I spent the first 14 years of my life living exactly 27 miles outside London. Close enough that the town I lived in had it’s own train stop on the map that eventually joined the London Tube system, but never close enough to live an inner city life.
As a child I always knew I’d end up there. My Dad would take us in on weekends to visit the museums, my Mum would take us shopping, the cities energy was enticing. In fact the most trouble I’ve ever got in as a child was sneaking away with my friends to go shopping in Harrow (which wasn’t even proper London…!)
When I was at University (I went to Uni in Bristol) I’d sneak up to London at any given opportunity, my brother lived there, so I’d see him, I’d stay with my gay friends and stay up until 6am dancing at G.A.Y or I’d spend lost days with one of my great loves. Going to London was an escape and is home to some of my best memories.
When I graduated university, I did what I absolutely expected to do, and moved to London. I lived in Chelsea (in an incredibly cushy situation – paying nominal rent to stay with my best friend from Uni in a room in the Royal Hospital, a stones throw from Sloane Square) and stayed there for six months before ultimately moving to Los Angeles.
When I lived there I spent most of my days and nights in the Chelsea/Fulham area – I worked as a hostess in Sloane Square, I’d eat at Chelsea Kitchen on Kings Road, I’d party at Po Na Na, also on Kings Road. My friends were musicians and waitresses. When I left it was never forever.
Until it was.
I love Los Angeles, the quality of life is more than anyone could wish for, I love discovering new places constantly and I love it’s transient nature – it’s part of my consciousness now and I think it’s one of the greatest places on earth. But I do miss London. Frequently. Last year I was lucky enough to return twice, the year before twice. This year my schedule will only allow me to return once, if I’m lucky, and I’m already missing it. It’s in my veins man.
This turned into more of an essay than an introduction, but London Fashion Week is just around the corner and I’m always asked what are my favourite things to do/see/it when I’m there, so I thought it’s about time to share them with you. Starting with drinking. My favourite London past time. I miss pub culture immensely.
Let’s begin however with this caveat, I haven’t lived in this city for a decade… so a lot of these places are sprung from pure nostalgia, I don’t pretend to know what the most hip places are but I know these places don’t disappoint.
Calooh Callay, 65 Rivington St, Shoreditch
Calooh Callay is a gem of a bar. In Shoreditch in East London, the bar at first glance appears to be a tiny living room style place with an extensive (and yummy) cocktail menu. But that wardrobe? Open the door and it will lead to a “secret backroom” with more seating, table service and light menu. Want to dance afterwards? I’ve had a couple of fun, albeit usually cheesy, nights out at Cargo, mere steps away.
Gordons Wine Bar, 47 Villiers St, London WC2N 6NE
Gordons has beyond stood the test of time, established in 1890 it cites itself as London’s oldest wine bar. Inside the bar is cavernous (literally) and dank and the smell of cheese permeates the air and it’s almost always crowded. Being claustrophobic I prefer the outside of the bar, even on the coldest of nights. But either way this place is an experience, and one that has to be sampled.
Ten Bells, 84 Commercial St, London, E1 6LY
Ten Bells is a historic pub opposite Spitalfields Market, when we were in London for Los Angeles Collections in 2012 it became our local, to the point that, on our last night, the rather lovely irish barman categorically did not want me to leave, it was an emotional goodbye…. It’s historically the local of someone far more notorious than me, Jack the Ripper was rumoured to have selected his victims here.
Lamb and Flag, 33 Rose St, London WC2E 9EB
Lamb and Flag is rumoured to be one of the oldest pubs in west London, originally The Coopers Arms it’s earliest mention is 1772. It’s a charming pub, tucked down an alley. It’s wooden bars feature plaques with locals names and tankards belonging to locals hang from the bar.
The White Horse “The Sloaney Poney”, 1-3 Parsons Green, London SW6 4UL
Best bar in London, maybe not, but an experience nonetheless. The White Horse on Parsons Green is the best place to watch the notorious Sloane Rangers (think Kate Middleton and chums). It has a great patio overlooking Parsons Green and is actually a great simple pub. But you go for the people watching.
What do you want next? Eats or shopping?!