Brompton Road: Undetected designer district in the heart of South Kensington

The lesser-heard of luxury hub where world-leading culture, clothes and cuisine collide.


London Editor

From residential to Rah! with a capital R, the Brompton Quarter is among the most exclusive enclaves in London. Within its walkable perimeter you can party the night away, while away the afternoon at some of the world's most authoritative museums, shop haute couture and independent designers in boutiques purveying some of the best edits in the capital, and feast on Michelin-starred cuisine. One of London's worst-kept secrets, this is the area that locals like to keep to themselves, where peerless shopping, sightseeing, dining and dancing takes place away from the madding crowds of London's higher profile addresses.           

Lokum Istanbul

Clip-clopping among the Russell and Bromley brogues leading from Harrods down the Brompton Road, the transformation of this stretch into one of the most revered retail destinations in the world is formidable. The area was developed in the 18th century to extend the tiny parish of Brompton, situated just west of where South Kensington station now stands, into a lawned residential area named 'New Brompton.' Every year in September, the cluster of world-leading interiors specialists opposing the breathtaking Brompton Oratory around the intersection of the Brompton Road where it forks into Thurloe Place springs alive for eight days during the London Design Festival. Specialists such as Sub-Zero and Wolf, Smallbones of Devizes, Boffi and Cassina, alongside interior whizzes Squint and Mint, provide oodles of inspiration and objets d'art in the bijoux creative hub named the Brompton Design District.

Aubaine on the Brompton Cross

Following Brompton Road's curve, the vista suddenly morphs from garden squares and mansion blocks to the gleaming glass windows and lustworthy lines draping the mannequins of Chanel, Carolina Herrera and The Library 1994, all presided over by the formidable Michelin House at the epicentre of the ultra-fashionable Brompton Cross. Created as the headquarters of the tyre company during the Edwardian era, the Grade II listed beauty is among London's most iconic edifices.

Bibenduk-Dining-Room-1-Today, beneath the gaze of the stained glass Michelin Man motifs and racing car murals, London society dines – drawn to the sensational seafood in the people-watching paradise of Bibendum, where crab gratin and fruits de mer are luxuriated over during long, lazy late lunches. Cross the mosaic ground floor to enter the Conran Shop, facing which are some of London's most fashion forward emporia – Joseph is the go-to stop for Dior, Etro and Maison Margiela.

Parallel to Sloane Avenue lies Draycot Avenue, and off this runs Walton Street. Here, some of the world's most innovative and classic independent luxury stores and brands – from jeans genius Donna Ida to English classic Bamford - have their flagships. The Box Boutique is a pop up store purveying show-stopping sunglasses and sensational shoes; elsewhere the four hundred-year-old scents of Santa Maria Novella and Ottoman treasures of Lokum Istanbul vie with Melissa Odabash's swimwear in this designer playground.

Contemplate your purchases over some of the best-established Italian fine-dining in the capital at Scalini, the newly revamped society haunt Daphne's, Jak's or linger over the definitive watermelon martini or Crack baby (passionfruit, vodka, raspberry liquor and Champagne) in the bar that invented it – Eclipse. Heading back along the Brompton Road and passing Bibendum and Stella McCartney you reach the Ralph Lauren store. And why not try a horological masterpiece by Longines on for size at The Watch Gallery?

From the Brompton Design District to breakfast on the Brompton Cross, museum-going on Exhibition Road and the boutiques of Walton Street and Draycott Avenue, the area's attractions are as intriguing as they are diverse. Pictured: Squint

Of the opinion that the best things in life are free (to look at, at least)? Wind your way back up the Old Brompton Road, stopping by the world's leading auction house Christies and perhaps one of the wine bars opposite such as Vini Italiani or The Sampler – to Exhibition Road. Peruse the blockbuster museums – the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the V&A. Happen to have caught one of their Friday night Lates? Try your luck at celebrity hotspot Boujis afterwards. Just don't tell anyone - you wouldn't want too many people knowing about one of the most multifarious luxury cultural districts on the planet, would you?

Brompton Road

Brompton Road, London