Month: September 2019


Time to embrace the pace of the Spanish capital. Do as the locals do and take an afternoon siesta before a late dinner (9pm is considered early). During twilight hours, shared tapas are grabbed and pushed across tables whilst Spanish wine splashes between tiny glasses. Madrid is all about afterdark hustle.

From high brow (Picasso) to low brow (street art), Madrid’s culture seeps out of every corner. Hagglers and housewives alike run riot through the city and no one ever seems to stop talking. There’s only one thing for it: let yourself get swept up in the madness. 

Where to stay 

BLESS Hotel Madrid
Found in Salamanca, this stunning hotel is known more as a foodie hangout than a place to stay. Why? Martin Berasategui, Spain’s most celebrated chef, is at the helm. One thing’s for sure, if you head to the lobby, you’ll be mingling with some of Madrid’s coolest crowds. Oh, and don’t miss the gorgeous rooftop pool.

Hotel Urso
Near to the trendy neighborhoods Malasaña and Chueca, this hotel is a 20th Century dream with stained glass windows, a mahogany lift, and original tiles. Bikes are available to hire and the spa’s Diamond Rose massage (where diamond dust is mixed with a rose fragrance- yes) is sublime. The Media Ración by Cuenllas restaurant is always full (with good reason) and light bite ingredients are sourced from the city’s Barceló market. 

Gran Melia Palacio De Duques
A few minutes from Opera station, you can’t get more central than this. This grand hotel was once the home of Spanish Dukes and the royal welcoming remains with Velázquez art reproductions dotted throughout. If there’s one reason to pick this hotel, it’s the rooftop pool and hottub with panoramic views that reach the mountains. Curated with Catalan and Madrilenian influences, the Dos Cielos restaurant serves a mean pasta and room service is available 24 hours a day. 

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Totem Madrid
An epitome of urban chic in the upmarket corner of the city, every one of the 64 rooms is beautiful. Products are organic and all the spa treatments are vegan. A good option for any animal lovers passing through.

Where to drink 

Sala Equis
This converted sex cinema has become Madrid’s hippest new hangout. Red lights, vintage posters and swings all add to the allure. Sip a cocktail and grab a movie if you have time. 

Sala Equis

Círculo de Bellas Artes
Want a classic rooftop view? Head to Círculo de Bellas Artes but get ready to queue if you want to catch the sunset. It’ll be worth it. 

1862 Dry Bar
New cocktails appear every month at this old fashioned speakeasy. Go for drinks with friends before hitting the nearby party quarter. Our favorites were the classics – the Moscow Mule, Manhattan and Old Fashioned. 

Where to eat

Mercado San Anto
For street food style, you won’t find better than this food court in the LGBT-friendly district of Chueca. If you choose one thing, it should be the calamari. 

This restaurant hasn’t changed their award-winning tortilla recipe since 1970, known as the best in the city. When it’s this good, we understand why. The best part? It’s around $3. 

A cosy spot in the Chamberí neighborhood, Hortensio is a favorite for an intimate dinner with good wine. The chef has worked in many Michelin starred establishments and you can definitely tell. 

For a fun night out, you can’t go wrong with a night at the eclectic Amazonica or Tenconten where dinner will quickly turn into dancing.

Where to get coffee 

Café Gijón
Since 1888, Café Gijón has been hosting writers, thinkers and artists as they simmer ideas over coffee. It’s opposite the National Library of Spain – useful for any bookworms. 

Anti Café 
Your visit may start with a coffee with a wander around an art exhibition. Before you know it, you’ll be finishing with a DJ set and cocktails. You have been warned. 

Near the Mercado de San Fernando, Cafelito specialises in homemade iced coffee using cubes of frozen coffee. Go for the lemon rind variety. 

Where to workout 

Everything you could need in one building, Gymage has a fitness club, theatre, restaurant and rooftop terrace. Day passes are available for the pool too. 


A new gym in Madrid that combines three things into one sweaty 45-minute class: 15 minutes of biking, 15 minutes of boxing and 15 minutes of ballet. It’s female-only though, sorry guys. 

The Natural Yogi offers spring, summer and fall classes in the Parque del Buen Retiro or try Zentro for its sleek studio in the Salamanca district.

Where to shop 

A newly opened boutique in La Latina supports Spanish artisans by naming the person who made the product. Expect heirloom ceramics, esparto baskets and wool blankets galore.


