Little Venice area guide: restaurants, boat trips and walks along the canal
- Credit: Archant
Your guide to all the things to do in Little Venice, including the best restaurants, shops, pubs, schools and things to do by the canal. PLUS our guide to property in the area
Welcome to Little Venice
The meeting point of the Regent’s Canal and the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal forms the central point for this charming London neighbourhood. It might not be quite as grand as its European namesake, but the willow lined canal and Italianate style houses with grand porticos are certainly picturesque. The area attracts a European crowd, too, thanks to the French schools in the area and BNP Paribas being headquartered in nearby Marylebone.
Popular myth would have it that the name Little Venice was coined by the poet Robert Browning, who lived in the area between 1862 and 1887. The lagoon where the two canals meet is called Browning’s Pool after him.
In fact it was the notorious Romantic poet Lord Byron who satirically used the term to describe the area.
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Famous past residents include code-breaker and computer science pioneer Alan Turing, whose story was recently adapted into Oscar-winning film The Imitation Game, with Turing played by Hampstead local Benedict Cumberbatch. Turing was born in what is now the Colonnade Hotel, where a blue plaque marks the spot.
Shopping and culture
Clifton Road is the area’s chicest shopping street with Absolute Flowers, Sheepdrove Organic Butchers, greengrocer Clifton Greens, Raoul’s Deli, Baker and Spice and The Winery providing all the ingredients for a fabulous dinner party.
Best for gardeners… Clifton Nurseries is a beloved local institution whose history stretches back as far as 1851. They offer a vast array of gorgeous garden goodies, alongside a garden design service and various events, pop ups and collaborations with perfumers and beauty brands throughout the year.
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Things to do on the canal
In an area defined by its waterside location there’s plenty to do, even if your style is more sipping a glass of white wine by the water rather than messing about in boats. Canalside dining can be found at The Summerhouse , which serves seafood on a terrace overlooking the water. The Waterway also has a large outdoor terrace and has a European Bistro style menu.
Best for boat trips… there’s no need to pre book a ticket, just turn up ten minutes before departure to book a passage on one of the London Waterbus Company’s four traditional working narrow boats. Once use to carry cargo up and down the waterways the boats were converted in 1958 and now run from Little Venice to Camden Lock, with a stop at London Zoo.
Best for a canal side walk… you can walk all the way from Little Venice to Camden Town via Regent’s Park under your own steam, just be sure to wear comfy shoes. If you want the full works London Walks runs guided tours on certain Sundays throughout the year. The guides, who are all members of the Inland Waterways Association, charge a £10 donation (children go free) to the IWA.
Food and drink
Little Venice has dining options to suit every taste and a solid offering of pubs with dining rooms.
Best for pizza… Opened in 1994, The Red Pepper on Formosa Street is a good bet for wood fired pizzas.
Best for sushi... Maguro promises the freshest sushi in London and with such a claim it seems only sensible to put their sashimi to the test.
Best for coffee...also on Formosa street you will find coffee shop and bakery Toast, serving light breakfasts and lunches alongside proper coffee and fresh baked goods.
Best for afternoon tea… The Quince Tree café at Clifton Nurseries is the perfect location for an elegant teatime affair in the palm house – they also serve breakfast and lunch.
Best for a bacon butty… For a more down-to-earth meal try the cabman’s shelter by the water where an egg, sausage and bacon roll will set you back £2.80, and a cup of tea only 70p. Artist Martin Parr used the shelter as a location for one of his photography projects. It’s takeaway only though, unless you’re a cab driver.
Best for a pub lunch… Grade II listed The Prince Alfred has been around since 1856 and has retained its cosy Victorian interior whilst formally embracing the more modish concept of hygge.
Best for Sunday roast… The Bridge House is proudly local pub serving a selection of craft beers and ales with a solid pub menu. Head over on a Sunday to check out their roast selection and sip on a Bloody Mary or three.
Things to do with children
The annual Canalway Cavalcade takes place each May Day bank holiday combining a boat rally with activities and entertainment for a family friendly day out. Also on the canal is the Puppet Theatre Barge. It tours the Thames during the summer months but you can find the 55-seat venue on Blomfield Road for the rest of the year. They do put on shows for adults but the main focus is children’s marionette shows.
Primary and secondary education
Formerly Paddington Green Primary School, Ark Paddington Green Primary opened in September 2016. In its previous incarnation it was rated Good by Ofsted, with a majority of pupils eligible for free school meals. Edward Wilson School also received a Good rating. Ark Atwood Primary, the local free school was deemed Outstanding at its last inspection. There are several religious primaries in the area: St Saviour’s CofE Primary School is rated Outstanding, while St Peter’s CofE School, St Mary Magdalene CofE Primary, and Our Lady of Dolours RC Primary School are all rated Good.
L’Ecole Bilingue Elementaire is a small, fee-paying bilingual French-English school rated Outstanding. For secondary education, both Westminster Academy and Paddington Academy received Outstanding ratings from Ofsted.
Sports and leisure
Little Venice Sports Centre has a recently refurbished gym and offers classes, as well as badminton (four courts), table tennis and short tennis courts. Basketball, volleyball, netball and five-a-side football can be played in the multi-purpose indoor sports hall. There is also a physiotherapy and pilates studio at Little Venice Pilates on Bristol Gardens.
Little Venice is in zone 2 on the London Underground with Warwick Avenue on the Bakerloo line serving the area. Just over the Westway, Royal Oak is a Hammersmith and City and Circle line station, also in zone 2.
Little Venice is in the City of Westminster straddling W2 and W9. It is in the Westminster North parliamentary constituency. Council tax ranges from £458.76 in Band A, £688.14 for a Band D property and £1,376.28 in Band H.
Grand stucco-fronted houses and large Georgian and Victorian brick constructions line the wide streets of Little Venice, whilst charming mews houses can be found on the cobbled street of Bristol Gardens. For the ultimate canal side location nothing can beat a narrow boat.
Goldschmidt and Howland tip... “Little Venice is famous for its great transport links to Paddington and the city, from Paddington you can also get the direct Heathrow express. The area has a range of beautiful communal gardens and many properties here have direct access to the superb landscaped gardens. The gardens provide a sense of community where the residents of the area regularly gather for parties.”
In Partnership with Goldschmidt and Howland g-h.co.uk, 020 7289 6633