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Area Guides   |   Apr 1, 2016

Fitzrovia London Guide

Small yet mighty, Fitzrovia is squeezed into the compact stretch of land between Marylebone and Bloomsbury, but don't let its size fool you - this area is packed with fantastic restaurants, unique independent galleries, stunning Georgian squares and a rich literary history that few areas of London can compete with.

Fitzrovia is a real blend of old and new, with haphazard streets compared to the regulated grids of Marylebone (a result of various different developers throughout time) and 1960s office blocks situated just around the corner from stucco-fronted aristocratic housing. Old-fashioned pubs with beer-stained carpets sit alongside trendy coffee cafes and brasseries, while old facilities such as abandoned Victorian toilets or workshops are turned into bars and galleries.

Fitzrovia Pub Fitzrovia London Image credit: Dave Bleasedale

It's this blend of high and low, modern and historic that make the area so desirable to the ferociously proud residents, which include media professionals working at the many creative agencies which have sprung up in recent years, affluent students from UCL looking for a slice of 1920s bohemia in the streets once stalked by the Bloomsbury Set, and investors taking advantage of the central location and great transport links.

Perhaps because it wasn't officially named as Fitzrovia until 1994, the area has also managed to become somewhat of a blind spot for tourists, who dominate surrounding areas such as Marylebone but rarely truly explore Fitzrovia, leaving it just as the locals would like it.

On a map

Fitzrovia is located in the boroughs of Camden and Westminster in Central London. It sits to the west of Marylebone and the north of Soho, and covers part of the postcode W1.

History of Fitzrovia London

Fitzrovia is a relatively young area of London, having been originally developed in the 1700s by a man named Charles Fitzroy, who was lord of the manor of Tottenham at the time. He designed streets and squares including Fitzroy Square to house aristocratic families, but after a brief period in Fitzrovia many of them migrated south to Belgravia and Mayfair, leaving empty properties which were soon converted into apartments and studios by the occupants that followed.

Many French and German immigrants moved to Fitzrovia during this time, leading to a boom in the furniture trade (and the arrival of soon-to-be household name Thomas Chippendale) with craft workshops throughout the area, and such a large German community that Charlotte Street was nicknamed Charlottenstrasse!

Georgian costumes in Fitzroy Square Fitzrovia London Image credit: HairyEgg

It wasn’t until the 1920s, however, that Fitzrovia truly received both a name and a lasting reputation. During this period it became a haven for literary and artistic types, including famous bohemians such as Virgina Woolf, Vita Sackville-West and Dylan Thomas, many of whom lived on Fitzroy Square (as the saying goes, ‘they lived in squares and loved in triangles'). It was this group who are rumoured to have coined the term Fitzrovia, naming the area after their beloved Fitzroy Tavern. Nowadays these beautiful squares are often used as sets for period films due to their historical accuracy, with portions of Jane Austen’s Emma filmed here among others.

Transport from Fitzrovia London

Situated in Central London, Fitzrovia is well connected via both public transport, and on foot. There are three underground stations in the area - Tottenham Court Road in the south, Goodge Street in the middle and Warren Street in the north - which between them cover the Central, Northern and Victoria lines. Commuting across London is fast and straightforward from here, with a journey to Moorgate taking 9 minutes, and a journey to Notting Hill Gate just 3 minutes.

Tottenham Court Road Station London Image credit: David Holt

Fitzrovia equally benefits from plenty of buses, as well as being walking distance from Marylebone, Soho, Oxford Street and other parts of central London. It’s also a short commute to Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations for train journeys across the UK and into Europe on the Eurostar.

Cost of living in Fitzrovia London

Fitzrovia has seen a number of modern developments spring up over the last few decades, meaning that property options here now range from contemporary apartments with all mod-cons and the occasional cobbled street of mews houses to Georgian apartments on green squares haunted by literary ghosts.

Fitzroy Square Fitzrovia London Image credit: Steve Cadman

Due to its central location prices in Fitzrovia are high, with the average rental cost coming in even higher than Soho and Bloomsbury, although still slightly less than Marylebone. As of March 2016 the average rental cost of a two bedroom apartment in Fitzrovia is around £4000 per month, although similar properties can be found starting at £2000 per month.

Restaurants in Fitzrovia London

Riding House Cafe

Cool and quirky, the Riding House Cafe has become a Fitzrovia institution in the years since it opened due to their varied European menu and pretty retro interiors - complete with a long tiled bar lined with lamps and leather stools. Come on a Friday night for a few excellent cocktails, and return the next day for their epic hangover-curing brunch.

