Living Alongside Britain’s Most Famous Fictional Detective
It’s one of London’s most famous streets and sought out by visitors from all over the world, yet the man who made its reputation is a work of fiction. Baker Street is, of course, best known as the home of Sherlock Holmes, and number 221b has been converted into a museum dedicated to the detective and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, Baker Street isn’t just a tourist destination. Its busy shops and stylish apartment blocks make it a great place to live, and it’s within a stone’s throw of some of London’s best amenities and attractions. While homes for sale in Baker Street come with a significant price tag, luxury living can be had at a lesser cost compared to some of the neighbouring districts.
Baker Street is named after the man who built it, William Baker, in the 18th century. It started life as a residential street but commerce soon moved in. The Baker Street Bazaar near Portman Square was the main centre of entertainment. It was here that Madame Tussaud brought her first waxworks exhibition before eventually settling around the corner in Marylebone Road. Less well known is the fact that the bazaar played host to London’s first ever artificial ice ink. It wasn’t strictly speaking an ice rink because the skaters slid along on a mixture of sulphur and hogs’ lard, but they could enjoy an alpine backdrop of snowy mountains and chalets as they did so. On hot summer days the mixture let off an unappealing cheesy smell so it must have come as no surprise when the rink was closed in 1844.
The creation of Sherlock Holmes didn’t happen until the late 19th century. He first appeared in 1887 and proved hugely popular after the publication of a series of short stories in Strand Magazine. Baker Street’s other equally famous and real former resident is Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. He lived at number 120 in 1803-4. A blue plaque marks the spot. More recently, the street has had musical connections in some of the homes to rent in Baker Street. Singer Dusty Springfield took up residence in the 1960s and the Beatles’ record label set up its headquarters at number 94.
So what’s Baker Street like today? The main street crossing from the NW1 to W1 postcodes is bustling with shops and restaurants at ground level but the floors above house hundreds of smart London apartments, many with their own concierge services, private parking and gym facilities. The top of Baker Street is quieter and links to Regents Park, home of London Zoo. The area is often known as Marylebone Village and it remains a sought-after part of London in which to live. Once across Marylebone Road, Baker Street forms part of the A41, which runs south to Portman Square, where it turns into Orchard Street before going on to meet Oxford Street. Clearly, for those who love shopping and being in the centre of things, Baker Street is hard to beat. Though part of Marylebone, Baker Street is convenient for London’s top hotels. Claridge’s and the Ritz are a short walk or cab ride away. Theatreland is down the road and some of London’s best tourist attractions are within easy reach, including Madame Tussaud’s, the London Planetarium, London Zoo and, of course, the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Baker Street is blessed because it’s in close proximity to two of London’s royal parks; Regents Park to the north and Hyde Park to the south. The nearest is Regents Park, which offers the biggest outdoor area for sports in Central London. In its 100 acres there is plenty of room for football, cricket, rugby or whatever takes your fancy. A sports pavilion called the Hub offers showers, toilets, exercise classes and changing rooms and it’s from here that the sports pitches are hired out. It’s a bit like a community centre with many activities being organised for people of all ages to enjoy.
Regents Park is home to Britain’s only professional open-air theatre, located in the Inner Circle area of the park. Performances take place from May to September. Formal gardens and wildlife areas abound, making this a very special open space.
It will come as no surprise to learn that property on Baker Street is pricey but not as much as other parts of the West End. Many of the homes for sale in Baker Street are apartments in impressive period blocks which are well maintained. High ceilings and generous room sizes mean that in some properties the space is similar to a large family house. Chiltern Court is an imposing mansion block with a porter service, moments away from Baker Street tube station, and with external architecture every bit as impressive as the blocks of apartments in the very best parts of Paris. A four-bedroom flat here would cost around £1.9 million, whereas a two-bedroom property would be marketed around£ 675,000. There are other homes for sale in Baker Street which are a little more modest. An equally delightful block is Chalfont Court at the very top end of Baker Street, over the road from Regents Park and number 221b. Here a three-bedroom, two-bathroom property would set you back around 1.3 million, but that does include a porterage service and a lift. The average price of homes for sale on Baker Street stands at £825,000 for properties within the NW1 postcode.
