Monday, October 6, 2008
Since I moved to London last year I’ve made a point of getting around to lots of different neighborhoods. I have explored the city from Notting Hill to Muswell Hill, Regent’s Park to Richmond. I have meandered through Barnes Common and Clapham Common and I have dined on Hampstead High Street and Islington High Street.
In all of my exploring, there is one high street that I continually head back to: Marylebone. Don’t get me wrong; Hampstead is home and there’s no way I would move away from my beloved neighborhood. But. Sometimes I think that if I were ever forced to move to another place in London, Marylebone would be it.
On Sunday I headed down to Marylebone High Street with a friend of mine. We showed up without a plan, but quickly found ourselves tucked into a rustic table at La Fromagerie, a wonderful cheese shop with an excellent cafe. We warmed up with hot chocolate and a bowl of soup, then continued down the street, admiring the clothing boutiques, furniture shops, and restaurants on our way to Mayfair.
On a previous occasion, my boyfriend and I went to Marylebone High Street for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian import that had been my favorite neighborhood bakery when I lived in Brussels. Afterward we went furniture shopping at the Conran Shop, where I drooled over Breuer chairs, Eames chairs, and Rietveld chairs. And just about everyone else’s chairs.
From there we hit up my favorite shop, Daunt Books. There is a smaller version of this store in Hampstead, but the one on Marylebone High Street is a little piece of bookish girls’ heaven. High glass ceilings give the place the feel of a Victorian train station, and the travel section is intermixed with the rest of the books such that one can take a trip around the world without ever leaving the store.
With great food, lovely boutiques, and the best book store in London, one might almost call Marylebone the perfect London neighborhood.
Almost. But alas, there is no heath. There is no perfect English country village feel. There is no place like home. And so I will continue to live in my beautiful fairy-tale land of Hampstead and save my trips to Marylebone for special occasions. Like breakfast. And lunch. And cheese. Mmmm.