Laura is an English model, writer and born and bred Londoner. She has modelled for some of the world’s most prestigious and well-known brands, including Guess jeans, L’Oreal, Jaguar and Bella Freud, and has written extensively for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar and The Sunday Times. A true polymath, she is also a Cultural Ambassador for the British Fashion Council and for Oxfam, Creative Director for a jewellery concept label, and has produced and starred in a number of short films. A true city insider, Laura lives in the neighbourhood with her partner and two children and was kind enough to share her highlights and hidden treasures.
What makes Bayswater and the surrounding areas so special?
West London is simply, home, even when I lived in NYC. As a teenager I’d make pilgrimages to Portobello Market and dreamt of a London life. I am inspired by its diversity of culture and street life and the natural and urban beauty that sit side-by-side. I walk my dogs or ride my bike through Bayswater and Hyde Park most days, eyes wide open, always curious and exploring new paths, stopping at a new café or favourite haunt en route. I have never known community like this, from the market traders to strangers in the park, from the local youth club where I volunteer to the magical secret gardens of Notting Hill, and I never take for granted its beauty or its soul.
What do you love about living in the area?
I love that my kids are still best friends with the local kids they grew up with and can walk from home to home or back and forth from the local parks. I love my local tennis & boxing clubs, and bike routes. I love the markets and vintage stores, the cafes and street life. The international carnival spirit of Golborne Road, and the music that you can find everywhere.
What inspiration do you derive from the area, especially in your writing and photography?
I am constantly inspired by the streets of London. I shoot a lot locally whether I’m modelling or photographing. I love spring evenings in my garden or on friends’ rooftops, and autumn walks around Holland Park, and August and Christmas when it’s suddenly quiet. Although I am lucky to travel a lot, there is always a joy in returning.
What local shops do you rely on and what for?
Lutyens and Rubenstein for books, Rococo News for magazines, and Space NK for all things beauty. Half-Pipe in Golborne Road is my beloved trusty local bike store, which has looked after me and my bikes forever, and now my kids’ skateboards too. It’s a real community hub. Whenever I’m there I take my time talking dream bike routes and other adventures, and have sent everyone I know to them over the years.
Which one is your best-kept secret and what makes it so special?
It’s not so much of a secret anymore, but the place all my faraway friends always ask about and want to jump the line for is Josh Wood Colour, my brilliant best friend’s atelier in a Holland Park mews for the best haircut and colour in town. There is an excellent one stop beauty shop in the foyer too.
What are your favourite local restaurants for a casual dinner?
The Tin Shed Cafe on All Saints Road for brunch and the best homemade cakes and treats. It’s my other office! Six Portland Road for romance (and girlfriends!), and Granger & Co for family suppers and working breakfasts. Hereford Road W2 is a special place full of friends and memories, and so near to The Whiteley. And I recommend The Portobello Hotel to my faraway friends - for a truly local experience. It’s a place full of original spirit, real character and true stories galore!
What’s your favourite restaurant in the area for a special occasion?
Core by Clare Smyth in my neighbourhood is somewhere for a special treat, it’s super creative but unpretentious and welcoming. I like the bar for just a drink and a snack too. My kids would vote for the terrace at Portobello Pizzeria on Ladbroke Road.
Where do you go for exercise or to unwind?
I mix it up! Boxclever Sports for boxing, Campden Hill Lawn Tennis club, Opus Pilates and Bodyism for the best classes and breakfast! And my kids skateboard at Bay 66, the beloved local skate park. I also like a super strong sports massage at Koia and the occasional facial at Skin Matters.
What are the best local boutiques for fashion classics? And how about more contemporary couture?
My favourites include Rellik for Vintage, Matches for Brit designers, and Bella Freud for the best knits and tailoring.
Which local stores stock the best jewellery and accessories?
Solange Azagury Partridge is a jewel of a store in W2 and my favourite! Anya Hindmarch is great for gifts, and Smythson for diaries and stationery. Summerill and Bishop is my go-to for exquisite homewares and Maison Michel for dream millinery. (I live in my grey velvet MM cap).
What would you recommend someone visiting the area absolutely must do?
Spend a Friday morning between Portobello Market and the Golborne Rod, including coffee and a custard tart at Lisboa, another classic. And see a movie at The Electric Cinema, one of my favourite places.