With its winding lanes and artisan shops, the corner of London that is Marylebone Village is renowned for being one of the most fashionable spots in town. In fact, this reputation for being a hub for artisan makers dates back to the 1770s, when musicians and artists lived and worked in the area.
These days, it is famous for its line-up of independent shops – which – counter to what’s happening in the rest of the UK – seem to thrive in this corner of London. During the late-18th century, the main street became the Marylebone High Street we recognise today, lined with shops and houses. The Portland Estate leased pieces of land out on 99-year leases, on which builders of all types built according to plans approved by the Estate. This led to a great variety of buildings in terms of style, size and occupancy. Tradesmen included an apothecary, baker, goldbeater, hairdresser, shoemaker and watchmaker.
Looking around today, the shop signs may have changed in 2023, but Marylebone still retains a characterful, ‘small town’ feel, despite it being a short walk from the hubbub of Oxford Street. Still known as ‘Marylebone Village’, one of the most-loved shops is the charmingly timeless VV Rouleaux, found on Marylebone Lane. Home to ribbons, haberdashery, millinery and trimmings, the store was founded in 1990 by Annabel Lewis, with the belief that “there are no barriers between fashion and decorating, home and catwalk”. It quickly became a destination store for designers, sewers and decorators and its rainbow-hued window displays are always one of the most imaginative on the high street.
Daunt Books, found in a period Edwardian store, was also founded in 1990 and is one of London’s most-loved independent bookstores. With its long oak galleries and skylights, it is like stepping back in time. Its bookshelves are lined with art titles, the latest fiction and non-fiction, although it is most famous for its collection of travel books – with titles arranged by country. It is also home to a rich diary of writer-led events with established and upcoming authors.
From Agnes B and BA&SH and Maje to Petit Bateau, Marylebone High Street boasts a strong line-up of stores championing smaller, boutique fashion labels. The Kooples, Wyse London, Toast and Rixo are also among the shops offering up-to-the-minute and timeless looks.
O Pioneers is perhaps one of the most interesting brands. The independent British clothing label was set up by London-born Clara Francis and Tania Hindmarch in 2019. Unable to find their dream dresses, the pair set about designing their own – with a modern take on the elegant, sometimes eccentric, English Victoriana style. What began as a small, kitchen table business has blossomed into a cult classic for women who want to be more mindful in their fashion purchases and invest in beautifully crafted, forever pieces, many of which are made in iconic Liberty prints.
The KOIBIRD store is another gem found in Marylebone. The evolving retail experience offers a curated edit for the perfect travel wardrobe, offering seasonal pieces sourced from around the world.
While fashion and jewellery labels have a strong presence in the area, Marylebone’s foodie outposts, including an offering from Lina Stores, are also a strong pull. The original Lina store in Soho has been serving Londoners with the best Italian produce since 1944 and is an iconic name on London’s landscape. The Marylebone address takes the ‘Lina experience’ one step further and features an all-day dining restaurant, delicatessen and bar. The ground floor of the restaurant features an open kitchen, as well as an open-plan delicatessen offering a variety of salads, panini, fresh pasta and, pizzette. On the lower-ground floor, the main restaurant continues, offering a more intimate setting, with aperitivi served from the feature Art Déco bar.
With its fresh pastries and bread, and baskets teaming with fruit and vegetables, Bayley & Sage takes pride in offering products that reflect the best of the season whether its meat, cheese or the delicious seasonal dishes prepared in its kitchens. One of the newest additions to the high street, the upscale grocery store only opened its doors last year, and also features an Abode homeware shop in the basement.
108 Brasserie, meanwhile, on Marylebone Lane, is the perfect pitstop while browsing the shops. It has just launched an afternoon tea (served 1-4pm, Thursday-Saturday) served in its cocktail bar, adjacent to the restaurant. Designed with a twist of creativity from the in-house pastry chefs, this collection of savoury and sweet treats takes inspiration from the colours and flavours of quintessential classics.
Fischers, is another London staple. The informal neighbourhood restaurant and konditorei, from popular restauranteurs The Wolseley Hospitality Group, offers a classic Viennese menu, with cured fish, salads, schnitzels and strudels on offer, alongside hot drinks and a mittel-European wine list.
Celebrating these and Marylebone’s other foodie outposts, including Rococo Chocolates and La Fromagerie (both on Moxon Street) is the upcoming Marylebone Food Festival (25-30 April). First launched in 2018, the annual event is a celebration of food and drink in Marylebone created and funded by The Howard De Walden Estate and The Portman Estate.
The six-day culinary extravaganza sees one-off masterclasses, supper clubs, tastings and specially-themed menus, all showcasing this culinary corner of the West End. The festival sets out to celebrate Marylebone’s independent food emporiums and dining spots – from relaxed casual restaurants and family-run cafés to chic cocktail bars and fine dining hotspots.
To see what’s on, visit: marylebonefoodfestival.com
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