Neighborhood to Know Now: London’s Paddington
For most visitors, and locals too, West London’s Paddington is an area you pass through en route to the airport or city center. But that’s all changing thanks to a buzzy hotel opening that’s shining a spotlight on other gems: a seafood eatery on a barge, an indie darling cafe and Londoner-favorite rooftop bar, all within the W2 postcode. Read on for the exciting additions and local classics.
The Pilgrm Hotel
Opened in November 2017, the Pilgrm occupies four connected Victorian townhouses catty-corner to Paddington station. The 73 rooms are individually designed to fit the curves and quirks the historic buildings, with bunk, single, Queen or King beds options. The simple, spotless interior design mixes hardwoods with crisp white cottons, metal light fixtures with dove-grey walls, and there are thoughtful perks like 100% organic mattresses and all-natural toiletries, as well as zippy fast WiFi. You won’t find AC, minibars or room service (there’s a 24-hour communal pantry), but with room rates starting at $130 (£99) per night, it’s a fair trade. The best rooms have views over Norfolk Square Gardens, but all are remarkably quiet given the location. As for the name, a good old-fashioned typo on the registration documents led to the unusual spelling — an endearing hiccup for this polished but unpretentious hotel that’s leading Paddington’s revival
The Cafe & Lounge at the Pilgrm Hotel
Non-guests should make a stop at the Pilgrm’s street-level cafe, which serves as both check-in desk and local hangout. Open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., there are cultish Crosstown doughnuts (our pick: hand-rolled chocolate sourdough with sea salt and banana) , organic coffee by CRUKafe, Zig Zag teas, and organic cold pressed juices. Order to stay, grab a magazine from the well-curated rack and watch London go by from the streetside leather banquette. For a full meal, the upstairs Lounge is a low-key hangout for serious eats courtesy of Nobu-alum Sara Lewis. Menus change weekly, with an emphasis on British produce from the charcuterie platter to the gin cocktails. Know that the petite space (all velvet banquettes and low tables) fills up quickly with the power breakfast and after-work crowds, so go early or book a table in advance.
London Shell Co.
Make it seafood and sightseeing with the London Shell Co. aboard their retrofitted barge, the Prince Regent. Docked in Paddington Central, the brother-and-sister run restaurant offers both “static” a la carte lunches and five-course dinners and weekend lunches (from $60/£45 per person) while cruising along the Regent’s Canal. Don’t miss photo ops of the Maida Hill tunnel, the London Zoo and leafy Regent’s Park between courses. Expect a celebration of British seafood, from Cornish trout tartar to Carlingford Lough rock oysters, in the hands of former Mark Hix chef, Stuart Kilpatrick, plus expert English and French wine pairings from co-owner Harry Lobek.
Back for its second season, Pergola Paddington is a sprawling split-level rooftop bar complex housing five restaurants, two bars, seven daybeds and seating for 850. A cozy nook this ain’t, but for group outings on a sunny day, Pergola puts on one of the best summer shows in the city. Get in line for Mexican fare at DF/Mexico, burgers from Patty & Bun, inventive duck dishes at Canard, and Vietnamese barbecue from MAM, then claim a space on one of the long picnic tables under a vine-laced pergola. Open until 11 p.m. from Wednesday - Saturday until October, this isn’t the spot to party until the wee hours, but to join local Londoners in early afternoon drinks on a blue-sky day.
The magazine shop and cafe of our dreams, Kioskafé is the creation of the printed matter–loving folks at Monocle, designed as a traditional newsstand, with daily and international magazines and newspapers, plus good coffee, drinks, and bites. There are also travel essentials like toothpaste, hair wax and Swiss-made underwear. The 150 magazines come from across the globe, most in English, but with native Japanese, Icelandic and French titles too, while the print-on-demand newspaper facilities give readers access to almost 2,500 publications from Albania to Zimbabwe. All can be ordered in advance, or printed while you wait — ideally with an Allpress coffee, sandwich or glass of prosecco in hand. There are a collection of low stools inside, plus a row of street-side tables under the distinctive black-and-white awning on Norfolk Place.
These by-the-hour boat rentals were the hit of last summer, with electric-powered vessels made from 80% recycled plastic available for one- to eight-hour cruises along London’s canals. Set off from the Merchant’s Square (save time here to check out the shops, water fountain shows, and architect Thomas Heatherwick’s rolling bridge), and pootle along the Paddington Basin passed the grand Victorian homes in Little Venice, the canalside Rembrandt Gardens, Eyre’s Tunnel and more. Available for groups of up to eight, prices start at $80 (£59) per hour.
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