Check it out: Elizabeth Street, SW1

Nestled between Victoria railway station and Sloane Square is Elizabeth Street, a charming corner of SW1 which thrives on the maxim that you can't beat the personal service offered by independent shopkeepers
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Nestled between Victoria railway station and Sloane Square is Elizabeth Street, which thrives on the maxim that you can't beat the personal service offered by independent shopkeepers.

The street is managed by Grosvenor, one of London's most prestigious private landlords, which, through the Dukes of Westminster, has owned 300 acres of Mayfair and Belgravia since 1677.

For any large-scale London landlord the temptation must be to hike rents to the sort of sky-high levels that only the major high street chains can afford. But Grosvenor is keeping rents low enough to tempt independent retailers who will in turn bring customers and kudos.

Here we feature some of the traders helping to add individuality and prestige to this corner of SW1.

Tomtom cigar shop
The Tomtom Coffee House is fast becoming an Elizabeth Street institution, along with Tomtom Cigars down the street. Both ventures were inspired by an unforgettable trip to Cuba

Tomtom cigar shop at Number 63

What's the story? Westminster-born Tom Assheton spent 10 years living and working away from London before deciding to return to found Tomtom. "I was a rural surveyor with a fruit farm but I visited Cuba and loved the atmosphere of the cigar shops there, which often had coffee bars in the corner. I just wanted to sell cigars and bring a slice of Cuban culture to Britain. I trailed around London in the mid-Nineties on my ex-wife's Vespa looking for premises and opened here in 1997."

Tom Assheton
Tom Assheton at his coffee house
In 2008 he launched his second venture — a coffee house on the corner of neighbouring Ebury Street, working with Giles Dick-Read. "He's a fantastic guy who roasts coffee on a farm in Dorset." Locals head to the coffee house for breakfast with the papers; tart tartin is popular at lunchtime and toasties are favourites in the early evening.

Word on the street: "Grosvenor picks shops that make a difference to the street rather than those that will pay the highest rent. It is so difficult to convince someone to let you lease a property when you start out — but Grosvenor gave me a chance."

Who visits? "With the cigar shop you have a quite narrow group of customers, with the coffee shop you deal with almost everyone," says Assheton. "People wander down from the Google offices on Buckingham Palace Road, turn right and discover a little Alice in Wonderland world."
Call 020 7730 1771 or visit

Thomas Cubitt
The Thomas Cubitt gastropub filled a market gap

The Thomas Cubitt gastropub at Number 44

What's the story? Named after the 19th-century master builder behind much of this part of London, The Thomas Cubitt offers a chic twist to a very traditional pub, with a dining room upstairs and casual meals served downstairs in a woodpanelled bar.

The business was founded 12 years ago by Stefan Turnbull and Barry Hirst, who also run a property company. Turnbull, whose father was a London builder, too, says: "I live in the area with my family, the children go to local schools and we were always looking for somewhere for a casual meal or a drink."

He and Hirst decided to fill the gap in the market by opening the pub. Its "great British produce" menu has won the hearts of locals and restaurant critics alike.

Word on the street: "If you walk down the street everyone says hello," says Turnbull. The Belgravia Trading Association has helped bring local businesses together. "We organise events such as the summer Elizabeth Street Party and the Belgravia Christmas Sunday, which attracted 5,000 people last year."

Who visits? Young professionals working nearby and local families.
Call 020 7730 6060 or visit

Peggy Porschen
Peggy Porschen outside her pastel-coloured cake parlour

Peggy Porschen Cake Parlour at Number 30

What's the story? "I started as a bespoke cake maker in a Battersea workshop nine years ago," says Peggy Porschen, who has counted Madonna and Kate Moss among her high-profile customers. In 2010, with a growing client list, Porschen opened her first shop — a strikingly pink parlour — on the leafy corner with Ebury Street.

Beautifully displayed cupcakes, cookies and other confections are created on the premises by a team of master bakers, pâtissiers and skilful sugar artists.

The business is a joint venture between German-born Porschen and her pastry chef husband Bryn Morrow. Dressed in her chef's apron, she says: "I take care of the creative side and he's the managing director — as well as the delivery man, the IT expert and everything else."

