For a more local, but upscale feeling, head up to Northwest London. This is a great area to explore if you have a week to spend in the capital city.
I recommend checking out the this side of town. In this area, you will see a few touristy sites, a lot of great shopping, and a bit of royal history.
Start Your Tour Of Northwest London In Marylebone
Begin your day with a quick breakfast in the Marylebone area. (pronounced Mar-le-bone).
The Circle, District, or Hammersmith and City tube lines will get you to Edgware Road. From there you can take a nice walk up Marylebone Road (A501) which is a busy thoroughfare. If you don’t want to walk through the city, the Bakerloo, Circle, or Hammersmith lines will take you straight to Baker Street and you’re right in the thick of Marylebone and you can start from there.
This bustling section of London is jammed with city dwellers making their way to their busy day. The wonderful mix of cultures in this part of the city creates an electric atmosphere. When I am here, I feel like I’m really living in London.
Be mindful that most people in Marylebone are focused on their work schedules and agendas. Tourists can be perceived as a bit of a nuisance. So enjoy, be respectful, and strive to fit in.
Because Madame Tussauds is right around the corner, there is still a good amount of tourist interest here. You are right in the thick of Baker Street as well, so there are definite homages to Sherlock Holmes everywhere you look!
If you are looking for some Sherlock fun, just head north on Baker Street and you will find The Sherlock Holmes Museum. There is also a great Beatles store where you can pick up loads of souvenirs just up the road.
Talk A Walk In The Park
If you are not one for massive tourist crowds, just head a few blocks north of Marylebone Road behind the wax museum and you will find yourself in The Regent’s Park. This is a beautiful area!
Named for the Prince Regent, George IV, the gardens of Regent’s Park fall in line with the orderly aesthetic of Georgian architecture. It is manicured, symmetrical, and magnificent. I always feel that the Georgian style has good Feng Shui.
While other parks in London are somewhat whimsical and naturally growing at will, Regent’s Park has a much more deliberate and sophisticated feel. The park is filled with flower-lined pathways and plenty of seating to relax and take in the stunning scenery.
At the north end of the park is the London Zoo. I visited this zoo on one of my trips and it was definitely a fun afternoon! If you are pressed for time though, you might want to save this stop for your next trip.
If you are in the neighborhood, do plan to take in the vistas of Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is located on the north side of the London Zoo. You can get some stunning photos of London from this somewhat remote, but scenic hill. Northwest London has some amazing views of the city!
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window…
I’m not sure why Google Maps places the crosswalk up three or four blocks to the north. The crosswalk is just outside of the studio. It is located where Abbey Road meets with Grove End Road and Garden Road.
If you need more confirmation on that, there are photos on the internet showing the band waiting on the side of the road in preparation for the photo. It is with those photos that you can see the buildings and surrounding area confirming the location. That periphery is not visible in the album cover photo.
So, while I love Google, they have the location of the crosswalk noted incorrectly. Just head to the actual Abbey Road studio and you can see the crosswalk from there.
As Beatle legend has it, the boys were working on the album and didn’t have any ideas for the cover art, or the album name as it turns out! So they took a break, went outside, and walked across the road. The rest is history…
Traffic buzzes through there at a good clip, so if you attempt to get a photo, be careful! The locals have little patience for all of the tourists. Can’t say that I blame them, but it IS the Abbey Road crosswalk!
Dining on the Northwest Side
If you are up in St. John’s Wood to see Abbey Road, finding a tube back is a bit challenging. You can certainly walk back towards Regent’s Park, but you may want to Uber as it’s a bit of a trek after the distance you have already walked to get up there.
Walking back to Marylebone is almost the same distance as walking to the closest tube station at Maida Vale from the crosswalk location. The Maida Vale station is also in the opposite direction and it’s all residential, so there isn’t much to see.
If you head back toward Regent’s Park, I have to give a shout out to one of the best pubs in London.
The Globe is located right on Marylebone Road a few hundred yards down from Madame Tussauds. This pub is fantastic. The food is always great, it is super clean, and the service is fast and friendly. We always make a point to stop in The Globe when we are in this neck of the woods! I highly recommend their fish & chips with mushy peas and a pint of bitter. Yum!
"I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her"
Once back in Marylebone, you can hop on the tube from the Baker Street station. This is directly across the street from The Globe. Take the Circle Line over to Notting Hill Gate.
