The area of Paddington in central London rarely gets much attention as a residential zone, largely due to the fact that it is usual eclipsed by both Paddington Station, and a famous fictional Peruvian bear named after said transport hub.
However, fortunately for the fortunes of W2, it's finally starting to garner some attention as more than a decade of investment has led to new ultra-modern housing and office buildings and the Paddington Waterside project, which has transformed the area around the canal into a thriving hub of restaurants, shops and green spaces just a short walk from central London and the open expanse of Hyde Park.
Unusually for somewhere so central, Paddington has managed to avoid becoming a tourist hub in the way of Marble Arch and Oxford Street, with most visiting the area purely to get on and off the Heathrow Express (which departs conveniently from Paddington Station for any residents heading off on holiday). Most locals here are high-earning professionals, who want to be close to the office while also living in a chic glass-fronted high-rise or an apartment in a historic Georgian terrace facing a square. Make no mistake - this is prime London property, with plenty of foreign investors arriving by the day to make the most of the glitzy buildings springing up, but at the same time Paddington has managed to retain a sense of soul and community. There are still quiet streets to be found, independent cafes, good schools and even the two-month-long annual Paddington Festival to celebrate the area and bring the residents together.
What else? For world-class shopping and European cafe culture, Oxford Street and Marylebone are only a short distance away, while if you're looking to get away from big-city living, the canal is the perfect place for a weekend walk or even a leisurely tour from one of the many canal boat operators, and there's always Hyde Park too. If you've got deep pockets, a thirst for travel and the desire to be in a lively, central area, you'll be hard-pressed to find somewhere better.
On a map
Paddington is located in Zone 1 in the Borough of Westminster in Central West London. It is situated to the west of Marylebone and the north of Hyde Park, and covers the postcode W2.
History of Paddington London
Despite first being mentioned in around the 10th century when it was a Saxon settlement, it wasn’t until Paddington Station was built in the 1800s that the area really began to develop a reputation. For hundreds of years before that the area was home to aristocratic and wealthy families, who built manor houses here and later some of the Georgian terraces we still see today. The infamous Tyburn Gallows were also nearby, leading to the dark colloquial expressions ‘Paddington Fair Day’ (an execution day) and ‘dancing the Paddington frisk’ (to be hanged).
The station itself was built in 1854 by famous engineer Islamabad Kingdom Brunel, whose statue is now on display at the station along with that of Paddington’s most famous resident, Paddington Bear. The area is also frequently mentioned in history books for being home to St Mary’s Hospital, where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, and a small museum at the hospital is dedicated to his life and work. In addition, many members of the Royal Family have been born at the hospital, including the most recent arrivals Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
Transport from Paddington London
As well as being walking distance to many central London attractions including Marble Arch, Hyde Park and Oxford Street, Paddington is very well connected when it comes to public transport - and is poised to become even better when Crossrail arrives in 2018.
Paddington Underground Station covers four lines, the Bakerloo, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City, making commuting across the city fast and easy. A journey to Kings Cross takes just 11 minutes, while nearby station Lancaster Gate offers the Central Line, with trip to Bank taking 14 minutes. The area is also well connected with buses, and from 2018 Crossrail will offer a direct train from Paddington to Liverpool Street in just 10 minutes.
As for national and international trips, trains depart from Paddington to locations throughout the South of England, and the Heathrow Express will get you to Heathrow Airport in a mere 15 minutes!
Cost of living in Paddington London
Due to its history and current expansion projects, almost every type of property can be found in Paddington, including Georgian terraced houses, Victorian mews cottages, mansion blocks and sleek new apartment buildings close to the canal.
All this choice and the prime central location come at a price though, with prices here higher than nearby Bayswater and Maida Vale, although still lower than chic neighbour Marylebone. As of 2016 the average rental price of a two bedroom property in Paddington is around £3800 per month, although properties can be found starting at £1600 per month.
