Mention the word Wembley and most people think of two words: stadium and arena. And, yes, Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena (now called The SSE Arena, Wembley) – both all brushed up for the twenty-first century – are the area's jewels and still attract outsiders to the neighbourhood. On a match day, like the annual FA Cup Final, or when there’s a big gig happening (Live Aid, Mandela's 70th birthday concert and countless other iconic gigs took place here), the atmosphere is electric. But Wembley has much more to offer.
Wembley Park is at the heart of Brent, officially London's most ethnically diverse borough, and with that comes a fabulous selection of food, drink and shops that serve the area’s Asian, African, European and many, many other communities. One of the more recent waves of change is that every weekday morning, you're likely to hear French accents all over the Metropolitan line trains as French-speaking kids commute to the brand new French lycée school in the converted old Brent Town Hall. It’s a brilliantly connected area, with the Jubilee, Metropolitan and Overground lines all able to whip you into town in less than 20 minutes, or even to the greenery of the outer suburbs and beyond to the Chilterns – if that’s what you’re after. Altogether now: ‘We’re on our way to Wembley, our knees have gone all trembly.’ (A football song, if you were wondering…)
There's a great view into the centre of London and out to Harrow-on-the-Hill, and the green fields beyond, from the Hilton's plush Sky Bar 9, which has a great terrace overlooking Wembley Stadium. Enjoy afternoon tea or a cocktail in style.
There's a weekly food market in Market Square, just off Olympic Way, which has over 10 stalls, including hot dishes like curries, falafels and pies, as well as cakes and spectacular coffee. It’s open every Wednesday from 10am to 3pm, whatever the weather.
Like Indian food? You're in the right area, and you’re spoilt for choice on Ealing Road, just a walk away from Wembley Park, where there's a whole series of Indian restaurants to choose from, all of them cheap and relaxed and full of families.
It's a bit of a walk from Wembley Park to North Wembley (about 25 minutes), but Karahi King in North Wembley is well worth the trek. It’s a local institution.
The Yellow Pavillion is the community hub of Wembley Park – a social space, outdoors and indoors, that hosts more than 20 activities a week, from yoga and street dance to crafts like jewellery-making and creative writing.
Close to Wembley Park is Neasden's astonishing Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, or Neasden Temple – you may have spotted it nestling between suburban semis while driving on the North Circular. It's an opulent marvel, crafted in India, transported to north London and opened in 1995. It's open all year round to visitors and non-Hindus and it’s a true original that you won’t regret seeking out.
One of the area’s other hidden gems is Brent Reservoir and Welsh Harp Open Space. Apparently a seaplane was kept on this stretch of open water during the Second World War to allow a quick escape for the Prime Minister. Nowadays you can sail on the water and the green space around it is a nature conservation area, home to about 250 species of birds.
London Designer Outlet in Wembley Park is now well-known far beyond the area for its 50-plus designer and high-street outlets at non-West End prices and its big choice of food and drink options.
If you only do one thing…
Well, it’s Wembley, so you have to grab a ticket to something happening at The SSE Arena Wembley or Wembley Stadium. This summer the stadium sees gigs by artists including Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Coldplay, and, of course, it's the home of the England football team whenever they play at home.
If you're tempted to live here…
You need to know about Tipi.
These brand new apartments have just opened in Wembley Park, and are redefining the rental market with a new hotel-inspired homes. Taking the pain out of renting, Tipi’s studio, 1 and 2-bedroom apartments have all-inclusive rents with a wide range of hotel-inspired services and on-site amenities, a simple and easy lettings process, no agents’ fee, two social lounges, and a gym and cinema room coming in Autumn 2016. With views of an acre of landscaped gardens with water features or the iconic Wembley arch, Tipi aims to be ‘the best way to live in London’.
Tipi is the latest launch from Quintain, the London-focussed property developer and combines brand new, high-quality apartments with exceptional service. Reversing years of frustration for Londoners, the focus of the new management company is to take the hassle out of renting by including all utility bills in the rent and to provide an offering that is flexible, with no agent or end of tenancy fees to pay.