Address: 43-51 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7PQ
Phone: 020 7927 0840

Berners Tavern

Tucked away inside the glamorous London Edition hotel, Berners Tavern is truly a place to see and be seen, while enjoying gourmet food from famous chef Jason Atherton. Add moody lighting, walls lined with gilt-framed oil paintings and comforting dishes with a twist such as oxtail mac n’ cheese to the mix, and you’ve got the recipe for a luxurious evening in Fitzrovia.

Address: 10 Berners St, London W1T 3LF
Phone: 020 7908 7979

Berners Tavern Fitzrovia London Image credit: Jason Bailey

The Attendant

The recent London trend for converting public loo into bars and cafes arguably started right here in Fitzrovia, when a neglected Victorian gents toilet was transformed into The Attendant coffee bar back in 2013. Don’t let the history put you off though - gone are the smells of the past, replaced with a chic tiled interior, excellent coffee and some very good cakes too.

Address: 27A Foley St, London W1W 6DY
Phone:020 7637 3794

Bubbledogs

Combining champagne and hot dogs might sound like a mad idea for a restaurant, but somehow the genius team behind Bubbledogs manage to make it into the ultimate foodie pairing at this popular bar and restaurant on Foley Street. Choose from a selection of champagnes from small French producers then tuck into one of their gourmet dogs - including the Korean-inspired kimchi K-Dog and a Philly-Cheez option - and prepare to be seduced by this brilliant combo.

Address: 70 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QG
Phone: 020 7637 7770

Shops in Fitzrovia London

Fitzrovia Bicycles

Cycling is big news in London these days with even the Mayor of London proclaiming his love for two-wheeled transport, and for Fitzrovia locals there’s no better place to get kitted out than at Fitzrovia Bicycles. Established by three cycling fanatics in 2010, the shop offers a great range of bikes, accessories and equipment as well as some expert advice. Even better, there’s an in-store workshop for all your repairs.

Address: 136-138 New Cavendish St, London W1W 6YD
Phone: 020 7631 5060

Pollocks Toy Museum Fitzrovia London Image credit: Ann Lee 

British Museum Shop

It’s one of the capital’s finest museums, so it will come as no surprise that the British Museum Shop ranks up there with some of the best shops in Fitzrovia for offering brilliant gifts, museum replicas and even historically-influenced jewellery. Pop in at Christmas time for some old-fashioned tree decorations too.

Address: Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG

Heals

Dominating the heart of Tottenham Court Road, Heal’s has been a renowned furniture store since it was established here back in 1833. Known predominantly for their modern designs and chic textiles, the shop also has a small branch of fine chocolate shop Paul A Young on the ground floor - so even if you can’t quite afford one of their sofas, you can always leave with a delicious salted caramel bar instead.

Address: 196 Tottenham Court Rd, London W1T 7PJ
Phone:020 7636 1666

Things to do in Fitzrovia London

Pollocks Toy Museum

Still struggling to let go of your childhood companions (the toy ones, that is)? Take a journey back in time at the charming Pollock’s Toy Museum, where toys from throughout history are on display in two adjoining Georgian Townhouses. Everything from a 4,000 year old clay mouse to 1960s dolls houses can be seen here, and the shop is filled with replica toys if you’re looking for a sweet retro gift.

Address: 1 Scala St, London W1T 2HL
Phone: 020 7636 3452

Fitzroy Square

Charles Fitzroy’s eponymous square and formerly home to the likes of Virgina Woolf and E.M Forster, Fitzroy Square has stood tall through all the twists and turns of Fitzrovia’s history. Enjoy a stroll around the Georgian square on a sunny day, read a book on a bench or try to get in on one of the private events at 6 Fitzroy Square for a taste of 1920s life.

Address: Fitzroy Square, London W1

BT Tower Fitzrovia London Image credit: Matt Brown

BT Tower

Once the tallest building in the UK, the iconic BT Tower is a key part of the Fitzrovia skyline, as well as being responsible for transmitting WIFI signals across the capital. It’s famed rotating restaurant on the 34th floor was hugely popular in the 1970s, but was subsequently closed in 1981 due to increased security threats and remained that way until a few years ago, when tickets were auctioned off for an evening up the tower. Rumour has it more actions are planned, so you may get the chance to go up after all...

Address: Maple St, London, W1

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