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The Weekly Getaway: London, a city transformed

Dimitris Kossyfas | September 28, 2016
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London had always been central to a tourist’s roadmap. Recently though, with internationalism reaching its peak (what Brexit?) and the influx of creative minds, London has started looking its hippiest.

Starting with London’s East, the city transformed in the last 5-10 years towards more attitude and less glitz. Even Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Soho these days are being infused with outlets of those early establishments from Angel and Shoreditch that made London cool again. 

 

Central – Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Soho

Home to millions of toursists each day, this urban and busy-feel part of London has recently started acquiriing a more hip look thanks to an influx of food and drinks outlets alike. Where once places like Sketch, Hakkasan and Le Relais De Venise thrived, there is now simple yet powerful statements of coffee culture in the likes of hip-looking joints from Workshop, Kaffeine and Monocle café.

 

Interiors of the Chiltern Firehouse, fireside

Flame grilling Nikkei-inspired tuna rolls at the sushi bar of Chotto Matte

Yes, shopping is indeed still there as an option but especially in Marylebone there’s a sense of a new era. Maybe, American hotelier André Balazs had something to do with it when he launched his first British establishment in 2013 at the old Marylebone Fire Station and introduced Chiltern Firehouse, headed by chef Nuno Mendes.

As you go south, Soho has gotten a revamped look with a lot more food options ranging from the Italian cheap comfort food, think Princi, to the more sophisticated Peruvian-inspired Japanese Chotto Matte

West – Notting Hill and Kensington

West was always a bit of a eurotrash situation but what we you do… Hugh Grant and the Royal family aside, the green is indeed greener on this other side! Whether it’s venturing out for a stroll through Kensington Gardens, or burning some calories on the London bikesHyde Park is always a great idea for a getaway from all the smog. 

Recently, the area around Notting Hill has also gotten kind of an upgrade. Portobello rd still fills with antiques, groceries and other collectibles on Saturdays but there are things to do. Most notably, you can indulge (err – is this the right word?!) in a healthy breakfast or brunch at Farmacy London. Fresh interiors and a crowd of bloggers stepping on their chairs in order to capture the best shot. Otherwise, grab a small bite from Fabrique London bakery.

 

Farmacy London reimagines healthy eating with a glorious space for breakfast or brunch in Notting Hill

East – City, Shoreditch and Borough

Walking up to Shoreditch from Brick Lane you can get a dose of brilliant graffiti, and also get a glimpse of where this whole notion of East London started from. Yes, you can still catch the infamous Beigel Bake, the 24-hour bakery known for their traditional Jewish-style salt beef filled bagels. If you’re there during the weekend, you shouldn’t miss Columbia Rd Flower Market where you’ll definitely find not only flowers but real tasty small bites.

 

Columbia Flower Market on Sundays

Breakfast and coffee at Holborn Grind

Once you explore Shoreditch enough, there are a couple of places to visit for refuelling – for breakfast and brunch, Ozone Coffee Roasters is just the right place if you’re into single-origin espresso and delicious egg dishes! Any other time, try Smokestaak for a carnivores meals in this traditional smokehouse featuring finger-licking spare pork ribs and other similar treats.

Unbelieveably tasting meat sandwiches at MEATliquor

Butcher’s chophouse at Flat Iron in Covent Garden

BAO in Soho

See

  • Tate Modern – recently opened its new building, definitely worth a visit

  • Borough Market – great Saturday walk, especially if you’re a foodie. There is fresh produce and great bars around to have a pint or two

  • Dover Street Market – ultra hip, expensive and sleek design market that has now moved to Haymarket. Perfect spot for some high end shopping

Stay

  • The Hoxton Holborn – after catching everyone’s attention in Shoreditch, the group has opened a new albeit smaller outelet in Holborn, offering the same atmosphere but better coffee… nextdoors at Holbron Grind

  • The Edition – located in the heart of the city, between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Ct Rd, the London Edition is the epitome of good vibes in a highly posh and flirty ambience

