My boyfriend calls Victoria the dead center of London. It’s right in the heart of the city, but there’s not much going on. Until recently, that is. The neighborhood has been a construction zone for years, and it’s finally emerging from the dust with a load of new offerings. In case you haven’t been in a while, here’s A Lady in London’s guide to Victoria.
Best known for the train station of the same name, Victoria has long lived in the shadow of neighboring Belgravia. But with Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St James’s Park on its doorstep, the area’s rise from obscurity has been inevitable. And now that rise is finally happening.
Places to Eat in Victoria
The most obvious sign is the recent opening of the Nova complex, which has ushered in a new restaurant in Victoria almost every week since January. From casual pizza to fine dining, there’s no shortage of options in an area that formerly offered little choice.
Beyond Nova, cafes like Coffee Geek and Friends still delight with their nerdy coffee art, and new restaurants like Bleecker have the burger market cornered (their veggie burger is amazing, too).
And that’s not all. The Cardinal Place Food Market is one of my favorite under-the-radar markets in London. Every Thursday it fills the plaza with sizzling scents and mouth-watering treats under its awnings.
Theater in Victoria
It’s not just food that makes Victoria worth another look, though. This London neighborhood also has a lot of cultural highlights. In addition to Buckingham Palace and the adjacent Queen’s Gallery and Royal Mews, the area has a number of good theaters.
From long-running Wicked at the Apollo to performances at the newly re-branded The Other Palace, there are established and experimental works on stage. Even cinema fans have the comfy Curzon to get excited about. But most noteworthy is the upcoming London opening of Hamilton, which will call the Victoria Palace Theatre its home.
Side Streets in Victoria
As if that’s not enough, Victoria has some lovely side streets to explore. I’m a sucker for a good mews or alley, and if I’m going to love a neighborhood, it has to have a few.
The area between Victoria Street and Buckingham Palace has a tangle of streets and mews to rival the prettiest in other parts of the city. There are some good little pubs tucked away in places like Wilfred Street, and I always smile when I walk by Pine Apple Court.
On the other side of Victoria Street, the candy-cane stripes of Westminster Cathedral dominate the scene. But the wander-worthy streets behind it have equally lovely treasures to discover.
And that’s to say nothing of Little Ben, Victoria’s diminutive answer to Westminster’s iconic clock. It reappeared outside the station last year after a four-year refurbishment, and it puts a smile on my face every time I walk by.
Victoria may never match Belgravia in style or Big Ben in fame, but it’s come a long way from its “dead center” past. There’s still a lot to come, too, and I can’t wait to see what the neighborhood surprises me with next.
Have you been to Victoria recently? What are you favorite new places in the neighborhood?