London property guide: Westminster

Visit Westminster with an I-Spy book of London and you’ll be able to polish much of it off pretty swiftly – the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Tate Britain are all among the most popular spots in the capital.

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The Independent Online

It’s certainly an intriguing place to live. You can hear Big Ben at breakfast and count the Queen as a neighbour, while the green spaces include more famous names such as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, and St James's Park.

And there are many excellent pubs in Westminster, popular with both tourists and residents. Naturally, many locals are popular with those working in parliament, including The Albert in Victoria Street (built in 1864) and The Red Lion in Whitehall which has its own division bell for MPs and claims to have served every prime minister up to Edward Heath. Slightly more off the beaten track is The Grenadier in Belgrave Square, once the Duke of Wellington’s Officers Mess where King George IV sometimes popped in for a drink.

Property in the borough is in a state of flux. There are concerns that foreign buyers are turning prime properties into vacant investments, although research shows that last year UK buyers accounted for nearly half of all sales in the area, up more than 10 per cent from 2011. And while London in general has seen a massive hike in prices, prices in the early part of 2014 fell in Westminster.

Residents in the densely populated borough also enjoy the lowest council tax ratings in the country as well as topping the table for the most planning applications in the UK along with Kensington & Chelsea at more than four times the national average.

There are certainly some expensive areas, such as Belgravia, but it is also becoming a popular place to rent, partly because it is so close to the city and the West End - specialist London rental site Rentonomy has analysed rent prices along the Circle line which runs through some of the city’s most expensive central London property areas and concludes that Westminster is the most expensive station to rent around, with an average weekly cost of £1,166.