All week we’re running a special report on London’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods. You can find part one on Shoreditch here and Holborn here. Today we look at West London’s Shepherd’s Bush, which has quietly blossomed over the past few years.
While East London has been stealing the spotlight, particularly with the 2012 Olympics held there, West London has quietly blossomed. Of course everyone knows fashionable Notting Hill and its even more posh neighbor, Holland Park, but as real estate in those areas has escalated, Shepherd’s Bush, just a mile from the heart of Notting Hill, suddenly has it all—shopping, dining, theater—plus it is arguably the most well-connected destination in London, with tube, buses and Overground trains in every direction, and less than a 45-minute drive from Heathrow.
The opening of the $2.5 billion Westfield Shopping Mall in 2008, at the time the largest shopping mall in Europe, was the catalyst for change in Shepherd’s Bush, as it included redevelopment of the area’s green space and transportation. Today Westfield London is the fourth most profitable mall in the world. Not surprising, as it is a light-and-beautiful place to shop, with glass ceilings and spacious corridors filled with more than 255 stores. Visitors can find all the “High Street” British brands—Marks & Spenser, Habitat, LK Bennett, Hackett, Superdry—plus everything else from around the globe, including Apple, H & M, Nike, and top designer brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Burberry. Plus, there’s a 17-screen movie theater and a choice of more than two dozen restaurants, mainly upscale chains such as Jamie Oliver’s, The Real Greek, Wagamama and Wahaca—all good quality in every ethnicity.
|Jin, the lobby bar at the Dorsett Shepherd's Bush, sits under a seven-story atrium.|
With everything under one roof, the mall has become a destination unto itself, but that shouldn’t distract from the actual neighborhood of Shepherd’s Bush and nearby hamlet of Brook Green. With international money flowing into Notting Hill and Holland Park, priced-out Londoners, i.e. upper middle-class lawyers, bankers, doctors and academics (the area is also home to the highly regarded Imperial College) have moved their families west and now you’ll find a mix of smart hotels, gastropubs and fashionable boutiques amid the betting shops and kebab stalls.
We adore the shiny new Dorsett Shepherds Bush, as prior to its opening this summer lodging options in Shepherd’s Bush were limited to budget B&Bs and one nice four-star boutique hotel, the K West. A conversion of a Grade II-listed building, originally an Art Deco cinema built in 1923, this is the first hotel outside of Asia for Hong Kong-based Dorsett Hospitality, which runs 18 upscale hotels in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Keeping to their roots, the design of the hotel mixes Chinese and British styles. Think 1930s Shanghai meets Conran. Behind the landmark facade and breathtaking glass roof is a new build of shimmering steel with a black, gold and white lobby that quietly hums with a mix of nationalities, Brits, Europeans and Americans plus Chinese guests that are fans of the Dorsett brand from Asia.
Above the lobby bar, Jin, soars a seven-story atrium with golden panels evocative of radiator grills. The 317 rooms—Dorsett, Deluxe, Executive and Suite—come in two styles, Chinese or Contemporary. The former feature gold and white Chinoiserie print walls and adorable bedside lights shaped like tiny trees; the latter have clean lines in pale gray with light blue- and gray-pinstriped carpets. We loved the bathrooms, which have tubs adjacent to high-pressure rain showers enclosed into a mini-wet room. Booking Tip: Even numbers overlook the atrium and odd numbers are external, offering more natural light. All rooms are extremely quiet with triple-glazed windows. For families, there are 50 interconnecting rooms, and Deluxe and Executive rooms have single and double sofa beds.
|Treatments at the Pavilion Spa range from sleep-inducing treatments to Chinese Hot Stone massage.|
Pictures, the all-day dining restaurant, is an elegant space with light gray walls and black tables. The menu is a clever combination of East meets West—at breakfast you can choose from Full English or Chinese congee, same for lunch and dinner where you can start with spicy calamari and finish with a sticky toffee pudding. We enjoyed both. A new high-end Chinese restaurant, Shikumen, will open this month with a chef from Hakkasan.
The Pavilion Spa is on the top floor, a glorious space beneath the glass roof with natural light flowing into the four treatment rooms. Treatments combine Western technology with holistic Asian health principles; services range from an intriguing series of sleep-inducing treatments to Chinese Hot Stone massage, with the signature offerings on the high-tech LPG machine, which claims to be a leader in natural slimming and anti-ageing Lipomassage and Endermolift technology. Those ages 12 to 17 are welcome with the “Teen Complex” menu of different facials, particularly for treating acne. Also on offer are nail, waxing and make-up services, personal training and even hypnotherapy. Spa director is Elle Bretagne ([email protected]).
|The Pavilion Spa offers relaxation rooms for guests.|
Though we live in the area, knowledgeable concierge Andras Varga ([email protected]) tipped us off to an exciting new Mexican spot, Habanera. It is particularly difficult to find good Mexican restaurant in London, so this juicy taco joint is a real gem. We completely agreed on some of the area’s not-to-miss gastropubs—The Havelock Tavern in Brook Green, the Princess Victoria in Shephard’s Bush and our favorite fish-and-chips shop, Kerbisher & Malt on the Shepherd’s Bush Road.
What’s not changed is the area’s celebrated music venues and theaters: the 1,500-seat Shepherd’s Bush Empire to catch rising music stars before they hit it big—everyone from Elton John to the Rolling Stones have played the Empire (on his recent tour of Europe, Prince did a “secret” concert there), the intimate Bush Theatre or avant-garde theater Bush Hall.
Travel agents should direct requests for information to Declan Murphy ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing. GM is Hilary Cross.