So, here's an itty-bitty confession- I kind of want to move to London after my time in Paris is up. In nearly every way, it's the perfect city for me at this point in my life: large, vibrant and nightlife-filled, located in Western Europe, and oh, yeah- I could get a real job due to the common language thing. Plus… boys with posh English accents live there. Love.
So during my time exploring the city for two days I ventured into several residential neighborhoods in order to scope out a place where I might want to live. You know, just in case.
Camden is funky. Camden is colorful. Camden is probably the only neighborhood I could somewhat afford in Central London.
The one-time home of Amy Winehouse, Camden is a trendy, canal-centered neighborhood where plenty of hipster thrift shops, markets and boozy nightlife can be found.
After exploring the main streets, I headed to the eclectic Camden Lock Market for some market shopping and street food. Okay, and some Starbucks.
While the market was wonderful, most of the stalls were closed and it was a bit dead- we would've been better off coming on the weekend or in the summer.
But still, hipster tee-shirts, Chinese dumplings and vintage cameras abounded… what's not to like?
Well, a few things actually. While Camden was definitely worth the visit, it was a little too grungy, industrial and tree-less for me. I didn't like it enough to set up a permanent residence there but I would certainly visit again.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Okay, okay. I didn't say I was only looking for realistic neighborhoods, did I? Because let's be honest- Kensington is way out of my league.
Kensington and Chelsea is a posh London neighborhood that outstrips “well-to-do”- it's effing loaded.
As we walked past tasteful luxury cars and perfectly trimmed boxwoods, I imagined my life there- a cup of imported Mariage Freres tea for breakfast, a stroll with my Airedale terrier, a fireside Jane Austen fix in my private library. Delusions of grandeur quickly filled my head as I constructed my life in a modern-day Downton Abbey.
Have I mentioned recently I feel I would make an excellent ambassador's wife?
But suddenly I snapped back to reality- although I may secretly wish otherwise, I definitely cannot afford a Kensington address.
Verdict? A beautiful neighborhood but not a place where my 22-year old backpacker self would fit in quite yet.
Out of all of the neighborhoods I visited, Notting Hill was my favorite. It stole my heart even before I delved into its numerous antique shops and bookstores, and snapped photos of its whimsical, pastel-colored buildings. From the moment I exited the subway, I could sense a happy, wholesome energy there.
I loved everything about it: the cherry trees, the antiques sold on the street, the warmly colored London stock bricks, the friendly shop-keepers.
There was even a charming coffee shop on Portobello Road where I tasted some passable espresso, which made me want to tap on the nearest colorful door and move right in.
My new local? Yes, please.
By the end of the hour we spent in Notting Hill I was already smitten.
So, it's not hard to guess- Notting Hill was the clear winner for my dream London neighborhood. But there's so much more of London to explore, and so many neighborhoods I haven't even seen yet. So please, enlighten me, what's your favorite neighborhood in London?