenham Court Road or head up north to Camden Market.