Now and then
Canonbury Square has quite a history. Built two hundred years ago, with the grandest intentions, it later started to attract such disreputable arty types as George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. Now back to its original glory and more, you’ll find tall London townhouses behind picture-book black railings, blue plaques and stunning formal gardens. You’re right next to Upper Street’s buzzy bars and some awfully tempting independent boutiques, and these days any creative neighbours are likely to be on sabbatical from Hollywood.
Hey, good looking
Your young host is in fashion, both figuratively and literally. He was raised in London, and now spends much of his time in Italy, working on a new clothing label.
As pure as the morning snow, a stay here will cleanse your visual palate. The sitting room is simple, with pared-back furnishings and a glorious original Georgian window, with views onto the square. The coffee table converts into a dining table, while the couch is covered in creamy leather. The kitchen conceals a variety of snazzy appliances behind glossy units, while the bathroom holds a sunken bath amidst marble and stainless steel. And for the last word in minimalism, look to the bedroom with its double bed, swathed in crisp linen, and verdant view.
Onwards, ever onwards
You’ve some of the finest 20th century Italian art anywhere in the world in the Estorick Collection, just across the square, and do nip around the corner to gaze at Canonbury Tower, which dates from 1532. Then, order a pint in The Canonbury, one of Islington’s top gastropubs, before launching your assault on Upper Street’s shops, cafes and restaurants. The tube from Highbury and Islington to Oxford Circus takes just eight minutes.