There’s much to discover in the quiet streets of Marylebone, a West End neighbourhood that lies a stone’s throw from the frenetic pace of Oxford Street
One of Europe’s busiest shopping streets, millions of people traverse the pavements of Oxford Street, in central London, each year. The arterial road that runs east from Hyde Park to Tottenham Court Road also connects the neighbourhoods of Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Soho, and Marylebone — each offering myriad dining, drinking, shopping, and entertainment options, including the city’s famed West End theatre shows.
Defined by its Victorian-Gothic architecture and leafy streets, Marylebone is home to some of London’s big attractions such as the chic department store, Selfridges, Madame Tussauds, and The Sherlock Holmes Museum. Yet, five minutes north of Oxford Street’s throngs, visitors will also find the picturesque, peaceful streets of Portman Marylebone — a 100-acre section of the neighbourhood managed by The Portman Estate, which includes Portman Square, Chiltern Street, and Seymour Place, among others.
There’s much to like about Portman Marylebone, which has cultivated an intimate, neighbourly feel with its independent boutiques, art galleries, and refined yet relaxed dining establishments. Here lie some of London’s most prestigious restaurants, such as Chiltern Firehouse, and luxury hotels like Nobu Portman Square.
But travellers staying here may also feel as though they’re part of the neighbourhood, if only for a short time. As well as being a relaxing destination to visit, the sense of community is apparent in the friendly retailers selling unique products, independent restaurants, and approachable galleries with world-class exhibitions.
Here’s our pick of what to see and do.
Where to dine
The Italian Greyhound
Noticeable for its striped awnings and potted olive trees at the corner of Seymour Place, The Italian Greyhound is a contemporary restaurant serving the diverse flavours of Italy in a relaxed atmosphere — the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch. Menus change daily, in line with seasonality, but the homemade focaccia with rosemary, Sicilian ‘panelle’ chickpea fritters with sage and lemon, and Cornish crab linguine are standouts. A broad list of wines and attentive, knowledgeable service complete the pleasant dining experience.
This refined eatery on Dorset Street specialises in delicious fare made with health and dietary requirements in mind. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, those with intolerances to gluten, dairy, and refined sugar will likely find something appealing on the extensive menu, which is full of dishes inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean and California. Be sure to sample the moreish sourdough flatbread with winter truffle, parmesan, and rocket.
T by Tamara
A taste of the Levant comes to London with this relative newcomer to the neighbourhood. The interiors at T by Tamara cultivate a relaxing weekend atmosphere with warm tones, while windows allow plenty of natural light to accentuate the cafe’s pops of colour. Dishes are prepared in-house, with a range of fresh fatteh salads and daily changing cakes, among other specialties.
Foodies should stop by this café and épicerie selling speciality French products, with a curated selection not found anywhere else in the UK. At the café, collect a coffee and a sweet treat from a broad range of pastries, breads, and cakes.
Where to shop
Perfumer H: Unique fine fragrance
You’ll likely notice the beautiful scents emanating from this boutique before you even see it. British perfume maker Lyn Harris founded Perfumer H in 2015 with a desire to create refined fragrances that resonated with her personal tastes. Harris collaborates with artisans to create striking glass bottles for her unconventional fragrances, which include eaux de parfum, body products, candles, incense, and room sprays, each centred around a different olfactory theme — from citrus to floral, amber, to fern, and woody scents. A great spot to pick up a special gift.
William Crabtree & Sons: Menswear
Find quintessential British menswear styles with a contemporary twist at this tailoring house on New Quebec Street, which has a welcoming atmosphere. Founded in 1835 as a textile manufacturer in Yorkshire, William Crabtree & Sons now designs a range of apparel made in Europe, using fine materials such as Italian linen shirts made in Portugal, gilets made in Scotland from Geelong lambswool, and cotton twill sports jackets crafted in Italy.
