Known as ‘Queen of the suburbs’, the Borough of Ealing is beautiful, interesting and hugely multicultural. Here is a personal top ten of the best that Her West London Majesty has to offer by local, Janan Jedrzejewski, who was born in Paddington and grew up in Ealing and the neighbouring borough of Hillingdon:
1. Best Park – Walpole Park & Pitzhanger Manor House
The grand and beautiful Pitzhanger Manor House sits to the entrance of Walpole Park, a grade 1 listed building which also has free art exhibitions continuously throughout the year. The park has some amazing 19th Century landscaping; ornamental bridges, ponds, streams and a walled rose garden – one of my favourite retreats. As local residents will be aware, during July/August a multitude of festivals take place showcasing jazz, comedy, opera and, of course, lashings of beer. Ealing has an abundance of lush meadows and parks and other noteworthy places to hang out are the charmingly named Bunny Park in Hanwell, and the less imaginatively titled Acton Park.
2. Best Theatre – Ealing Questors Theatre
Matlock Lodge, situated opposite Walpole Park, is home to the Questors Theatre, considered the largest amateur dramatic playhouse in Europe. It has a reputation for putting on polished and professional pieces and members not only have the chance to be involved in productions, but also get exclusive event invites and discounts on courses. Annual membership rates vary, depending on your status and whether they have any promotions on, but definitely worth it if you fancy becoming involved, want to meet likeminded arty types or to just get out a bit more out of the west.
3. Best Polish – The Polish Deli / The Magnolia Cafe
Ealing has one of the largest Polish communities in London, so it’s not an epic quest when it comes to getting hold of some essential ingredients, traditional treats or a big old chuck of smoked Sopocka ham – especially along the Broadway. The Polish deli is centrally located and ranks among one of the most well-stocked and reasonable. There’s also the Magnolia Cafe two doors down, offering irresistible home made pierogi (dumplings), a generously meaty bigos (cabbage stew) and a wonderful (read: very large) selection of delicious diet-derailing cakes.
4. Best street for International food – Station Parade Uxbridge Road
It’s not just the Polish that are in food heaven – The Queen of the Suburbs is also one of the most multicultural and there’s a massive Japanese community residing there too. If you’re a Japanese/international foodie, be it consumer or cook, the Station Parade just opposite Ealing Common station is the best street. The Atariya Sushi bar stands at the corner at no.1, with Kiraku just down the road and the large number of Japanese clientele means booking is highly recommended. Other international food shops along the Parade include; Viona Iranian patisserie, Natural Natural Japanese grocers, Mini Mix Russian market, and Duri Korean deli, which serves up some tasty made-to-order babimbap.
5. Best Pub – Drayton Court
Like your over-achieving and attractive sibling, it seems to have everything; close proximity to West Ealing station, gorgeous Victorian exterior, and boasting an impressive beer garden – believed to be one of the largest in London. In the summer months it plays host to many barbeques and roasts, while the all-year-round food, especially the burgers, are pretty scrummy too. There are Jazz nights, comedy nights and salsa classes and it’s also a plush boutique hotel.
6. Best for Art – Open Ealing
Open Ealing is a new arts initiative on the Uxbridge road, a former office block converted into 5 floors of studios, classes, workshops, book clubs, exhibitions and a there’s even a café. Sprung from the desire to make Ealing about ‘more than just pubs’, it aims to be a diverse and sustainable arts hub; a centre of culture creating opportunities, supporting local talent and emerging artists
7. Best Place to Fly a Kite – Horsenden Hill covering Perivale, Sudbury and Greenford
Offering simply breathtaking views of the surrounding towns, and even the home counties on a clear day. Forget the golf courses and relieve your idyllic youth as it is a fantastic spot for flying kites. In my childhood I failed miserably to get a get a bundle of plastic rods and sheets off the ground while pondering upon the blue sky above dotted with planes, weighing tonnes and carrying hundreds of people 35,000 feet in the air. This observation as a young girl is the foundation of my life-long belief that aircraft materials are somehow infused with black magic.
8. Best for Shopping – Southall, Southall Broadway, Uxbridge Road and Southall Market
Saris and spices. Cosmetics and confectionary. Bollywood and bangles. All to be found in Southall, known as ‘little India’, along the Broadway and in the dated-looking but vibrant and famous Southall Market just behind the Uxbridge road and a short walk from Southall station. Until recently, horses and other cuddly livestock were sold here midweek. This has since ceased but the Saturday market still packs them in, as it’s great for cheap fabrics, discount meats, vegetables and enough exotic seasonings to ensure your cupboard is the best stocked this side of Mumbai. Diwali is also a fantastic time of year to visit, as stall and shop owners make preparations for the most significant festival of the year.
9. Best Architecture – Wharncliffe Viaduct, Hanwell/Southall
Fans of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s constructions are advised to throw on some comfy togs, pack up their lunch and trek the nearby fields of Hanwell Station to view the glorious arches of one of his most famous bridges, along which trains transport travellers through Ealing from Paddington. The bridge also houses a colony of bats. Lots and lots of bats.
10. Best Walk – Brentford/Hanwell branch of the Grand Union canal
The Grand Union Canal runs right through the borough of Ealing into neighbouring Brentford, and the riverside is perfect for taking in the features of the local area, such as the Victorian St. Bernard’s hospital, previously known as the Hanwell lunatic asylum. The real highlight is the Hanwell flight of locks, at the top of which lies the Three Bridges, also designed by Kingdom Brunel. An engineering feat, connecting three modes of transport, it comprises of a canal crossing a railway being crossed by a road. Confused? Make your way to Windmill Lane to check it out for yourself.
Agree, disagree? Let us know your top recommendations for Ealing in the comments.
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