Paddington area guide: station, shops, restaurants and schools
- Credit: Archant
Your guide to things to do in Paddington, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in W2
Welcome to Paddington
Popular with graduates and young professionals, Paddington is often unfairly overlooked but offers quality accommodation and enviable transport links, and with Crossrail due to arrive it’s only going to get more popular.
Paddington station is obviously the major landmark of the area. It was designed in 1854 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and there is a statue to the famous engineer in the station. Also commemorated with a statue in the station is Paddington Bear, so named because he arrived at the station from Peru in Michael Bond‘s books, first published in 1958. The Fleming Museum in St Mary’s Hospital offers an in situ reconstruction of the lab in which the famous scientist made his world-changing chance discovery of penicillin in 1928, while the Hospital archives are also open to researchers. The hospital also has a royal connection as both Princes William and Harry were both born there.
Parts of the district are distinctly seedy, mainly comprising cheap hotels but other areas are far better-heeled, particularly around Connaught Square, now under permanent armed guard since Tony Blair bought his house there in 2004 for £3.5million. The Hyde Park Estate is the focus of post-war building, while new development is centred on the Paddington Basin. Merchant Square Apartments offer chic and contemporary accommodation with a 24 hour concierge service and an enviable location close to Oxford Street and the park.
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Goldschmidt and Howland tip… “Visit Alexander Fleming’s Laboratory in St Mary’s Hospital where he discovered antibiotic penicillin in 1928.”
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Skip the station and its immediate surrounds – unless you’re catching a train – and head to Connaught Village to browse the high end boutiques.
Patey Hats traces its roots back to 1695 when the Huguenot Corne family emigrated to London from France. In the 20th century their descendants, still making hats, set up in south London where the factory making the wares found in the Connaught Street shop remains today.
Best for flowers… Prewett Miller has been delivering beautiful exotic flowers since 1966.
Best for foodies… specialist food shops include Abasto, an Argentine butcher and wine merchant; Cocomaya patisserie and chocolate shop; Buchanans Cheesemonger; and Markus Coffee, which was opened by Hungarian Holocaust survivors in 1957 and continues to roast and blend beans from 13 different countries on site today.
Best for homewares… interiors fanatics will love Mud Australia, the first UK branch of the ceramic brand, which offers more than 70 styles of handmade porcelain in an array of colours.
Cafes, bars and restaurants
The Frontline Club is a media institution offering events, funding and training to champion and promote independent journalism and international affairs. The restaurant is open to the public and is undoubtedly the best place to eat close to the station, surrounded by iconic photojournalism and lubricated by reasonably priced wine.
Francophiles and wine lovers alike will love Angelus Restaurant, which offers a prix fixe menu and an extensive wine list, served in an Art Nouveau style interior. The building was formerly a pub used by Winston Churchill and other political figures to hold covert meetings, before sommelier Thierry Tomasin transformed it into a luxe brasserie.
For more homely surrounds, family run Halepi serves Greek specialities in a traditional taverna environment. Masgouf is a good value Iraqi restaurant in Connaught Village serving mezze, grilled meat, fish and Iraqi stews, all accompanied by freshly grilled, pillowy flatbread. It is also BYO.
Seafood lovers are well catered for. For upmarket Chinese seafood and dim sum try the Pearl Lang close to the station, or jump aboard the Prince Regent canal boat to sample the oysters from the London Shell Co.
KuPP is a Scandinavian inspired café and restaurant for all day dining with a bar, while Sheldon Square is where the office workers go in their lunch hour with chain takeaway food outlets and deckchairs on the Astroturf steps on a sunny day.
Best for a coffee... if you like your caffeine to have a conscience buy a cup from CanDo Coffee on Station Bridge, which provides meaningful employment, training and rehabilitation to those previously overlooked by society.
