What’s it all about?
Bayswater is well known for its close proximity to London’s greatest green space, Hyde Park. Its residents can boast a palace, lake and horse riding stables virtually in their front garden – and all in Zone 1. Its cultural and social mix, reflected in the amazingly varied restaurants and food stores that line up along Queensway, lends the area some unusual contrasts. Bayswater is cosmopolitan yet comfortable, cutting edge yet cultured. There's a strong sense of community here with a residents’ association and local magazine, and people tend to know their neighbours, a fact helped by the many shared garden squares. Historically famous for London’s first department store Whiteleys, and for having the highest concentration of hotels in London, the Bayswater of today is a much changed place. Many of the hotels are being converted into residential blocks, and there are big plans to develop Whiteleys and inject new life into Queensway. The architecture here is among some of the most impressive in London, with grand white stucco terraces and garden squares. Once here, residents tend to stay, whether they are families taking advantage of the good schools in the area, or professional couples and singles appreciating the easy commute to Central London and the breadth of local shops and restaurants.
- From the street, numbers 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens look like normal houses but they are actually only facades built to hide an open section of the London Underground.
- A 1912 statue of Peter Pan stands in nearby Kensington Gardens, a location that author JM Barrie took inspiration from, and has been turned into a ‘talking statue’, which you can activate using a smartphone.
- Many local streets are named after the River Westbourne, which had waters so pure they were once piped to the City. When the area was developed the Westbourne was diverted into underground channels and became one of London’s ‘lost rivers’.
Architecture and property
Although some grand Georgian squares and terraces exist in Bayswater, real urbanisation began with the arrival of the railway in Paddington in 1838. The first properties to be built were plain cottages to house the railway workers, and modest homes for the area’s earliest residents, but Bayswater was soon flooded first with artists and then with wealthy merchants. As the area grew more affluent the properties became grander and the smart Italianate terraces of the 1850s and ornate piles dating from around 1890 are still among the most desirable properties here. Bayswater spent much of the 20th century in decline, with decaying houses either being split up into bedsits or converted into budget hotels. However, influxes of Middle Eastern, American and Brazilian populations, as well as government money, have helped transform Bayswater into the cosmopolitan part of London that it is today.
The majority of the housing in the area now is made up of smart, large white stucco fronted buildings that are four or five storeys high. These are often split into flats and many are arranged around attractive garden squares. The Hallfield Estate is a large postwar council estate designed by the architect Berthold Lubetkin, which is sought after by fans of the mid-century style. Bayswater is also home to contemporary high spec apartment blocks. While flats dominate the property market, there are also some wonderful mews houses and five and six bedroom family houses in and around Connaught Square.
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Eating: For British cuisine with some surprising twists, try Hereford Road. Head for Moroccan Sahara for a North African platter (bring your own bottle), or for a taste of Persia pop into Hafez. Locals return again and again to the traditional Cypriot Aphrodite Taverna. Local Greek restaurant, Halepi is also particularly popular and Richard Branson has been known to make a regular appearance.
Drinking: The Leinster Arms is a classic British pub with a traditional menu, as is the King’s Head. Further away from the park lies the Porchester, a recently refurbished bar with ‘posh pub grub’. The Swan prides itself on being family friendly, or if cocktails are your preferred tipple, pop into the underground Old Mary’s in the old servants’ quarters of what is now The Mitre Townhouse.
Visit: Take a stroll around Kensington Palace, where you can view the State apartments, galleries and grounds for a real insight into royal life. From there, head over to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, a favourite place for modern and contemporary art. For those of a more scientific bent, the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum is in Paddington, where you can see the laboratory in which Fleming discovered penicillin. If nostalgia appeals, pop over to the Museum of Brands and Packaging in nearby Notting Hill.
Culture: The Print Room is an arts space in an old Coronet cinema. The building is home to a vibrant fringe theatre and the plan is to restore the cinema itself as well. Every Sunday Bayswater Road becomes one big art gallery, with more than 150 artists and craftspeople displaying their work. There is also an Odeon cinema in the Whiteleys Shopping Centre which offers a luxury and exclusive cinema experience in The Lounge.
- One of the big attractions of Bayswater is Whiteleys Shopping Centre, which is home to a host of high street names, as well as boutiques, restaurants and a cinema.
- Among other treats in the area include luxury chocolatier Artisan du Chocolat and upmarket bakery Cocomaya. Seek out BoConcept for sleek modern furniture and The Dresser for designer clothing at sale prices.
- The Idler Academy is a bookshop where you can get coffee, but doubles as a centre where you can take classes in such diverse activities as calligraphy, philosophy and self defence.
- One of only a handful of ice rinks in the Capital, Queen’s Ice and Bowl also offers 12 lanes of ten-pin bowling and All Star Lanes is also a popular choice.
- The Porchester Spa was a Victorian municipal baths and has been lovingly restored to its former glory to offer saunas, steam rooms and a plunge pool.
- Paddington Library offers employment advice, reading groups and a programme of activities for young children.
Set in the very heart of London, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens make up more than 600 acres of green space, separated by the Serpentine and Long Water, and there is plenty to do and see in both parks. Hyde Park is home to the famous Speakers’ Corner, as well as memorials to the Holocaust and to Princess Diana. There is the chance to take part in many activities, including football, tennis, swimming in the lido, cycling and horse riding. Hyde Park also plays host to many different events, from rock concerts to Proms in the Park to the annual Winter Wonderland. Kensington Gardens includes pretty Italian gardens with fountains, the Diana Memorial Playground, the Albert Memorial, designed by George Gilbert Scott, and the Serpentine Gallery, enhanced by its recent Zaha Hadid designed extension.
Property in Bayswater is being snapped up for redevelopment, including many hotel buildings, and recently a record sum of £27 million was paid for a 300 year old pub with a view to converting it into luxury flats. An overseas investor has purchased Whiteleys and a large chunk of Queensway itself, with the intention of turning the area into a ‘shopping and eating out village’, while plans to redevelop Waitrose in Porchester Road will create a social hub and vibrant streetscape. The arrival of Crossrail at Paddington station in 2018 will mean the journey to Liverpool Street station is shortened to just 10 minutes.
Tube: Bayswater has an Underground station in Zone 1, offering Circle and District Line services. Other nearby stations include Edgware Road, Lancaster Gate and Paddington.
Rail: Paddington station offers services to the western suburbs and beyond to destinations including Devon, Cornwall, Bristol and Wales, as well as the Heathrow Express, which will take you to the airport in 15 minutes.
Bus: There are superb bus connections to all over London, including the 7 (to Russell Square), the 23 (to Liverpool Street), the 27 (to Chalk Farm), the 70 (to Acton) and the 148 (to Camberwell Green).
Road: Bayswater is a 25 minute drive from the M4 and M25.
Getting away: Great road access means it's only 25 minutes to Heathrow airport.
Bayswater and its surrounding areas provide a wealth of choice for parents when it comes to schools. For younger children, try St Mary of the Angels Catholic Primary, Hallfield Primary, or St Stephen’s Church of England Primary. At secondary level, Westminster Academy and Holland Park School have good reputations, or pick one of the independent schools in the area: Wetherby School at prep level, and Lansdowne College or Tabernacle School at senior level. City of Westminster College is close by and offers a range of further education courses.
Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.
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