The west London-born founder of Serene Dental, Dr Safa dreamed of owning her own Knightsbridge practice as a teenager. Here, she reveals why the dentist shouldn’t be a place to fear, as well as her favourite things to see and do in the area
My Knightsbridge: Dr Safa Al-Naher
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
I come from a dental family. My father’s a dentist and I always say that he brainwashed me because, as an eight-year-old, I knew I wanted to be a dentist. I love that you can be a medical professional but also help people with how they look and feel. It’s a very active job and full-on in terms of using your hands and being creative. I qualified 12 years ago from King’s College London and, at the same time, I started doing facial aesthetics. I think they go hand in hand because, if you look at the face as a whole, when you’re improving a smile, it’s not just the teeth. There’s no point in getting them straight if they’re not complimenting your features. We have to pay attention to things like lip position, where your chin is, your cheeks. There are just so many things that tie in so beautifully and I love that aspect. So when I set up Serene, I really wanted it to encompass all of that. In my consultations, I’ll often point out things that patients will never have paid attention to, and that opens up a whole other conversation.
We came up with the name Serene because we wanted it to feel completely different to any other dental experience. People are normally scared of the dentist, but we want people to come in and feel like it’s a haven, like they’re here to relax and be taken care of. In the surgery we offer complimentary nitrous oxide (“happy air”, we like to call it) and painless needle injections, because we believe the dentist shouldn’t be a place of fear.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE KNIGHTSBRIDGE?
Funnily enough, I have always wanted to work in Knightsbridge. I’m talking from when I was like 15 years old! I worked at my dad’s practice in Hammersmith for 10 years after I qualified, and my sister and I helped grow the business. The pandemic was a turning point and it made me ask, ‘What do I want my future to look like?’ We realised that, as much as we loved working together as a family, we wanted different things. So that’s when I started to look for a practice. I came across this building, which had been a very successful dental practice, but had been abandoned for 18 months. It was completely empty and the landlords were about to rip everything out. My husband and I had a look and fell in love with it. We’ve made a lot of changes over two and a half years. It’s amazing to work in Knightsbridge, literally a “pinch me” moment every single day.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND ANY HIDDEN GEMS IN THE AREA?
For steak, I love Zelman Meats on the Fifth Floor in Harvey Nichols. And then of course there’s Masgouf, the Iraqi restaurant, which we absolutely love and go to all the time. I also really love the hotels here – I’ll just pop in and have meetings sometimes. I love The Berkeley and Mandarin Oriental, obviously. I go to L’Eto a lot and Motcomb Street is great. Studio Frantzén is also really fun, with a fantastic roof terrace. But my favourite is Pantechnicon. Its top floor restaurant is exquisite, and the basement restaurant does great sushi.
WHAT DO YOU TEND TO DO ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK?
I go to Al Basha, it does a really good lunch deal but also its food is so tasty, and I don’t say that lightly because there are a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants here. Its menu is really broad, it has pasta and rice dishes and sandwiches and burgers, but it’s really tasty, fresh food. Sometimes I’ll go to the Harrods Food Halls to get a salad, or 10 minutes away there’s a place called Tombo and it does amazing poké bowls. Sometimes on my break I’ll get my nails done in Nail’d It at Harvey Nichols, they’re really good. If you ask them, they’ll do your hands and feet at the same time!
WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOP IN THE AREA?
Harvey Nichols and Harrods. You can get some really good deals. I recently got 80 per cent off a Needle & Thread dress in the Harrods sale.
IF YOU COULD LIVE IN ANY BUILDING IN KNIGHTSBRIDGE WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I think it would have to be one of the houses on Wilton Crescent, they’re stunning. It would definitely be an old house, not a new house. One Hyde Park is appealing, but not as much as something really old.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A TOURIST DOES IN KNIGHTSBRIDGE FOR THE DAY?
Definitely shopping, and definitely stopping for lots of coffees and snacks. EL&N is the classic place to go, but just a few doors down there’s The Knot Churros, which is new and really fun. Its churros are baked, not fried, and they’re vegan. It’s a nice place to take photos. And Hyde Park is always great. You can rent some bikes and cycle around. We live in Maida Vale, which is quite close, so I cycle here most days and my boys love to cycle around Hyde Park. It’s quite rare to have that much open space in central London.
Serene Dental, 56 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7JN