Lying between the leafy expanses of Hyde Park and the crosshatch of railway lines that leave Paddington station, Bayswater gets its name from the shortened form of Bayard’s Watering, a local spring belonging to a family who occupied the land under William the Conqueror.
Many Bayswater streets are named after the River Westbourne, which ran through the area on its journey from Hampstead to the Thames. Its waters were once so pure it was piped to the City, but when Bayswater was developed in the middle of the 19th century, the river was diverted into underground pipes. Porchester Baths is one of London’s last remaining Turkish baths.
Stucco and squares
Bayswater has magnificent large stucco terraces and garden squares, and its property prices are among the highest in London. Yet with an abundance of budget hotels it lacks the chic of Hyde Park or Notting Hill, and its main shopping street, Queensway, is let down by tourist tat.
With its central location, Bayswater has long been tipped to join London’s elite neighbourhoods. The Lancasters, a development of 77 luxury flats converted from a row of 15 fine large white stucco houses on Lancaster Gate, is currently breaking all house price records for the area with joint developers Minerva and Northacre asking £16 million (£3,000 a square foot) for the largest four-bedroom flat.
The local council has recently set up a Business Improvement District, and is consulting residents and businesses on plans to give the grittier northern end of Queensway and Westbourne Grove a facelift by sweeping away street clutter, installing new pavements and planting trees.
Property for sale in Bayswater
Bayswater is characterised by terraces and squares of large stucco buildings, mostly divided into flats. There are mews houses and smaller houses, often in single-family occupation, around Westbourne Park.
The Hallfield Estate is a large postwar council estate designed by the architect Berthold Lubetkin’s firm Tecton, which is sought after by fans of the mid-century style.
The area attracts: the W2 postcode is appealing to overseas buyers and since the Eurozone crisis, estate agent Paul Hyman of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says about three-quarters of his buyers are foreign, which has resulted in a strong upsurge in prices.
Staying power: even affluent British buyers can find the price increase a leap too far. Two-bedroom flats start at £700,000 while four-bedroom family houses start at more than £2 million. According to Hyman, many couples are priced out of the market once they have children and want a house with some outside space. People seem to really love Bayswater, and a lot of families regret having to move.
Renting: with many terraces divided into flats there is no shortage of homes to rent, and the price variation between the very best and the worst is wide.
Postcode: W2 is the Bayswater postcode but on its western edge it strays into the more fashionable W11 Notting Hill postcode.
Best roads: Cleveland Square, with its massive ground- and first-floor windows and pretty private communal garden, is unmatched. The keys to this garden are jealously guarded — the locks are changed every couple of years — and tenants with leases of less than 12 months are excluded.
The most expensive apartment on sale in Cleveland Square has four bedrooms and a basement swimming pool. At 3,900sq ft it is on the market through Hamptons (020 7723 0023) for £5.75 million.
What’s new: The Lancasters in Lancaster Gate opposite Hyde Park has prices ranging from £900,000 for a studio to £16 million for that four-bedroom flat. Only ten of the 77 flats remain unsold; for details, contact Hamptons on 020 7758 8488.
Up and coming: a flat on the Hallfield Estate is more affordable than an apartment in a period conversion. This year, flats on the estate have sold for £245,000 and £412,500 for a one-bedroom and three-bedroom flat respectively.
Schools: nearby Notting Hill has two of London’s most fashionable pre-prep and prep schools: Wetherby (boys, ages four to eight) and Pembridge Hall (girls, ages four to 11) are both in Pembridge Square. When it comes to state primary schools, Fox in Kensington Place is the only one judged outstanding by the government’s education watchdog Ofsted. Holland Park in Airlie Gardens is the local comprehensive school and is also judged outstanding.
There are two academies: Paddington in Marylands Road which is outstanding and Westminster in Harrow Road which is only judged satisfactory.
Shops and restaurants: Bayswater is a mixed bag. Whiteleys shopping centre has names such as Zara, Jigsaw, H&M, Gap and French Connection, but tourist shops dominate Queensway and the western end of Westbourne Grove.
The shops improve as Bayswater drifts into Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove is good for modern furniture with branches of Bo Concept and SCP.
The Ledbury in Ledbury Road, with two Michelin stars, is sophisticated. There are plenty of other interesting eating choices, such as Rowley Leigh’s Le Café Anglais brasserie in Whiteleys; Hereford Road, which specialises in nose-to-tail eating; Tom Conran’s The Cow; and the shabby chic of Bumpkin, the last two both in Westbourne Park Road. Australian TV chef Bill Granger has recently opened a restaurant on Westbourne Grove.
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Open space: Those without access to a communal garden have Hyde Park on their doorstep.
Leisure and the arts: Porchester Spa is situated in a beautiful, listed classical 1929 building and offers men-only and women-only sessions, Sunday afternoon sessions for couples, and a swimming pool.
Queen’s Ice and Bowl at the southern end of Queensway is tucked away under a 1930s block of flats and is the only permanent ice rink in central London. In the complex there are also 12 ten-pin bowling alleys. For the latest films, there is an Odeon multiplex in Whiteleys. The Print Room is a fringe theatre in Hereford Road which has recently put on an award-winning production of Uncle Vanya.
Travel: Queensway and Lancaster Gate are on the Central Line; Bayswater is on the District and Circle lines — all three are in Zone 1. An annual travelcard costs £1,168.
Council: Westminster (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £684.52.
Buying a house or flat in Bayswater
One-bedroom flat: £543,000
Two-bedroom flat: £1 million
Two-bedroom house: £1.57 million
Three-bedroom house: £1.84 million
Four-bedroom house: £2.3 million
Renting in Bayswater
One-bedroom flat: £260 to £600 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £325 to £800 a week
Two-bedroom house: £560 to £1,650 a week
Three-bedroom house: £775 to £2,250 a week
Four-bedroom house: £850 to £2,250 a week
Five-bedroom-plus house: £1,050 to £7,500 a week