Pie’s London: PiccadillyJanuary 30, 2012
This is the final instalment of this mini series called Pie’s London, inspired by a request from one of my readers. I have taken you to Covent Garden and Soho. Now I will give you a taste of Piccadilly. This is not an area I know as well as the others and I wouldn’t choose to be there on a night out. Like Chelsea and Kensington, it’s smart, but needs to loosen its tie a bit for me to enjoy it. The advertising display and the statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus are so commonplace to me now that I don’t even notice them anymore. Having said all that, because I had a walk around and took pictures with my crappy camera for the benefit of you, dear reader, I started to see Eros, and other parts of Piccadilly in a (slightly) different light.
So let’s get the obvious, touristy bits out of the way. Here are the lights at Piccadilly Circus:
And here’s Eros, with added pigeons.
From Piccadilly Circus, you can either enter the hell mouth that is Leicester Square, or proceed to Piccadilly itself, which is one long road starting at the circus and ending at Hyde Park.
There are a few individual shops, the obligatory Starbucks and Café Nero, Waterstone’s bookshop and Fortnum and Mason, if you want to shop like a royal for an hour or two. St James’s Church, which houses an antique and craft market on different days of the week, is also host to spiritual and self-development talks and workshops. A very short walk from the Royal Academy, where a massive David Hockney exhibition has just opened, brings you to the Burlington Arcade. It’s a covered walkway with a red, plush carpet serenading you from the time you step in, to the time you leave at the other end. You feel like a very important person, as well you should.
This arcade contains high quality shops for clothes, shoes and jewellery. Some of the facades are reassuringly old fashioned, with touches of the old school.
Some of the clothes and shoe shops in this arcade are very English.
Keep walking down Piccadilly and you’ll come to The Ritz. I’ve not yet experienced the afternoon tea, but I hear it’s good. Further on from The Ritz is Green Park, a lovely, well used space, that leads to Buckingham Palace, if you like that kind of thing. The railings along Green Park on the final leg of Piccadilly are usually filled with paintings. Well, I say paintings. They’re actually prints from original paintings, housed in ornate gold frames to give the feel of old masters. The modern prints don’t have frames at all, because they’re… err… modern. Frame, or no frame, they’re all ghastly.
We’re nearly at the end of Piccadilly now, so cross over the road and have a look at the Hard Rock Café. I went there many years ago and quite enjoyed it, but I think I could get similar fare at the Stockpot for much less.
Piccadilly is not the place for a hardcore night out, but if you’re looking for a bit of sophistication (Mayfair’s a stone’s throw away), this is where you’d want to come.