from time to time i get an email from someone asking me tips about London.
I only moved here 11 months ago, so I am no expert, but I always reply with a list of my favourite places. I decided to make a public post with that list, maybe you'll find it useful. I always prefer asking residents than browsing travel books. some of the places mentioned here I found out through other people's blogs.
I will try and complete this guide as I will get to know the city.
my list consists now of places in East London mainly because that is where I live and end up spending most of my time.
though London is huge I get this feeling that I live in a small village, where I can walk and cycle everywhere. I don't really need to go far to get my fruits and vegetables, to find a nice restaurant, a nice pub, amazing markets, cool stores..
so, this is my list, I tried writing it in a logical order, but maybe that logic only exists in my head. I hope it's not too confusing.
feel free to suggest some new places to me. I will try and add my own pictures of these places.
Broadway Market - on saturdays broadway market is the place to go. you have an amazing food offer (from delicious bread to pastries, freshly cooked risotto, veggie burgers...) on the market stalls and also in the cafes and restaurants on that street. if the weather is nice the best plan is to grab some food and go to London Fields (which on sunny days looks like the Coachella) with a drink and have a little pic-nic there. on Broadway Market you can also find vintage clothing but its mostly (amazing) food.
La Bouche - La Bouche is this amazing french deli/cafe in Broadway Market where I love going and get a Cosmic Sandwich (made of hummus, it's delicious!). they have amazing pastries (like the vegan carrot cake in the picture), sandwiches and salads. the staff is always really nice.
Donlon Books - this is my favourite book store. it is also located at Broadway Market. Donlon Books has an amazing selection of rare books, apart from the cool regular magazines. the store is really tiny but lovely. the owner (Conor Donlon) lives upstairs and you can read some nice interviews with him in Apartamento magazine issue #9 and in LN-CC.
Artwords - is another great bookstore with a great selection of magazines. Artwords is located in Broadway Market.
I also recommend walking in the other direction (west) though I haven't done that many times, but I remember this one time I got lost just walking by the canal and ended up in this place called Little Venice and it was quite a pleasant walk.
Columbia Road Market - on sunny sundays the flower market in columbia road is the most amazing place, it is magic. there are bands playing outside, people are eating and drinking seating on the street, almost everyone is holding a bunch of flowers and the guys who sell them shout like crazy. it's intense, specially if you go around 1pm, it's almost impossible to walk among the crowd.
StringRay Globe - this pizza place is situated in Columbia Road and is one of my favourites. being 5 minutes away from my house kinda helps. the calzones here are HUGE.
Cake Hole - when you walk by Cake Hole you can't tell straight away that there is a cafe there. it is located inside a vintage shop (Vintage Heaven) which has amazing plates, cups, glasses, fabrics. the Cake Hole is at the end of the store and they have great tea and cakes which are served (obviously) in vintage ware.
Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes - the Jaguar Shoes in Kingsland is my favourite place to meet friends after work and have a pizza and a Corona. the decoration of the place is always changing as this restaurant is also a gallery and artists usually use the walls/tables/chairs of the place to work with.
The Bridge - I fell in love with this place as soon as I got in the first floor and saw the red velvet chairs and all the nice memorabilia. it reminded me of Pavilhão Chinês in Lisbon (how I miss that place!). this is great to have a tea or a drink with a small group of friends.
Old Spitalfield's Market - the market is there everyday but the best day is Thursday (antiques market). you can check more info about the market on its website as I have only been there a couple of times.
Fabrique - this is a cute little swedish bakery near the Hoxton overground station. i think the bread and pastries are baked there and that is why it always smells like heaven in there. yes, to me heaven must smell like a mix of cinnamon and cardamom. I love buying walnut bread at Fabrique and bring it home to eat with some olive oil. or have a small walnut bread with tea inside the store when it is raining.
