Thanks to the imaginative regeneration of Marylebone High Street by local landlord the Howard de Walden estate, the area has been transformed from a forgotten backwater of charity shops and neglect into one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
Its quiet streets of majestic Georgian squares and terraces, pretty mews houses and spacious mansion flats are fast being rediscovered.
Marylebone stretches from Oxford Street in the south to Marylebone Road in the north; from Edgware Road in the west to Great Portland Street in the east.
Fifteen years ago, a third of the shops in Marylebone High Street were either vacant or charity shops, but a change of policy by the family of this still privately owned estate brought in top-notch tenants Waitrose and The Conran Shop, and then smaller chains, boutiques and independently owned shops were encouraged by cheaper rents.
Shoppers delight in the quality of the area - dubbed Marylebone Village because it feels once more like a village - and last year, in the depth of the recession, it was one of only four UK high streets where rents went up. It is a sign of the street’s success that Tricia Guild, of Designers Guild, has recently chosen to open a shop there, her first and only UK store since she set up in the King’s Road in the Seventies.
Impressed by these results, the other big local landlord, the Portman Estate, is following a similar policy with the regeneration of the area behind Marble Arch - called Portman Village - with interesting new shops, cafés and restaurants popping up in Seymour Place and New Quebec Street.
Rising house prices
House prices have benefited from Marylebone’s new-found success, though according to estate agent Carlos Riveros at Chesterton Humberts, prices still have some catching up to do.
“Prices in Marylebone vary between £800 and £1,500 a square foot, which is still a lot cheaper than Knightsbridge, where prices are nearer £2,000 a square foot.”
Properties: mainly flats, both in purpose-built blocks and converted Georgian houses, although there are some very large five- and six-storey houses and some smaller mews homes.
The area attracts: international, mainly European, buyers and renters like Marylebone because of its central location, as do doctors who work in the medical quarter centred on Harley Street. Wealthy young couples with two professional incomes appreciate the good Tube service from Baker Street to the City. Middle Eastern buyers like the streets close to Edgware Road, although they favour the W2 postcode.
Staying power: there are plenty of families who are happy to live in homes with communal gardens while their children are small. They tend to move out of the neighbourhood in search of a garden of their own once their children get to school age.
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Best postcodes: Marylebone is only in W1.
Best streets: the streets closest to Marylebone High Street tend to be the most expensive, although the beautiful communal squares, especially the little-known Montagu and Bryanston squares, are also popular.
Up-and-coming areas: the Portman Estate, which owns 110 acres of Marylebone, has poured millions into the area. New Quebec Street and Seymour Place have been regenerated and the shops are now occupied by interesting independent retailers such as cult Israeli fashion designer Ronen Chen, Potassium, which mixes fashion, furniture and homeware, and furniture-maker Timothy Mark.
What’s new: Marylebone is a built-up area so there are few opportunities for redevelopment. The Portman Estate is replacing a dull office building on the corner of Edgware Road and Seymour Street with a new mixed-used building that will include 10 new homes.
Schools: Hampden Gurney, which has an exciting new glass building, St Vincent’s RC and St George’s CofE Hanover Square are the best state primary schools. Fee-paying prep schools include Abercorn and Queen’s College Preparatory for girls aged four to 11.
St Marylebone School is a state secondary for girls that gets excellent results. King Solomon Academy is a non-fee-paying city academy school in Penfold Street that takes pupils from age three to 18. Queen’s College and Francis Holland, Regent’s Park, are both private girls’ schools.
Shops and restaurants: shopping and eating is what Marylebone is all about, and Marylebone High Street is one of London’s most exciting shopping thoroughfares.
Top destinations include Daunt Books with its stained-glass window and galleried selling space; Skandium for Scandinavian furniture; and in nearby Moxon Street the foodie delights of Patricia Michelson’s cheese shop La Fromagerie, the butcher Ginger Pig and the Sunday farmers’ market.
Margaret Howell, with its mix of designer clothes and mid-century design, is in Wigmore Street.
There is no shortage of good places to eat, either. Peter Gordon’s Providores, in the high street, specialises in fusion food; Orrery, above The Conran Shop, offers a French-inspired menu; and Odin’s, with its famous art collection, and Langan’s Bistro are next door to each other in Devonshire Street.
Celebrity chefs are also present: Giorgio Locatelli’s restaurant Locanda Locatelli is in Seymour Street, while Gary Rhodes is in charge at Rhodes W1 Brasserie in the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch.
Leisure and entertainment: the West End theatres are within walking distance; concerts at Wigmore Hall in Wigmore Street and exhibitions at the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square are on the doorstep. The Odeon at Marble Arch has five screens; the Everyman in Baker Street is an art cinema.
Transport: Marylebone is in Zone 1. Baker Street is on the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith and City lines; Marble Arch is on the Central line; Oxford Circus is on the Central, Victoria and Bakerloo lines, and Bond Street is on the Central and Jubilee lines. A Zone 1 season ticket costs £1,032 a year.
Council: Marylebone is in Westminster (Conservative), and Band D council tax in 2010/2011 is £687.62.
Average property prices in Marylebone
One-bedroom flat: £483,318
Two-bedroom flat: £823,569
Two-bedroom house: £1.37 million
Three-bedroom house: £1.78 million
Average local rental prices
One-bedroom flat: from £300 to £600 a week
Two-bedroom flat: from £450 to £1,000 a week
Four-bedroom flat: from £750 to £3,000 a week
Two-bedroom house: from £600 to £1,500 a week
Five-bedroom and over houses: from £2,500 a week
(Souce: Chesterton Humberts)
Photographs by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (May 5, 2010).