Elegant yet cosy, whimsically pretty and often tucked away on a cobbled alley off the capital’s busiest thoroughfares, London’s mews houses have a unique, timeless allure.
Mews were built in the 18th and 19th centuries as stables and carriage houses for grand homes (many of which have since been lost to the city’s streetscapes), with servants’ quarters above. Impossibly photogenic, they are often pastel-painted, festooned with climbing roses and brimful of character, offering a mix of urban elegance and old-world charm that more than compensates for their petite proportions.
Small wonder, then, that they have captured the heart and imagination of many an A-lister, artist and film-maker. Francis Bacon, Adele, Madonna and Guy Ritchie have all lived in London mews houses, which have had unforgettable big- and small-screen roles – from Keira Knightley’s pink Notting Hill bolthole in the Richard Curtis romcom Love Actually to the South Ken retreat of James Norton’s flawed banker in the BBC’s McMafia. On the even smaller screen, they are catnip for Instagram influencers in search of the perfect backdrop – favourites include St Lukes and Powis Mews in W11, Harley Place in W1 and Kynance Mews in SW7.
For the London house-hunter, the mews also has endless practical appeal. “They are often for sale freehold, without listed status, which offers huge scope and flexibility for buyers to put their stamp on them,” says Charlie Williams, associate director of prime central London residential for Savills. “Many of them retain a garage, a rare perk from when they were converted from housing carriages, and are usually hidden away off busy streets. They are true urban oases with a strong sense of neighbourliness.”
Williams suggests looking at the mews houses in and around Chelsea and South Kensington, as well as Connaught Village in W2. “This under-the-radar neighbourhood on the edge of Hyde Park is full of untapped gems,” she says, “and it’s set to benefit in the long term from the money being pumped into Bayswater’s regeneration.” Expect to pay between £1,400 and £1,900 per sq ft for a mews house here.