London is evolving. Everywhere I look there’s a crane or three putting up a new building or renovating an existing one. And one of the London neighborhoods that has undergone big changes recently is St James’s. Right in the heart of the city, the area has some of London’s longest-lived shops as well as its newest restaurants. If you want to see what’s tried and true or new and noteworthy, today I bring you my quick guide to St James’s, London.
St James’s, London
Bounded on two sides by parks and two by thoroughfares, St James’s sits in a busy location. But despite its proximity to Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace the neighborhood has its share of quiet lanes, secret courtyards, and oh-so-British atmosphere.
Streets in St James’s
One of my favorite things to do is get lost in the streets. I love walking down Jermyn Street, which is known for its traditional men’s shops, and ducking down skinny alleys like Crown Passage and Pickering Place.
That’s to say nothing of the shopping arcades, which are fun to browse at any time but really come alive at Christmas. From Princes Arcade off Piccadilly to Royal Opera Arcade off Pall Mall, they offer glimpses into London’s retail history.
Waterloo Place and Pall Mall are also windows into London’s past. The former is used for filming seemingly every period drama set in the city, and the latter is brimming with members’ clubs that date back centuries.
But it’s not just old streets that appeal. There are modern passages in St James’s, too (or at least ones that look it). St James’s Market and Norris Street are full of newly opened restaurants and cafes like Ole And Steen, as well as art installations and funky benches.
Things to Do in St James’s
The same goes for art. while there are plenty of art galleries in St James’s selling Old Masters, the White Cube keeps things contemporary.
And it’s not just buildings and their interiors that keep me entertained while I’m in the neighborhood. I love soaking up the greenery in St James’s Square Garden and taking in the brickwork at St James’s Palace.
If I’m in a shopping mood, Fortnum & Mason always has something delicious and Hatchards is my inner book lover’s dream.
Bars and Restaurants in St James’s
Down the road I have a weakness for breakfast at the Wolseley and afternoon tea at The Ritz, and around the corner I’m always up for pasta at Franco’s or curry at Chutney Mary.
If it’s after dinner, Dukes Bar serves some of the world’s most famous (and lethal) martinis, and the American Bar at the Stafford is a local fixture.
Given how much the area is changing, there may be more London institutions being born in St James’s as I write. And that’s why I love the area so much. It’s one of the most traditional in the city, but like the rest of London it’s still evolving. I can’t wait to see what it comes up with next.
How about you? What are your favorite places in St James’s, London?