It has often been said that London is really a series of interconnecting villages, each with their own distinct identities, resulting from all the different settlements that once occupied this sprawling city mass. In many of these areas you can walk for a few minutes and find yourself somewhere entirely different in both atmosphere and amenities, and no where is this more true than Marylebone.
Situated just five minutes walk from the crowded throng of Oxford Street, affluent and eclectic Marylebone is a genteel micro-community of independent shops, fine restaurants, charming delicatessens and street-side cafes, all laid out on a rational grid system punctured by leafy garden squares. It couldn't be more of a contrast to the busy shopping street, having more in common with areas such as Knightsbridge, although it's arguable retained a little more historical charm due to the reduced number of modern housing developments. This is largely due to the fact that most of Marylebone is still owned by aristocratic estates - a unique position that has helped protect the area from too much change and allowed it to maintain a quaint atmosphere.
Similar to South Kensington in many ways, you're also likely to find a large European community here, particularly Parisians, as well as city executives and well-paid professionals. Despite the proximity to the expansive greenery of Regents Park to the north and Hyde Park to the south west it's not particularly popular with families, so most residents are couples who love to patronise all the local bars and restaurants, or wealthy investors who use the area as a base when in London.
If that's still not enough to convince you, Marylebone is also home to the world-famous Harley Street, so as a resident you'll be a short walk to some of the best medical care in the city. Add to that a high street so lovely it has won awards (Marylebone High Street was once voted best in Britain by Radio 2), and you've got no reason not to love life as a Marylebone resident - just as long as you can afford the exorbitant rents...
On a map
Marylebone is located in Central London, in the borough of Westminster. It borders St John's Wood to the north, Mayfair to the south, and Fitzrovia to the east. The postcode is W1.
History of Marylebone London
Once part of the manor of Tyburn, which was named in the Domesday Book of 1086, Marylebone gets its name from the ancient parish of St Mary at the Bourne, a church on the banks of the small river Tyburn. During the 1300s it was notoriously home to Tyburn Tree, a set of gallows where criminals were hung to watching crowds, a tradition which lasted for hundreds of years.
The fortunes of the area turned around when various parts of the ancient manor were bought and sold by the likes of the Duke of Newcastle and the Earl of Oxford in the early 1700s. It was under the Earl of Oxford, Edward Harley, that the area began to develop into a fashionable housing district - after noticing the need for more properties north of Oxford, he commissioned builder John Prince to design the grid system we see to today, as well as beautiful garden squares such as Cavendish Square. Much of Marylebone is still owned by aristocratic estates today, with the largest landowners being the Portman Estate and the Howard de Walden Estate.
Transport to Marylebone London
As you’d expect from such a central location, Marylebone offers excellent transport connections for commuting around London - and if you’re staying within the boundaries of the borough of Westminster, which includes Soho, Covent Garden and Mayfair, you can walk most places too.
Marylebone is bordered by the tube stations of Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Oxford Street and Oxford Street, which between them cover seven different Underground lines including the Victoria, Central and Bakerloo. As a result a journey to Bank from Oxford Circus takes just 8 minutes, while a trip to Kings Cross takes only 4 minutes. The area is also served by various buses during the day and night.
As for leaving London, Marylebone also has its own national train station, with regular trains to Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Birmingham among others.
Cost of living in Marylebone London
Due to the location and the type of properties available, Marylebone is one of the most exclusive areas in London, and such exclusivity comes at a high price. Most of the areas residents are wealthy investors from abroad or have come from equally wealthy areas such as Knightbridge and Mayfair, and the average rental price is almost a quarter more than the London average.
Still, you certainly get some lovely properties for your money here, and there’s a wide range of options, including many Grade II listed buildings, as well as elegant Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian terraces overlooking garden squares, a few quaint streets of mews houses and various modern glass and steel developments if you’re looking for something more contemporary.
As of 2015, the average rental price for a two bedroom apartment in Marylebone is around £3500, although similar properties can be found from £1900.
Restaurants in Marylebone London
When it opened a few years ago, it was almost impossible to open a newspaper without seeing pictures of everyone from David Cameron to ageing rock stars making their way in and our of this former fire station in Marylebone. Head chef Nuno Mendes was given a Michelin star here for his cooking within the first year, and his relaxed seasonal menu (think steak tartar and crab linguine) has solidified Chiltern Firehouse as the place to be seen in W1.
