When I was a child, London was this enormous, looming place full of excitement, toys and glittering lights.
20 years later London still seems huge, it’s still exciting, full of toys (of sorts) and still sparkling before my eyes.
How is it possible that I still feel the same way when I ride the train into London as I did two decades ago?
The simple explanation, is that I fell in love with the Old Smoke from a young age, and I’ve never got over the old girl.
As a result of this infatuation, I find myself endlessly delving into new boroughs, hidden places, incredible sights and unusual experiences of this magnificent city.
Let me share three of my favourite things about London, in the hope you might experience the same joy from this, busy, loud, dense, magical, unfathomable centre of the world.
The Craft Beer Scene
There are few places that represent the British culture than a good old fashioned pub. Pubs are more than just a place for a drink, they are a social hub and part of the English identity. While I have a penchant for old man pubs like Sir Ian McKellen’s Bunch of Grapes (below) I have a serious love for Craft Beer.
While the UK may be a latecomer to the craft beer scene, London has paved the way for independent breweries by showcasing just how good a pub can be.
Particular favourites of mine are Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell, a monster pub with 37 draft beers and over 300 bottled varieties. For the variety alone, this is easily one of the best places to drink beer in London.
Heading out to Angel, the Earl of Essex is the beer equivalent of an all you eat buffet, with so many gorgeous varieties of cask and keg craft beer. Take your pick from the beer board which features regularly rotating ales and even some in-house brewed beer.
The Smorgasboard of Food
It’s tough to describe the food scene in London, because it’s almost infinite in choice. You can head for a curry in Brick Lane, enjoy some ramen in Soho’s Bone Daddies, brunch on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the Duck and Waffle (note: review to follow) or tuck into some peking duck in China town; there truly is something for everyone.
Some of the best place to get a real taste of locally grown food is in the marketplace. Borough Market is literally choc full of people every weekend, but it’s really worth the effort for the gems you can find here.
My final favourite place to grab some grub would be Brixton Village. This maze of bars, cafes and galleries is packed with awesome pop-ups and fantastic restaurants like Franca Manca, Honest Burgers and CHICKENliquor.
The Totally Hipster Hangouts
Oh yes, London can certainly be a hive for hipsters. You may well have heard of a bar in Shoreditch that accepts Bitcoins, you might have even heard whispers of a certain Cat Cafe, but don’t consider yourself an expert on all things hipster here, London can -and will – always surprise you.
One of my favourite pubs in Fulham, the Lazy Fox, is equipped with Robot Pub technology. For anyone unaware of what the hell that means, imagine a world where you could pour your own beer, however much or little as you want; that is the Robot Pub dream. While the Fox itself isn’t inherently hipster, being able to self-serve a delicious craft beer from a beer wall is definitely one for the gadget fans.
One of the biggest places to hit the headlines recently was the Cereal Killer Cafe which exclusively sells a huge variety of breakfast cereal. While I can’t argue that this is pretty much the definition of hipster, it was a truly unique experience to tuck into a long-forgotten cereal surrounded by nostalgic cereal paraphernalia.
If, like me, you also love the theatrics of cocktail bars, there are few places better to drink than London. Whether you want to sip beer from a radiator in the Evans and Peel Detective Agency, taste alligator pepper in Nightjar, walk through a glass mirror in the Looking Glass Cocktail Club or hideout above the busy streets of Chinatown in the secret Opium Bar; the list of hipster drinking dens in London is endless.
So there you have it, three reasons why the Old Smoke is dear to my heart: whacky bars, more food than you could ever dream of and pubs so cosy you’ll want to pop on some slippers. If you too have a deep, almost unsettling love for a city, share your thoughts by commenting below, or drop me a Tweet.
This post was written as an entry for the “A Tale of Three Cities” competition hosted by Accor Hotels. You can enter the competition by clicking here.