Beautiful at any time of year, this canal-side enclave is extra special in summertime, when the sun dappled waterways lend a continental feel. Choose from a stucco-fronted villa looking over an attractive communal garden, an apartment in a red brick mansion block or a colourful houseboat moored on the canal – you won’t be disappointed.
Photography by Emmanuelle Peri
Meet the locals
Founder ButterNut of London
As a born and bred Londoner I’ve lived in all corners of this city, but there is nowhere I have felt more at home than in this quiet, leafy neighbourhood, with its tree-lined boulevards, Regency era white painted stucco houses and the idyllic meandering fork of the Grand Union Canal.
Taking full advantage of the central-ish location here, I start my day with a workout. For long runs I head south to Hyde Park and a lap of the Serpentine, while for sprints I head to the 400m track at Padding Rec. The drop-in sessions at the old school All Stars Boxing Gym on the Harrow Road keep me fighting fit.
A table in the sun at the newly opened Bondi Green, by the canal outside Paddington station is my go-to for a relaxed business meeting over coffee and the tastiest Lamingtons in town. A secret spot for lunch known only to locals is the Grand Junction Café. This unassuming café makes the most delicious sourdough toasted sandwiches. Overseen by the lovely Andree, the staff are friendly, the portions are big and the prices reasonable. Everything is made fresh, so be prepared to wait; it’s worth it.
I set up ButterNut of London to bring innovative flavours to the nut butter market. My silky smooth and seriously crunchy varieties have won a bunch of Great Taste awards. Each is handmade in small batches from the finest sustainably sourced ingredients. Our flagship shop is at the world-famous Borough Market, and we sell online and to lots of lovely independent shops nationwide. The beautiful Flotsam & Jetsam café at Clifton Nurseries is where I love to bring my laptop and spend the afternoon working, surrounded by nature. After staring at the screen too long, a stroll along the canal, weaving in and out of the prams, tourists, and cyclists, helps me clear my mind and refocus. My quiet enjoyment of this tranquil oasis is such a big part of my thinking process that when we redesigned the labels last year, the canals were incorporated. You can spot this homage on my award-winning Smooth Peanut Butter.
Before heading home, I pay a visit to the independent shops on Formosa Street to pick up fresh bread, wine, French cheese, charcuterie, and Belgian chocolates.
For dinner out in Little Venice it has to be Kateh. This elegant, understated restaurant oozes charm, while the richly flavoured and gorgeously aromatic food transports you to another continent.
Residents in the curved terraces here enjoy access to either Formosa Garden or Crescent Garden. Both are gorgeous, but the latter was named London’s best large private garden square
Enviably set on the banks of the Regent’s Canal, just moments away from the boutique shops and cafés of Clifton Road, the substantial stucco homes here are amongst the area’s most desirable
While there’s no high street here, you’ll find a cluster of independent businesses, including a wonderful flower shop and chocolatier at the end of this pretty street
Maida Vale & Little Venice
Venice London, W9
With interiors as delectable as the cakes they sell, this little coffee shop in the heart of Maida Vale offers a visual treat as much as a sugary one: think plush velvet seating, chic brass accents, and a whole wall of blooming roses. Venice London’s selection of Insta-worthy celebration cakes is of an incredibly high standard, too, with weddings, christenings and birthdays all catered for. “The staff are all extremely helpful and create incredible cakes, offering a hub for locals and visitors to the area, to eat and socialise,” says Ben Haftel from Goldschmidt & Howland.
14 Clifton Road, W9 (020 7121 0003; venicelondon.co.uk)
The Waterway, W9
As its name suggests, this casually elegant eatery sits canal-side, offering diners a chance to drink in its tranquil surrounds. It’s only fitting, then, to do that with a refreshing summer cocktail in hand, something Stuart Rothstein from Winkworth most certainly approves of: “The Waterway offers delicious food, a great selection of cocktails, and a wonderful location on the canal,” he says. Generous brunch and à la carte menus are pleasingly meat, fish, veggie and vegan friendly. And the Sunday roast, complete with all the trimmings, is a rude-not-to weekend treat.
54 Formosa Street, W9 (020 7266 3557; thewaterway.co.uk)
Clifton Nurseries, W9
A veritable oasis of calm in the Capital, this is London’s oldest and arguably most beautiful garden centre. At its heart is a fairy tale-like glasshouse filled with exotic flowers and house plants – a biophiliac’s dream. Clifton Nurseries also boasts a lovely gift shop, says Alex Fleck from Arlington Residential. “The garden centre is hidden down a passage between elegant period townhouses and is a great place to step away from the city. Some of the staff have been there for years,” she adds. Beyond the potted plants the company also offers garden design and landscaping services.
5A Clifton Villas, W9 (020 7289 6851; clifton.co.uk)