I was born in London and have lived most of my life here. I have a lot of love for this city. When I was at university (more than 10 years ago) ago, I mapped the city with words. It laid out my relationship to the city and particularly the places I love and have fond memories are.
Revisiting my map of London
I’m really keen to see how my map would look today. The city has grown and developed a huge amount. Old places no longer exist. New places have appeared. And some have stood the test of time. I haven’t quite had the time to redraw my map but I did want to share just a few of my favourite places to hang out.
The Great Court at the British Museum
This has always been a great thinking space. The roof is by Foster and Partners and is made up of 3,312 panes of glass that are all unique. The space, which surrounds The Reading Room has an incredible light and ambiance. It’s a spatial muse and forever awe-inspiring.
White Cube Bermondsey
Part of the stronghold that is the Jay Joplin’s empire. The space is a transformed warehouse in typical London Bridge style. The shows are always superbly brought together. Again it’s a wonderful space for inspiration.
Gilbert & George, The banners is on until 24 January
Sticking around Bermondsey (my new hood) is another great space that I’ve visited since I was young. A memory of our family Sunday lunches in a rather good restaurant nearby followed by checking out an exhibition on Barragan or Paul Smith. Growing up in an art gallery and with an engineer for a dad, this was almost a perfect mix of art and science. It certainly started my interest in design and architecture.
As a child I was completely in love with the collection of jewels they have here. I was mesmerised by all the gems and embroidery. It could take me off to other worlds. I would pretend to be an Indian Princess or Film Star. Recent exhibition including Bowie and Alexander McQueen have been a complete sell out. So keep an eye out and book early!
I always wanted to move to Bermondsey. It has a sort of village feel and community to it. It’s also not quite fallen to the same amount of hipster-ville-ness as Shoreditch. On the same street as White Cube there are a really good array of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Lots of them have been there for some time which is a good sign. Village East is definitely my favourite brunch venue. Ok , so we’re all a bit hipster, but as my friend Helena says “#reasonstonotqueueatbreakfastclub”.
Duck & Waffle
As a family we’ve been to this restaurant 40 floors above London several times. It’s just really good. Somewhere that has amazing views, incredible food and damn fine cocktails can’t do much wrong in my eyes. I just wish I could go more often.
Roka Aldwych or Charlotte Street
This year for my birthday we decided to not go to Duck & Waffle (I couldn’t get a table) so we booked into the newest Roka. It doesn’t disappoint. I always loved the original restaurant in Fitzrovia. Each restaurant has it’s own specials giving them their own unique feel. Sushi and cocktails? Yes please!
Maltby Street Market
I’ve now lived in Bermondsey just over a year. It’s great here and one of the reasons I moved here is because of this market. On Saturday’s I can pick up a Monmouth coffee and a delicious pastry, do all my groceries and be tempted by local preserves, wines, cheese and ice cream. Sunday’s might be for roasts but they’re also great for London’s best steak sandwiches and chips from The Beefsteaks. I’m drooling at the thought.
A new addition for me that I only recently discovered this when I moved to Bermondsey. It’s an amazing space that is a great escape from the city buzz. It’s a small but highly delightful park that’s well worth crossing the river for.
View from Waterloo Bridge
I challenge anyone going over this bridge to not look around and smile. Whether you look East or West (well, actually South) it’s picture perfect. I used to cross it every day and now being further East I miss the view but it’s hard to forget. It really sums up everything I love about London for me.
I’m a South Londoner and so the Southbank is another area that’s a part of who I am. I’ve got memories of hanging out with the skaters (though I never dared skate there).
Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar
Well known for being one of London’s top steak restaurants, you can’t ignore the talent that is the Spitalfields Bar. I might be bias having got to know all the brilliant team there. I’m also being lucky enough to have had Josh Reynolds make me my own personal cocktail. I have to say I’m smitten with this place. I’ll even hop up and down the stairs while on my crutches so as not to miss their regularly changing Desert Island Drinks.
Another award winning Shoreditch hotspot. This one holds a special place for me as it’s the only place I’ve ever stood behind the bar and served up a drink. Albeit part of a cocktail competition I entered. If you’re particularly good, they’ll even let you into the secret bar, Jub Jub. This is where the bartenders are allowed to let their hair down, get creative and showcase what’s awesome about them. It’s pretty damn tasty.
While my list of cocktail bars that I love is quite long, it would never be complete with this little den. Famous for “it’s never just one drink” and their cracking Verdita’s. Turn up and it’s always guaranteed to be a party (and that’s just the start of the night.)
It’s almost midnight, so I have to love you and leave you. There’s more love to London to share and no doubt more amazing places that will open and close. Luckily memories last forever.