“… a place where serious political institutions meet the colourful buzz of Soho and flamboyant bursts of the West End echo through to the glossy residents of Mayfair’s sleek and expensive boulevards”
Moving to Westminster
The City of Westminster is known as one of the capital’s most iconic and architecturally stunning areas, home to the government at the Houses of Parliament, London’s most famous residence, 10 Downing Street, and even a very well-known fictional bear named Paddington. It’s a place where serious political institutions meet the colourful buzz of Soho and flamboyant bursts of the West End echo through to the glossy residents of Mayfair’s sleek and expensive boulevards. Although categorised under the single umbrella of the City of Westminster, the areas within Westminster are all distinctly unique and offer locals a vibrant scope of amenities and properties, ranging from high-end shopping outlets on Oxford Street to the charming mews houses of Marylebone. Wealthy young professionals and international investors are the most common residents here, with a large French community in Marylebone and a smattering of oligarchs and famous British families in Mayfair. Although the area is predominantly occupied by tourists, visitors and professionals commute from other parts of London every day.
But for those who do choose to live in the heart of the action, the best of London is on their doorstep – beautiful parks in for form of the well-kept flowerbeds and amphitheatre of Regent’s Park and open, green spaces of Hyde Park, excellent independent schools, top universities and unbeatable transport connections. However, noise and pollution are an issue throughout the City, with many roads in the area ranking among the most toxic in London. With Westminster visited by around 28 million people every year, crime is an inevitable issue and in 2015, the area was victim to 2.5 times more criminal offences than the London average.
House Prices in Westminster
A major drawback for potential residents is the prices, with properties here averaging over £1,4000,000 as of 2017, making it the second most expensive area in London. For those who can afford it, an array of different properties can be found, ranking from contemporary apartments with all mod-cons to imposing houses backing onto Regent’s Park.
“…the countless restaurants of Soho, Marylebone, Mayfair and Covent Garden to choose from, offering diners everything from Michelin-starred cuisine to unmissable independent eateries”
As you’d expect from this central area, the City of Westminster is incredibly well-connected with a close network of Underground stations covering most lines, many major bus routes and National Rail links at Charing Cross, Marylebone, Paddington and Victoria for travel to the outer suburbs and beyond.
Covering a large portion of Central London, the restaurant scene in Westminster is unsurprisingly the best in London, with the countless restaurants of Soho, Marylebone, Mayfair and Covent Garden to choose from, offering diners everything from Michelin-starred cuisine to unmissable independent eateries. Top spots for those splashing the cash include quirky townhouse Sketch, Spring in Somerset House and The Wolsey, an iconic, glamorous spot for a special dinner or afternoon tea. Meanwhile in trendy Soho, restaurants such as Dishoom, Brasserie Zedel and Bone Daddies sit alongside buzzing bars packed with London’s literatti and chic members clubs Soho House and Groucho Club.
Shopping opportunities are also equally impressive, with the flagship branches of brands including Topshop, John Lewis, New Look, Nike and Urban Outfitters all located on Oxford Street alongside high-end department store Selfridges. The streets of Soho and Covent Garden are packed with quirky vintage shops and independent brands, while for designer goods the world’s most luxury fashion from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada can all be found in Mayfair, as well as sharp suits from Saville Row.
Due to its central location, there are very few large supermarkets in Westminster, with most areas supported small branches of major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Tesco. Fantastic small food stores can also be found throughout the area, particularly in Mayfair and Marylebone with independent butchers such as The Ginger Pig, cheese shop La Fromagerie, and delicatessen Paul Rothe & Son.
Health & Sport
Westminster is well-stocked with exercise facilities, with multiple branches of national chains such as Virgin Active, Fitness First, PureGym and Soho Gyms. There are also eight council-run leisure centres in the area, including the Jubilee Sports Centre, Paddington Recreation Ground and Seymour Leisure Centre, as well as a myriad of small studios for spinning, pilates, yoga and other exercises.
Cultural life and amenities in Westminster are unrivalled by the rest of the capital. The borough is brimming with theatres showing world-class musicals, dramas and productions from emerging stars, as well as the Royal Opera House, Somerset House, and a selection of galleries and museums ranging from the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Marylebone. The parks are home to some unique highlights, such as the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park and annual Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park, and a number of iconic London buildings can also be found here, including the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.
Add to this a range of big chain and small arthouse cinemas throughout Soho, independent galleries in Marylebone and Mayfair and world-class spots such as the Tate Britain, and you’ll find there’s an almost endless supply of cultural offerings in the City of Westminster.
“Westminster is home to a number of excellent schools, particularly in the independent sector with a variety of sought-after establishments previously attended by politicians and royalty”
Schools and Education
Westminster is home to a number of excellent schools, particularly in the independent sector with a variety of sought-after establishments previously attended by politicians and royalty. Westminster School, Francis Holland School and Queens College London are ranked among the best independents schools in Westminster, while in the state sector The Grey Coat Hospital and St Marylebone CofE School are both highly recommended. For younger children there are many superb primary schools, including All Souls CofE Primary School, St Clement Danes CofE Primary School, and Queen’s Park Primary School.
The borough also offers some outstanding options for further education, such as the London School of Economics (LSE) and Kings College London, both of which are among world’s best universities, as well as the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Art.
Largely due to its central location, Westminster has the highest crime rate in London with around 237 crimes per 1000 people as of 2012 – more than double the London average. Over half of these crimes are theft, with pickpocketing a particularly prominent problem in tourist-heavy areas. Violent crime rates in Westminster are also among the highest in the country.
Despite being one of the capital’s most compact boroughs and positioned in an incredibly central location, the City of Westminster boasts some of the finest green spaces in the capital. Dominated by the vast expanses of Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, Green Park and St James Park, there are also the countless appealing greens squares of Marylebone. Little Venice Canal also travels through the borough, for those seeking a relaxing canal-side walk (or boat ride) on the weekends.
Despite now connecting along The Strand and regularly lumped in together as ‘Central London’, the City of Westminster actually grew up separately from the City of London. A palace and the original Westminster Abbey were built here by Edward the Confessor, and it took around 500 years before the fields and villages between the two dissolved into the city sprawl and were brought together.