However, statistics show that a significant number of residents choose homes to rent in Baker Street. The majority of rented properties are taken by private renters rather than by those on benefits, and there is a significant percentage of the population who find a home for rent in Baker Street or the surrounding streets during the week but return to another property at the weekend. The area is also home to many visiting business people and medical professionals from abroad who need to rent a property in the short term.
Many suitable bolt holes exist in the floor above the shops of Baker Street. Homes for rent on Baker Street include apartments in a landmark building called Parkview Residence. A hi-spec three-bedroom flat on the fifth floor of this block will rent for around £1500 per week. Not only does that provide a spacious, well-maintained and tastefully decorated property, but it also comes with an on-site gym and 24-hour porter. A two-bedroom flat would be about £200 cheaper. Other homes to rent on Baker Street include a piece of history. Five stunning flats have been created in the former headquarters of the Beatle’s record label, Apple, at number 94. A two-bedroom flat here rents for around £1150 per week. The average letting fee for homes to rent on Baker Street stands at £757 per week.
The thing about homes for sale on Baker Street and properties to rent is that each property comes with its own little piece of London history. So you may be moving into a home once occupied by a pop star, former Prime Minister or even a fictional detective. Baker Street also is home to many businesses and corporate organisations. Michael House at number 55 was once the headquarters of Marks and Spencer. The company moved out in 2004, but the property has been redeveloped as a smart modern office block. Also on the street at number 111 is the consulate for the Seychelles.
The area around Baker Street is also vibrant because of its connection with the arts and education. Artistic establishments locally include the Wigmore Hall and the Royal Academy of Music on Marylebone Road. The Academy and the University of Westminster bring many students into the area during term time. This increases demand for homes to rent in Baker Street. The world-famous Wallace Collection, with its array of historic fine paintings and furniture, is close by in Manchester Square. International classical music venue the Wigmore Hall is also in close proximity. All these venues bring people to the area both day and night.
Not far from Baker Street is Harley Street, where a community of private medical practitioners can be found. The nearest hospital is the Princess Grace, a private hospital close to Marylebone Road. However, NHS facilities are not far away, with the London Heart and the Royal Free Hospitals within easy reach.
Being in Central London, Baker Street is well connected. Baker Street tube station is on the Circle, Metropolitan, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Hammersmith and City Lines so it’s well served from all over London at all times of day. Baker Street tube is no ordinary tube station, being one of London’s oldest. The first underground service was the Metropolitan Line from Paddington to Farringdon, which opened in 1863. Platforms 5 and 6 of Baker Street station are still the original platforms. The station foyer has a large wooden gate with a large clock on top which has hardly changed since the day it opened. This design pre-dates the start of the Paris Metro by 37 years and the creation of Sherlock Holmes by 25 years. From Baker Street all the mainline stations are easily accessible, either by tube or by road. Kings Cross, Euston, St Pancras and Marylebone stations are spread out along the A501, which is a cross London route eventually reaching the A40, M25 and M40. Travel out of London by car is easy. Buses are very regular to all parts of London and are used by the many tourists, residents, workers and students which come to the area every day.
The population of the area is unusual in that most are wealthy and relatively few have children. Many choose homes to rent in Baker Street and the surrounding streets. Within the Marylebone area, 40% of households live as families but only 12% have dependent children. The majority of the children living locally go to school either outside the area or they go to private schools. The most convenient state secondary school is St Marylebone School, and St Vincent’s Primary is the nearest school for younger children, but there are other state schools in the City of Westminster area. Independent schools include Abercorn School on Marylebone Road and Francis Holland School, a private secondary school for girls at the top end of Baker Street.
Living on Baker Street is not like living on a normal street, even for London. There is so much to do on the doorstep, and every conceivable service, restaurant, retail outlet and facility is within easy reach. It’s a great location and tranquillity is never far away in one of London’s Royal Parks. Finding homes for sale in Baker Street is easy as there is plenty of choice. Despite being in such a central location, Baker Street has a community feel which is almost village-like, with local sports facilities and the library in close proximity to international tourist attractions. If you would enjoy a slice of West End life mixed in with a bit of history, community spirit and a crime novel or two, then Baker Street and the surrounding area may well be the perfect place to set up home.