New York-based footwear brand, Sabah, has become a go-to for its stylish, comfortable shoes inspired by the traditional Turkish slipper. Handcrafted in Turkey and Texas, the leather shoes come in a variety of colours and finishes and are beloved for their glove-like fit, comfort, versatility, and lightweight construction that makes them ideal for travelling. Find your perfect pair at this colourful boutique on Chiltern Street.
Monc: Specialist eyewear
In recognising the waste produced by the eyewear industry, Monc founder Freddie Elborne set out to introduce a circular approach through careful designing, crafting, and repairing of spectacles and sunglasses. Its sustainable ethos is evident in the design of the boutique on Chiltern Street, which has been created to a zero-waste brief using predominantly biomaterials such as corn starch. It was awarded the Small Retail Interior of the Year Award from Dezeen in 2022. Monc’s stylish frames are handmade in small batches in Italy, taking their design cues from global creative districts, and come with a lifetime guarantee.
Bryceland’s & Co
Australian Ethan Newton and Kenji Cheung co-founded this eclectic menswear brand that combines custom tailoring and men’s haberdashery. With boutiques in Tokyo and Hong Kong, Bryceland’s has now opened on Chiltern Street in London with curated collections of vintage-inspired menswear designed for every occasion.
Suzannah London: Special occasion womenswear
Counting members of the British royal family and celebrities among her clientele, fashion designer Suzannah Crabb’s creations are known for their flattering feminine shapes, luxe fabrics, and timeless appeal. Inspired by Parisian and American vintage couture, this New Quebec Street boutique offers a wide selection of special occasion wear, perfect for anything from a wedding to a day at the races.
Cocktail & Wine Bars
Philglas & Swigot
Founded by an Australian and a Brit, this wine shop and bar with a tongue-in-cheek name has been voted best wine merchant in London by Wine & Spirit magazine. The original store in Battersea earned a reputation for its broad range of fine wines with an international slant. At the Marylebone outpost, guests can partake in special tasting events, or select a bottle to enjoy in the warm, intimate bar.
Seymour’s Parlour at the Zetter Townhouse
Cocktail aficionados should visit Seymour’s Parlour, Zetter Townhouse’s dimly lit, eclectically decorated lounge. The menu itself is a work of art, with intricate illustrations by artist Jerromme ‘Red Romes’ Henry bringing each drink to life. Cocktails are simply named by numbers one to 12, and have been formulated by reputed mixologist, Tony Conigliaro. Conigliaro’s debut bar, 69 Colebrooke Row, has been voted among the world’s best, and he has worked on drinks menus for leading culinary figures such as Heston Blumenthal. At Seymour’s, sample Cocktail No. 3, a twist on a French Martini created with pineapple Ginepraio gin, Capreolus raspberry eau-de-vie, and Cocchi dry vermouth.
What to see
Visit Atlas Gallery
One of the foremost photographic galleries in London, Atlas specialises in classic and modern 20th Century vintage photography, photojournalism, and fashion photography. Current exhibitions include ‘Patrick Demarchelier: Legacy’, the first UK solo exhibition by the late photographer, who was renowned for his work in fashion and portraiture. ‘Legacy’ showcases some of Demarchelier’s iconic images, featuring prominent pop culture figures like Christy Turlington and Princess Diana, spanning the 1980s to the late 2000s. It is showing through to 18 November 2023.
Where to stay
The Zetter Townhouse
Set in an elegant Georgian brick townhouse, this boutique hotel offers an authentic taste of historic London with its British-style décor filled with antique pieces. Accommodations are individually appointed, with huge Hypnos beds that make for a sound sleep. Vintage wallpaper showing an enlarged map of southwest England and Wales adorns the bathroom of the junior suites, and a record player sits on a dark timber stand in the corner of the sitting room, which is decorated with antique settees covered in vibrant fabrics. Amenity products are by The White Company, a London brand, while fresh-ground coffee and teas are sourced from local providores.
For more information, visit portmanestate.co.uk
The writer was a guest of The Portman Estate.
All images courtesy of The Portman Estate.