This post is part of my London Neighbourhood Guides series. Fancy visiting another area of London? Check out my other guides here, which all include information regarding the sights, history, charm, food and drinks of the area you’re curious about.
Fitzrovia may ring some bells for you, though the area is slightly elusive in terms of its stereotypes. This attractive neighbourhood is in between plenty of other great areas. Wealthy Marylebone is to the west, edgy Soho is to the south, fancy Bloomsbury is to the east, and bustling Kings Cross is to the north. The history of Fitzrovia is pretty interesting because the area was built for the upper-class, but London’s wealthy citizens were not convinced. They moved to Belgravia and Mayfair, and avoided Fitzrovia altogether. This allowed Fitzrovia to turn into a sort of Bohemian haven, with plenty of European immigrants rushing in.
The Fitzroy Tavern was the centre of this new artistic and bohemian centre. People like George Orwell, Dylan Thomas, and Quentin Crisp frequented the pub, for which Fitzrovia is named for. Other great writers like Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, and Arthur Rimbaud lived in Fitzrovia. Yes, poets, writers, painters, they all somehow found themselves in Fitzrovia. There is most certainly something captivating about the neighbourhood, though it is difficult to really pinpoint its exact effect. Virginia Woolf observed Fitzrovia with simple words: ‘All the lights in the Square are lighting, and it is turning silver grey, and there are beautiful young women still playing tennis on the grass.’
Music fans should peak up their ears. Also residing in Fitzrovia, the UFO Club used to be a famous underground club. It hosted Jimi Hendrix, Yoko Ono, as well as local house bands such as Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. In fact, the UFO Club was paid tribute in the Victoria & Albert’s Pink Floyd exhibition.
As if this was not enough musical genius for you, Bob Dylan made his London debut at the King & Queen pub on Foley Street.
Fitzrovia is now home to a bustling media industry, as BBC are located on the western edge of the neighbourhood. Facebook is also located here. Consequently, Fitzrovia is popular with advertising, film, media and television. I mean we’re talking big companies like MTV, Nickelodeon, and CNN. It is extremely accessible, for there are six tube stations in Fitzrovia alone! The combination of these two factors has enabled Fitzrovia to grow. The main marker for Fitzrovia is the BT Tower. It was the tallest tower in London until 1980 and today has a revolving restaurant.
The dedication to art has not completely been wiped away from Fitzrovia. On the contrary, Fitzrovia is the place to be for art galleries. It took me forever to visit these galleries. To be honest, art galleries make me nervous because so much attention is put on you. Art galleries are not like huge art museums where you can get lost and ponder upon whichever piece of art you like. Nonetheless, these art galleries are amazing. They exude personal creativity and emotion.
I swear more than half of all the buildings in this neighbourhood are stock full of places to eat and drink. It can get overwhelming with all the options! There are so many cute cafés in Fitzrovia, but here are a couple of my favourites.
My first recommendation is the Scandinavian Kitchen. It is both a café and a grocery store of delicious Scandinavian goodies. Having grown up in Espoo, Finland, I always get excited about anything relating to Scandinavian or Nordic countries. They serve breakfast and lunch, with plenty of smörgåsbord to try. Get there early because, as in the traditional Scandinavian way, people seem to have lunch rather early here!
If you’re looking for some delicious tea, Yumchaa is the answer. A small, local chain, Yumchaa has a ridiculous amount of tea choices. The location in Fitzrovia is large, airy, and has plenty of space to spread out, making it the perfect place to work or catch up with friends.
Coffee lovers rejoice because Aussie-cafe Kaffeine is here. They actually have two locations in Fitzrovia and I can definitely see why. Australian coffee is all the rage in London. Kaffeine offers delicious coffee and delicious treats including some Aussie favourites. When I saw ANZAC cookies for sale, my heart fluttered.
Fitzrovia also has a great restaurant scene. While maybe not as many options as Soho, there are some I definitely put at the top of my list.
For Victor’s birthday I took him out to KOBA and I highly recommend this fabulous restaurant to others! It’s a Korean BBQ restaurant where you can pick platters of meat, seafood, or veggies to grill in the centre of the table. I love this kind of eating experience because it is a blend of cooking at home and going out to eat.
Another wonderful place is BAO. The oh-so-famous one is in Soho, but you can’t make a reservation which inevitably means long lines (and grumpy, hungry humans). So, if you still want some delicious bao, you can head to BAO in Fitzrovia, their only other location. Check out my Restaurant Review!
Convinced yet? Take a stroll through London’s most classy and interesting neighbourhood. There’s plenty to see (and eat)!