Noor rounds up her favourite places to drink, dine, and shop in London. Delve into her ultimate city guide.
When is the best time to visit?
I would say late spring and into the summer, when London is bright and colourful and the winter cold has passed. Cherry blossom trees are blooming, and rows of daffodils and fire-coloured tulips add colour to the city. When London is sunny, I think it’s one of the most stunning cities in the world. The days are longer, the energy is buzzing, and the city is filled with things to do.
What to pack?
Spring dresses, light parkas for the occasional spring showers, denim everything and sneakers to walk the city; midi skirts and jumpsuits for the evenings.
Where to stay?
Ham Yard Hotel
Hotel Café Royal
I love starting the day by sweating it out at one of Sweat by BXR’s classes, ranging from their killer versa-climber class to their boxing and conditioning classes. Heartcore Fitness in Chelsea is ideal for an ab-killing Pilates reformer class or an explosive TRX session.
After my morning workout, I’ll head straight to Raw Press on Ellis Street for vegan buckwheat waffles or a make-your-own bowl from their superfood breakfast bar, and of course the best matcha and turmeric lattes in town! For a luscious açai bowl loaded with anti-oxidants, try Juicebaby on King’s Road or CPress on Fulham Road – but full disclosure, their Power Bowl is addictive.
Best places to grab a bite?
London has so many different areas, each boasting a unique vibe and scene. The diversity is so important because it deepens my creativity, broadens my view, and allows me to meet new people with varying interests and draw inspiration from every corner.
Nopi, Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant in Soho offers Middle Eastern/Mediterranean inspired small plates. The menu is fresh and vibrant, and I love the simple white interiors with brass lights to warm up the atmosphere.
Stop by BAO for the fluffiest, cloud-like steamed buns. The Soho location is walk-ins only but the one in Fitzrovia that’s right around the corner luckily takes reservations. It’s definitely an adventurous lunch place! Oh and definitely try Koya for the best Japanese udon noodles in London! It’s low-key, authentic and absolutely delicious.
Other awesome spots include Mildred’s for delicious and hearty veggie food, and The Palomar, a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean gem in Soho offering sharing dishes inspired by the Levant. Octo-hummus, dare I say more? It’s almost impossible to get a table during peak dinner hours but what I do is usually show up around 7pm and put my name on a waiting list for a seat at the bar, which is an even cooler experience because you get to see the chefs in action and interact with them. While I wait for my table, I’ll grab a drink next door at The Blue Posts pub on the ground floor or at The Mulwray, a hip cocktail bar graced with shades of baby blue and pastel pink, located on the first floor above.
Café Culture in Fitzrovia
Kin serves up a daily-changing vegan menu with vibrant salads, delicious toasties, delectable vegan pastries and baked goods to be enjoyed with the best coffee in a laid-back atmosphere.
Right next to Kin, a former Victorian gents’ toilet has been transformed into The Attendant, a quirky espresso bar serving seasonal home-style food. Gitane is a low-key Persian-influenced café offering fresh and colourful salads paired with nourishing mains like a roasted salmon marinated with saffron and lemon. And finally Kaffeine, an independently owned Aussie cafe and espresso bar with excellent coffee and a deli-style seasonal menu.
I love wandering the streets with no fixed itinerary. There are rows and rows of colourful houses, pastel facades, and garden squares with vivid flowers and bright green trees. It’s full of architectural rainbows! Known to be the residential neighbourhood of artists and creatives, it hosts the Portobello market every Saturday. For a lively brunch, head to Farmacy, a light-filled restaurant serving healthy and delicious plant-based eats. For an ambiance reminiscent of the Italian Riveria, dine at Chucs, a restaurant that oozes 1950s Amalfi Coast cool and has a garden courtyard perfect for al fresco dining when the weather is warm. My all time favourite is Mediterraneo, a charming rustic Italian trattoria parallel to Portobello market. After lunch, I’ll usually stop by Gelateria 3Bis for a scoop of gelato to accompany me while I hunt for eclectic vintage finds and colourful beadwork jewellery. For a trendy dinner spot, try Casa Cruz, a small-plates South American restaurant with a moodily stylish interior of velvet clad seating and floor-to-ceiling copper walls. There is even a beautiful terrace on the first floor for drinks and dining. I also love Electric House for a laid-back and cosy evening.
Best place to shop?
And finally my little secret treasure trove on Kings Road: Wilde Ones. They sell crystals, gemstones, essential oils and incense, and a large selection of Native American jewelry and artefacts.
Dover Street Market London
Top things to do?
- Visit the Tate Modern or the newly re-opened Hayward Gallery.
- Stop by Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery and don’t forget to check out his whimsical pharmaceutical-themed eatery Pharmacy2.
- Columbia Flower Market on Sundays – While in East London, have lunch there, and explore the shops and street art on Redchurch Street and Brick Lane.
- Borough Market – Visit the full market Wednesdays through Saturdays.
- Serpentine Gallery – Walk in Hyde Park, plan a picnic with friends, visit the Serpentine gallery, and finish the day boating on the Serpentine at sunset.
- Gallery hopping – Walk around Mayfair. The area is full of amazing restaurants like NAC and Ferdi, as well as shops and art galleries (David Zwirner / Gagosian / White Cube / Pace Gallery / Halcyon Gallery just to name a few).
- The Electric Cinema on a lazy weekend afternoon.
- Cosying up at Poilâne with a good book, freshly-baked warm scones and a cup of coffee.
Definitely all of the parks in London, especially Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park – they’re havens in the midst of all the bustle and buzz of city life.