Range rovers, red trousers, ‘Made in Chelsea’: there’s no end to the clichés about Fulham Road, and like most London stereotypes there is a grain of truth to them. But whilst it is really, really posh around here and, if you’re unlucky, you may well spot an insufferable TV moron (or a group of marauding Chelsea fans), the area still has plenty to offer to those of us without a trust fund.
Fulham Road winds through the centre of well-heeled west London, linking Fulham and Chelsea (via a central section locals call ‘the Beach’) and terminating in South Ken. It’s easy to blow your paycheck here, in the street’s top-of-the-range restaurants filled with people who look like they’ve never worked a day in their lives, bulletproof jewellery shops, expensive chains and even its Margaret Thatcher-themed bar, Maggie’s – complete with ’80s music, Babycham and Thatcher speeches playing in the bogs.
But Fulham Road is a bit of a dark horse. Behind all the glitz and glamour (read: money), there are places with the right mix of quirk and quality: forward-thinking galleries, proper boozers and unpretentious bars that have ignored the memos from Hackney and Peckham on after-hours irony. And they’ll let you in even if your name isn’t Binky, Bunty or Spencer.
A Himalaya cocktail, made with vodka, goji berry and pomegranate juice, from Scandi-styled Kosmopol.
Filipino-inspired coffee from Muni Coffee Co. This crowdfunded newcomer serves up nice flat whites and British-Filipino fusion food.
A Palm Beach or Mango Bango at hilariously tacky tiki bar Kona Kai.
A bottle of red for the dinner party from Lea & Sandeman Wine Merchants. It’s decorated wall-to-wall with obscure vintage plonk.
A beer at The King’s Arms, whose cask ales all have solidly British sounding names like Bishop’s Tipple and Farmers’ Glory.
Big meat at Sophie’s Steakhouse & Bar, a buzzy, no-bookings NYC import that’s perfect for date night.
Good food at any hour of the day or night, at 24-hour institution VQ.
A white chocolate and pistachio escargot from Orée bakery. In case you weren’t sure: it’s a delicious pastry, not an actual snail.
Contemplate death as you tour Brompton Cemetery, perhaps the very finest of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian graveyards.
Ponder some contemporary art at Circa gallery, which brings international artists to SW3.
Pretend you’re a cowboy in Wild West-themed club Beaver Lodge, where there’s not an inch of exposed brickwork in sight…
…or make like a Bavarian at the Octoberfest Pub, where the oompah never dies.
Designer clobber by Margaret Howell, who puts out understated men’s and women’s fashion.
Naughty knicks from Ziggla, one of London’s last old-school hosiers.
Sardinian salsiccia from Luigi’s Delicatessen, which has been importing Italian produce for more than 40 years.
And if you only do one thing…
Splash out on seafood at Bibendum. Housed in the former headquarters of Michelin, this chic restaurant features awesome art nouveau stained glass and art.