Paddington: the rise and rise of W2

This in-demand neighbourhood is about to take centre stage

London: Night view of a modern office complex in Paddington on October 31, 2017 in London
(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

Thanks to a certain marmalade-loving bear, Paddington will always be one of London's most famous neighbourhoods. But even though the area ticks many a desirable box – central location, excellent transport links and attractive period homes – it's long been overshadowed by its fashionable neighbours: Marylebone to the east, Notting Hill to the west and leafy Kilburn to the north. As a result, the cultural and culinary offerings in Paddington have never been much to write home about.

Today, a recent surge in multi-million-pound developments and the imminent arrival of Crossrail has seen Paddington rise to the top of many a property hot list, and finally emerge as a destination in its own right.

The ball started rolling back in 1998 (the same year the Heathrow Express service launched), when the Paddington Partnership was set up to connect "multiple landowners, development schemes, funding bodies and local communities". This ultimately led to the creation of Paddington Central, a whopping 11-acre mixed-use development. Situated alongside the disused canals around Paddington Basin, Paddington Central is now home to shiny new offices, homes, bars, restaurants and shops, as well as a host of social events such as lunchtime yoga sessions, outdoor film screenings and obligatory street food pop-ups.

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Hot on the heels of Paddington Central is Sellar Property Group's major undertaking around Paddington Station. The award-winning developers already proved their placemaking credentials with the now-iconic (and at the time controversial) Shard project – the brainchild of architect Renzo Piano and the late Irvine Sellar. The company has once again teamed up with Piano, along with Great Western Developments, on plans for Paddington Quarter, a £775m redevelopment of the former Royal Mail sorting office adjacent to Paddington Station. At the centre of the scheme will sit Paddington Cube, Piano's space-age 14-storey development, which promises to accommodate 4,000 new jobs in the area. Not only will Paddington Quarter introduce new offices, public realm, retail and restaurants to W2, it will also dramatically improve access to Paddington Station, along with a £65m new Bakerloo line station and ticket hall. Piano explained his ambition is to make "[the development] a truly outstanding place for people to work and visit, adding new life and vibrancy to the Paddington area".

Perhaps the unmistakable hallmark of an area's blossoming desirability is the arrival of hip new neighbours. For years Paddington has been home to a spattering of dated cafes, hotels and chains – but last summer saw the arrival of a new concept hotel that made headlines in a year of hotly anticipated openings across the capital. The Pilgrm describes itself as more of a "cafe with rooms" than a traditional hotel. Built from four Victorian townhouses on Norfolk Square, it pulls off a stylish marriage of original charm and modern panache. Conde Nast Traveller noted that The Pilgrm is "certainly adding to the burgeoning aura of Paddington's – whisper it – cool". Concluding that "more, surely will follow".

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