Before I moved to London, I associated the city with its major monuments. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and St. Paul’s Cathedral were the first things I thought of when the word “London” came to mind. But ever since I moved here, I’ve come to appreciate the city’s more subtle highlights. In particular, the mews.
Mews are narrow little streets, usually lined with cobblestones, that run behind or perpendicular to main roads in London. Historically, they were where carriage houses and horse stables were located before cars became mainstream. But ever since the horses moved out, the mews have been become some of the most coveted (and expensive) places to live in London.
And with good reason. They’re relatively quiet, and the houses tend to be spacious by London standards (and come with garages, a rarity in parking-starved London). But above all, mews are popular because they’re pretty. Very pretty.
I’ve spent the last few months exploring many of the mews streets in west London, from Notting Hill to Kensington and Chelsea. Some of the most picturesque mews in the city are here, and I’ve spent many afternoons wandering down them to see what’s there.
One of my favorites is Stanhope Mews, a little street right by the Gloucester Road tube station in South Kensington. Its houses are always fronted by brightly colored flowers, and I can’t get enough of the cobblestones.
Another great mews in London is Queen’s Gate Mews, also off Gloucester Road. I love the sunny buildings and little iron balconies, not to mention The Queen’s Arms pub at the end.
Just down the street is Kynance Mews, one of the prettiest in all of London. On one side of Kensington‘s Launceston Place, its ivy covered houses and secret staircase leading up to a local church make it one of the best in the neighborhood. On the other side of Launceston Place, its beautiful arches always make me feel like I’m stepping through a portal into a storybook land.
Up in Notting Hill, there are more mews to discover. I wandered into Simon Close one day while walking down Portobello Road, and came across the prettiest robin’s egg blue house with red roses growing outside.
Not far from there, Colville Mews is home to not only houses, but also shops and the Museum of Brands. I love the exterior of Temperley London, which is painted like a Union flag.
There are a lot more mews in London, some of which hide historic blue plaques and sunny benches, others of which are great places to take a deep breath and enjoy an escape from the urban chaos. They may not be the London Eye or Tower Bridge, but they make London just as beautiful as their less subtle counterparts.
Do you have a favorite London mews? I would love to hear your recommendations!