London is undergoing a bit of a makeover. Like the rest of us, it’s spent lockdown without a hairdresser, a place to eat, and has had plenty of time to think about how it can help the environment. Now that the city is opening up, a host of streets are being pedestrianised so we can smoke and drink carafes on the pavements like Parisians.
Lots of places are rumoured to be banning cars and traffic in the future, including Bank junction in the city, multiple lanes in Oxford Street, and curry mile on Brick Lane. However, those ones are still yet to come to fruition. In the meantime, multiple boroughs are road-testing a few pedestrianised streets this summer, starting now. Here are a few of our favourites.
1. Old Compton Street, Soho
Back in June last year when we were all going for the Eat Out To Help Out scheme with full force, Soho made the most of it by banning cars so everyone could eat on the road. With tables and chairs of course. It was joyous – it was like London had made up and got back together again.
Well, it’s doing the same thing again. And everyone’s pretty happy about it. On 12 April there was much laughter and merriment (and not much social distancing… so be warned). Old Compton Street, famed for GAY club nights and raucous late nights, has been decorated with alfresco dining paraphernalia. In recent days you’ll have seen the Queens of Soho (aka Drag Race UK’s finalists) dining and larking about at Old Compton Brasserie. Head here for fancy fare with plenty of outdoor space.
2. Northcote Road, Clapham
From 17 April, the Northcote Road will feel like the cobbled streets of Paris. Every weekend through the summer period the road will be pedestrianised. The empty space means you can enjoy that bottle of rose while also observing social distancing measures.
Shops and pubs will benefit from the crowds and the general public can have a jolly good time – in safety. London’s most popular haunts are there, including Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Gail’s (yes they get everywhere) and Franco Manca. There’s also Meatliquor for beef burgers and buffalo wings; the Italian trattoria Osteria Antica Bologna; and the Biscuiteers boutique for a sweet treat. And you definitely need to have a pint at The Bolingbroke pub.
3. North Cross Road, Dulwich
North Cross Road in East Dulwich is blocked off from cars on the weekend to let a host of food vendors sell there wares. Tuck into pulled pork buns, spicy burritos and mountains of jerk chicken.
Once you’ve finished up at North Cross Road market, you can wander down Lordship Lane and have a nosy at the cute boutique shops – especially now that we’re allowed in! There’s the gift shop Celestial and Oliver Bonas to get you started.
4. South Molten Street, Mayfair
This isn’t something new – South Molten Street has always been pedestrianised, but we thought it would be worth a mention. You can get your hair done at the Sassoon salon and then drop by the Cafe Concerto for a coffee and a pastry afterwards or Jak’s London for a fancy meal and a cocktail.
While you’re here, you might as well continue to indulge in a spot of retail therapy. Whistles, Bimba Y Lola, Monica Vinader… the whole gang is here.
5. The Old York Road, Wandsworth
Right next to Wandsworth Town station is a sedate street with a seriously villagey feel. You’ve got your butcher (Cleavers), your baker (Gail’s), and your candlestick maker (well, you might be able to find some tea lights in Sainsbury’s). But more importantly, the road has had a recent makeover.
There are large roadblock disguised as bushes to stop cars going down the street and the cafes and restaurants have spilled out onto the street.
Grab a takeaway coffee at Over Under and pick a pew. Alternatively, order a pale ale or glass of vino from Konnigans. They also do a lovely array of light bites, such as nachos and avocado stuffed with crab. Gail’s has its usual selection of overpriced baked goods and Cleavers the butcher’s does a mean sausage bap. You can see our full list here.
You've got your butcher (Cleavers), your baker (Gail's), and your candlestick maker (well, you might be able to find some tea lights in Sainsbury's).
6. Pavilion Road, Chelsea
The fanciest borough of them all, is also getting in on the action. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has promised to cut off traffic from huge stretches of street from 12 April and throughout the summer. Chelsea’s Elystan Street (between the King’s Road and Brompton Road), Pavilion Road (parallel to Sloane Street) and Bute Street (near South Kensington tube station) will be free for you to roam.
Pavilion Road is our first port of call. The street is lined with independent vendors and boutiques. There’s The Sea, The Sea fishmongers, Bread Ahead bakery and Provenance butchers. There’s also the Hans’ Bar & Grill for some smokey meat cuts, healthy brunches at Granger & Co, and a welcome dollop of ice cream from Ice Cream Union.
7. Motcomb Street, Belgravia
Over in Belgravia, Motcomb Street is something of an institution. The street, with its cute bunting and flower boxes, holds some of the most prestigious restaurants, cafes and hotels. Try some Michelin-starred dishes, theatrical Indian menus or British classics… it’s a smorgasbord of eateries.
New to town is Pantechnicon, a mix of Japanese and Nordic cuisine and craftsmanship. You can head to their rooftop garden or just have a browse at some of their products inside. Elsewhere, gorge on healthy dishes courtesy of Ottolenghi, the finest cheeses at The Fine Cheese Shop, or mouthwatering chocolates at Rococo Chocolates.
8. Portobello Road, Notting Hill
A firm favourite in London, Portobello Road in Notting Hill has been the starting point for so many fashion brands. It’s taken a bit of a hit over lockdown, and some antique and jewellery dealers are unable to come back to open their businesses.
In an attempt to boost footfall and get people eating and drinking in all the restaurants, the council is pedestrianising the road on market days. You can now walk freely from vintage store to record store with ease. Farm Girl is obviously the go-to place for chia seed smoothies and granola pots and if you’re looking for a good pub garden, the Sam Smith’s pub The Earl of Lonsdale has a cracker.