The most expensive and highly regarded areas of London are still in the south-west: Belgravia, Kensington and Chelsea top the list, in that order. This is because of their good stock of well-maintained and attractive period houses, smart shops and easy access to the City.

In central London, Mayfair and St James’s are still sought after, although less so than they were in the past. Pimlico’s elegant terraces have been largely restored, and are central yet reasonably priced; neighbouring Westminster has improved vastly during the past 10 years, but contains more mansion blocks than houses.

In west London, Notting Hill and Holland Park now rank as some of the smartest areas in London, and project a less conventional image than south-west London. Neighbouring Bayswater is improving, and Marylebone is becoming popular again.

Hampstead, St John’s Wood and Regent’s Park are the most highly regarded areas in north London, although less popular with City buyers. Islington has experienced a surge of interest, and has some good period houses.

In the east, a shift of businesses to the Docklands has resulted in the conversion of many riverside warehouses, and improving prices in areas such as Shad Thames, Wapping and the Isle of Dogs.

Outside the centre, south-west London is still favoured above other areas. Battersea, Clapham, Wandsworth, Richmond and Wimbledon have all experienced price rises and an increase in popularity during the past five years. In south-east London, Dulwich is highly regarded, but blighted by poor transport links.

A number of areas just outside central London are reasonably priced, reasonably well-located and appealing to live in. These include Maida Vale and West Hampstead to the north-west; Highgate to the north; Hammersmith, Chiswick and West Kensington to the west; Fulham to the south-west; and Kennington to the south.

Transport links

Areas that have good transport links and may improve in the future include Shepherd’s Bush, Southwark and Brixton, and parts of east London in the run up to the Olympics in 2012.

Public schools

City of London School for Girls, EC2 (0207-628 0841). Girls only, age range 7-18, day. www.clsg.org.uk

City of London School, EC4 (0207-489 0291). Boys only, age range 10-18, day. www.clsb.org.uk

St Paul’s Cathedral Choir School, EC4 (0207-248 5156). Boys only, age range 7-13, day and boarding. www.spcs.london.sch.uk

South Hampstead High School, NW3 (0207-435 2899). Girls only, age range 4-18, day. www.gdst.net/shhs/home.html

University College School, NW3 (0207-435 3068). Boys only, age range 11-18, day. Associated preparatory school. www.ucs.org.uk

Dulwich College, SE21 (0208-693 3601). Boys only, age range 7-18, day and boarding. Associated preparatory school. www.dulwich.org.uk

Alleyns School, SE22 (0208-693 3422). Co-educational, age range 5-18, day. www.alleyns.org.uk

Westminster School (0207-222 5516). Boys only (co-educational sixth form), age range 13-18, day and boarding. Associated preparatory school. www.westminster.org.uk

St Paul’s School, SW13 (0208-748 9162). Boys only, age range 13-18, day and boarding. Associated preparatory school. www.stpaulsschool.org.uk

St Paul’s Girls School, W6 (0207-603 2288). Girls only, age range 11-18, day. www.spgs.org

The Godolphin and Latymer School, W6 (0208-741 1936). Girls only, age range 11-18, day. www.godolphinandlatymer.com

Leisure

London’s sporting venues include:

Lords, St John’s Wood, NW8 (0207-289 1611). Cricket.

The Oval, Kennington, SE11 (0207-582 6660). Cricket.

Wembley Stadium, Middlesex (0208-900 1234). Football.

Twickenham Stadium, Surrey (0208-8928161). Rugby.

All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (0208-946 2244). Tennis.

Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire (01344 22211). Racing.

A selection of London Events

The Boat Race, Putney to Mortlake, late March to early April.

Chelsea Flower Show, late May.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, June to August.

Kenwood House lakeside concerts, Hampstead, June to September.

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, late June to early July.

Royal Tournament, Earls Court, July.

Horse of the Year Show, Wembley, early October.

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, November.