Living Like a Local in London Towne
Collected by Sara Lieberman, AFAR Contributor
As a newbie to the city on a three-month job swap with a British journalist, I'm taking each day as it comes in this old town, discovering new treasures as I happen upon them. These are a few of my favorite things.
St. Martin's Pl, London WC2H 0HE, UK
Nestled in the corner next to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery isn’t as overwhelming as its larger sibling. It’s an absolute beaut of a gallery, with a permanent collection (free to...
1e Great Eastern St, London EC2A 3EJ, UK
Ah, yes. Another hidden cocktail bar. I will never tire of them! This little gem is by appointment only (just call up and make a rez, no fuss!) and once you arrive at the desolate doorway just off Great Eastern in Shoreditch, ring up the host and...
London W2 2UH, UK
Since I'm new to London, I've slowly been discovering each of the (very large) city's neighborhoods. After a day of exploring around Kensington High Street, I just wanted to sit somewhere, spread out and read all the Sunday newspapers. I happened...
11-14 Hanover Pl, London WC2E 9JP, UK
Just when I thought I'd seen (or at least heart of) every innovative dining experience... I am taken to an Asian-fusion restaurant where the menu is digitally projected onto the table and you direct the "course" of the evening with the click of a...
332 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AG, UK
Drank a bit too much the night before? Shuffle on over to the family-run (since 1900!) E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road in East London. The English-Italian greasy spoon will satisfy your every hangover need. You can go for the classic English...
2-4 Boundary St, Shoreditch, London E2 7DD, UK
The best thing about this chicken and crawfish pie, filled with creamy peas and shrooms and covered in a buttery, toasty pie crust? I got to order and eat it from a table for one. And just one. As a solo traveler, I'm so often relegated to letting...
St Martin's Courtyard, Slingsby Pl, London WC2E 9AB, UK
If you're looking for that quintessential neighborhood spot where you're welcomed with a smile and can easily spend hours going from Bloody Mary to Eggs Benedict to Lemon Cheesecake to Coffee back to another Bloody Mary, well then Bill's is your...
16B Electric Ave, Brixton, London SW9 8JX, UK
In South London, just off the Victoria line, there's a one-stop-shop for all your boozing and dining desires. But unlike Borough, this isn't a market from which you walk, wait in line, and then eat while standing and walking and waiting some more....
3, 22 Bloomsbury St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3QJ, UK
At this super chic boutique just around the corner from the touristy Portobello Market, you'll find a mix of vintage and modern luxury items. The store is beautifully curated, with artwork hanging from the walls and a dark wooden spiral staircase...
44 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9EP, UK
Want the ultimate souvenir that none of your friends will have? Head to Tatty Devine in Covent Garden to customize a colorful necklace. In just a half-hour, you can design and walk out with a personalized accessory that's totally chic and unique....
The Courtyard Theatre, 40 Pitfield St, Hoxton, London N1 6EU, UK
The area of Hoxton, in and around Brick Lane, is brimming with murals and street art that seem to integrate perfectly with both the industrial and natural surroundings. (Case in point: That tree is actually real. When I first saw it, I thought it...
22 Holly Mount, London NW3 6SG, UK
Sometime between 1:30 and 4:30, the British like to partake in a massive Sunday meal that features any one of the following: roast chicken, roast pork, roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (really just a puffy pastry), Scotch eggs, fish...
27 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9EU, UK
In a town known for its tea, Monmouth Coffee Company offers a hot jolt-y alternative. Sure, you can get a cup to-go or enjoy a mug while sitting in one of their cafes, but the best way to experience Monmouth is by sampling their flavors and buying...
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA, UK
Sometimes, living in East London, one can feel...isolated. It's a trek to find "your locals" like movie theaters and supermarkets and nail salons. Just when I thought I'd have to get myself to Oxford Circus, I discovered not one, but two indie...
110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY, UK
Get high for breakfast—real high—at this 24-hour spot near Liverpool Street. Check in at ground level and go up 40 floors to find 180-degree, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at South East London. Dishes are to-die-for, with the...
191 Portobello Rd, London W11 2ED, UK
For the ultimate cinema experience in London, head way down to Portobello Road in Notting Hill to see a film at the Electric Cinema, which has been showing movies for 100 years. After just recently undergoing a refurbishment, you'll find plush...
1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, London E1 8JB, UK
Down a dark alley just off the Highway, close to the Tower Hill of London in the East End, is a teeny tiny relic of a music hall known as Wilton's. It originated as an ale house way back in the early 1700s, and soon after was turned into a...
City of London, London, UK
Every once in a while, you happen on a place so lovely and twee, you just want to keep it all for yourself. But since that's not possible, it being a public place and all, you may as well share the joy. And so I introduce to you White Mulberries...
8A Exhibition Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2HF, UK
Up for a long day at the museums near South Kensington? Resist going into a smelly-ale pub to fuel up on energy for the more quaint and charming Fernandez & Wells. It feels indie, even though there are several locations throughout the city....
18-20 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG, UK
This lovely coffee shop in the mostly-residential area of Balham in South London is really more than a coffee shop. From poached eggs on top of corn bread with marscapone, to fresh soups of the day and fruit-flavored waters that are free of...
141-143 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JE, UK
Head over to Shoreditch High Street where all the hipsters spill out onto the streets in their skinny jeans for a little something extra with your chips and dip: a rip-roaring good time. On most nights, there's either live music or a packed...
13 Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP, UK
It's rare to find quality pizza by the slice in London—until now. This newly opened former pop-up at London Fields is a hidden gem worth finding your way to Neal's Yard for. Each day, they offer 3 or 4 different slices such as the courgette...
37 Wapping Wall, St Katharine's & Wapping, London E1W 3SG, UK
Is it a restaurant? An art gallery? A book store? Try all of the above. This vaulted-ceiling space, way over in Wapping just south of Whitechapel, features an array of feasts for all senses: Dine on small-portion fancy food in the main area of the...
Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F, UK
Among the shops and tourists buzzing about Carnaby Street is a quite respite just off Kingly Court: a book swap shop! Shelves are filled with classics new and old, while inviting velvet armchairs say, "Come, sit for a while." The idea is simple:...
Somerset House, 150 Strand, London WC2R 0RN, UK
Tucked away inside the large space of Somerset House, this small gallery leaves a large impression. It houses the collection of the Courtald Institute of Art, a stunning set of early 20th-century art with a focus on French Impressionist and...
Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea SS9, UK
With a family business steeped in the seafood industry, I was told to go to Leigh-on-Sea for a taste of England's authentic shellfish -- from cockles to jellied eels. The weather being what it is here in London, it took me months before I made it...
70 Wapping Wall, St Katharine's & Wapping, London E1W 3SS, UK
If you're looking for authentic, straight-off-the-boat Italian food in London, look no further than Il Bordello on a quiet back street in London's Wapping neighborhood. Italian-speaking waiters don bowties and really bring you to The Boot when...
29 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 5DH, UK
While everyone and their mother (and aunt and grandmother) are on the waiting list to have afternoon tea at Brown's or Claridge's some time next April, head to Soho for the no-longer-a-secret-but-still-unknown tea room inside the Coach &...
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