See London like a local! In the first blog I told you where to go to see the sights of London. But where are the best places to go to eat and drink or see something less obvious but oh so very British.
Ok so drinks… a massive part of the British culture is centred around alcohol and therefore there are some great hidden cocktail bars in London.
Shoreditch is an area in the North East of London easily reachable by tube that is one of the most popular areas to go out drinking with great bars and nightclubs.
Brew dog is a bar that serves craft beers in all sorts of variations, from dark and spicy to sharp and fruity. No bottled beer will be found here!
Bounce is another great bar. Serving all the usual drinks but whilst you are playing ping pong, could it get any more fun.
Also in Shoreditch are a few cool restaurants and cafes. The cereal killer café is a small café on the famous Brick Lane. It serves 150 different types of cereal from around the world and unbelievably 40 different types of milk. You can choose from a simple bowl of cereal or you can pimp up your choice with a cereal cocktail or adding toppings.
If you’re down Brick Lane on a weekend, enjoy the markets, serving foods from all over the world, there’s stalls offering all sorts from paella to pulled pork.
As well as vintage clothes and handicrafts.
The streets round this area are pretty cool too. Some great graffiti!
Red’s true BBQ serve some of the best ribs and burgers. With a burger served on a doughnut and the most delicious BBQ pit beans, this restaurant is a sure fire winner for any meat lover.
All dishes on the menu are matched with “the best” drink to compliment your food.
Moving away from Shoreditch, I can recommend a visit to the Blind Pig on Poland Street. Themed like an American speakeasy, it’s not immediately obvious how to find it at street level; look under the vintage ‘Optician’ sign for the blindfolded hog doorknocker and boom, you’re in. The cocktails are unique, I mean where else can you find skittles washed Ketel One, and Wham Bar syrup in the same glass?
Another great place is the Absolut icebar. Hidden away down an alley is this bar that is maintained at minus five degrees all year round. Everything in this bar is made of ice, the chairs, the bar and even the glasses! You are given a thermal poncho and pair of gloves on entry and you can enjoy an Absolut vodka cocktail in by far the ‘coolest’ bar in London.
There’s a small courtyard off Carneby Street called Kingly Court. Inside, there is a three story wonderland with a great mix of restaurants and bars. The restaurant called the Whyte and Brown on the ground floor has reasonably priced food and a great atmosphere. The staff are super friendly (as far as London hospitality goes) there is a small cocktail menu that focuses on quality not quantity served.
If cocktails are you thing you need to get upstairs to rum kitchen. It’s a pretty low key bar/restaurant that serves West Indian food and drink at the top of its game.
Also within this quirky complex is the best cupcake shop around called crumbs and doilies.
South West of London is an area called Battersea. The Four Thieves Pub is situated here and it offers a rather unique twist on your typical night out. Lady Chastity’s Reserve is a team game combining clues and immersive theatre where you need to work together to unlock a bottle of wine. At the back of the pub there is a small door where you are met by Gabriel who will introduce you to the room where you will be spending the next hour. Crack the codes and you can celebrate with the bottle of wine. Fail, well then there is always the bar outside…
This is one to book before you come as it gets reserved quickly.
Upstairs in The Four Thieves there is are classic arcade games, including Street Fighter projected onto the wall and a remote control race track. In the corner of the room is a small tiki style bar but really this isn’t the main attraction.
Back downstairs, the main bar serves up drinks that are on the pricey side but the music sure makes up for this. Playing back to back 60’s soul classics this pub guarantees to get you up dancing. Open until 2am at weekend there’s no need to move on to a club from here.
However if you want hit the nightclubs….
There are plenty large clubs in London playing the obvious chart hits with overpriced and below standard drinks. But it’s the smaller bars with more character that will guarantee you the best night!
The Cellar Door is no normal nightclub. Located in a converted public toilet under the streets of London. By day it is an intimate bar that serves some of the best cocktails but by night it is transformed into a burlesque cabaret. And the clear toilet doors are something to behold! (they do turn opaque when locked)
Now food and drink are sorted, you’ll want something to do during the day.
A short train journey out of London is The Harry Potter Studio Tour. If you get the train to Watford there is a free shuttle bus that will take you directly to the studios.
Set in a converted aircraft hangar, this is where parts of the films were set. You can walk down Diagon Ally, experience the great hall and take a trip to Privet drive.
Explore the special effects department to see how the house elves were created and the 18 foot animatronic spider.
There is a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts castle which was used for the exterior shots in the films.
You can even taste the delights of butter beer.
Now I am not a Harry Potter fan but even I had a great day here! A true Potter fan would be in their element!
To feed any shopping cravings you have head to Harrods. Granted, some items that are for sale you’ll need a second mortgage to be able to afford, but there are some reasonably priced items too. The food hall on the ground floor seems to go on for miles but the best macarons can be bought here.
On a higher floor there is a great pizzeria with an opera singing chef and opposite is an ice cream bar called Morelli’s (go here with an empty stomach, they’re huge!)
There is almost a whole level dedicated solely to toys as well. Life size cuddly giraffes, Big Ben’s tower created out of Lego and a load of stations where you can play with different toys, great for both kids and adults.
Plus if you visit between August and December they sell the most over the top Christmas decorations you are likely to see.
If it is a nice day, nearby to Harrods is Hyde Park, London’s equivalent of Central Park in New York. You can hire bikes and ride through the park or you could take a leisurely stroll. There is a beautiful rose garden and a lake to go boating on. It’s a great haven to take time out from the busy city.
If you want to see the sights of London in a bit of a different way, I’d recommend Duck Tours.
Hop on board the World War 2 duck and have a drive around town with a local guide who will be sure to inform you on the weird and wonderful history of London. After seeing the sights on land, the duck will plunge into the River Thames and let you see the city from the water. This is an experience like no other!
Of course I could keep going on about the must see places and experiences around London, but I’m sure you’ll find out more out yourself!