A small enclave of the City of Westminster in central London, Victoria is situated between Belgravia and St James’s with Hyde Park and Green Park to the north. The vibe? This area is a juxtaposition of old and new London. Of stately palaces and commercial architecture. Sight-seeing tourists and busy commuters.
Squarely situated within zone 1, Victoria is easily accessible by the whole of London. Connected by the Victoria line and District and Circle line (via Victoria station), it is also serviced by good bus links to north, south, east, west and central London.
In fact, Victoria is one of London’s main transport arteries. The vaulted Victoria train station links north and south London and also runs Southern and South Eastern services out of the city. Meanwhile, the bus depot provides both national and international coach transport. Think of Victoria and you think of journeys – so it’s easy to dismiss this area as merely a passing-through sort of place. But while transport connections are nothing to be sniffed at, Victoria has so much more to offer.
A theatreland in miniature, Victoria boasts venues like the Apollo Victoria Theatre, Victoria Palace Theatre and the Other Palace all in close proximity to the station. It is a hub of entertainment. The modern, glass-fronted Cardinal Place is brimming with high-street shops and chain restaurants. Big names like Nando’s, Zizzi’s and Wagamama mean that this is often where the office workers stop for food.
Look beyond the bright lights of musicals and the chain restaurants and you’ll find a sophistication befitting of Victoria’s regal moniker. There are some seriously upscale restaurants here. After all, Buckingham Palace is but a short walk away. Mid-week, restaurants, bars and cafes do a good trade at lunchtime and after-work with an office type crowd. And at weekends, the area remains bustling with tourists and travellers.
Redevelopment and regeneration
Over the past few years, the face of Victoria has changed dramatically, with property developers Landsec responsible for transforming over two million square foot of SW1. Their projects include Cardinal Place, 62 Buckingham Gate and The Zig Zag Building but their most ambitious venture is Nova. Made up of three buildings, the mixed-used development is also home to Nova Food, a new dining destination featuring 17 restaurants and three pop-up kiosks.
Another major draw is Eccleston Yards, a development straddling Victoria and Belgravia that promises to become a hub for creative enterprise and co-working, centred around a new public square. Grosvenor, the property company that owns Eccleston Yards, has already managed to secure famous fitness studio Barry’s Bootcamp among other brands, which will likely prove a huge draw for businesses and individuals alike.
There is a mix of high-brow, independent restaurants and mid-range chains in this area. Both genres find a market in this varied and busy neighbourhood.
At the starry, upper-echelons of fine dining we find the likes of A. Wong. This Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant serves up traditional recipes in a modern, pared back setting.
Elsewhere, Aster restaurant delivers a fusion of Nordic and French flavours. It is one of the closest establishments to the theatres to snap up all those pre-show bookings.
While not strictly in the confines of Victoria, Chutney Mary is in easy walking distance. And worth the trip. This plush, high-octane Indian restaurant is the kind of place to see and be seen.
Media and music
Lots of media and art types work in this area. The Telegraph has their offices here and there are also a number of small, independent galleries. Walking distance from both Chelsea and Westminster, Victoria also attracts both the well-heeled, Sloane Square crowd and politician types.
One of the main draws of Victoria is the ever-revolving programme of West-End musicals. There is undoubtedly a gap in the market for more restaurants to satisfy this pre-show clientele.
Whether your venture is cheap and cheerful or pricey and pretentious, there is the footfall to warrant an opening.