This high-end womenswear boutique is your go-to for crisp whites, flowing dresses and minmalist jewellery.

Casa de Diego
Since 1800, Casa de Diego has been specialising in traditional Spanish accessories – think umbrellas, canes, combs, shawls, and fans. The team only use the finest silk and everything is embroidered by hand.

What to do 

Tobacco Factory
The old “Tabacalera” now serves as a subterranean maze of street art that hosts curated events, including modern art, photography, film nights, concerts, poetry readings and workshops. Just turn up and enjoy getting lost. 

Reina Sofia
The home of Picasso’s ‘La Guernica,’ you need to dedicate a good chunk of your day at Reina Sofia – it’s huge. Yes, there’s lots of Picasso, but keep an eye out for Miro and Dali too. 

El Retiro Park 
The ultimate sun spot, it wouldn’t be a trip to Spain without a siesta in the city’s most popular park. After your reset, simply sunbathe or hire a paddle boat and enjoy bobbing along the water. 

Salma El-Wardany, Writer, Poet & BBC Radio Presenter

Half Egyptian, half Irish, Salma is a writer, poet, BBC Radio London presenter and activist who writes for Stylist, Metro, HuffPost and more. Her work deals with feminism, how bloody hard it can be, solo travel and dating in this modern world. Constantly on the hunt for new places and unafraid to travel the world alone, she writes: “You weren’t made to stay the same. Rather, you were made to stretch and grow, to explore and journey, your feet are longing for the dust of another place.” A refreshing voice in a saturated digital world, we were keen to hear her travel picks as someone who would absolutely not settle for anything less than the best.

Follow her adventures on @salmaelwardany

Name three favorite hotels and why?

  • The One And Only, The Palm Dubai
    It’s pure luxury here and the way they take care of you is exceptional. They come around the pool just to wipe your sunglasses clean. You basically feel like the most adored and special person on the planet.
  • The W, Maldives
    The food here is unbelievable and their breakfast buffet is a sight to behold. Their customer service is phenomenal and my bathtub looked out onto the sea with these huge by-folding doors. The shower floor was glass and you could see the fish swimming in the sea below you.

What is the best hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

GHD straighteners. I really think this needs to be the norm. 

What hotel room design element can you not live without?

A good bathtub. There’s something so luxurious about a gorgeous tub in a hotel and having a nice long bath, either alone or with someone. Also a plug by the bed to charge your phone. I hate it when they don’t have that. 

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

Deia, Mallorca. I haven’t been yet but it’s come highly recommended as a place for artists to go and create and be solitary. It’s on the list for this year actually. 

You travel a lot for work, was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

I don’t think I ever intentionally set out to have travel as part of my job, I just knew I was curious and wanted to see the world. I think the more you travel the more that happens. I’m a big believer that nothing was ever created at a desk and I didn’t think we all had to be in offices for eight hours a day as a way of life. It seemed ridiculous to me – the rebellion against that way of life led me to find a new way of life. And that was one that included travel. 

I actually find travel more relaxing than being at home in London. I carve out specific times for work and fun. That might mean working in the morning and then going out and about in the afternoon. 

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Woolly socks or slippers. I cannot sit for hours on a plane in shoes and without socks your feet get freezing and you can’t sleep properly. 

If you could swap suitcases with anyone in the world (alive or dead) at baggage claim, who would you swap with?

Eva Peron. Her outfits were phenomenal. I want to look just like her when I grow up and stealing her suitcase would be the first step. 

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

I travel alone all the time. I find it to be one of the most empowering and freeing experiences. It also keeps me in touch with myself and who I am. These things are hard to find when you’re constantly surrounded by people and conversation. 

If you’re going to a new place, and your friends have not been there, what do you consult for advice?

Instagram and established travel blogs. Asking my followers for tips is an amazing way to find places that aren’t touristy and are native to the locals.

What was your favorite room service experience ever?

At the W in the Maldives. They knew I don’t drink alcohol and that it was my birthday so they left a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne on my bed with flowers, chocolates and the recipe for one of the cakes I really wanted from the chef. 

Anxiety and burnout are big topics these days. How do you combat them, and how do you use travel to do so?

