The area of Queensway in Bayswater just seven minutes walk from Paddington Station is often thought of, with good reason, as a backpacker’s haunt. Whilst there are myriad internet cafes and shop window postcards offering cheap digs, one should not be blinded to the fun that can be had on this street, often referred to as “The Koh San Road of London”.
Within 50 metres of Queensway tube station there is the Queens Ice Skating Rink and Bowling Alley (www.queensiceandbowl.co.uk) and the covered market offering Brazilian and Russian tourists succour and a flavour of home. For an authentic taste of Russia however, one should stop at Kalinka (35 Queensway), a genuine magazine Russian mini market; it has the feel of a black market Soviet establishment and is one of the few places in town where one can buy the delicious Borjomi mineral water from Georgia – to my mind a reason to invade the state on its own.
Further down the road there are many things Chinese, from therapy centres to restaurants, the pick of which is The Gold Mine (102 Bayswater) – booking is advised as there seems to be a permanent queue of Chinese customers from 7pm onwards. If Chinese food doesn’t float your boat, then set sail across the global options afforded to you at the top end of the road. Moroccan, Lebanese, Italian, Malay, Thai, Indian, Japanese, a waffle house, frozen yoghurt (www.myfreshfrog.com) or just honest pub grub; The Prince Alfred offers standard fare.
If you wish to dig a little deeper in your pockets, I recommend the high-end French eaterie, Le Café Anglais (www.lecafeanglais.co.uk), in the elegant shopping centre of Whiteleys. It’s on the corner of Porchester Gardens (where there is a second bowling alley) and houses within its art deco halls everything from Gap to Zara, H&M to Muji. On the ground floor are several tempting Food Inc concessions, specialising in cheese, deli goods and fresh fish. There is an Odeon Cinema on the second floor, but there is so much to see outside on the street, you might want to save a trip to the flicks for another time.
Tubes: Queensway (Central) Bayswater (Circle & District)