In 15 years of working in the West End I have seen so many changes. Charlotte Street is a hub of fantastic restaurants, the area is cool, with media, production, design and hair and beauty shops aplenty adding to the feel. This street used to be quiet at the weekends but now it buzzes. Today is a celeb-spotting day, with someone on every corner it seems. I’ve seen Stephen Fry, John Bishop and Kelly Brook so far — that’s just what it’s like.
Down in Covent Garden today, I am on a property tour with a recently retired couple. Most of the properties here are bought as pieds-à-terre, with one-bedroom flats being most popular. Buyers are typically 50-plus, live within three hours by train or car of London, and have cash to spare. This area is just so convenient for the shows and the restaurants offering pre- and post-theatre dining, and it has changed so much since I used to come to the West End as a teenager.
My colleague is off to preview a newly vacant flat, so that she can highlight its best points when she conducts a viewing later on. She knocks first and enters. To her surprise, a man is at the end of the corridor vacuuming and obviously hasn’t heard her knock — if only he had some trousers on... To avoid any embarassment she makes a sharp, silent retreat, planning to head back later in the day.
A grateful customer is treating me to lunch in Soho. We meet at Andrew Edmunds, a restaurant that has never had its name outside, yet is always busy. We get talking to some guys sitting at the next table as they overhear our property chat. It turns out one of them is the owner of a few freeholds in the area. We exchange numbers and arrange to meet up.
I read this morning that Crossrail, which is located in the heart of the areas we cover, is predicted to increase property values locally by a further 36 per cent by 2020 — on top of the huge gains of the last 10 years in our immediate area. However, I can see that percentage being higher still in this part of town.
I don’t know what it is about Fridays at 4pm around here. It seems the world and his wife are in Charlotte Street enjoying the unseasonably sunny, warm afternoon and sipping champagne outside the Charlotte Street Hotel. Bustling pubs with people spread across the pavements is amazing for October. This place never stops — but I am determined to head straight home.
- Jonathan Hudson is director at Hudsons Property, based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277).