London is absolutely full of those go to places, whether you’re a seasoned Londoner, tourist or otherwise.
Every one is fully aware of the high flying big names, from the Ritz right down to every Starbucks on every corner, of every street, every where, but if you did just that little bit deeper, you’re sure to find a whole bunch of hidden gems lurking ‘round every corner (if you can get past the Starbucks’ that is).
As I sit writing this very blog post, I find myself in one of my own personal favourite retreats, nestled in a railway arch just by London Fields, a stone’s throw from the park itself, is “The Bread Factory”. They serve up not only killer bread, sandwiches, bagels and sweet treats, but some kick ass coffee too, made with care and consideration, you’ll always get a flawless latte art on your oat flat white, and the staff are super friendly too!
Across the park, down on Broadway Market might just be my favourite place to breakfast (cant remember the name, need to find out) pancakes, fluffy and delicious, served with fresh cream and berries, or with maple bacon, is just one of the many enticing breakfast dishes, my fav though has to be the full English done their way. Served with what is the usual FEB accompaniments such as sausage and bacon, they’re also the most delicious little roasted potato bites, served up with garlic aioli and chilli for a little kick first thing in the morning! Try it with a breakfast Mimosa (minimum order of 2 so take a friend who shares your ideals when it comes to pre PM drinking, and have the best damned breakfast of your life!)
If East London isn’t really your thing, check out any of the Balans societies knocking about the place, the Soho restaurant is by far my favourite, and if you’re keen on a bit of celebrity hunting you never really know who you’re going to be sat next to! Graham Norton is a regular there, and I was once removed from a table so Jason Gardner could sit in it (I wasn’t remotely thrilled…)
Keep a look out wherever you are for Doughnut time, an Australian company settling roots in the UK, with the most creative donuts, you can imagine, (think krispy Kreme on acid) with the best names to go with the delicious flavour combos. You have GOT to try the kinda-expensive-but-totally-with-it Homer Simpsons inspired offering, at £24 you get about 4 servings (or 1 homer sizes serving) but its something that needs to be seen to be believed, and tasted! Don’t forget to eat the thing!
Thats actually a donut, it looks like a chicken burger, mind = blown.
It isn’t all about food though is it? I mean, it is, obviously, because food is king, but so are clothes! Shopping, shopping, shopping!
Nestled down on Brick Lane, for over a decade is the only stockist and flagship store of the most amazing designer you’ve never heard of. Iliana Lepore is dark, mysterious, and as fashion forward as you can get. A Rick Owens kind of aesthetic, but with a flair entirely her own, affordable, too. Which is always a bonus?
Brick Lane is home to some very very good, and some very very bad little boutiques, no two are created alike or equal, so exercise some caution, but try and pop into as many of them as you possibly can! Around halfway down, away from Shoreditch, theres a cute little T-shirt shirt that sells printed slogan tee’s galore, as well as the most ostentatiously vulgarly fabulous sunglasses you could wish for.
Dover Street Market moved from Dover Street, to “Not Dover Street but still Dover Street in spirit” right near Haymarket, and its range of streetwear is enviable, luxury brands dripping from every square metre of floorspace and just a really fun vibe!
Down to road in Soho is the Fiorucci Boutique, harking back to the 70’s disco vibes in a way that would probably be trashy and gross if it were anywhere else, but because its soho, because its Fiorucci, because its so cool, etc etc, it just all works so well! We had our stand alone just a few doors down from Fiorucci until recently, and I was in there All The Time. The staff are quirky and cute and they sell some really funky stuff. Give it a shot! I’d sometimes buy something, even something small, just to get one of there shopping bags, because they’re genuinely adorable.
Cocktail bars are all the rage aren’t they? I mean, theres nothing that says “im a total adult now” than paying £18 for a tiny cocktail and pretending its fine before going home and shame crying yourself to sleep…(just me, okay…jokes!) but seriously, there are somer really cute ones around. Upstairs above Ku Bar is a really fun little place, it can get a bit loud after 10pm, but its still a good shout, if you fancy some really cool drinks with a nice vibe and close to the station too for when you’ve had one too many and need to get the hell home!
I really miss the days when the Piccadilly Institute was fun! Right on the corner of Piccadilly Circus on Shaftesbury Avenue, it has all sorts of themed rooms, the science experiment one being my personal favourite, because the cocktails were served in beakers, with dry ice in abundance and bubbles galore! Its less exciting now as I’ve gotten older, but if you’re still excited by dry ice and sugar, give it a go!
If you’re looking for more of party night out, try Metropolis in Bethnal Green, from the outside its all a bit… derelict (but its East London so what do you expect okay?) but inside there are Poles to dance on, podiums to whatever you do with a podium with, drinks aren’t all that expensive and it runs for hours!
In the none too distant future theres also a 24h club opening up in the area, which sounds like a really fantastic idea((?!) You can just tell I don’t really do nightlife anymore cant you?)
As you’ve probably guessed by now I’m way more of a ‘live by the day’ kinda guy, so don’t take all the shadey comments about nightlife too seriously, there are some kick ass bars and clubs everywhere you look, cute pubs up and down the place, the Pub in the middle of Victoria Park is super fun, with an amazing outdoor seating area, mini golf, and dog friendly, its definitely my favourite in that area.
If you don’t want to stay in Central all that time, why not travel a bit further out, maybe to Greenwich? Its an adorable area, It has a Royal Park to boast about, the Observatory, the Cutty Sark, an amazing Market on the weekends, fun restaurants, bars, and all sorts to do, all cutely preserved in its naval glory. Literally, theres a shop on the corner of the street, Nauticalia, that sells all sorts of naval paraphernalia called “The First Shop in the World” given its location on the meridian Line.
Woolwich, just a thames clipper away, has the Indoor Market open on weekends, with quirky street food and big screens for sports (or whatever) and then within the Royal Arsenal, there are several pubs all nearly packed together, particularly the Dial Arch is of note, an amazing Menu for foods, Craft Ales aplenty (they have one called Lazarus which I only tried because of the David Bowie reference, turns out I really don’t like Ale) and the usual ‘Aperol everything’.
Londons a one of a kind city with so many hidden gems, go out, explore, make your own discoveries and really enjoy it!