Two people cross a “dirty old river” from where people are “swarming like flies around Waterloo underground”. Romantic eh? Well yes, actually. This London vignette is part of one of the greatest love songs ever written and one which should be downloaded onto your Valentines Day playlist with immediate effect. “Waterloo Sunset” is the capital’s answer to all those overblown ballads about hot kisses under palm trees in faraway places that usually end in tears and tantrums. Ray Davis’ story about two outsiders finding love in the big city is cliche-free, straight from the heart and – clocking in at just over three minutes – a model of musical economy.
Written in the optimistic sixties, it looks forward to a time when London would become the ultra-funky cultural hub that we enjoy today. Lovers in the 21st century no longer have to look at the sunset and dream because the capital today is full to bursting with places for them to cozy up to one another. From pretty pubs and wine bars hidden in cobblestoned mews to the marbled hallways of luxury hotels and chic bars, there is plenty to choose from when romancing in areas such as Knightsbridge. Here couples can eat, drink, dance (shop) and cuddle to their heart’s content – or at least until closing time.
In fact the handsome property exteriors of Knightsbridge give some tantalising clues about a real life love affair that was immortalised, not in song, but rather in stone. The logo of French fashion legend Coco Chanel is an instantly recognisable mark on all manner of luxury goods – but lamp posts? – surely she didn’t design street lighting as well? She didn’t but the Second Duke of Westminster was so smitten by her gamine charms that he got town planners to incorporate the famous “double C” into the municipal architecture. It was, of course, quite fashionable for powerful men to maintain love nests for their mistresses and when actress Lily Langtry hooked for herself the biggest fish of all, namely King Edward VII, she wasn’t going to settle for some pokey suburban semi. A grand townhouse on the corner of Sloane Street and Pont Street is where our femme fatale entertained the royal philanderer and this is somewhat cheekily commemorated with an historic blue plaque.
River cruises with live dance bands, canapes and champagne in the Georgian conservatory, rooms-with-a-view at the Mandarin Oriental hotel: the whole town seems to be one huge cultural matchmaking enterprise. New York shouts, Paris shrugs and Dubai indeed shops but London serenades its way into our hearts. Even the buskers and street musicians step their game up in mid-February, so expect to hear impromptu, al fresco versions of opera classics such as “Nessum Dorma” start up as you stroll hand in hand along with your loved one along the avenues of Knightsbridge.
As time goes by, giddy romance tends to turn into something a bit more long-term that leads to couples putting down roots. And there’s nowhere more romantic than classy Chelsea postcode, so if you’re looking for a home to rent, may we suggest this little gem in Beaufort Gardens SW3 – ideal for those hoping to transform their love nest into a comfortable base from which to enjoy life together in the Capital. An ultra-short commute and easy access to one of the world’s most exclusive retail strips ensures that love never grows old in the heart of Knightsbridge.
|2 bed apartment in Beaufort Gardens, Knightsbridge SW3, £825 per week|
View all posts by Lisa-Jane Stratton