A blog about life in London

Kilburn In London Isn’t A Crap Hole, Honest!

Kilburn In London Isn’t A Crap Hole, Honest!

Kilburn is for those of you that have never heard of it, but I’m sure you have, is an area in North West London. From what I can gather it seems to have a reputation as being a bit of crap hole, with a real bad reputation for crime and social deprivation.

When I hear or read all those negative comments about Kilburn it makes me wonder if any of those people making them have ever actually been to the area. As well as  those that claim to have lived hear years ago and are knocking it,  exactly you use to live hear years ago!

Just the other day I was searching online to see what information I could find out about Kilburn, which has been my home in London for the past 4 months and there were numerous negative comments about the place. I’m not one to hide behind the bush and I like to say it the way I see it. Kilburn is maybe a bit rough around the edges, but it sure as heck isn’t a socially deprived area or riddled with crime.

Way back in March, I was out for a few drinks with a South African girl that I use to know, and I told her I was moving to Kilburn and it was like I was moving to the pits of hell. I thought dam, I had spent numerous hours wandering around Kilburn prior to signing the lease for my new home and it seemed okay. So I got her to go into more details about what she new about Kilburn, she had heard it had a bad reputation from friends and had once went through it on a bus!

The other comments I have heard thrown around about Kilburn is that it is full of Irish and Polish people, is that such a bad thing. In reality I feel that once upon a time Kilburn had a large Irish population, but nowadays it is mainly old Irish people you see going around here and there aint that many of them. Also tell me any area in London, where it doesn’t seem like there is lot of Polish people.


I would personally say in reality that Kilburn has a huge and diverse mix of nationalities and races of people living here now. Kilburn is an area, which is an extremely cosmopolitan and mixed part of London. I use to live in Shepherds Bush before I moved to Kilburn and any time I walked down Uxbridge Road it felt like I was in a foreign country, because you would hear every language apart from English.

Kilburn has a good choice of shops, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, places to eat, bars, music venues, etc. There maybe isn’t very many, if any designer shops here, but that doesn’t make it a crap hole. There is a few rough looking bars, but there is also a quite a few decent ones as well.

For me what really makes Kilburn stand out, is its fantastic transport links, there are two tubes stations, which are on the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines and two overground stations. There is also more than adequate bus links and even better there is quite a few night buses. Living here sure makes it easy to get into central London and to any other parts of London for that matter, which is good for a guy like me who likes to get out and about.

Kilburn London  is what I would describe as being a real area, which maybe hasn’t got any pretentious or designers bars, clubs or shops, but it sure isn’t full of crime, violence, drugs and deprivation either. Since I have been here, I have never been offered any drugs and only been accosted by a hooker once. I use to get offered drugs almost daily when I was living in Barbados.


I suppose there are some dodgy or rough areas in Kilburn where you probably wouldn’t want to go, but I haven’t came across them yet. Seemingly South Kilburn was at one time a notorious part of this area, but I have walked around it during the day, and i clearly it has had some sort of regeneration. Then again I suppose you could say the same about most areas in London. I have walked up Kilburn High Road, late at night numerous times and I haven’t seen any trouble or had any hassle. That’s not to say it never happens, you just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have personally witnessed a few shop lifting incidents and a couple of people getting arrested in Kilburn. But that for me just shows how alert the staff in the shops are here and how quick the cops arrive to arrest criminals. I saw plenty of cop raids, and drugs pushers and other scum getting arrested during my couple of months in Shepherds Bush.

I would say that Kilburn sure as heck isn’t Hampstead, but it isn’t as bad an area,  as the one I have read about online. Kilburn if you would believe some of the crap that you read online is a real ghetto. Which usually comes from people that have passed through on a buss or from people that lived here years ago. I would personally give Kilburn a good review, it has a good buzz to it and it has a fairly good feel to it. I would recommend it as a place to live.

If anybody out there is thinking about moving to Kilburn, come and have a wee look around the place during the day and then late at night and see if for yourself, don’t listen to second hand rumours!


  1. Have not ventured into Kilburn even after two years. It’s probably because there was no specific reason to. But there are some ‘underground restaurants’ in the area. Essentially, dinners are hosted at popular London food bloggers’ residential houses. These dinners typically cost in excess of £25 so it’s not exactly cheap.

