A quick insight into the wide range of clichés that can be found in London.
Words: Christie Bannon, Costanza Maraffio, Ludovica D’Angiò, Ludovica Parisi. Drawings: Costanza Maraffio.
London’s tube map can be confusing for brave foreigners who have just moved to the city. And when it comes to looking for a place to live they can’t be more lost.
In London, choosing an area to live in means choosing how you are going to be portrayed by others. That’s a sticky label you cannot avoid getting. Therefore, it is our duty to provide you with a stereotyped list of the people you’re most likely to run into when walking through the streets of some of the most popular areas of London.
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1) South Kensington:
South Kensington is the most selective area for its residents. In order to win the title of living in “South Ken” (never pronounce the ‘sington’ part if you actually live there) you need to be chic, Italian or British, posh, have a mini-size dog and a Birkin bag. You need to have coffee at La Bottega, be obsessed with healthy, vegan food and find yourself a husband who can afford to buy a Maserati like you can buy a lollipop. If not, forget about it
Anyone who lives in Shoreditch can be classified in two different ways. Either you’re a fan of piercings, tattoos, vintage shopping and cheap beer and find yourself at ease with the East London vibe, or maybe you’re one of those enlightened, privileged people who’s decided to abandon the comfort of their apartment in central London in order to experiment with a completely new lifestyle, denuding themselves of their Rolex, loafers and coats.
3) Bond Street:
Bond Street is known to be the largest shopping strip for wealthy tourists and Londoners who can afford to spend £10 for a glass of water in a bar, or £10,000 for a jacket. It is not a residential area at all, as most buildings consist of stores, shopping malls, offices and restaurants, but in the past five years the number of Chinese, Japanese and Korean people who have moved to London seem to dominate this area. Who wouldn’t like to window shop from your own window?
4) Baker Street:
Who cares about the Sherlock Holmes museum or Madame Tussauds? Baker Street is the heart of London at walking distance from almost all of the famous streets and places of the capital, going from Oxford Circus to Regent’s Park. So why wouldn’t a student who has just moved to London rent a house there? Obviously looking for comfort, they would be able to live the perfect life in a new city, with a list of the best pubs, clubs and restaurants accessible in the blink of an eye, disregarding the possibility of visiting basic tourist attrcations
Anyone who thinks of Knightsbridge immediately associates it with the world’s most famous department store: Harrods. Even though it’s an area where people go to window shop, the Arabic population has found a nest in this place. Sultans, oil magnates and harems occupy the majority of the luxurious apartments. However, this part of the city is snubbed by the people living in South Ken and Notting Hill, as it is seen as the nouveau riche area.
Camden really does have its own individual personality. Attracting music lovers for generations, its reputation has remained the same for many years. Grown men with shaved heads, leather jackets and Doc Martens wander the streets filled with street food. The fluorescent lights from the shops selling cheap clothes and bongs will definitely catch your eye, if not the people covered in tattoos definitely will.
Because the Westminster area of London is the most visited (think Big Ben and the London Eye), it’s seen as an extremely important and sophisticated area. The majority of the population is tourists, the only objects you see are cameras and smartphones with flashes that almost blind you at night. When you hear the name Westminster, you directly associate it with a place that has a lot of history, famous buildings and men in suits.
8) Notting Hill:
Commonly associated with the classic 90’s rom-com of the same name, Notting Hill really does attract classy Julia Roberts’ wannabes hoping to find a romance of their own. The serene streets filled with pastel houses and market stalls leer you in and encourage you to stay. Filled with bookstores, cosy coffee shops and of course the famous Portobello Road, Notting Hill is definitely one of the more chilled areas.
9) West Hampstead:
You might be too old to believe in fairytales but once you step outside West Hampstead’s tube station the feeling of being catapulted into “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” will definitely have an impact on your inner infant. Don’t be surprised at the perfectly painted Victorian style cottages because that’s nothing compared to the people who brag about their amazing lifestyles. They all compete to win the “best at faking happiness” award! In order to receive welcoming goodies by your neighbour not only must you drive a Range Rover that shows off your flourishing bank account, but also a strong self-control since nobody is allowed to freak out unless it’s because Brangelina broke up.
Commonly known for riots in the 1980s, shootings and the smell of weed, this area is also characterised by fruit markets, wig shops and reggae music. Brixton is full of alternative, lively people who are not afraid to express their own personality by showing their artsy side. There’s space for everyone: from Banksy wannabes to twerking dancers, from ravers to indie rock bands. Never judge a book by its cover, explore all those narrow alleys which give you the chance to discover the true identity of this area.