Teas and cakes can be enjoyed in the parlour's dainty pink-and white Pink palace: Peggy Porschen outside her pastel-coloured cake parlour interior or under a pink and chocolatebrown canopy outside. She adds: "The décor is dreamy and classic. I guess my cakes bring out my girly side."

Word on the street: Elizabeth Street appealed to Porschen and Morrow because of its artisan feel. "Helen Franks (Grosvenor's retail director) contacted us. She had seen one of our cakes displayed at Browns Bride in Mayfair and asked us to visit. We didn't really have a shop in mind but every shop in Elizabeth Street was individual and there was a great mix of traditional craftspeople and modern designers."

Who visits? Before moving to Elizabeth Street, Porschen catered for the young bridal market. "Now we attract a lot of mums and their children, which is something new for us — also a lot of men with a sweet tooth."
Call 020 7730 1316 or visit

Kim Poor
Kim Poor's customers can enjoy coffee and nibbles as they peruse her handmade jewellery

Kim Poor Jewellery at Number 53

What's the story? Brazilian designer Kim Poor offers hand-made jewellery in 18ct gold with a rainbow of precious and semi-precious stones. Her artistic background and vivacious personality shine through.

"I trained as a painter in New York before moving to London to do my masters at Central Saint Martins," she explains, perched on a velour chair in the lounge-style space where customers can drink coffee and nibble chocolates and pastries.

"I started selling my jewellery at a gallery in Walton Street in Knightsbridge and a PR from Claridge's saw my work and in 2001 offered me my own windows at the hotel."

The windows did so well, when a florist's shop fell vacant in Elizabeth Street, she saw her chance.

Word on the street: Poor likes window shoppers. "And Elizabeth Street is a great street for people to stroll up and down. We all look out for each other in the mornings. When we have shows, we lend goods to each other. It is not like one of those impersonal high streets. A lot of retailers here live above their shops."

Who visits? Dame Judi Dench and the Duchess of York are among big-name customers. "A lot come in to collect pieces so you become friends. Husbands also buy for wives."
Call 020 7259 9063 or visit

Market Quarter delicatessen
Alistair Cameron and staff at the Market Quarter delicatessen

The Market Quarter Deli at Number 36

What's the story? Le Marché du Quartier the Market Quarter sells fine foods and wines. The store's Alistair Cameron explains: "Stephan Harrison started the business on a trestle table in Borough Market in 1998, selling products from the southwest of France. I ran a stall selling Spanish food. When we teamed up here in 2010 we knew we should sell whatever was difficult to find elsewhere."

Picking up a pot of honey, he says: "A taxi driver turned up one evening with a jar of beautiful honey he bought on holiday. The man who makes it is English and lives in France and has just three hives. We tracked him down and have stocked it ever since."

Word on the street: "Grosvenor Estate approached Stephan when the shop became empty. This may not be a big street but there are so many quality finds here."

Who visits? "I thought it would be quite a stereotype class of Belgravia people but we have a very mixed bunch coming here," says Cameron. Aperitivo nights in the shop's cellar on Thursday evenings are very popular.
Call 020 7824 8470 or visit

Mungo & Maud
Crochet bones for dogs, £12.30, at Mungo & Maud

More Elizabeth Street unmissables
Mungo & Maud:

husband and wife team Michael (the great grandson of Michael Marks of Marks & Spencer) and Nicola Sacher founded their edgy dog and cat emporium at Number 79 with the aim of sourcing elegant, well-made accessories for pets, with quilted dog coats and even Miller Harris dog fragrances included. Yasmin Le Bon has designed a range of dog leads.
Call 020 7022 1207 or visit

Philip Treacy:

Philip Treacy's handmade hats are feats of craftsmanship and architecture. He opened his first shop, in 1994, at number 69 and is still there. His studio is a few doors along and he has an apartment almost opposite.

Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker are among his fans, as is Princess Beatrice, who wore THAT hat (by Treacy) at last year's royal wedding.
Call 020 7730 3992 or visit

H R Stokes:

central London's oldest personal stationer has been on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Chester Square for 150 years. Members of the royal family, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kim Cattrall count as customers. The shop can also track down almost any recently published book in 24 hours, according to manager Myra Nigris, who helped set up the Elizabeth Street website.
Call 020 7730 7073 or visit

For more information on Elizabeth Street, visit

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