Notting Hill made its mark on the collective consciousness of pop culture in the Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts film of the same name. Here you will find the popular Portobello Road street market shown in the film.
There are fantastic restaurants and pubs here as well. If you skipped The Globe, pick a place here – they’re all great! You will find that eateries in Notting Hill are a little less touristy with a more laid-back London fare, which is really enjoyable for your experience!
Notting Hill has a much more residential feeling to it. There is really nothing touristy here. It is casual and chic.
We love to stop in the HUGE Waterstones and grab a book to two. Good book stores are underrated and this Waterstones is one of the best. Somehow I always hope to find Hugh Grant behind the counter, but that was a travel book shop, wasn’t it?
Get Your Daily Dose Of British Royalty
If it is still early enough in your day, head back to the Notting Hill Gate station and take a right toward Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
Not surprisingly, within Kensington Gardens you will find Kensington Palace. This is noted as the birthplace of Queen Victoria. There are wonderful displays from Victoria’s residency here including her untouched bedroom, childhood clothing (she was tiny!), and her remarkable doll collection.
The palace is still home to many members of the Royal Family today, so the public has access to only a portion of the palace. I took the tour here on one rainy afternoon and it was fascinating! No advance ticket was required at that time but check before going.
If you are into royal memorabilia, there are wonderful displays of dresses, jewels, and tiaras through the ages for all to see! The famous off-the-shoulder black velvet dress that Diana wore when she danced with John Travolta is on display there. Amazing to see that!
Diana, Princess of Wales also resided at Kensington Palace during her marriage to Prince Charles right up until her untimely death in 1997. While this was the boyhood home of Princes William and Harry, it is also the current London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge amongst others.
Kensington Gardens is the location of the recently installed Diana, Princess of Wales statue that received much press attention when it was revealed in 2021. Also, do try to stop and check out the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain inside the park. It’s more of a running waterway rather than an actual fountain, so it is easy to miss.
If you were a fan of the Princess of Wales, clearly Kensington is a place that you don’t want to miss.
You Are Getting To The Really Posh Area Now
Just on the south side of the park, you will find the Royal Albert Hall. The Royal Albert Hall, originally built in the late 19th century, is still used for concerts today!
The concert venue sits just in front of the Royal College of Music. Even if you are not a music lover, the architecture in this area is impressive and worth a visit!
Along with the music hall, there is also a spectacular monument dedicated to Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, just across the street.
Prince Albert was largely responsible for much of the monarchy’s support of the industrial revolution during the Victorian era. It has also been said that his passion for the advancement in arts and culture encouraged lawmakers to provide the funding needed for many creative endeavors in the early half of the 19th century.
He was a lover of poetry, music, and the arts. The monument outside the music hall clearly reflects that passion. The public’s appreciation of his respect for the artists is evident in the sheer scale of this monument.
When he died so very young, at the age of just 42, the funding and amplification of the arts died with him. Victoria famously went into seclusion. Artists were left on their own to find a way of elevating their work without the pedestal of the monarchy for public support.
Finish The Day With A Bit Of British Shopping At Its Finest!
Now that you are on the south end of Kensington, you are in a fabulously wealthy area of Northwest London. Of course you are, Harrods is just around the corner.
Harrods always feels very exclusive, but I find the staff to be welcoming and helpful. The fun of stopping in here is seeing the exquisite Egyptian architecture and the fabulous items that are, (somewhat), readily available.
Stroll amongst the Hermes bags before making your way over to the Rolex watches and then head into the gallery where you can grab a bottle of Dom Pérignon for dinner tonight. It’s all spectacular!
If you are in the mood to shop but Harrods is a bit out of your price range, (yeah, me too), take a black cab or the tube up to Shepherd’s Bush. This is just a bit to the west. Shepherd’s Bush is where Television Centre is located and much of the best British programs are filmed. Strictly Come Dancing or Graham Norton anyone? Celebrity central!
At Shepherd’s Bush you will find what is probably the most fantastic shopping mall in all of London, The Westfield.
While there is also another Westfield mall in east London at Stratford, the west London mall is more upscale and a little less populated.
Enjoy a trendy, alfresco dinner at one of the many chic sidewalk restaurants under the stars! The nightlife is electric around the mall! London. I love it!
If you enjoyed this post, read on to my Day 3 London itinerary and explore The Tower of London!