Image of Header Wiltons private dining room.
Live like a local

A neighbourhood guide to St James’s

December 23, 2022

Dotted with independent boutiques and colourful galleries, St James’s is wonderfully artistic – and equally historic. Let us show you around our favourite local spots and hidden gems.

Home to nobility

This neighbourhood has been home to royals ever since its crowning glory, St James’s Palace, was built for King Henry VIII in the 1530s. Nestled between Green Park and St James’s Park, Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square, it’s full of cobbled alleyways hidden behind boutiques, red-brick mansions and the 18th-century Palladian Spencer House, built for an earl and ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales.

St James’s Palace, Marlborough Road, London SW1A 1BQ
Spencer House, 27 St James’s Place, London SW1A 1NR

Spencer House
Wiltons Scholey private room.
Courtesy of Wiltons Restaurant London

Sophisticated dining

Dip down St James’s quaint back streets and age-old passageways to discover its lively foodie scene. Head to intimate café and wine bar Locket’s for a casual lunch and enjoy its cheese and charcuterie boards designed for sharing. When night falls, we recommend a trip to Wiltons, one of London’s finest seafood establishments. Dating back to 1742, its sophisticated décor and discreet waiting staff create an ambience akin to a private members’ club.

Locket’s, 25 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1HJ
Wiltons, 55 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6LX

A diverse art scene

St James’s is an art connoisseur’s paradise. Galleries here range from the prominent Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on The Mall to White Cube, a former electricity substation tucked within a secret courtyard that’s home to cutting-edge modern art. The neighbourhood has a collection of smaller art spaces too – why not spend an afternoon gallery-hopping?

ICA, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
White Cube, 25-26 Mason’s Yard, London SW1Y 6BU

Thomas Dane Gallery.
Courtesy of Philip King and Luke A Walker
Emma Willis.
Courtesy of Emma Willis

Retail therapy

Like neighbouring Mayfair, St James’s is a land of outstanding tailoring. Bespoke cabinetry, fine art and antique furniture in the shop hint at the level of attention to detail paid to clothes by Emma Willis – think baby-soft cashmere cotton shirts and silk pyjamas. Patterns are cut by hand for laser-precision accuracy and a perfect fit. Nearby, Nigerian-born tailor Duro Olowu also has a reputation for his cuts. Just don’t expect
classic looks here. Ever since a Vogue editor discovered his silk dresses, he’s been known for colourful, creative styles.

Emma Willis, 66 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6NY
Duro Olowu, 14 Masons Yard (off Duke Street), London SW1Y 6BU

Hidden gems

Piccadilly lies a stone’s throw from St James’s. While this famous street is a bustling thoroughfare, the charming Maison Assouline is hidden in plain sight thanks to its discreet wooden door. Step inside and you’ll discover a playful twist to the building’s former life as a bank. It’s now a trailblazing lifestyle hub that’s part bookshop, part gift boutique – and part cosmopolitan cocktail bar. Time for an Assouline Bloody Mary?

196a Piccadilly, London W1J 9EY

Maison Assouline.
Courtesy of Simon Detraz

Once you’ve sauntered through St James’s, why not hop across to Covent Garden to discover the neighbourhood’s antique shops, galleries and restaurants.

Header image courtesy of Wiltons Restaurant London

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