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Living à la carte

If your passions are fine dining and haute couture, there's no better location than Westminster and its surrounding areas

Photography Chris & Sarah

Words Georgia Frances

Walk around Westminster and you can sense the aura of power and privilege in the air. All the icons of British greatness are here. From Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey to the beautiful Royal Parks - Hyde Park, Green Park, St James's Park and Kensington Gardens. Unsurprising then that this is an area of uncompromising quality, with Michelin-starred restaurants around every corner (36 at the last count) and limitless opportunities for haute couture shopping.

The chimes of Big Ben resonate from the Houses of Parliament as a constant reminder you are treading the haunts of royalty and rulers. You'll hear the bells from Abell & Cleland, an illustrious development of one- to four bedroom residences that reflects its proximity to the city's political and social elite.

Just a few minutes away, step back in time and shop like a king - quite literally - on London's prestigious St James's Street. Here at number nine you'll find bespoke bootmaker John Lobb - the Cornish farmboy who provided footwear to King Edward VII and whose successors now provide hand-made shoes for the current Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales. Then top off your outfit at Lock & Co, the family-owned business that has been providing quality headwear since as far back as 1676.

If you're seeking a more familiar retail experience head out to Kensington High Street, where you'll find every major high street brand you could hope for, as well as unique designer boutiques and decadant homeware emporiums.Perfect if you want to avoid the touristy hustle and bustle of Oxford Street - and with Harrods and Harvey Nichols just a short walk away.

Towards the top, 375 Kensington High Street offers a selection of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments set around a beautifully landscaped courtyard inspired by London's traditional squares. Its luxurious leisure facilities include a swimming pool, sauna and spa - the ideal place to unwind after a serious shopping day.

Then enjoy the modern French menu at Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred Pétrus near Hyde Park Corner. Or sample chef Marcus Wareing's sophisticated two Michelin-starred offering at the Berkeley Hotel on Wilton Place. When it comes to fine dining you're spoilt for choice. A retreat from the whirlwind of central London, and altogether more relaxing retail experience, can be  found in nearby Belgravia. This peaceful and hugely fashionable neighbourhood offers the appeal of a village and is now enhanced by Ebury Square - a development of one- and two-bedroom apartments, and four- and five-bedroom penthouses - housed in two contemporary buildings sympathetically designed to complement the traditional architecture of the Georgian streetscape.

Shop in Belgravia for intimate exclusivity. Louise Kennedy - one of Ireland's favourite fashion designers - has a store located on West Halkin Street. The area has also become the Mecca of chocolate connoisseurs since the arrival of Rococo on Motcomb Street. Sit and sip rich hot chocolate in its Moorish courtyard, where a glass window in the shop floor lets you spy on some chocolatiering or baking action in the kitchen.

There's further food theatre to be found just behind Motcomb Street at the Michelin-starred Amaya restaurant. Here cutting-edge Indian dishes offer a myriad of tantalising ingredients fl amed in a spectacular open kitchen. For something more traditional, back on West Halkin Street is the home of Mosimann's - the private dining club presided over by the famous Swiss chef and restaurateur Anton Mosimann. The building - a converted 19th-century Scottish Presbyterian Church - is as intriguing as the menu's 'Cuisine Naturelle' is to discerning diners seeking out bestin- season specialities.

For those who enjoy a bespoke lifestyle, there's no better place to be.

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