Travel is my ‘get out of jail card’ for burn-out. When I’m working too much, feeling run down and a little lost, I instantly get restless and want to leave. Travelling gives me the opportunity to remove myself from the constant noise of your daily life and calm down, slow down and come back to yourself in a way you can’t do when you’re constantly on the go. When I’m travelling I’m still working, but I’m doing it in a quieter, slower environment and it makes all the difference. 

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

High waisted black leggings, flip flops and a belly top. Comfortable and cute. Plus, flip flops mean getting through security way quicker than boots and trainers. 

Rank the following, from most to least important to you, re: what you seek in a hotel experience: 

  1. Unique
  2. Comfortable
  3. Has a pool
  4. Doesn’t break the bank
  5. Close to things
  6. Architecturally intriguing
  7. Locals hang out there
  8. Dope minibar

You have an hour to spare at the airport. What would I find you doing?

You’ll find me over a pot of tea and a slice of cake catching up on my phone and sending emails. And responding to all the messages I didn’t have time to get to when I was rushing around packing and trying to get to the airport on time. 

Where’s your next trip? If vacation, why did you choose there? 

Pula, Croatia. I picked it because it was cost effective and I’m going with a couple of girlfriends and we needed somewhere on a budget. Croatia is also (maybe) my favorite place in Europe. I’ve been twice before and adore everything about Croatia. 

Beach or City or Mountain?


Alone or with someone else?


In flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?


Lost luggage, or lost phone?

Lost Luggage (at least I can then tweet about it)

Airplane food- Y/N?


Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?


Early check-in/ late check-out?

Late check-out

Favorite subscription service you’ll never delete?


In flight cocktail – Y/N?


Favourite travel app?

Literally have no travel apps

Window or Aisle?


Yoga or hotel gym? 



Often referred to as Canada’s coolest city, Montreal is the perfect blend of North American charm and European ‘je ne sais quoi.’ From Little Italy to Mile Ex, the city is made up of neighborhoods with their own distinct personalities. 

Coffee culture is huge in Montreal, especially during the winter when locals cower from the cold, so you could spend days hunting for the best espresso in town. But don’t leave without trying poutine: french fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy (it tastes better than it sounds!).

The underground tunnels make navigating the city super easy, too – they’re air conditioned in summer and heated in winter. Here’s where to start: 

Where to stay 

Hotel William Gray
If you’re travelling to Montreal in the winter, you won’t be able to resist the spa at Hotel William Gray. Choose from the hot/cold thermal circuit with a Himalayan salt room, Finnish sauna, steam room or herbal sauna. The pool and terrace are open during the summer and there’s plenty of places to chill inside too – the hotel’s Living Room offers reading nooks and a pool table. 

Hotel Nelligan 
Found in the heart of Old Montreal, some of the rooms at Hotel Nelligan have fireplaces, so it has our vote. In the warmer months they open the rooftop terrace (it really is a hotel for all seasons). The on-site restaurant Verses Bistro offers a market-fresh menu so there’s no need to venture far for good food. 

Auberge du Vieux Port
Right on the Saint Lawrence River, Auberge du Vieux Port was a 19th Century warehouse and still retains some of the old charm with exposed brick walls. Out of the 45 rooms, try to choose one with views of the river. This is as central as you can get so the nearby restaurants are pricey – we’d recommend travelling out of the center for the steals. 

Where to get coffee

Cafe Olimpico 
Named one of the ‘Greatest Cafes on Earth’ by The Telegraph, you’ll have heard of Cafe Olimpico, which has been going since 1970. Found in Mile End, the atmosphere lives up to the hype, but you’ll have to wait for a space. 

Pikolo Espresso Bar
Near Downtown, Pikolo definitely has an Australian cafe vibe and the staff are super friendly. There’s no wifi and the food is limited but we love the strong coffee. Definitely one for someone who’s fussy about their beans. 

Moustache Café
As for this Little Italy favorite, go for two reasons: the big coffee portions and the resident Saint Bernard dog. The interior is fun and laid-back with palm trees and monochrome tiles.

Where to eat

Swartz’s Delicatessan
The best smoked meat sandwiches in town. Get the ‘medium’ and classic dill pickles. No Montreal trip is complete without this classic! Leonard Cohen himself was a customer.

Marche Jean Talon
This open-air market has been running in Little Italy since 1933. Snack kiosks serve crepes, cheese, coffee and everything in between. Look out for the many maple variants – from fudge to butter.

