Dithering tourists, a smelly coach depot and a chaotic train station give Victoria a bad rep. Just a street back from the hurly burly you’ll find the smart shops and cafes of Belgravia and Pimlico’s wide streets and leafy squares. Central and well-connected, Victoria has seen rapid redevelopment in recent years with the vast new Nova food court and the more characterful, Eccleston Yards on the way. Here, four local residents share the area’s highlights:
Things to Do
The number one draw to the area right now has to be Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre – the smash-hit musical is notoriously difficult to get a ticket to, but new seats have recently been released for 17 December-March next year. Of course there’s also the Tate Britain that’s home to the world’s largest Turner collection as well as spectacular exhibitions (All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life is open until 27 August).
Westminster Cathedral is an impressive building few Londoners have actually been inside; even if you’re not visiting for Roman Catholic mass, be wowed by the vast and elaborate interior, and then climb the almighty bell tower for the view. Buckingham Palace is close by and opens in the summer months so you can nosey around the state rooms – the best bit is the huge garden behind where the Queen hosts her July garden parties. For all things relaxing including yoga escape to The Light Centre – we recommend the massages. There’s also a trusted Curzon cinema on Victoria Street.
Restaurants, Pubs and Bars
The most exciting development in the area is Eccleston Yards, where Tart are to open their first restaurant imminently. A new creative hub, there will also be workspaces, Barry’s Bootcamp and other independent restaurants and bars.
Nova arrived last year and is full of decent chains even if the feel is a little soul-less – highlights include Ahi Poke, Sticks and Sushi and Bone Daddies for ramen. Fans of dim sum should visit A Wong, a sleek Chinese on Wilton Road – order the sichuan aubergine. Round the corner find Tozi, a smart restaurant for Venetian sharing plates and a good wine list which tends to be filled with the area’s business types at lunchtime and a more glamorous crowd at night. In fact, there are plenty of good Italians in the area – Caccio e Pepe is very good, as is Il Gustoso for the less expensive alternative. And the best pizzas are found at Sardinian restaurant, Oliveto on Elizabeth Street.
The food might be rather dated at Goya but it’s run by a sweet Spanish family and makes a good place to enjoy an al fresco glass of wine and bowl of olives in the sun. Opening times are a little sporadic but if you can bag a table at the charming Khallouk and Taylor further up Moreton Street then that’s the place for supper. They also serve delicious coffee and fresh orange juice in the mornings.
There are a lot of dingy old boozers’ in Victoria – head to the Cask Pub instead where there’s a great selection of craft beers including one that costs £40 a bottle as its brewed by monks (ask at the bar). For a nightcap, head to Clarendon Cocktail Cellar – the basement bar of the Artist’s Residence sits below the Cambridge Street Kitchen which serves a good brunch and dinner.
Cafes and Delis
Lazy weekend brunch spots are few and far between but Australian Pimlico Fresh is a good option for juices and eggs and avo on toast. There’s also an ever-popular branch of Gail’s Bakery and the Roasting does a good coffee. Dominique Ansel brought the decadent cronut to London; try it at the Elizabeth Street bakery.
Another local gem is the Italian deli, Delizie d’Italia on Lupus Street where you can find Italian brands like Bauli pannetonne, bottles of Limoncello and colourful tins of Amaretti, as well as home-made cannoli pastries and coffee, plus fresh pastas to take away all served with a homely welcome.
Pimlico Road is renowned for interiors and many of London’s top names have their shops there; Colefax & Fowler, Jamb, Soane, Luke Irwin and Rose Uniacke so the window shopping is good fun even if you’re not in the market to invest. Along the same jag find Fine Cell Work, where all the homewares are handmade in prisons. There’s also a Daylesford Farm Shop and Cafe where the produce comes straight from their Cotswolds Farm at extortionate prices, but exceptionally delicious to match. One of London’s few remaining proper toy shops Semmalina is a children’s paradise and they specialise in next-level party bags.
Find lovely, high-end shopping on Elizabeth Street including children’s shoeshop Papouelli, Philip Treacy’s millinery boutique, homewares at Summerill and Bishop, lingerie at Luna Mae and bespoke perfumes at Les Senteurs. There’s even a designer shop for doggies – Mungo and Maud.
Shepherds Paper Co near Victoria station stocks exquisite handmade wrapping paper, notebooks, notecards and more. You can even take bookbinding, box making and paper cutting courses there.
There are two excellent food markets in the area. At the top end of the market is the Saturday morning Farmers Market on Pimlico Green where there’s seasonal produce from British growers – look out for the English scented roses from Rosebie Moreton. The Tachbrook Street daily (Mon-Sat) market is much more ordinary but nonetheless good; pick up fruit and veg, fish, meat and other essentials as well as street food.
With thanks to residents Lottie Derry-Evans, Allegra Marland, Emma Fox-Andrews and Daisy Bell.