    For more info, one can go Google “London underground restaurants”.

    Thinking of going for one of those but it does seem abit odd to eat in another stranger’s house, isn’t it?

  2. Kilburn is also host to The Underground Restaurant one of the Uk’s first supper clubs. I love Kilburn

  3. Underground restaurants seem to be an interesting concept, but form doing some research the standard and quality can be quite variable.

    But it is however something, which I may find myself venturing along to at some point in the near future. Life after all is meant to be an adventure……..

  4. Good post. Absolutely nothing wrong with Kilburn, it’s cool, in fact I briefly lived with a chap who’s lived all over London and rates Kilburn as his favourite area. It’s down to earth and relaxed, has pubs to suit all sorts, gigs, lots of places to eat or have coffee. Kilburn High Road is scruffy but full of life; people ought to be more concerned about it becoming too normal or smart and losing some of its character! Places can get reputations based on the past, or limited areas within. I used to live in High Wycombe and had heard it was rough…turned out to be one of the friendliest places around. Kilburn’s been fine, just check the property prices – it’s not cheap anymore.

  5. it aint a very nice place. South kilburn is very rough and is run by gangs. The avenues and mozart estate have major problems, if you are going somewhere and pass through please go where you re going and do not loiter as you are constantly being watched (not by cctv).

    All the things you have said are the good things, but there is a massive underbelly to the area that you may not see going about your daily business.

    One estate in kilburn was once dubbed the worst housing estate in britian and called ‘crack city’ (it hsnt changed that much).

    The drugs thing, there is a big drugs problem in the area (but very unlikley you will be offered any), if you want them they are there, if not it shouldnt be a problem.

    I have lived here for 35 years, i know exactly what the area is like.

    as I say if you keep to well lit and busy roads you should be ok, but if loitering (even on the high road), you will become one of london statistics. Ifyou are robbed and were where you shouldnt have been, or taking shortcuts,or just hanging around alone the police will show no sympathy, it will be seen as your own fault.

    Be safe kids and have fun in kilburn.

  6. I have seen some of the gang members walking around with their Staffies and Pit Bulls. There is an underbelly to Kilburn, which the longer I live hear the more I come across it.

    What amazes me is the lack of police officers on the beat, or even those fake community cops. I suppose the authorities try to pretend that there isn’t much of a problem. Come on Mayor Boris why don’t you come and have a cycle around South Kilburn late at night if you dare.

    I have said it before that the UK Government cant even win the war against gangs and crime in London, let alone hope to ever wins wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  7. I agree with the lack of officers around these areas, and they tell us that crime is down, and the public should be re-assured, its laughable. In my opinion this is why they make these areas look nicer, to show tourists mainly and the public at large that london is a great, safe city to visit (Most part it is, happily people I speak tothat visit london for various reasons love the place, but the inner city areas where tourists dont go are getting worse which is a shame).

    just want to add about the pubs, there are some great pubs in the area, a great time to be had by all. But this also has an underbelly, there is still irish gangsters running some and certain old school familys running business in the high road, harrow road etc.
    Saying this i do believe we have one of the best music venues in london (the luminaire), it is class venue.

    Kilburn is like a lot of parts of london, when it’s good its a great place to be, when it’s bad can be very bad.

  8. Just to say I agree about the transport links, so easy to get in and out of here either by bus, train or tube, easy routes into central london to. :).

    Also loved your write up on the black lion (I presume you wrote it), by no means a local for me, I live in west kilburn near harrow road, but have frequented a few times and found the service an food to be top notch. Pub has a chequered history, but now is a well run pub, with really nice landlady who keeps things fun and moving.

  9. I will email Mayor Boris Johnson and ask him if he wants to come and walk around South Kilburn, once it gets dark. Which I’m sure he wouldn’t do, because he will know what the place is really like.

    I have heard many good things about the Luminaire and I will have to get myself in there one of these days.

    Kilburn has got many good points and a few dodgy and not so good elements to it. What I find the most annoying is the almost constant sound of police cars, whizzing down the high road, which is only a few minutes from where I live.