  • Chiltern Firehouse – located in one of the first purpose-built fire stations in London, dating from 1889, Chiltern Firehouse was carefully restored by hotelier André Balazs (Mercer Hotel NYC) offering 26 elegantly luxurious rooms

  • The Hari – (former Belgraves Hotel) a boutique hotel in Belgravia which offers a peaceful location just off Pont street with many options around Elizabeth street on one side and Sloane street on the other

  • The Standard London – newly launched outpost of the dynamically expanding hotel group located in the revamped Kings Cross area. Very big rooms with great homey vibe downstairs at the Library (they even feature a music studio for talks and events) and unique vibe upstairs at Decimo restaurant/bar

Eat

  • Patty & Bun – perfectly juicy sloppy burgers in this fast going joint; make sure you queue up before London dinnertime to get a table fast

  • Chotto Matte – Peruvian-inspired Japanese restaurant, grill and sushi bar with amazing variety to go with that. The atmosphere is buzzing, the music is loud and the grill fire is on, right in front of the tastadas bar which is exactly the spot you want to get! Read our full review here

  • Flat Iron – dead simple and insanely tasty menu of… flat iron steak and fries. If you’re lucky you may stubmle upon a daily special burger… deep-fried! Brace yourself and read our full review here

  • Park Chinois – elegant posh Chinese restaurant with live music upstairs, dark loud music club (also serving food) downstairs. Opulent patrons and a beautiful crowd to go with it. Don’t miss the duck! read our full review here

  • Farmacy – healthy frenzy in this bright space just off Notting Hill. Even Mohamed Al Fayed is into gluten-free bread these days. Make sure you get a reservation for breakfast/brunch during the weekend

  • Trullo – cosy Italian trattoria in Highbury, from the owners of the infamous Padella pasta bar in Borough Market. Make sure you get your reservation on the ground floor. Read our full review here

  • The Palomar – Jerusaleml-inspired meze bar that has seen quite a hype since 2017. Book in advance and read our full review here

  • Smokestaak – Shoreditch smokehouse with delicious spare pork ribs (or in a bun). Read our full review here

Coffee, Brunch and Small Eats

  • Workshop Coffee – fine artisan espresso coffee that started out in Clerkenwell rd and now expanding west… recently also launched a 3,500 square foot roastery space. They’re offering Coffee Masterclasses if you’re interested in this craft

  • Kaffeine – indipendent Aussi/Kiwi-owned cofee shop with an industrial feel that gives more attention to the brew rather than the decor

  • Grind – originally founded in Shoreditch in 2011, this group of espresso bars offers tasty espresso, equal to that of Italian’s espresso bar. Holborn Grind is part of The Hoxton Holborn rumored to be the best – try the espresso martini if you dare!

  • Nordic Bakery – infamous cinnamon buns you don’t want to miss. Try the outlet in Golden Square and enjoy some of that London sunshine

  • Lantana Cafe – opened up first in Shoreditch, this breakfast place has everyone queuing up for hours. Best to visit the Fitzrovia outlet and order the avocado poached eggs

  • Daylesford Organic Cafe – originally launched 35 years ago, this farm based out of Cotswolds has made great progress in the brunch scene of London in white marble decor and tasty organic eggs all around

  • Ozone Coffee Roasters – single-origin coffee from the infamous Australian group in East London, featuring also delicious egg dishes for breakfast/brunch in this industrial setting. Read our full review here

  • Bao Fitzrovia – authentic Taiwan food joint with the original Gua Baos! You may have to wait in line… good news, their latest venture (Soho, Netil 360) is a bit less crowed

  • Tom Tom Coffee – great neighbourhood breakfast place close to Victoria station in the posh Elizabth street. Read our full review here

  • Padella – arguably the best pasta in town in a very busy and walk-in only pasta bar next to Borough Market in South London. Make sure you try the pici cacio e pepe! Read our full review here

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