Address: 1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA
Phone: 020 7073 7676
Antipodean cuisine may not get much airtime on London menus, but one visit to the Providores and you’ll see there’s far more to our distant cousins than just BBQs and shrimps. This elegant restaurant on Marylebone High Street has a delicious main menu full of Asian influences, but its the New Zealand wines and brunch menu (we recommend the infamous Turkish eggs) that really make this restaurant stand out.
Address: 109 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4RX
Phone:020 7935 6175
Struggle to choose when given a large menu? Give chic Parisian restaurant Le Relaise de Venise a try - there’s only one thing on the menu. At this unique restaurant all dinners are offered a green salad with mustard vinagrette to start, followed by a tender steak frites (cooked to order) served with their signature secret sauce. It’s straightforward, simple, and for once there’s no worry about getting food envy either!
Address: 120 Marylebone Ln, London W1U 2QG
Phone: 020 7486 0878
All carnivores know the specific craving that comes when you want a really good burger, so if this hits while in the boundaries of W1 head straight to James Street for one of London’s best beef patties. The burgers are made with the finest British ingredients and served in a brioche bun, while moreish sides of chicken wings and rosemary salt chips complete the meal. Even better, they also do delivery if you can’t quite drag yourself out on a cold night.
Address: 54 James St, London W1U 1HE
Phone:020 7487 3188
Shops in Marylebone London
James Daunt’s eponymous line of bookshops have taken London by storm with their thought-out selection and old-fashioned atmosphere, and this large branch in Marylebone is no exception. Come here for everything from the latest bestseller to an obscure biography, or even just to pick up a gift from their eclectic selection of stationary and mugs.
Address: 83 Marylebone High St, London W1U
Phone: 020 7224 2295
This world-famous department store needs little introduction - opened by American business magnate Harry Selfridges in 1909, it stocks a huge range of luxury fashion, homeware, furniture, beauty products and even food under one roof. Perfect for both shopping and browsing, there’s also a restaurant on the roof and various cafes throughout if you need a little respite. Plus, if you come in the winter, the rooftop restaurant is often transformed into a festive chalet.
Address: 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB
Phone: 0800 123400
Situated in the north end of Marylebone and bordering St John’s Wood, Alfie’s Antique Market is a unique antique market with over seventy-five dealers, all housed in an art-deco building. Formerly Jordan’s Department Store, it sat empty for many years before being lovingly transformed in the 1970s. All sorts of antiques from modernist furniture to silverware are on sale, and you might even spot a famous designer too - rumour has it that the likes of Jasper Conran and Kelly Hoppen are fans.
Address: 13-25 Church St, London NW8 8DT
Phone: 020 7723 6066
Treat yourself to a dram of the good stuff at this whisky shop and tasting room on Chiltern Street, which has one of the best collections of Scottish whisky in London, including rare, old and very exculsive offerings alongside well-known brands. Bit of a novice? Book yourself in for one of their regular tastings for a great overview of different varieties.
Address: 26 Chiltern St, London W1U 7QF
Phone:020 7935 6999
Things to do in Marylebone London
The last thing you’d expect to find in Marylebone is a country house, never mind one with a stunning art gallery, but that’s exactly what you’ll find it you pay a visit to Hertford House in Manchester Square. Having housed both the Spanish Embassy and French Embassy over the years it became gallery following the death of the Marquess of Hertford in 1897, who left behind an art collection featuring paintings by the likes of Poussain, Titain, Rembrandt and Ruben. As well as a gallery the Wallace Collection also hosts regular art classes, workshops and lectures, ideal if you’re looking to learn a new creative skill.
Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN
Phone: 020 7563 9500
Housed in another imposing art-deco building in Marylebone (you’ll find there are quite a few of these around), RIBA, or the Royal Institue of British Architects, has existed since 1934 but only opened its archives to the public in 2014. As the first free architecture gallery in London its a brilliant place to see exhibitions and talks, and the library has a staggering 4 million items in the catalogue if you’re looking to improve your knowledge of architecture and design.
Address: 66 Portland Pl, London W1B 1AD
Phone: 020 7307 3888
Get close to your favourite celebrity without risking a restraining order at Madame Tussauds waxwork museum in Marylebone, which houses wax models of everyone from boyband members and film stars to historic dictators. Named after Marie Tussaud, who had a travelling wax model collection in the late 18th century which eventually became a permanent collection on Baker Street, it’s a must-see spot if you’re living in the area - even if just for the photographs.
Address: Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LR
Phone: 0871 894 3000
Main image credit: Mark Pegrum