The Grocery - by now you must have realised that most of my recommendations are food related. yes, I love food. I love cooking it, and I love hanging around with friends in cafes and restaurants, there is nothing better that chatting over great food. so, The Grocery is the answer to the question I do myself at the end of every month "where did all the money go?". this is where I get most of my vegan treats (like cupcakes, raw chocolate cakes, sweet bars). The Grocery is both a supermarket and a cafe, where they serve a delicious vegan breakfast with sourdough. they also serve non vegan food, but I can only give my feedback on the vegan stuff. oh, and there is this cute cat who is always around.
The Haggerston - I cannot recommend many pubs because I am not a pub person but everytime I go to The Haggerston I have lots of fun. in the Summer you can go outside and the ambience is really cool. oh, and they have great pizza there. yes, I am a huge fan of pizza. basically if a place has good pizza there is a big change it will end up in this guide.
Abney Park Cemetery - this amazing cemetery is perfect to just walk around, jogging, ride your bike, take photos. strangely I find it a really romantic place. it's full of history and it is beautiful, specially during Autumn and also with all the snow in the Winter. just don't go there when it is dark, I've heard it is not very pleasant. (well, depending on what you're going there for).
Beyond Retro - this is probably the most famous vintage shop in London. they have 4 stores in London but my favourite is the one in Stoke Newington because it also has a cafe. I find the clothes too pricey (like in most of the vintage shops here, unless they are charity shops) but it's good for winter coats. the cafe is ok to have a latte and relax for a bit.
Car Boot Sale in Stoke Newington - this is my favourite "flea market". every saturday and sunday this market has the greatest (and cheapest!) offer of old/vintage stuff. you pay 0,50 to get in and you can buy clothes, rare vinyls, house ware, shoes, anything you can think of.
Brick Lane - on Sundays Brick Lane is crazy, you have basically everything for sale in the street market. you also have the food stalls, with really cheap and great food.
Cheshire Street - here you will find great vintage stores (there is even a Beyond Retro at the end of the street) and also Beach London, a book store/gallery specialised in illustration and design. Thursday is the day for openings, so if you are around on a Thursday make sure you look for any art openings whether in Beach London or any other gallery in East London, there are quite a few each Thursday.
OTHER PARTS OF LONDON
these are some of the places I have visited and found amazing:
Portobello Market - this is a really touristic market to which I don't go that often. you have the antique stalls, the food stalls and then at the end you have the clothing stalls. there is amazing stuff there, if you are patient enough to look around/under. (I once found a Luella cashmere jumper for 30 pounds). I only go there when some foreign friend comes to visit. I particularly like the walk from the tube station to the market, to see all those amazing houses and the stores (there are great vintage stores with Dior, Chanel, Margiela, Marni.. which are not that expensive and they are worth a visit, even if just to look).
Somerset House - this is where London Fashion Week takes place. it is also where I've seen some of the best exhibitions since I live here. If you are planning a visit to London make sure to check what's on at the Somerset House during your stay. In the Winter there was a skating ring there which was really beautiful.
Koya - this is one of my favourite places to eat. this japanese restaurant is specialised in Udon and there is always a queue to get in (which is a good sign). It is located in Soho, if you are an Udon fan just like me, you have to visit Koya.
Hampstead Heath Park - I visited Hampstead Heath for the first time last month (on a sunny and warm day) and I was speechless, I never knew a place like that could exist IN the city. it's insanely beautiful and suddenly it feels you are not in the city, it feels like you are in the countryside. you look around and all you see is nature and all you hear is nature. this massive park has lots of beautiful ponds, and you can actually swim in some of them (you have the mixed, the women's and the men's swimming pools) - which I did and it felt so good.
I haven't visited the whole extension of the park (320 hectares) but wikipedia told me there is this place with amazing views (the Parliament Hill Fields) which I will be going to on my next visit.
Liberty - this is my favourite department store in London. it´s not as overwhelming as Harrods or Selfridges. it is in this small and beautiful building in Great Marlborough Street, where you can find the best designer pieces, the famous Liberty fabrics and lovely flower arrangements on the main entrance. I specially love the ground floor, where all the beauty products, stationary and Diptyque candles are.