Another installment of our ‘Local Insider Series’ – this time bringing good ol’ London into the limelight. Emma Beynon, Marketing Manager for BUNAC is a born and bred Londoner, and wanted to give us the goss on where’s hot in town nowadays. And she doesn’t just talk about east London.
I count myself very lucky to have grown up living in London – never far from all the action, all the people and all the history. It’s got some of the greatest tourist attractions, most recognizable landmarks and – most importantly – best pubs in the world, but there’s always something new to discover.
Where to visit in London
For music lovers: Camden caters for music fans of pretty much every genre. With mainstream clubs, live indie bands in pubs and late night raves in health food stores, you’re sure to find something that floats your boat.
For art and culture: London has so many incredible museums, most of which are free! If you’re a Harry Potter fan (who isn’t?!) a film fan or graphic design fan then check out Mina Lima. Set in a 300-year-old converted house in the heart of Soho, it holds a magical shop on its lower floor, and the three further storeys dedicated to the art of the Harry Potter films created by design duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima. It’s totally free to go in and wander round and the staff are super helpful and have loads of background knowledge on how JK Rowling’s wizarding world was brought to life. Literally magical.
For fashion fiends: Trendy east London has plenty of vintage stores and kilo sales which are great for bargain hunting fashionistas. There’s also plenty of street art to model your new wares against. Do it for the ‘gram!
For lazy Sundays: Head to Dulwich in south east London. Grab a coffee and a pastry and take a wander around beautiful Dulwich Park (make sure to stop by and watch the super active squirrels in the conservation area). When you’ve had your fill of the park head back out and wander up Lordship Lane for a mooch round the cute independent shops. Stop for an epic roast at The Palmerston and wash it down with a bottle of red. Definitely set to keep the Monday blues at bay.
Where to eat in London
Breakfast spot: London’s oldest Italian coffee bar, Bar Italia is set in the heart of Soho and is so authentic, you’ll question which city you’re actually in! The coffee – as you’d expect – is incredible and they have an excellent range of Italian pastries and sandwiches on offer too. Bellissimo! It’s a great place to people watch – either sat outside on the street or inside with the buzzing staff and amazing artifacts crowding the walls.
Brunch: Holy crepe this place should be on everyone’s radar! (But also shhhh as I like not having to wait too long!) Nestled in Brixton Village, Senzala sells an amazing selection of sweet and savoury crepes and galettes. There’s something for everyone and loads of vegan and vegetarian options too. I highly recommend The Spaniard – chorizo, red onion and spinach topped with a fried egg. YUM.
Cheap eat: Another of London’s best hidden secrets is family run Italian restaurant in Kentish Town, La Rosella. The staff are friendly, the food is incredible and the portions are as huge as the bill is low – about £8 for a massive bowl of homemade carbonara (the best I’ve ever had outside of actual Italy). They also cater for large parties so it’s the perfect spot for a birthday party. They whip up a mean Aperol Spritz too.
Bit of a treat: Aqua Kyoto is a high-end Japanese restaurant just behind Oxford Circus. Their sushi is incredible and they also have a cosy indoor bar and a roof terrace which is perfect in the summer (but gets super crowded). Despite being on the pricier end of the scale, the atmosphere is relaxed and unstuffy, with sneakers seen as trendy rather than taboo.
My favorite place: If there’s one thing us Brits do well it’s a roast dinner, and Blacklock is the ultimate. Go on a Sunday and get the “All In”. It serves 2 minimum at just £20pp and you are presented with a literal MOUND of food – three types of roast meat, all the trimmings and the best gravy outside the North.
Where to drink in London
For the weeknight boozing: The Churchill Arms in Notting Hill is well-known for its extravagant flower covered exterior (even more jazzy at Christmas, the whole building is covered in fairy lights and Christmas trees) Inside every inch of the walls are plastered with the most British of posters and artefacts, which is brilliant and you could easily while away hours just looking at these. As a weird juxtaposition they also serve an incredible range of authentic Thai food which is pretty cheap and great washed down with a pint.
For the party animals: Go hard or go harder at Fabric. It’s a London institution and a night like no other. It’ll be the most unforgettable night you’ll never remember.
For a fancy few: If you’re a gin fan, head to The Distillery in Notting Hill and you won’t be disappointed. The GinTonica bar is circular in shape, to mirror that of the ideal gin copa glass, and they have over 60 gins and mixers to choose from. It’s not cheap but it is delicious!
If I only had 24 hours in London I would…
Grab breakfast on the go at Borough Market then stroll along the Southbank towards Waterloo, nipping over the wobbly Millennium Bridge to checkout St Paul’s on the way. With some of the best views in the city ticked off your list, settle down for a glass of wine at Gordon’s Wine Bar – a 19th century wine cellar with vaulted ceilings. Fully restored, jump on a tube to Notting Hill for more wandering around the colorful houses and see if you can spot *that* blue door, before lunch at one of the lovely brasseries that fill the area. Then zip back across town to east London and get a history fix on a Jack the Ripper Tour followed by drinks in a local pub to discuss your theories.