    I have been in quite a few inner city areas, since I started living in London. And you get the feeling and can quite clearly tell even during the day that there is a dark underbelly lurking in the wind.

  10. I have live all over london in the past 15 years and kilburn is the best please yet There is lots to do and see good pubs and cafes you can have a grate night out hear, i am a 33 year old woman and i feel very safe hear, kilburn is changing fast

  11. I have said there are good things like those you have nentioned, but there is a darker side to it that you may not see if going about your daily business.

    When you say the area is changing, it went through a masive overhaul late 90’s earlt 00’s but unfortunatly there wasnt the money, or the people to keep this going, ie a lot of the pubs have closed, shops are closing/closed, the so called ‘upper class notting hill set’ hardly venture in to kilburn anymore.

    it has some great people, places etc etc, but there is another side, I just wanted people not to get to complacent with it.

    As for it being better than other parts of london I would disagree, most are pretty similiar to be honest, I dunno wher you live in k but depending on your answer will affect how you see it.

    Dont want to worry anyone or argue just my opinion.

  12. I, too, possess a pit-bull who will be the most loving animal I’ve ever owned. Quickly, a brand new dog breed will can come along for the media to blast, because they have completed rotties and dobies in previous many years. Unfortunate that media sensationalism breeds much inaccurate data.

  13. Kilburn is the centre of the universe 🙂
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..anna-black- I saw an unmarked police car being chased by a police car on Kilburn High Road today =-.

  14. Kilburn may be wee bit rough around the edges, but it is cool place to live..!

  15. Hi all

    I read lots of stuff about Kilburn being nice, Kilburn being horrible etc… I’m moving to Malvern Road in about 3 weeks. Need some sensible advice please. I’m 28, female, professional (carry a laptop for work).

    When is it safe and when not? I’m not planning on going out and about on the actual estate at any time, least of all at night, but might need to walk past it up Malvern road in the dark in winter at around 7 or 8pm to get home. Is it safe in the daytime and at that time of day? If I put laptop into a rucksack, carry personal alarm etc? If it’s that bad, I’d rather get a cab home from Paddington or something… so honest opinions please. When can I walk around by myself (or with my boyfriend) and when should I not? The girl in the flat I’m moving into has lived there a year and says it’s fine, people hang around but no-one has bothered her in all the time she’s been there. Spoke to a few locals that said basically the same thing, and not to walk around by myself late at night (what counts as late at night?!). I was fine with it all (lived in Brixton for 5 years before) but I’m getting incredibly scared having read all of these posts and even considering losing the £14,000 ish rent for a year’s contract and just going somewhere else. Any advice appreciated if you know the area, thank you!!

  16. Kilburn isn’t a bad area in general. I have been down beside Malvern Road a couple of times late at night and quite a few times during the day, and I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Just use your commone sense and having your laptop in a rucksack is a good idea. What counts as late at night…good question. 7pm, 8pm, 9pm I think it should be safe enough and there will be quite a few people wandering around. I think late at night when things seems bit more scary and intimidaing would be more like 11pm, 12pm when there isn’t so many people going about.

    I have been in Kilburn for about a 18 months and it is a little bit rough around the edges, that is true, but it isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. A lot of the bad press the area recieves is from people that have heard through the grapevine how bad it is, but have never actually lived here themselfs…

    I have been over to Brixton a couple of times and it feels a lot safer and less threatening in Kilburn….

  17. I’ve lived in Brixton for two years, without incident of any kind. I’m looking at Kilburn for a change of scene. I’ve done a few recces and it seems perfectly okay, like anywhere else in London. I’ve never been one to advertise my material worth and I don’t pick fights, so I, like the rest of humanity, stand an excellent chance of being left to my own devices. We’re turning into babies, people. Kilburn has life, soul, history and A-grade links – don’t let a Staffie put you off; those dogs are soft as Mr Whippy, anyway

  18. All you people saying south kilburn is run by gangs are idiots. What because you see 5 guys chillin on the roadside or walking with a staffie it makes them a gang member?!

    If you don’t live or work around there f**k what you hear, u got to experience life here yourself.

