Moving to London’s West End
Are you moving to London’s West End? With postcodes in W1, WC1 and WC2, Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury make up the beating heart of London. The first destinations for tourists, these areas can also be a fun place to live, particularly for young professionals who like to play hard at weekends and evenings. Here you will find a concentration of museums, galleries, tourist sites, restaurants, theatres, cafes, pubs and clubs – this really is Entertainment Central.
Our free, in-depth Moving to London’s West End report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting London's West End on the map
For tourists and Londoners alike, Leicester Square can be seen as the very centre of London. To the north you’ll find Chinatown and Soho, and north of that Fitzrovia. East of Leicester Square and north of Covent Garden, Bloomsbury has a host of historical and literary associations. This whole area is quite literally one of the busiest parts of London, swarming with tourists, and the epicentre not only for entertainment but also for creative, media, TV and film production, and fashion businesses. But even in this predominantly commercial area there are residential enclaves and it is a popular place to live for young urbanites, students and hipsters, who want a full on London life.
In terms of looking at the area as a place to live, it can be divided into four quarters:Covent Garden,Bloomsbury,Fitzrovia and Soho, which includes Chinatown and Leicester Square. Each of these districts has its own distinct characteristics but all four share the convenience of being right in the heart of London, with easy public transport links, good facilities and plenty to do. The downside of living so close to the centre of town is that the properties tend to be small, gardens are non-existent and parking spaces are as rare as hen’s teeth. To live around here is to buy into a particular lifestyle –fast, frenetic and fun – but not necessarily ideal for families with children.
Below, we take a look at each of these distinct quarters in turn.
Six reasons to live in Covent Garden
- Originally the garden of a convent, the area became popular with smart Londoners upon the construction of Inigo Jones’ arcaded Italianate square. Its later became famous for its fruit and vegetable market. However, the square now houses up-market designer shops, a smart arts and crafts market and the RoyalOpera House.
- The area is bounded by Drury Lane to the east, High Holborn to the north, the Strand to the south and St Martin’s Lane to the west. The main thoroughfare is Long Acre which bisects the area just north of the square. Neal Street, Neal’s Yard and Seven Dials form a warren of original Georgian streets, where you will find some of London’s most eclectic independent shops and, above them, fabulous historic apartments.
- Covent Garden’s landmarks include the Royal Opera House, built in 1732, since when it has been rebuilt twice after burning down. There is also the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, the London Transport Museum, the historic Lamb and Flag pub and St Paul’s Church, another design by Inigo Jones.
- Covent Gardenis served by a number of underground stations, including Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, offering access to the Piccadilly and Central lines. It is also convenient for Charing Cross overground and underground stations and there are plenty of bus routes along Kingsway and the Strand.
- Covent Gardenhas become one of London’s most exciting new shopping hubs, particularly with the opening of Apple’s largest European store.
- The predominant architecture of the area is the Georgian townhouse which lends itself to stunning apartment conversions, though you are likely to find yourself living above a shop or a restaurant. There are also some modern apartment blocks scattered through the area.
Five reasons to live in Soho
- Despite its rather seedy reputation of yesteryear, the last decade has seen Soho transformed into London’s capital of cool, with a multitude of great restaurants, buzzing clubs and unique shopping.
- Soho Fields was originally a hunting park for Henry VIII and, unlike its neighbours Bloomsbury and Covent Garden, it never achieved fashionable status with upper classes. However, as a melting pot for immigrants, dating from the Huguenots in the 17th century right up to the present day, it has become one of the most distinctive and characterful of London’s villages. By the mid-19th century it had become London’s centre for entertainment, with music halls, theatres, cheap eating houses and plenty of pubs.
- The southern section of Soho is London’s Chinatown: there are more than 80 Chinese and Asian restaurants on or around Gerrard Street and Lisle Street.
- Sohocovers approximately one square mile, bounded east and west by Charing Cross Road and Regent Street and north/south by Oxford Street and Leicester Square. It is served by underground stations at Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, and bus routes running along Oxford Street, Regent Street, Charing Cross Road and Shaftsbury Avenue
- Although there is not a lot of residential property in Soho, there is a large 1980s apartment block at the end of Gerrard Street in Chinatown. Alternatively, look out for Georgian house conversions to the north in the main part of Soho.
Five reasons to live in Bloomsbury
- North of Holborn and Covent Garden and south of Euston Road, to the east of Soho and west of Clerkenwell, this enclave has long been associated with literature and learning.
