I spent a day in Teddington, the London neighbourhood that was named the best place to live in the city
- The Sunday Times named Teddington the best place to live in London in 2021.
- I spent a day in the cozy neighbourhood and it felt more like a village than part of a city.
- After speaking to locals, I discovered that Teddington is so beloved because of its small town charm.
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I spent a day in Teddington, a neighbourhood in London, to find out why it was named the best place to live in the city.
Teddington was named the best place to live in London by The Sunday Times in March.
The neighbourhood, located just outside Richmond, is referred to as the "sweet spot between practical and aspirational" in The Times of London article.
The publication prides Teddington on having the essentials, such as supermarkets and cafés, with the added bonus of independent stores, bakeries, and "the best nature in London" in the beloved Bushy Park.
Teddington is south-west of central London and has easy transport links to the city.
Teddington is in travel zone 6, one of the furthest zones from central London (which is in zones 1 and 2).
Despite this, there is easy access to central London from Teddington Railway Station. There are 35-minute trains to London Waterloo every 15 minutes or alternatively, bus services to central London from Broad Street.
My first impression was that Teddington felt more like an American film set - not a neighbourhood in the UK's capital.
I arrived in Teddington shortly before 9 a.m. on a Friday, and was instantly surprised by its small-town charm.
The streets were calm and filled with just a small handful of people: dog walkers, cyclists, and those who were popping into the numerous bakeries the area has to offer.
On High Street, there seemed to be just as many flower baskets and Union Jack flags as there were cafés.
It reminded me of the kind of whimsical American towns that you'd find in early 2000s TV shows — think Stars Hollow of "Gilmore Girls," or "One Tree Hill."
My first stop was Cafe Benedict, which was recommended in The Sunday Times article.
Despite it being a weekday, the café was filled with people.
"I don't know why everyone in Teddington seems to have so much free time," one waitress told me. "But everyone here goes out for brunch."
I ordered the acai bowl, which cost £9.50 (around R192).
The acai bowl consisted of coconut chia pudding, acai smoothie, fresh berries, toasted coconut, and toasted macadamia.
The menu had a wide variety of options on the breakfast and brunch menu, including eggs, avocado tartine, waffles, granola, and banana bread.
After speaking to the waitress some more, I discovered that my first impressions of Teddington were correct.
The waitress, who told me that she moved to the area a couple of months ago, said that she too was surprised that the area felt like a village instead of a city.
She prided the neighbourhood on being quiet, safe, and with good links to central London.
After breakfast, I explored the surrounding streets - and found that The Sunday Times article could be traced throughout the neighbourhood.
I passed a housing development with a sign that referenced the article, naming Teddington as the best place to live in the city.
Teddington is even worthy of its own merchandise.
I visited The Loft, a gift store on Broad Street that boasted a variety of Teddington-inspired merchandise — from pillows to mugs and teddy bears.
This further proved to me how loved the neighbourhood must be by those who visit or live there.
I spoke to a local barista who recommended Teddington Lock for its easy access to Twickenham and Kingston.
Teddington Lock, which is just a short walk away from High Street, was filled with cyclists and dog walkers when I visited.
Most seemed to be going in the direction of the other neighbourhoods mentioned to me by the barista, which were signposted on a walking path next to the lock.
I could easily imagine myself cycling or taking a leisurely stroll during my lunch breaks if I lived in the area.
While one side of the lock had a footpath, the other had a café and a pub.
The pub, called The Anglers, had a sign advertising "Shakespeare in the Garden" with showings of "As You Like It" throughout September.
I could definitely imagine myself making the journey back to Teddington for a stroll and some Shakespeare.
Next up was Bushy Park, London's second-largest Royal Park that is roamed by wild deer.
It took me around half an hour to walk to the park from Teddington Lock.
The park is more than 1,000 acres in size and has been a Royal Park since the year 1529, according to its official website.
When I visited, there weren't many other people at the park but there were plenty of wild deer. There were several signs informing the public to keep their distance and that the deer could be potentially dangerous if disturbed.
The park is home to the Diana Fountain, designed in 1637.
When I first read that there was a Diana Fountain in Bushy Park, I assumed this would be a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in 1997.
However, after reading the website, I discovered that the fountain was actually designed with a statue of a goddess at the request of King Charles I for his wife Henrietta Maria.
After doing more research, I discovered that Teddington has another link to royal history.
The Diana Fountain made me realise just how little I knew about Teddington's fascinating past, and so I decided to do my own research.
Teddington was first documented in the eleventh century, according to Hidden London. The website adds that two of Teddington's main residential streets — Waldegrave Road and Park Road — were likely developed to cater to traffic to the nearby Hampton Court Palace, in existence since 1525.
Today the palace operates as a tourist attraction, just a short walk from Bushy Park.
By the end of my visit, I discovered that Teddington is the ideal place to live because it has none of London's bad traits.
As someone who has lived in London on and off for a couple of years, I'd say some of the worst traits of the city include the overcrowding, the number of tourists, and the fact that people in the city never seem to stop for breath.
In Teddington, the opposite is true. People there aren't in a rush. Even when the cafés and bakeries started to fill up with people at lunchtime, it was nothing compared to the hustle and bustle of central London.
As I write, I'm already making plans to return to the charming neighbourhood in the future.
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