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London Calling


A Guide to Some of Our Favorite Neighborhoods



Senior Travel Editor, Amanda Stuermer

Instagram: @amandastuermer

amandastuermer.com


Photos/Art: FemRev

Instagram: @femrevolution




Shoreditch


This once gritty industrial center has experienced a creative rebirth, complete with vibrant street art, eclectic food scene, bloomtastic flower market, and some of the best thrifting in all of London. Start your day with a flat white from Grind and head to Rivington Street to see works by Banksy and Bambi.




Shoreditch is basically a living gallery. You’ll spot street art pretty much wherever you go. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, consider a Peruvian-style brunch at Andina. Brunch is always a great pre-game for shopping and Shoreditch has plenty of options.





The Columbia Road Flower Market is the place for blooms, potted plants, and pastries (if you still have room). Grab one or two of their fabulous overstuffed bouquets and don’t kid yourself—you’re not giving them away.


Then head to Brick Lane for vintage finds that don’t look and smell like something from your great aunt’s closet. Check Here After for 1970s era threads, Vintage Paradise for ’90s obsessions, Nordic Poetry and Serotonin Vintage for higher end (read: more expensive) treasures. Now take those bags and bouquets and settle into a velvet banquet at Gloria, a ’70s Capri-style trattoria, for cocktails, cacio e pepe, and tiramisu. You’ve earned it.





Camden


When people describe Camden, words like quirky, edgy, and cool get used a lot. That’s exactly why we like it. It’s been home to many of London’s most iconic creatives from Charles Dickens to Amy Winehouse. We recommend you skip the overly touristy shops on Camden High Street and go straight to Camden Market as early in the day as possible to avoid the crowds.



The Stables Market is a maze of eclectic boutiques crammed with antique furniture, vintage clothing, vinyl records, and more. Check out The Baggage Room for restored vintage luggage, Time Tunnel Vintage for rare finds, and Oi Oi for a taste of old punk Camden. You might also like Modfather for Brit heritage brands from the ’60s.



When the day is nearly done, walk along the canals to Primrose Hill for one of the best sunset vistas in the city. But you are not allowed to leave Camden before experiencing its music scene. The Electric Ballroom is quintessential Camden: a bit rundown with a hedonistic vibe. It has hosted legends from The Clash to Sid Vicious over the years. Looking for something more cozy? Try Green Note, an award-winning live music venue and vegetarian café-bar.





Soho


Part hipster haven, part seedy sideshow, this relatively small area has plenty to offer day and night. Let’s get the basics out of the way. Liberty is the only department store we will ever step inside. As Oscar Wilde once noted, “Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.” Carnaby Street is also worth a stroll even if it does feel a tad too chain store-ish these days. For more unique finds head to Machine A, Soho’s coolest concept store for both emerging and established brands, END for the latest streetwear-influenced fashion, or Dukes’s Cupboard for vintage finds. Once your fashion thirst has been quenched, head to the Photographer’s Gallery, featuring six stories devoted to local and international photographers. Bonus tip: entry is free before noon. Next up: lunch. Soho can satisfy almost any craving, from Wowshee Egyptian Falafel Bar to Soho’s oldest French institution, L’Escargot.



We love The Ugly Dumpling (the name and the dumpling remixes) for a quick bite or Bocca di Lupo for a wine-soaked lunch at the bar with seriously good people watching on the side. In the mood for a permanent memento from Soho? Visit Frith Street


Tattoo, with an incredible stable of artists and the best guest spots in the city. When nighttime falls, Soho’s bar scene comes to life. A few to note: Soma, a small, underground drinking den; Nightjar Carnaby for a speakeasy vibe with low lighting and live piano; The Littler Scarlet Door for more of a popping house-party scene. Need more? Head to Freedom Club for an upstairs glitzy cocktail and a downstairs cabaret show or Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues for the best in ska, punk, reggae, and rhythm and blues. Run by Gaz Mayall, son of legendary blues musician John Mayall.





Notting Hill


If you’re looking to recreate a bit of that rom-com life, Notting Hill is your spot: the pastel houses, the blue door at 280 Westbourne Park Road from 1999’s Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts romantic romp, and of course Portobello Road Market, where you can visit the whimsical Alice’s Antique Shop, which you may remember from another film, Paddington, where London’s favorite bear befriends local antiques dealer Samuel Gruber. There’s more to Notting Hill than movie references though. Portobello Road Market is the largest antiques market in the world (think Antiques Roadshow on steroids), but keep in mind it takes a lot of trash sorting to find that rare treasure.


When you’ve had your fill of trash-sorting-treasure-hunting tourists, head to Graffik Gallery, home to some of the world’s best street art from Banksy, Dotmaster, Stik, Alec Monopoly, Bambi, TRUST.iCON, Clet & Robin Coleman, and more. They also offer public graffiti workshops every Saturday and Sunday at 1:15 p.m. The Museum of Brands is also well worth a visit for the nostalgia factor alone.



Then there’s Rough Trade, founded in the ’70s and considered the coolest record store in the world. The Rough Trade record label signed none other than The Smiths and The Libertines. Cool. You’ve got to be hungry by now. Notting Hill is chock-full of cute cafés.


For those looking for more boozy pursuits, head to The Ginstitute, where your “Ginstructor” will share the history of gin with you as you make your very own bespoke bottle to take home. Still standing? Consider catching a flick at one of London’s oldest cinemas. Electric Cinema is the perfect end to a rom-com day.




ORIGIN. Extras


ShoreDitch


Fauxmagerie is the first gourmet, upmarket, handcrafted vegan cheese shop (yes, vegan). Build a cheese board (dairy lovers will never know the difference) or eat it directly out of the packaging walking down Brick Lane, while your husband tries to snatch it out of your hand. Whatever works.


BoxPark is a clusterfreak of boxcars put together with small boutique ships, eats, and upstairs is an open air bar. Grab a can of spray paint or bring your fav stickers as you walk down to the Brick Lane Market.


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Waterloo Station

Check out Leake Street Tunnel, one of London’s coolest street art spots. Hidden away underneath Waterloo station, it’s a 300 meter tunnel, an ever-evolving canvas for colorful street art. The city’s largest ‘legal’ graffiti wall, complete with neon lights and an Alice in Wonderland feel. Bring your roller skates and friends for a trippy time.


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