- Characterised by its numerous colleges and medical establishments, Bloomsbury is home to the British Museum, University College London, Birkbeck College, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the British Medical Association, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College Hospital and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
- <Bloomsbury boasts a wealth of beautiful garden squares, dating back to Bloomsbury Square which was laid out in 1660. Other notable squares include Russell Square, Bedford Square, Queen Square, Gordon Square, Woburn Square, Tavistock Square, Mecklenburgh Square, Coram’s Fields and Brunswick Square. However, despite the number, you would still be hard pushed to find a house or an apartment to rent overlooking one of them – and if you did, it would certainly command a premium price.
- Bloomsbury has two underground stations, Russell Square and Euston Square, and is served by others nearby, including Euston, Goodge Street, Warren Street, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Chancery Lane and King’s Cross St Pancras. It is also extremely well placed for the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras and, of course, for rail departures north from King’s Cross.
- Notable residents have included Peter Pan author J M Barrie, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Bob Marley, Virginia Woolf and William Butler Yeats.
Five reasons to live in Fitzrovia
- Bounded by Marylebone to the west, Soho to the south, Bloomsbury to the east and Euston Road to the north, Fitzrovia takes its name from the Fitzroy Tavern on the corner of Charlotte Street and Windmill Street.
- Despite its central London location, Fitzrovia has never achieved the glamour of its near neighbours – which means it is slightly more affordable as a place to live.
- The area was historically developed by a number of minor landowners, resulting in numerous small and irregular streets, rather than the grand garden squares and grid pattern of Bloomsbury.
- Fitzrovia has always attracted a bohemian crowd and was home to Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, Ford Madox Brown, Whistler, Walter Sickert and Arthur Rimbaud. Today, it’s the focus of London’s fashion industry, ‘the rag trade’. It is also a popular location for advertising companies and television production and post-production companies.
- Fitzrovia is served by Goodge Street, Warren Street, Great Portland Street, Euston Square and Tottenham Court Road underground stations, and it is convenient for Kings Cross St Pancras for overground and Eurostar trains.
- The area is undergoing substantial redevelopment currently, not least on the site of the old Middlesex Hospital; Fitzroy Place will be the first new square in W1 for more than 100 years and when it opens in 2014 will include 230 luxury dwellings.
Bringing the Kids
On balance, we would probably suggest not. There are plenty of other central areas that are a little more family-friendly. However, these four are characterized by properties that are generally small and when it comes to outdoor space, gardens and parking – you’re unlikely to find it. Furthermore, a lot of the area tends to be fairly boisterous in the evenings due to the high number of bars, pubs and clubs.
Naturally, there are schools in central London, both fee paying and state run, that are very good, but they also tend to be highly competitive. Within easy reach, you’ll find Portland Place School and L’Ecole Internationale Franco-Anglaise, both fee paying primaries. Queens College London is an all girls private school on Harley Street that goes from four years to 18, and the Portland Place School also has a senior department. The area also has a number of Church of England state primaries, though it’s difficult to get children into these – they have strict rules on catchment areas. Older children will be able to commute by tube to schools across London, so are perhaps easier to find places for.
Relocating to London's West End
If you’re moving to London for the first time and don’t really know the city, living right at the heart of the action is a good way to get to know it. Young urbanites with a work hard-play hard ethos will thrive in the busy bustling centre, though if you value peace and tranquility, this may not be the place for you. Property available to rent will tend to be apartments rather than houses, either in modern blocks or charming conversions of Georgian and Victorian townhouses. If you don’t know the area, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when looking for a rental property, and a wide variation in the rents being asked. Not to mention the considerations of convenience for work, easy transport links for business trips or visits back home… This is when employing the services of a relocation agent can really help.
At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. We know London property inside out and we know how much you should expect to pay and the advantages and disadvantages of choosing different areas. We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations– here or to other parts of London and the UK. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.
To live around W1, WC1 and WC2 is to buy into a particular lifestyle – fast, frenetic and fun. Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury make up the beating heart of London. These areas are ideal for young professionals who like to play hard at weekends and evenings. Here you will find a concentration of museums, galleries, tourist sites, restaurants, theatres, cafes, pubs and clubs – this really is Entertainment Central!
Covent Garden - Average Monthly Rents
Soho - Average Monthly Rents
Bloomsbury - Average Monthly Rents
Fitzrovia - Average Monthly Rents