Restaurants in Paddington London
Watch out for smashing wine glasses at Bel Canto on Bayswater Road, where the French-inspired menu is unusually combined with live opera via the classically-trained singing waiters, who perform every fifteen minutes while diners enjoy dishes such as pork cheek, fish soup and chocolate fondant. Just make sure to drink up before those high notes…
Address: 67 Bayswater Rd, London W2 3LG
Phone: 020 7262 1678
Step into the setting of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights at this delightful Lebanese restaurant, which is decorated in traditional style with stone walls, brightly-coloured fabrics and pretty lamps. The menu is filled with moreish mains and mezze dishes such as lamb tikka, grilled halloumi and falafel, and don’t forget to try the baklava with mint tea for dessert.
Address: 29-31 Craven Rd, London W2 3BX
Phone: 020 7402 4985
Combining a delicatessen and pizzeria with a cookery school and a bakery, this charming spot covers all the bases if you’re looking for tasty organic produce and some expertly-made baked goods. Treat yourself to a classic Neapolitan pizza, pick up some sourdough to go or hone your kitchen skills with a pasty masterclass..the options are endless.
Address: 43-45 Porchester Rd, London W2 5DP
Phone: 020 7221 7787
Situated just next door to the infamous Frontline Club for journalists, you’re never far from the news at this restaurant, where photographs from award-winning photographers and photojournalists line the walls. The restaurant offers high-quality British cuisine with the majority of the produce coming from a single farm in Norfolk, so expect comforting dishes such as pumpkin risotto, steak tartar made from Hereford beef, slow-roast pork and an irresistible rhubarb crumble.
Address: 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ
Phone: 020 7479 8950
Shops in Paddington London
Buy your own bear or just pick up some Paddington-branded accessories at this Paddington Station boutique dedicated to W2’s famous Peruvian resident. Everything from books, stuffed bears and even a small replica bronze statue can be found here, although they don’t quite go as far as selling marmalade sandwiches…
Address: Paddington Station, Praed St, London W2 1RH
Telephone: 020 7402 5209
Enjoy a continental croissant breakfast al-fresco at their outside tables or browse the counter for some dinnertime dishes at this popular local cafe and deli, which stocks charcuterie, cheeses, quiches, antipasti and plenty more to take home. They also have a few tables inside if you want to sit and enjoy a leisurely meal instead.
Address: 3 Bathurst St, London W2 2SD
Phone: 020 7262 1888
Pick up some bubbles to toast your new Paddington home at this local wine merchant, which stocks a good range of wines and spirits from all over the world. When the summer arrives it’s the perfect place to grab a bottle of Pimms and head for Hyde Park on the weekend too.
Address: 15 Craven Rd, London W2 3BP
Phone:020 7706 4684
Things to do in Paddington London
KERB is undoubtedly of London’s best Street Food markets, and during the summer months you can expect to see (and smell) their array of excellent street food stalls popping up in the verdant Sheldon Square once a month. With at least ten traders taking part they’ll be offering a all sorts of goodies, such as mac n’ cheese from the famous Annie Mae, bold burgers from Tongue n’ Cheek, and Vietnamese summer rolls from Hanoi Kitchen. Don’t miss it!
Address: Sheldon Square, London W2 6PY
A pedestrian subway near Edgware Road might not sounds like a great local attraction, but hear us out - this ordinary 1960s subway named after the lead singer of The Clash actually houses a unique exhibition space with changing exhibitions. It may be a lot smaller than London’s usual galleries, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Address: Joe Strummer Subway, Edgware Rd / Harrow Rd, London W2 1DX
Phone: 07811 286503
Get to know your neighbours and embrace the community spirit in W2 with the annual Paddington Festival, which sees a full schedule of free and low-cost events taking place all over the area during July and August. With an epic talent contest and interactive art sessions it’s ideal for families, and make sure you take part in the raffle - there are usual exotic holidays up for grabs.
Main image credit: Tom Bullock