If you’re a cultural fiend and keen on uncovering the coolest cafes and shops whenever you travel to a new destination, this mini-guide to London will serve you well:
A cafe, grocery and bakery all in one, Albion was a surprise find – but one look at the seasonal-vegetables-ladden exterior – and I knew I would love the place. Entering the store, you immediately encounter a selection of well-curated gourmet goodies, making it the ideal insider (read: not too touristy) place to get yummy gifts for friends and colleagues back home (well, I did).
Albion is a mainstay in the super-trendy Shoreditch neighbourhood that shouldn’t be missed, even if you aren’t looking to dine at the cafe. Run in to grab some coffee or delicious bread for a bite on the go. 2-4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London
Treves and Hyde
Located on the ground floor of a very chic service apartment, Treves & Hyde is only 2 minutes’ walk from Aldgate East station – if you’re in east London, you must drop by for some excellent java brewed by James, the cafe’s friendly part-owner (at 22!) and who is extremely passionate about coffee. Pastries are excellent as well, made fresh in the morning and changes day to day.
But of course, it was the beautiful decor that drew me in initially. Set in a pretty pastel colour scheme (very Wes Anderson), the striking curved stairway leads upwards to a space for diners; the 2-month-old cafe transforms into a bar/restaurant at night.
How good is this cafe? Let’s just say I came here for breakfast every morning – while it’s true my hotel was located nearby, the inviting atmosphere, great pastries and lovely staff kept me coming back for more. 15/17 Leman Street, London
I’ve been hearing everyone rave about the Tate forever and experiencing it for myself was tremendous – everything from the architecture to the sheer scale of the place (there are 10 floors and 2 wings) was fairly overwhelming.
While I do think the museum store itself could have been better curated, the art is after all what people go there for and this piece (Yellow versus Purple, 1967) by Olafur Eliasson was my favourite for its play on colour, light and space. Bankside, London
My favourite food find, Popolo was an entirely accidental find while shopping in the Shoreditch area. The young restaurant (it opened in October) focuses on solid Italian cuisine – but served tapas-style. If you love Italian food, this is a great concept as it allows you to try more of everything without being overwhelmed by the portion.
Note: the portions aren’t disgustingly tiny either. The warm Italian staff also contribute to the casual but stylish vibe of the place. In other words, Popolo made for the perfect hidden gem (it’s a small place and very easy to walk right past) to spend my final meal in London. I’ll be returning here on my next visit to London, that’s for sure.
Couverture & The Garbstore
Located in the hip neighbourhood of Kensington, Couverture & The Garbstore is one of the biggest multi-label stores in London – it caters to both men (in the basement) and women, so if you’re shopping with your other half, there’s definitely something for both parties.
Expect to find cool knick knacks from around the world – those with an affinity for Japanese design, there’s plenty here from socks to stationery to homeware. The labels they stock are very respectable as well; think Kapital, Anonymous Ism and Engineered Garments. There’s also an extensive range of fragrances from Juniper Ridge, an American cult label known for their artisanal products made exclusively from herbs and flowers hand harvested during hikes. They make a great present for those into organics. 188 Kensington Park Rd, Notting Hill, London
Like this? Check out senior writer Isabel Ong’s favourite shops and cafe in Daikanyama, Tokyo, the most stylish cafes in New York, London, Milan and Paris and the Female team’s favourite looks from London Fashion Week.
All photos: writer’s own