Harley Street is a truly unique road in London. Walking by, it would appear to be like any of the posh, residential streets in the Central London neighborhood of Marylebone. Historic brick townhouses line the way, and their gorgeous doors and grand reception rooms are visible from street level as you wander by. Window boxes overflow with perfect flowers, adding a splash of color and freshness to the exteriors.
Yet, look a little closer, and something rather odd appears.
While unflinchingly posh, Harley Street is also the medical street in London.
Behind those doors, some of London’s best doctors have their private practices. Those grand receptions rooms are now the waiting rooms for medical offices, with the murals, crown molding and period features all left in tact. It’s like going to the doctor’s office but on the set of Downton Abbey. It’s almost surreal.
I, unfortunately, have spent quite a bit of time on Harley Street in the past six months. I have been trying to get a diagnosis for an ongoing issue and have had three medical procedures in various townhouses. The unique beauty of the road quickly wore off and I became desensitized to its charm, due to the fact that I was heading there for rather unpleasant reasons.
But after my last consultation with my doctor, on a beautiful early summer day, I was struck by its beauty and uniqueness.
How many streets like this exist in the world? Sure, there are some private doctor offices in beautiful buildings in other cities, but two full city blocks of nothing but medical offices? You can meet with a physician, have plastic surgery, get x-rays or start cancer treatment in these buildings. I find that astonishing.
There are certain aspects of a city that make it unique, and usually, medical offices are not one of those things. Yet Harley Street is certainly a fascinating part of London. Hopefully, you may never need to use its facilities, but just a quick stroll down the street can make you appreciate the how special Harley Street is.