The Spy Next Door

Colourful house on Chelsea’s most ‘Instagrammable’ street, doors away from George Smiley’s fictional home

Bywater Street, a cul-de-sac lined with candy-coloured cottages might be the last place you’d expect to find a famous secret agent. But head up the road to No 9 and you’ll see the fictional residence of M16 agent George Smiley, from John de le Carrés popular novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Asked about the choice of the address of his famous agent, le Carré once said: “I chose Bywater Street for Smiley because it’s a cul-de-sac, which is always a headache for watchers. I reckoned Smiley would give himself that sort of advantage over life. The intimacy of the street made it doubly difficult for a surveillance team to escape notice.”

This ‘rainbow road’ is also one of London’s most ‘instagrammable’ locations, thanks to its vibrant terraced houses. Now, an exciting property just doors from the gentleman spy’s home has become available to rent through London’s leading independent Estate Agent Dexters.

On the market for £7,800 a month, this four-story, two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse features a light blue facade, railed steps and large sash windows. The ground floor has a double reception room and office area, whilst downstairs there is a large integrated kitchen, dining area and breakfast bar.

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On the first floor, a principal bedroom and an ensuite bathroom open up onto a decked garden terrace. A further double bedroom and bathroom can be found on the second floor and both levels have beautiful panelled dark wood flooring.

New owners will undoubtedly enjoy the literary and cinematic cachet that Bywater Street has to offer. John de le Carré’s spy character George Smiley is a British cultural icon, on par with James Bond having featured as a central character in five of the author’s novels, as well as a minor character in three more.

Over the years, several famous actors have played George Smiley and Bywater Street has appeared in numerous films including the 2011 adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and the classic 1979 BBC mini-series ‘Smiley’s People’ with Gary Oldman.

Today, Bywater Street is also known as one of London’s most photographed addresses amongst influencers, popping up in 1,528 posts on Instagram using the hashtag #BywaterStreet.

Despite being just moments from the shops and bars of Kings Road and Duke of York Square, Bywater Street has a quaint community feel. Every year, residents throw a private street party for both adults and children to enjoy.

Charlie Daniels, Director of Dexters Chelsea says “Bywater Street is truly one of West London’s hidden gems. This quintessential Chelsea cottage is perfect for a family or couple seeking an eclectic and spacious home moments from the excitement of the King’s Road.”