    PS. To the woman saying she lived in south kilburn 35 years, your probably some old biddy that fears all young black people!!!

  19. Ashley, before I moved here some girl I use to know told me don’t do it, she had passed through on a bus once….I of course never listend to her!

  20. Ashley. Ivdo live there. Am definatly no idiot. There was a shoot out in walterton roadjust last week. The mozart estate has many problems with all sorts and the south kilburn is riddled with gangs it always has been. There is a beef between mozart and south kilburn at the moment. Very concerning for every resident, as there has bden many rsndom shoot outd and houses getting shot up etc. Get a clue.

  21. Ashley. There are active street gangs in the proper sense ofhe term all over kilburn,.brondesbury,swiss cottage,kensal green and rise. A very highly policed area,police armed units are constantly around the area and the souyh kilburn and harrow road areas are high alert for met units.

  22. Admin. The people that talk about tge area are people who know it and lived here and know it properly. Born snd bred for many years and nearly all have moved out or cant sfford to but are chomping at the bit. Take bronte house for instance. A complete hole. The little area there out onto kpr late at night isnt your best lption. For that matter the haypenny steps after around 9pm

  23. kilburn chris, there are parts of South Kilburn especially, that I would have to agree are a complete shit hole and that gangs are big problem. I guess how bad things really are is not publicised enough.

    Multi millions of pounds have been spent on regenerating South Kilburn, but all that money means nothing if the gang bangers are still there. I think those blind politicians haven’t got clue how to really fix things!

  24. Tried typing Mozart estate into youtube:


    Not sure it would be my cup of tea…

    I guess it is (like most of london) down to where the estates are. What is the best area in Kilburn to be? (ie furthest from any estates)

  25. Jeff, during the day all the estates seem okay, but at night, once it’s dark…the further away the better seems like a good idea!

  26. I have lived in Kilburn for 14 years and have grown to know the bad sides of the area. It might appear all nice on the outside but if you know about gang life you can see it everywhere.

  27. zez, my friend noticed an Albanian guy a few weeks back sitting in a café, who bent over to pick something up on the ground and he had a gun in the back of his trousers. Gangs seem to be parcel and parcel of life in too many areas in London.

  28. I’ll start by saying that I was born, educated and lived all my life here and reading through these comments makes the place sound like a ghetto.

    I’m not going to ignore the fact that there is gang crime, violence and a serious dark side to the area but I’d like to point out one thing that isn’t getting a mention and that is that in Kilburn there is every walk of life. Look at the house prices for the area and you will see that you need money to buy a place here.

    I spent my youth all over NW London including hanging around in Mozart, Stonebridge, etc. and unless you are actually moving on to these estates I’m pretty sure you won’t have any problems at all. You can throw a stone from Mozart and hit one of the many middle class businesses that line Queen’s Park as the whole area gets more and more gentrified.

    You can go out in Kilburn all times of the evening and as long as you are sensible you won’t have any problems at all. Makes no difference about this Turkish gang or which bars/pubs are run by dealers as you are not their business, you could get mugged but that could happen pretty much anywhere in the world. Kilburn is perfectly safe.

  29. Jeff, if you look at that video on youtube you will see that it’s just kids imitating what they see in hip hop videos. It’s bravado, posturing and kids enjoying themselves.

    In answer to your question the nicest parts of Kilburn are the parts closest to West Hampstead or St John’s Wood but assuming you weren’t living on a notorious estate you shouldn’t have any problems living anywhere in Kilburn.

  30. I suppose I have the best of both worlds, I live in Fortune Green Road, on a nice estate – yes, it’s a Council estate, but not a ramshackle tower block, a two-story building which I think was purpose-built in the 1950s. I have a ground-floor flat and a lovely garden!!!
    Fortune Green Road is sort of officially part of West Hampstead, but I do a lot of my shopping in Kilburn High Road…but yes, sometimes in Swiss Cottage or Finchley Road.