Image via

Bouillon Bilk
Opt for the tasting menu deal here – just C$70 per person for five dishes. The fois gras and black cod are exquisite. Non-alcoholic drinks are great too – try the coriander lemonade. 

We adore the Caribbean theme of this Haitian restaurant with its jungle foliage wallpaper and giant street art murals. As for the food, it’s meat heavy with oxtail and pork ribs. Wash it down in the summer with an ice-cold beer slushie. 

Olive + Gourmando
A boulangerie selling the best bread in the city. The Valrhona brioche is to die for.

Where to drink 

This super cool wine bar is on the western strip of Notre-Dame St. in St-Henri. The knowledgeable staff suggest wine pairings to go with the nine dishes featured on the menu. Of course, you don’t have to go with all nine…

The Coldroom 
Blink and you’ll miss this basement cocktail bar, which is hidden in a former industrial cold room. We love the award-winning cocktails and the interior inspired by “industrial meets grandma’s basement.” 

Where to shop 

The best in the city for menswear. Expect super cool skate apparel and streetwear gold.

By far the biggest retail player in Montreal. Not to be missed. The shoe collection alone is spectacular.

Les Etoffes 
Found in Mile End, this upscale boutique sells clothes, accessories and beauty products. We love the Grown Alchemist cosmetics and Linda Farrow eyewear. 

A classic MTL born and bred brand that specialises in rich leather products and fabrics. 90% of items are crafted in their own workshops. Shop without the guilt knowing you’ve chosen local.

Frank and Oak 
You’ll find a few of these dotted around Montreal. The brand is a Canadian favorite for stylish outdoor essentials and has been featured by magazines like GQ and Esquire. The shop also offers a barber shop and cafe. 

Since 2006, this local favorite has been championing quality manufacturing in Old Montreal. A great place to hunt for emerging designers.

Citizen Vintage 
Thrift shopping at its finest, the two owners Lara et Becky handpick clothes for your perusal. Promoting sustainable fashion is at the heart of Citizen, encouraging customers to think twice before they buy brand new. 

Where to workout 

Cadence Cycle 
If you’re travelling to Montreal during winter, there’s no better way to warm up than a quick spin session at Cadence. The instructors’ enthusiasm is contagious and a tough workout is always guaranteed. 

Studio Yoga Club 
This beautiful little yoga studio is found in a suburban spot in Rosemont. Classes are taught in French but English is mixed in if requested.  The hot yoga is perfect during the winter months. 

What to do 

Cirque du Soleil
The home of Cirque du Soleil, you can’t visit Montreal without checking out a show. Centre Bell is a good place to start – look online for tickets. 

From Leonard Cohen to photography and sculpture, if you only have time for one museum in Montreal, make sure it’s MAC. The permanent collection features 8,000 pieces from Quebec, Canadian and international artists with temporary exhibitions rolling throughout the year too. 

Mount Royal
If the weather allows, head up the extinct volcano Mount Royal for a 30 minute hike. Wander through the 470 acres for some fresh air and skyline views. Fun fact: Mount Royal was designed by the same landscape architect behind New York City’s Central Park.


Swedes live by the concept of ‘allemansrätten,’ which loosely translates to ‘the right to roam.’ And yet Stockholm is only second to San Francisco when it comes to unicorn startups per capita. What does this mean? The city is the perfect balance of work and wellness.

From parks to lakes to waterways, access to the wilderness here is a public right. Do as the Swedes do and take a moment to have a ‘Fika’ (the daily 3pm coffee and sweet treat ritual) outside to soak it all up. If you have more time, get out of the city to the Archipelago for a picnic and a walk (ferries from the city center take between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours).

Where to stay

Story Hotel

You can guess by the name, but this hotel is great for anyone interested in Stockholm’s history, just 15 minutes from the palace and next door to one of the city’s oldest cafés and bakeries, Sturekatten. The walls also have stories to tell; the rooms were converted from former apartments, the reception was a barber shop and the restaurant a garage. The former apartment doors now serve as headboards and we like the touch of organic Swedish soaps from L:A Bruket.  

Hotel Diplomat

Near the Ostermalms Saluhall Food Market, Hotel Diplomat is the perfect example of Jugend architecture. If you like old fashioned decor, you’ll love the marble staircase with gold touches, bookcases and a fireplace. Owned by the Malmström family, all the art you see has been collected personally by them. The spacious bedrooms seem more like apartments than hotel suites, fit with giant couches.

