Victoria and Albert Museum
Museum cafes are often depressing affairs, white formica boxes where you grab a curling sandwich on your way to the next piece of tourism. But the main cafe’s trio of rooms are nothing like that. Designed, respectively, by William Morris, Henry Cole, and Edward Poynter in glorious Victorian excess, were the first museum cafe in the world, and they are today a rare example of a museum restaurant where you would be happy to spend time, revelling in the gorgeous details and stained glass windows. And the food’s pretty good too; you can get all sorts of hot and cold meals, and it’s a great stop for lunch or cakes, if you’re doing the museum trail at South Kensington.
The Queen's Attic
The Victoria and Albert Museum Cast Courts are a great look at the replicas commissioned by the rich so that they didn’t have to take the real things home. We wandered in after exploring the V&A’s other fascinating exhibits (the ironwork was another favorite) and found half of the exhibit closed. Never fear! From an upper walkway we peered over to the other side and saw a great attic of fake goodies carefully wrapped for the renovation.
The V&A: I'm Here for the Food
Plenty of people come to the Victoria and Albert Museum for the world-renowned exhibits. But, it’s perfectly all right to come here solely for the food. Order from a modest, yet tasty, selection at the museum’s café—pastries, sandwiches, salads, and more are on hand—and then carry your art-worthy cafeteria tray into the ornate seating areas. As the first museum restaurant in the world, this café is an attraction in its own right: Stained-glass windows, painted ceilings, intricate carvings, and celestial chandeliers create quite a setting for a casual meal.