Well, that’s not always the case. ‘Urban villages’, as they’re commonly known, can offer the rural lifestyle just as well – and with the recent demise of pubs and post offices in the rural communities, often even better.
The appeal of London for many is just how much the areas within the City differ. From the urban sprawl of Shoreditch to riverside living in Putney, London has always been a ‘city of villages.’ With the recent trends of gastropubs, local produce, independent and artisan retailers, there are a number of London villages that have captured the rural, community feel more than others. Lucky for us, London’s rental matchmaker, Rentonomy.com, has listed its top five London villages and looks at what they each have to offer:
With twisting roads, a church, and numerous boutiques, butchers, bakers and delis, Blackheath captures the rural village feel perfectly. The heath itself accommodates visiting circuses, kite festivals and is home to one of the best annual fireworks displays in London.
Every weekend there is a farmer’s market which is extremely popular with local residents while the Blackheath Music Hall sees to their musical scene.
One of the most affluent areas of London, the villages of Hampstead and neighbouring Highgate provide everything you could possibly want in village life. There are fishmongers, butchers, French bakers, restaurants and pubs by the dozen and a distinctive arty if not bohemian feel.
The highlight of the village has to be Hampstead Heath, home to open air lidos and the beautiful Kenwood House that is host to many summer concerts and exhibitions.
The 1999 film Notting Hill accelerated the popularity of this area of West London, and it is now a firm favourite with City workers and the Cameroonies (owing to the Prime Minister who has a home there). The area is full of beautiful terraces and large Victorian townhouses in shades of white, pink and blue while independent retailers and high-end restaurants are popping up all the time.
The famous Portobello market really adds to its village feel, and the Annual Carnival is one of the largest street festivals in Europe – a must see!
One of the most central London villages just north of Oxford Street, Marylebone High Street offers a unique and cosmopolitan atmosphere full of boutique businesses and niche food producers.
The High Street is home to the June Summer Fayre that is full of food and craft stalls attracting thousands from all over London. On a more regular basis there is the Cabbages and Frocks market every Saturday that brings together organic farm produce and vintage clothing and on a Sunday there is also the Farmers’ Market in Cramer Street.
Wimbledon is split into two distinct areas known as the ‘Village’ and the ‘Town.’ The town is part of a modern development since the building of the railway station in 1838 whilst the Village goes back to medieval times.
Wimbledon Village has a real community feel with a host of local activities and events – many that take advantage of the common such as the annual Village Fair.
The High Street is full of chic shops, cafes and bars set among handsome period buildings and open spaces.
If you’ve just moved to London, and your social life’s a bit too quiet, give InterNations a go. They run an expat community with more than one million members, so you’ll make some friends in no time.
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