Best for a quick bite… Crave Food Market in the newly developed Merchant Square has a small selection of street food stalls on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Best for brunch... The Lockhouse, also on the square, serves bottomless brunches every weekend for £30 a head from 10am to 3pm, including all the Camden Hells, Bellini’s or Lockhouse breakfast Martinis you can drink. In the summer they’ll be holding gin tasting sessions and cocktail making classes out on the new floating Pocket Park.
Things to do
Porchester Spa is a 1920s spa full of atmospheric original features, including green and white tiles and high arched ceilings across the steam rooms, sauna, hot rooms and cafe. It offers a range of treatments and packages for both women and men. There is also a gym, squash court and two swimming pools in the council-run Porchester Centre.
Paddleboarding and canoeing is on offer in Paddington Basin, along with SUP yoga, a series of traditional poses carried out on a floating ‘mat’. It can be done in either traditional yoga clothes or a wetsuit.
Trot along for scenic horse ride along the five miles of the historic ‘Rotten Row’ bridleway, dating back to the 17th century when William III created a route between St James’ Palace and his other residence in Kensington. If you’re keen to get in the saddle Hyde Park Stables offer riding lessons all year round.
Goldschmidt and Howland tip… “Take a look at the Rolling Bridge & Fan Bridge in Paddington Basin, a combination of functionality and art.”
Things to do with children
Paddington Children’s Library is in a standalone building and offers a homework club and study area as well as various under-fives events.
The Porchester Centre is part of the Tom Daley Diving Academy programme, running weekly junior diving beginner courses for five to 16 year olds, as well as intensive holiday courses.
Goldschmidt and Howland tip… “Have fun at the water maze in Merchant Square, which shoots jets of water, try not to get wet!”
Primary and secondary schools
St Stephen’s and St James & St John are both voluntary aided mixed Church of England primary schools, both rated Good by Ofsted. Also rated Good is Hallfield Primary School, a large community school. The Minerva Academy is a free school given a Good rating by Ofsted, as is small independent primary school Connaught House.
Lansdowne College is a mixed gender, fee paying secondary school with boarding facilities that received an Outstanding Ofsted rating, while just across the Westway, Westminster Academy is a large mixed school, also rated Outstanding. College Park School teaches pupils with special needs from age five to 19 and has been rated Good by Ofsted.
The new Crossrail terminal is due to open here at the end of 2018. When complete, Liverpool Street will be just a 10 minute train journey away, and it will take only 17 minutes to Canary Wharf.
Paddington is in zone 1 of the London Underground network on the Bakerloo, Hammersmith & City, Circle and District lines. It is also a mainline station for services heading west out of London as far as Wales, Cornwall and, closer to home, Reading, the Thames Valley and Heathrow Airport, which is just 15 minutes away via the Heathrow Express. A Crossrail station is also under construction. Central line stations Marble Arch and Lancaster Gate are also on the area’s fringes.
Numerous buses serve the area and there is a 24-hour taxi rank outside the station.
Goldschmidt and Howland tip… “Get to Heathrow in 15 minutes on the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station.”
Paddington is in the City of Westminster in the Cities of London & Westminster parliamentary constituency. It has the W2 postcode. Band A properties in Westminster now pay £458.76 council tax; Band D properties pay £688.14; and Band H properties get a bill for £1,376.28
Much of the property in Paddington is found in cream stucco mid-Victorian buildings, which were built near the new station. The most desirable of these are set around pretty gardens or in grand terraces such as Sussex Gardens, Westbourne Terrace and Gloucester Terrace, where beautiful homes were built in the 18th century to house the newly wealthy professional classes of doctors, bankers and lawyers. Smaller early Victorian terraced properties line the roads between Praed Street and Sussex.
Craven Hill Gardens
Two-bedroom flat – £892,628
Terraced house – £1,415,372
Semi-detached house – £1,900,000
Detached house – £5,717,700
In Partnership with Goldschmidt and Howland
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37 Craven Road London W2 3BX
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