Nobis Hotel 

Thanks to its fantastic food, Nobis is a favorite of travellers and locals alike. After lunch, you’ll find several Swedish flagships stores, including Acne, Hope and Rodebjer. The best rooms offer views of square Norrmalmstorg, Berzelii park and the sea. Noi, the on-site restaurant specialises in ‘family’ portions to share – don’t miss the liquorice fragrant sweetbread and dry-aged beef on salt stone. Fun fact: the term “Stockholm syndrome” was birthed at this hotel after a hostage crisis.

Where to eat

Punk Royale

Södermalm is the main area for foodies and one of our favorites is this experimental restaurant. They offer small plates, including decadent dishes, such as foie gras, caviar, oysters and lobster. It’s as much about the experience as the food – guests are given Lego to play with in between courses and 90’s music blares from the speakers. If you can’t get a table here, don’t worry, try the nearby Bleck, Bananas or Café Nizza as plan B’s. 


Somewhere more central, Riche is a classic bistro with a Swedish/French menu. The quirky decor features bold artworks and chandeliers. Yes, there’s meatballs, but we’d recommend going with fish – the salmon and trout are always fantastic. 



Great Japanese food with a modern twist, Tako is the best of the bunch when it comes to Asian fusion in Stockholm. Downstairs in the Östermalm basement, the decor is sleek, attracting cool crowds ready to splurge.

Where to get a coffee

Johan & Nyström

Swedes love their coffee. The brand and small chain Johan & Nyström is a favorite for locals. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes in Stockholm, but this is a good starting point. 


If you’re more interested in the full Swedish ‘Fika’ experience, go to Mellqvist, where they care as much about the coffee as they do about baking. Don’t miss the fluffiest cinnamon and cardamom buns (‘kanelbulle’ and ‘kardemummabulle’).

Drop Coffee

Home to the official ‘Swedish Barista of the Year,’ Linnea Vannesjö is known as the best in town for coffee roasting. Drop offer a variety of flavored coffee to sample, as well as hosting brewing courses and selling coffee making gadgets. 

Where to shop

The Swedes are known for their minimalistic design, so you can count on the local stores (this isn’t a city to shop at Zara). Some key areas to try out: 

Norrmalmstorg – The town square that connects shopping streets Hamngatan and Biblioteksgatan. You might recognise Acne Studios but make sure you also check out Rodebjer (founded in New York in 1999 by native Swede Carin Rodebjer) and Filippa K (one of Sweden’s leading fashion brands). 

Biblioteksgatan – The street that continues towards Humlegården and the Royal Library. Try Eytys for edgy sneakers (think towering platforms) or Byredo for luxury fragrances and candles (founded in Stockholm in 2006). 

Strandvägen – There’s only one place for your list – Svenskt Tenn is a famous interior design store with plenty of small pieces that make great gifts.

Credit Afar

Where to get a hit of culture

Moderna Museet

This place is packed with amazing collections of contemporary and modern art. You’re also guaranteed a great lunch. 

The Vasa Museum

Perhaps not a local hangout but this sunken ship is a sight to behold. There’s a reason it’s one of the main highlights in Stockholm.

Where to work out

Barry’s Bootcamp

Yes, this well known brand is popular here too. For anyone that likes being yelled at in a dark room with treadmills and dumbbells, that is.

For a more calming experience to stretch out after a flight, BeCore hosts reformer pilates classes or try a yoga class at YogaYama
Soothe aching muscles at Sturebadet with a Swedish massage (of course) or Grand Hotel if you’re up for paying a little extra.


Where to party


In the summer, this is where it’s at. This outdoor club is open from morning till late on the weekends, and there’s no place like it in the city. Make sure to check if there’s a daytime session happening while you’re in town, you wouldn’t want to miss that.

Trädgården turns into ‘Under Bron’ in the darker months of the year (an indoor version) and is definitely still worth a visit. Try Spybar or Mono as backups (or follow ons!) 

Go to Ugglan Bar before (or after) to play ping-pong and pool with the young hipster crowd.

Tyge & Sessil is a newly opened wine bar (next to Stureplan) located on the very quiet Brahegatan. A great place for a date.

