Queensway has always been overshadowed by its glamorous neighbours, Notting Hill and Hyde Park. Despite a number of mini-makeovers, it has always slipped through the regeneration net, until now… so could this be Queensway’s defining moment?
Words: Emily Manson
Whether it is state of the art homes, gourmet dining or funky leisure activities, Queensway is teetering on the brink of finally being up-and-coming. What’s most exciting about this regeneration is that it draws on the area’s rich history, embracing and enhancing its roots to create something that will make it much greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Take Queens Skate-Dine-Bowl, which has just reopened and is already being billed as west London’s new go-to entertainment venue. Its stunning refurbishment of 45,000 sq ft of eating, drinking, skating and bowling sees 12 state of the art bowling lanes, two bars and also London’s most central ice rink embrace an industrial British retro style.
The new dine element of Jimmy’s Diner was created by renowned pop-up restaurateur, food writer and This Morning resident chef Jimmy Garcia. With sharing dishes, cocktails and craft beers, the quintessentially British menu includes Parliamentary pulled pork, sticky bangers and a build your own burger concept.
‘Queens has been around for so long, so Jimmy’s was about trying to modernise the food offer without losing the site’s heritage and integrity,’ says Garcia. ‘It’s refreshing to have young chefs creating something authentic rather than just catering for the masses.
‘We’ve sourced great ingredients like British Aberdeen Angus, wild boar and apple sausages, English sparkling wine, British spirits and even a 3 Strikes lager specially brewed for us. It’s about modern day convenience food – and that means food done really well with great ingredients, cooked with love.’
Queens’ owner Ben Bourne adds: ‘It’s such a unique location right next to the park and surrounded by some of the most affluent areas in London. It’s had all the ingredients to make it great, but over the years it just hasn’t come off.’
The area needs vision to drive it forward and that’s what we’re looking to do
Bourne’s estate goes far beyond Queens – a great block encompassing nearby residential areas, office and retail space – all of which is also about to undergo a massive £100m regeneration and repositioning. In an unprecedented collaboration with the area’s three other main property owners, the project also includes a new boulevard style pavement facelift that will totally transform its style.
‘The area really needs vision to drive it forward and that’s what we’re looking to do,’ says Bourne. ‘We’re working collaboratively with the other key estate owners to create a real boulevard style and help the area evolve.’ Similarly, if we’re talking fitness rather than entertainment – and it is January after all – another iconic Queensway landmark, The Porchester Centre, has just completed phase one of its multi-million refurbishment and overhaul.
Now run by EveryoneActive, new developments include new gym equipment, an exciting new virtual group cycling studio, a Hot Yoga facility as well as the 30m main pool and other exercise studios that have just been reopened. The main hall and Porchester Spa – which will include steam rooms, hot Turkish rooms, sauna, feature showers and plunge pool – are due to open in the first half of 2017.
EveryoneActive Spa Manager, Karen Gooding, notes: ‘We are really excited to be enhancing our offering in the local community by refreshing the decor and bringing the facilities up-do-date, whilst still retaining its original history and charm.’
To complete our hat trick of local landmarks, we must mention somewhere fabulous to stay – and in Queensway it doesn’t come more iconic than the boundary pushing Anouska Hempel. While her original hotel is currently being transformed into luxury housing, her latest creation is the boutique hotel La Suite West, where with trademark character she’s challenging perceptions of what a luxury hotel offer is.
‘La Suite West is a haven of design and peace,’ says James Jude, General Manager at La Suite West. ‘It has a focus on health and wellbeing, and is an absolute hidden gem in the heart of London.’
La Suite West is an absolute hidden gem in the heart of London
With minimalist rooms that meld stylish Zen chic with the latest tech, the hotel also boasts award-winning meat-free RAW restaurant, serving the likes of a vegan afternoon tea comprising finger sandwiches, scones with toppings such as coconut cream and strawberries, alongside alcohol free mocktails.
In addition to these icons leading the way, the area is also about to see the overhaul of Whiteleys Shopping Centre, the arrival of Crossrail and the revival of neighbouring Paddington Basin.
Mark O’Callaghan, co-founder of London residential design agency Echlin, comments: ‘In the same way that Notting Hill was regarded as the slightly poor relation to Kensington 10 to 20 years ago, yet is now seen pretty much as its equal, the W2 postcode still represents exceptionally good value, with the average property price currently around 30% lower than nearby W8 or W11.’
So watch this space. Queensway is set to be the next place to be truly up and coming.