Few know the British capital better than Geordie Greig (49), the editor in chief of The Evening Standard. The London-born, Eton and Oxford educated great grandson of a baron, he started his career in journalism at the South East London and Kentish Mercury, covering the Falklands war and reporting on crime. He then worked for the Daily Mail and the Sunday Times, both in New York and London, before becoming in 1999 the editor of society magazine Tatler, where he stayed until last February. Here, he reveals a few of his favourite places in London.
What is your earliest London memory and what were your first impressions of the city?
I was born in Camberwell, South East London, and my parents lived in Kensington Church Street. Aged two, I went to live in a farm in Hampshire, so really only came back to live in London after university. It seemed to be as a place where anything could happen, a big, grown up, exciting city. And it certainly was, and certainly is.
Where do you live and why?
I live in Notting Hill, which I love, on the corner of Ladbroke Gardens and Ladbroke Grove. I used to live in Vauxhall, South London, but my wife Kathryn wanted to move to West London. We first lived in Kensington Park Gardens and then Jasper (11) and our twins Octavia and Monica (9) came along so we moved flats. We now live on a communal garden which has got two acres of beautiful lawns, trees and flowers. Every year, I arrange the communal fireworks party and it is a very convivial place, with fantastic neighbours. Notting Hill is also an extraordinary changing place: thirty years ago, it was mainly Irish and Jamaican immigrants, and now it is American immigrants and all sorts of people. It still is a mixed area, with high and lows, new and old shops, but most of all beautiful streets and incredible gardens.
What do you miss most when you are not in London?
I miss my friends, the wonderful quality of restaurants and theatres, and London’s unpredictability. It seems to have inherited New York’s buzz and energy to become one of the great capitals of the world, with an incredible variety of things to do and the most fantastic people to meet: amazing artists and entrepreneurs, mad poets and crazy dancers, all the variety of life really…
How would you describe London in three words?
Energetic, busy and beautiful.
What makes London unique?
It is the first choice of everyone in the world to live in if they want to leave the own city, more than New York. What happens in London somehow gets enhanced by the simple fact that it is happening here more than in any other place. What is also unique is that as well as being an ancient city, it is forever replenishing itself and getting excited by the new.
Best memory in London?
I think it was the day in 1995 when I saw Kathryn after I came back to London from my posting in New York, as she had moved here before me. We weren’t actually married at the time but got married shortly afterwards. My other great memory is the birth of my children.
If you could make a wish, what you would change in London?
I would end all road works immediately and I would bring instant air conditioning to the underground. I wouldn’t change the weather though: I am fine with it.
Favourite district apart from where you live?
I love where I used to work at Tatler, in Mayfair on Bond Street, and I have very, very fond memories of Deptford, where I had my first job as a journalist at the South East London and Kentish Mercury. I love the strong views and passion of the people, their strong characters and their pride of where they live.
Kensington Park Gardens is a beautiful street and one of the best places to live in: a wide boulevard with fantastic trees, incredible houses and gardens, St John Church at the end, which has to be one of the best views of London.
Best place to take a photo of London?
Probably on top of the London Eye.
Favourite places for shopping?
I love Portobello Market for the antiques and all the vegetables and fruit sellers. I also love Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, opposite the British Museum, which feels like it hasn’t changed since the Eighteenth century. I like the Edwardian Butchers in Portobello Road, which is a good, traditional, reasonably priced butcher. I also really like going into second hand shops, although more out of curiosity than anything else: whenever I see one, I am always intrigued.
Favourite place to walk or cycle?
For cycling, I would say Hyde Park. For walking, I would say around the Serpentine, as well as all the communal gardens.
Holland Park, for its Japanese Garden and all its wooded avenues.
The Ladbroke Arms pub, E&O restaurant, the bar at Claridge’s and Boujis nightclub.
Which private clubs do you belong to and why?
I belong to the Colony Room Club, where Francis Bacon made me a member, and I also belong to White’s, my father was a member and my godfather proposed me, so it is more like a family tradition.
What is the best place to party in London?
Someone else’s house.
The most beautiful party you went to?
The Gorbachev party at Althorp co-hosted by Tatler, where the Black Eyed Peas sang. It was a glorious hot summer night in June and it was a fantastic party.
What is London best kept secret?
Smaller museums, like the John Soane’s Museum, and some of its gardens, like the Chelsea Physic Garden.
Geordie Greig’s Address Book
Jarndyce Antiquarians Booksellers: 46, Great Russell Street, WC1 (Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square, Holborn)
Kingsland Edwardian Butchers: 140 Portobello Rd, W11 (Notting Hill Gate)
Portobello Market: Portobello Road, W11 (Notting Hill Gate). Monday to Saturday for vegetables and fruits, Fridays for vintage clothes, Saturdays for antiques.
Ladbroke Arms: 54 Ladbroke Rd, W11 (Holland Park, Notting Hill Gate)
E&O: 14 Blenheim Crescent, W11 (Ladbroke Grove)
Claridge’s Bar: Hotel Claridge’s, Brook Street, W1 (Bond Street)
Boujis: 43 Thurloe Street, SW7 (South Kensington)
Colony Room Club: 41 Dean Street, W1 (Oxford Circus)
White’s: 37-38 St. James’s Street, SW1 (Green Park)
John Soane’s Museum: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2 (Holborn)
Chelsea Physic Garden: 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 (Sloane Square)