Image via

What to do

If the weather allows, take advantage of the nature around the city and fill those lungs with some fresh air. The best long walks are in Haga Parken where you can stop by Carl Eldh Studio Museum or Djurgården. The best route here is to start at KMK (Kungliga Motorbåtsklubben) and grab a coffee to go. Then, it’s time for lunch at Rosendals Trädgårdar.

The option is Ivar Los Park, at the top of Södermalm. This spot overlooks Stockholm and the city hall. 

Want more? Hop on one of the many boats that take you further out onto the Archipelago – don’t forget to take a picnic!


The Safara Guide to North East London

We may be biased (two of our Safara team members are based in North East London) but we believe this quarter of the capital is really where it’s at. The North versus South debate rages on between locals so it’s only natural we join in. How could you dare go “south of the river” with so many amazing places to tick off above The Thames? Read on for more.

Where to stay 

Hoxton Shoreditch

When you walk through the doors of the Hoxton Shoreditch, the first thing you see is a giant steel grid stuffed with paperbacks, which sums up the clientele: urban, hard-working, bookish types. The Hoxton Hotels are a solid choice for a meeting spot that will take you from an early morning coffee right the way through to an afterwork cocktail.  Just five minutes away from Silicon Valley Roundabout, the 220 rooms at Hoxton Shoreditch vary in size and price but you can expect sharp industrial design and contemporary monochrome bathrooms in each. Oh, did we mention Hoxton Hotels are dog-friendly?

The Hoxton Shoreditch. Image via Spaces Station.

The Ned

If you’re looking for lux with an historic touch, you’ll love The Ned for its gentlemanly charm. Once a bank, the 100 year-old building was left empty for eight years but now the grand hall is full of City workers on their lunch break or groups of friends celebrating a big birthday in style. Upstairs, the rooftop offers views of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whilst underground, the ‘piece de resistance’ has to be The Vault: a private venue that was once the bank’s safe. All bedrooms evoke 1920’s glamour with plush furniture – the best are the four poster bed ‘Heritage’ rooms in the Grade I listed fifth floor.

The Ned

Nobu Hotel Shoredtich

The first Nobu Hotel in London, this place screams Tokyo. The interior mixes Japanese minimalism with industrial London edge. The Japanese garden is full of whiskies and sake whilst the restaurant is set up like a sushi bar. The rooms are luxe and bathrooms fitted with walk-in showers.

Town Hall Hotel

Bethnal Green’s former town hall offers just under 100 rooms, which feels intimate. We love the Smeg fridge where guests can help themselves to milk in the lobby and the basement pool skylight. Check out the nearby V&A Museum of Childhood – one of London’s lesser known museums. The Corner Room restaurant menu is wonderfully decadent – it’s all about the sticky toffee pudding.

Where to grab coffee

Towpath Cafe

The best way to get around London is by bike. During the weekend, the canals are busy, but rolling along slowly means plenty of opportunities for pit stops. Towpath Cafe is a fantastic place for people watching right on the canalside.

Towpath Cafe. Image via Leonie Wise.

Cafe Z

Heading to Clissold Park? Cafe Z is family-friendly and right next to the organic farmer’s market on a Saturday. Their Turkish style breakfasts are great if you like eating with your hands – get dunking.

Where to eat 

Rochelle Canteen

If the weather allows, sit outside at Rochelle Canteen. The space is an old Victorian school sitting on Arnold Circus, now serving as a hub of creative studios. For lunch, expect meat and fish heavy mains (Brown Shrimp, White Cabbage & Chervil; Deep Fried Rabbit, Radishes & Aioli) and light, fruity desserts.

Rochelle Canteen. Image via Evening Standard.

Dusty Knuckle

So much more than a brunch spot, The Dusty Knuckle was founded by a group of friends wanting to help disadvantaged youths find work. Teaching baking classes in an old shipping container, the team offer work experience to young people. As for the food, it’s the best bread you’ll find this side of London. So eat up and know that your cash is going towards a good cause. 

Where to drink and dance 

The Haggerston

In the heart of Dalston, this pub is a safe choice for a pint and catch-up with friends. An Indie vibe with exposed brick walls and wine bottle candleholders, it’s as ‘East London’ as it gets. Don’t miss their jazz nights on Sundays.

