St John’s Wood area guide: property, restaurants, the high street, and Abbey Road
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Your guide to all the things to do in St John’s Wood, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW8
Welcome to St John’s Wood
Tourists flock to St John’s Wood to pay homage to The Beatles at Abbey Road studios and walk the famous zebra crossing – although rumours abound that there’s a case of crossed wires when it comes to the correct crossing.
For residents, the leafy neighbourhood is home to some of the most attractive properties in the capital, and it is no surprise that the area is highly sought after both nationally and internationally. St John’s Wood is a popular spot for corporate relocations; as a result it boasts some of the highest rents in London for those who can afford it. The large brick-built villas are just a short walk from the centre of London, yet the distinct atmosphere of a village pervades and adds to its charm.
Walk down the high street on a nice day and see friends greet each other at the many cafes and restaurants that are liberally interspersed with high-end boutiques, flower shops and beauty salons.
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New boutiques and old established shops jostle for position around St John’s Wood High Street.
On Allitsen Road Melissa Riva Flowers sell gorgeous flowers and arrangements as well as vases. They also do flowers for events and home delivery.
Gary Ingham, one of a number of hairdressers, specialises exclusively in Aveda products. Even the three charity shops offer designer clothes and include an Oxfam bookshop.
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On Abbey Road you’ll find the fishmongers Coastline, and Bruno’s deli, which has been serving fresh Italian food every day for 17 years, including homemade icecream and enormous sandwiches.
Best for lox lovers… Panzers the family run delicatessen has been in St John’s Wood for over 50 years and includes a hand carved smoked salmon counter and a selection of over 5,000 products – plan your visit around the American school’s lunchbreak if you want to avoid hordes of excitable teenagers.
Best for keen cooks… new homeware shop Lords at Home only deal in trusted brands such as Le Creuset, Duallit, and Alessi, and stock kitchen accoutrements in a sweetshop array of colours.
Best for children… the family feel of the neighbourhood is reflected in the high calibre children’s shop. You’ll find Gap Kids, Igloo, Tiddlywinks and Grizzly Kids all selling stylish threads for little ones.
Restaurants, cafes and bars
There is a huge variety of restaurants, coffee shops and takeaways. Harry Morgan’s was established in 1958 and provides New York deli food to eat in or take away. On the same street, Gelato Mio draws in fans who love their traditionally made Italian ice cream.
Richoux, on Circus Road is a popular café chain while Sahara specialises in Lebanese food and the grill restaurant Delisserie on Allitsen Road is always busy. On Boundary Road, Tamada is an eatery serving food from Georgia. The Chicken Shop on Allitsen road specialises in rotisserie chicken that has been marinaded overnight, steamed and spit-roasted over charcoal.
For a special (very kitsch) night out, there is the more formal French restaurant Oslo Court, favoured by Samantha and David Cameron.
Best for café culture… an offshoot of the Covent Garden classic, the Ivy Café offers formal brassiere dining in art deco style surrounds.
Best for baked goods… as the name suggests, The Bread Shop is the go to spot to snag freshly baked pastries with a Jewish/Middle European inflection.
Best for a coffee… newly opened Fuel NW8 is already popular with the local yummy mummy cohort.
Cricket and The Beatles
Lord’s is probably the most famous cricket ground in the world and is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club and home to Middlesex County Cricket Club. It also houses the MCC Cricket Academy.
St John’s Wood is known throughout the world for its famous recording studio on Abbey Road and the LP of the same name by the Beatles. The cover features the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside and has become one of the most famous and imitated images in the history of recorded music.
Things to do with children
The library in Circus Road holds lots of children’s events from reading sessions to babies first massage classes. In term time it runs a homework club.
St John’s Wood Adventure Playground is the oldest in London and has been in situ since 1957. It is open year-round for children aged 6-12. Children love the American swing, zip line and indoor play facilities, and it is staffed and managed with the support and input of parents.
A walking bus is available from Robinsfield and Barrow Hill schools, with staff collecting children directly from the schools and bringing them to the playground.
As well as clothes, Grizzly Kids offers children’s haircuts and runs activities such as cooking classes and mother and baby sessions in their downstairs area seven days a week.
Primary and secondary schools
The area has a mixture of independent and state schools. The most famous is the private, oversubscribed American School in London which takes children from the ages of four to 18 and boasts an Outstanding Ofsted rating.
The early years Abercorn School and Robinsfield infant school are rated Good, as are Barrow Hill Junior School and the independent boys’ prep school Arnold House.
St John’s Wood prep and the Roman Catholic school, St Christina’s, are also highly sought after, the latter calling itself “A Catholic school for boys and girls of all religions.”
Quintin Kynaston is a large academy, although it slipped from Outstanding to Requires Improvement, Ofsted report that improvement has been “rapid and palpable” under its new headmaster Alex Atherton. It moved into state-of-the-art new premises in 2015. The George Eliot state junior school boasts an outstanding Ofsted report.
Beachcroft AP Academy, judged Good in all areas by Ofsted, supports learners who have experienced difficulties in learning and behaviour in mainstream schools.
St John’s Wood gets its name from the Knights of the Order of St John who once owned this part of the Great Forest of Middlesex. Life was pretty rural until the first houses were built in the 19th century that attracted initially, artists and later, wealthy merchants. Then, in the Victorian times it became the district that wealthy men installed their mistresses in – at a discreet distance from their own homes in Knightsbridge and Mayfair.
NW8 has its own underground station on the Jubilee Line in zone two, and is just a couple of stops away from Bond Street. There are plenty of buses that cut through the area and continue into the West End, and two night buses – the N13 and the N113.
St John’s Wood is in the City of Westminster and has the NW8 postcode. It is also in the Westminster North parliamentary constituency. Band A properties will pay a council tax bill of £445.87; Band D properties will receive a bill for £668.81; and Band H homes will pay £1,337.62.
The large brick-built villas are just a short walk from the centre of London, yet the distinct atmosphere of a village pervades and adds to its charm. Properties include sophisticated portered blocks, mews houses and large mansions. In the 1960s St John’s Wood was designated a conservation area and now many of the houses are protected by English Heritage, with the village atmosphere is sustained by the St John’s Wood Society.
Two-bedroom flat – £980,052
Terraced house – £2,525,500
Semi-detached house – £3,832,143
Detached house – £7,529,731
In partnership with Goldschmidt and Howland
47-49 Maida Vale, W9 1SD
g-h.co.uk / 020 7289 6666