Of all the wonderful areas of London to explore, Victoria may not be top of your list. When I first moved here it was pretty limited in terms of places to eat and shop…there were two Pizza Expresses, Ask, Zizzi and the standard million Starbucks and Pret a Manger.
But Victoria is undergoing a regeneration period and there’s lots of new restaurants, bars and entertainment venues opening.
First we visited our most famous neighbour, the Queen. Unfortunately she didn’t invite us in for a cup of tea and to pet the corgis so we had to make do with The Royal Quarter cafe instead.
The cafe opened last year and it was great to have somewhere that was a little different to all the standard Starbucks lining the streets. Actually from where I live, I could walk to any of NINE (!!) Pret a Mangers in ten minutes. I mean, that’s ok, I’m rather partial to a Pret coffee and porridge in the morning but it’s nice to have somewhere that’s a bit different.
On the menu at The Royal Quarter cafe is a mixture of breakfast, a large selection of salads and sandwiches as well as more hearty hot dishes.
They also serve a gorgeous selection of cakes, pastries and cookies!
And best of all, they serve wine! Now you don’t get that at Starbucks!
After brunch, a stroll up Victoria street takes you past Westminster Cathedral…
From where you can turn into Cardinal Place, a development that houses a rather useful Marks and Spencer as well as other shops and restaurants. Here you can find Lavender Green, a gorgeous florist selling beautiful flowers and bouquets.
Lavender Green, aren’t just Mr S’s favourite, they’re actually one of London’s top florists and supply the flowers for weddings, businesses and hotels in London as well as my beloved Coworth Park in Ascot.
Another hotel that they provide flowers for is The Goring Hotel…
And if you haven’t heard of The Goring, than I don’t know where you’ve been… Being the closest hotel to Buckingham Palace, The Goring has a royal warrant and is a great favourite of the royal family. Also, rather excitingly, Kate Middleton spent the night here before her wedding to Prince William! I’m a big Kate fan and I love the idea of her prepping for her big day in this grand and luxurious hotel that has so much charm and old school glamour.
Obviously, Mr S and I couldn’t pass up the chance of toasting Kate and the rest of the Royal family! Though I’ve never tried it, I’ve also heard on good authority that the Goring offer a fantastic afternoon tea.
There’s several theatres in Victoria, but one thing that was always lacking was a good cinema, so last year when The Curzon sprung up Mr S and I were very excited. I really don’t like huge, over-priced cinema chains like the Odeon or The Vue so I was really pleased to have an boutique cinema as my local.
Especially one with stylish subterranean bar…
We settled down in the comfy sofas of the bar and had a chance to relax and enjoy a drink before the film started.
If you’re wondering, we were actually going to see 50 Shades of Grey, I’d jumped on the band wagon and read the books a couple of years ago and I was interested to see the transition to the big screen. As well as mainstream films, The Curzon also shows arthouse cinema, ballet, theatre and opera. Admittedly, I’m quite low-brow in my taste in film, and the last time I visited the cinema, we saw The Inbetweeners 2!
There’s five screens at The Curzon, with the biggest still only having a capacity of 70. It’s almost like watching the film at home as it’s so comfortable and personal. I really enjoyed the film (it helped that Jamie Dornan is ridiculously hot) and it didn’t deviate too much from the first book. The plot was really enthralling and I thought the two main actors had great chemistry together.
As you can see there’s so much more to Victoria than there used to be…It’s become somewhere that not only can you take in some of London’s iconic sights but it’s a great place to spend a relaxed day. In tomorrow’s post I’ll fill you in on some other great places in the local area….it’s so much more than a train station surrounded by offices, Pret and Pizza Express now!
This post was written in collaboration with Create Victoria.
Follow them on Twitter @CreateVictoria