The Bridge Coffee House

Full of antiques, lamps, old signs and trinkets, even the cash register and vending machines are vintage at The Bridge Coffee House. Found under the bridge (no less), take your friends and marvel at the bizarre interior over tea and cake. 

Crate Brewery / Swan Wharf

Further out, Hackney Wick is the home of London’s artist community. Full of converted peanut factories, illegal warehouse raves and paint splattered studios, it’s gritty and represents the underbelly of East London. Wander down the canal, check out Swan Wharf gallery and sip pints in the sun at Crate Brewery.

Crate Brewery. Image via Design My Night

Looking Glass Cocktail Club

Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, this ‘haven of debauchery’ serves creative concoctions in a speakeasy style bar. We love the cocktail names, such as ‘Pickle Millennial,’ ‘Identity Blossom’ or ‘Psychedelic Garden,’ and the cheese boards with cold cuts make the perfect accompaniment. 

Where to work out 

Frame Shoreditch

You’ll spot a Frame in every corner of London – from Shoreditch to Victoria – for its loud branding and pumping music. Their classes are fun and will make you sweat with Power Yoga, Reformer Pilates, Destiny’s Child dance workshops, Ass & Abs blasts, and more. Drop-in prices start from £15.

Frame. Image via The Dots.


A yoga and fitness brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Stretch offers classes, workshops, nutrition advice and retreats abroad. They have two studios: one just off Broadway Market on Ada Street and the other on Columbia Road. The spaces are minimalist and flooded with natural light. Drop-ins start from £10 for 30 minutes. 

London Fields Lido

This 50-metre Olympic sized outdoor swimming pool is open all year round – and it’s heated. Originally a project to get the local community moving, in the summer it’s brimming with all kinds of people wanting a quick dip. All ages and abilities are welcome. Passes cost £5.10.  

Where to shop 

Columbia Road Flower Market

If limited to just 24 hours in the city, it’s got to be a Sunday morning stroll through Columbia Road Flower Market. Full of cockney hagglers and cheeky stall holders, it’s an homage to horticulture and the pinnacle of Britain’s tenacity and humour. Get there as early as you can (from 8am) before the crowds hit. 

Traid Dalston

After Marylebone and Goodge Street, Dalston and Stoke Newington are up there for the best spots in London for secondhand shops. Start at Dalston Junction station and make your way up to Church Street boutiques. TRAID is a charity that turns clothes waste into funds to reduce the environmental and social impact of clothes.

Broadway Market

This Victorian London favorite certainly lives up to its ‘Quality, Speciality, Variety’ tagline. Just off Regent’s Canal by London Fields park, every Saturday the streets are filled with market stalls, from sustainable clothing to handmade soaps, brownies, bread, and everything in between. Make sure you grab a drink at the Catt & Mutton: a pub that’s been going since 1729. 

Camden Passage

This pedestrianised street is just minutes from Angel tube station. On Saturdays, booksellers and antique dealers spill out onto the street outside the permanent shops, which include fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Our favourite is The Coffee Works Project. 

Where to Get Some Hits of Culture


As you walk up to the Barbican, look out for the new Banksy, painted under the bridge by the man himself in celebration of the sell-out Basquiat 2017 exhibition. Specialising in a mix of quality art, film, dance, music and science, the Brutalist building hosts gigs, screenings and exhibitions. Generally speaking, there’s no need to book in advance, the Barbican always has something worth seeing so we’d recommend just turning up. 

Victoria Miro

The sister gallery to the main Mayfair location, this former furniture factory was converted into the new Victoria Miro in 2000. Exhibitions have included Grayson Perry, Doug Aitken and Yayoi Kusama as well as The Great Women Artists summer show. The gallery has its own garden and a beautiful landscaped area overlooking a restored stretch of Regent’s Canal. 

Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro

Estorick Collection

Specialising in Modern Italian Art, The Estorick Collection opened in 1998 in a hidden spot just off Angel’s Upper Street. From pencil drawings to vintage ads, it’s a great little gallery with compact exhibitions that won’t end in museum fatigue like the central, much bigger players. 

Where to Forest Bathe

Clissold Park

One for the whole family, Clissold Park has a small city farm, paddling pool, tennis courts, river and organic food allotments. The beating heart of Stoke Newington, several bakeries and pubs circle the greenery – start with The Clissold Park Tavern or Spence Bakery. 

Clissold Park. Image via Hackney Post

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