  31. Jane Ennis, West Hampstead is definitley not as rough around the edges as some parts of Kilburn. How I wish I had a garden…it seems like such a long time since I could step out of my back door and into my own sancturary. I have to make do with the local parks…

  32. Chips on toast. Your comments regarding the kids just posing and bravado in and around s kilburn and the mozart estate are very wrong. Look at what happens in last few months, including a lot of things that you do not hear about.
    There are major issues as there are in any major city. As for advice on where in kilburn to live, anywhere on the kilburn jubilee line end of the high road is fine, expensive but fine. Try to stay away from estates, or any big blocks for instance James stewart house.
    The person that asked about malvern road , the part nearer to the chip (chippenham gdns etc) is nicer than the other end of the road, that is a bit derelict. The chip;penham side is ok, but a little dark at night.
    Queens Park and kilburn gentrificatiobn stopped when the area, council and locals ran out of money. This will not continue, pubs are already changing back to their former glory.
    Kilburn is fine for living, night ‘s out etc. , but has problems and cannot be taken lightly.

  33. Hey i wanted some thoughts from you guys who know this area a lot better than i do. I am considering taking on a pub on the Kilburn High Road. The place is the Cock tavern. It is very well known on that road, and is currently rough as hell, but i think the potential is good for it. I have spent a lot of time in the area and see pros and cons, and would like to think that we can turn the business around and start to build a community pub that everyone can be proud of. Whats ya thoughts on this ?

  34. Kilburn Joel, the Cock Tavern is a bar I have been in once and it was indeed a bit rough for my tastes. It has I’m sure got plenty of potential in the right hands. A community pub with a good atmosphere would be a BIG imporvment to what it presently offers.

    I think bars like the Priory Tavern, Black Lion and North London Tavern show there is demand in Kilburn for decent pubs whch offer a good vibe and friendly atmosphere.

  35. FAO Kilburn Joel,

    The ‘old’ cock tavern, has always been a rough pub. But as William Wallace said it has tons of potential. I would really consider it if you have a bit of money to put into the place, and do not overprice the drinks/food etc, Also the gastro pubs are closing down again so I would think about this too.

    Good luck with it.

  36. Kilburn Chris, you have hit the nail on the head.

  37. I am thinking of buying a flat near malvern road/carlton vale junction. Is that area safe? Is it in West Kilburn or Maida Vale? Also where are the nearest convenience stores eg grocer, drycleaning etc. Thanks

  38. It is not a nice place, trust me. Every night I try to go to sleep, there are gang fights. On a good night where there isn’t there are the drunks who are screaming loudly. Just now, social services were taking a child screaming into a car, just outside my window. The high street is hideous and littered and looks ugly. Yes, there are shops galore, but the people around them are foreboding. It is a truly rough area – if you are not used to something like this, I would stay well away. Can’t wait to move out of here.

  39. David, I guess, or I should say I know parts of Kilburn are worse than others. The High Street doesn’t look the best, but I find it great for shopping, eating and drinking!

    You and other descent people who live in your part of Kilburn can improve things. Constantly hassle your local councillors, MP, neighbourhood police, and even the PM David Cameron and the Mayor Boris Johnson – if you and others get on their case constantly they will be forced to do something! Force them to do their jobs!

  40. Hi William,

    I would agree that this is a fairly accurate article in my experience being a resident of Kilburn. I have lived here now for 12 months and my first impression of the area was that it was decent. Being new to London and the UK I looked at houses in many different areas of London. Some I didn’t feel safe enough to live in.

    It need only be pointed out that Kilburn is bordered by Queens Park, West Hampstead, St Johns Wood, Abbey Road and Maida Vale. I do live quite close to Abbey Road and WEL myself so I think that it is mainly South Kilburn that gives a bad reputation. But then again, I have my reservations about any housing estate or areas made up of them.

    The streets are safe at all hours, like anywhere else you just need to use your common sense. The High Road certainly is rough around the edges but have some decent places to eat. Also, this impression that Kilburn is full of Irish is no longer. Perhaps in yesteryear sure, and some of the older generation may be still be hanging around the pubs but I hardly cross any Irish people, ever. It is however obviously very multicultural.

    The best thing about Kilburn is that it is in zone 2, decent, affordable to rent and easily accessible by transport.

    Those who tell you otherwise haven’t been here or let the reputation of a certain housing estate tarnish the entire area.