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Pie’s London: Piccadilly

January 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:

Piccadilly Circus

And here’s Eros, with added pigeons.

Eros, Piccadilly

Eros close up, Piccadilly

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.

Burlington Arcade sign

Burlington Arcade entrance

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.

Burlington Arcade old fashioned shop

Burlington Arcade old fashioned shop bell

Some of the clothes and shoe shops in this arcade are very English.

Burlington Arcade bowler hat and shoes

Burlington Arcade union flag shoes

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.

Mawkish Piccadilly art

That’s proper art, that is. None of that Tracey Emin shit

Piccadilly art ersatz old masters

I’ll look like a proper Lord of the Manor with these beauties in my house

Piccadilly art London paintings

“May-bee it’s be-cawse I’m a Landanaaah, that I luv Landaaahn sooo…”

Piccadilly art London prints

Landahn! Laaaandaaahn!

Piccadilly art abstract

That reminds me. My toilet needs cleaning

Piccadilly art Al Pacino

I’d want to put a horse’s head in the bed of whoever made this

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.

Hard Rock Cafe, Piccadilly

Hard Rock Cafe neon slogan, Piccadilly

Love and peace and Rock’n’Roll, man

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.

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9 comments

  1. I don’t know if I have enough class to walk through Burlington Arcade. But I’ll have to, because I simply must get a pair of the Union Jack shoes.

    You made me laugh with your commentary on the Modern Bathroom Art. I suppose they must be selling some of those “paintings” of the double decker buses or they wouldn’t have them out. My New Year’s resolution is to resist the urge to buy some for my living room.


  2. Pie, thank you so much for doing this series. You put a lot of time and effort into this, and I appreciate it!

    I’m feeling shaky about my resolve to not buy a double decker for my living room………..


    • You’re very welcome, Jacki. Whether you stay strong and resist, or succumb to your tacky side and purchase some bad art, have a brilliant time.


  3. I loved reading that, well done pie! Your readers might like to know that Burlington Arcade is I think the first shopping arcade in the country & there is a very good cocktail bar on the top floor of waterstones!


    • Oooh. I didn’t know about the cocktails on the top floor of Waterstone’s (which, by the way, is thinking of removing the apostrophe in its name to be up to date and down with the yoot, innit). They kept that one quiet, or maybe I haven’t paid enough attention, because when I go there it’s usually to buy a book, or browse the shelves for my own amusement. I should get myself there asap.

      By the way, I didn’t mention in my original post that the bad art on the railings only appear at weekends. Some of us may think that’s a good thing!


  4. Great pics and gave me a taste of London.


    • I hope you got a chance to have a look at the other posts in this short series covering Covent Garden and Soho. I may do another one for another part of London in the spring or summer.


      • I will definitely check them out when I get a chance with a cuppa. Gives me ideas if I go for a trip. I love wandering, great for clearing the head. So I will find the posts extremely helpful.Your photo’s are great.



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