An Insider’s Guide to London
This post is part of my Secret Seven London series, where I ask my favourite London instagrammers to share their top seven London locations that are a little off the beaten track.
London is full of beautiful destinations to explore, and I’m always so excited when I uncover a new gem, so I hope my readers will find this series as inspirational as I do! Get ready to fill your Little Black Book with some of London’s best kept secrets…
Liz Schaffer’s Secret Seven London
Liz Schaffer is editor of the travel journal, Lodestars Anthology. Created for ‘curious travellers who long to be inspired,’ each Lodestars Anthology issue focuses on one country, sharing beautiful stories, illustrations and photographs from each destination. The most recent publication was a new edition of their England journal (a lovely read for any Anglophile!), and the next issue, due out in April, is on Portugal (you can pre-order it here).
Over a year ago, I interviewed Liz on Tea & Tattle Podcast (you can listen to our conversation here), so I’m delighted that she’s agreed to share her Secret Seven London with Miranda’s Notebook readers. Although originally from Australia, Liz is based in London, so she knows the city back-to-front and has some terrific recommendations.
This used to feel like a lesser-known secret but in the last few years Maltby Street Market has exploded onto the London culinary scene, which only proves just how brilliant it is. Unfolding beneath the railway arches approaching London Bridge, and taking place every weekend, this market is made up of an ever-changing assortment of street food stalls and British suppliers who dish up the most wonderful fare. These appear alongside a string of bars, restaurants and the Jensen’s Gin distillery. I love it here – an open-air celebration of local flavours and Bermondsey’s quirk.
If you arrive early on a Saturday you can stock up at the nearby Druid Street Market, which has fruit, vegetables, pastries, wine, cheese, flowers and preserves aplenty. You can also shop for vintage wares at Lassco or, if you visit on a Saturday, stop by the Eames Fine Art Studio on Tanner Street for a little inspiration.
This dream of a bookshop off Brick Lane is perfect when you’re in need of an unconventional literary escape. They offer a wonderful cultural programme but I tend to visit to do little more than browse. Libreria has a unique sorting system – arranged by theme more than anything else – meaning you never really know what book you will walk away with, although the staff are never without a recommendation. The design is wonderful too – cave meets bookcase meets gallery. Perfection.
3. Temperate House, Kew Gardens
This may be more well known, but it has a special place in my heart. Architecturally astounding, I come to this newly reopened glass Victorian marvel because, as an Australian, I regularly seek both warmth (and this is a very warm spot indeed) and plants from my homeland – which thrive in here, blooming alongside some of the world’s rarest species. Visit on a blue sky day and it feels like a time slip, no less delightful now than it was when it first opened in 1862.
4. Noble Rot
Found on Lamb’s Conduit Street – one of the most wonderful walkways in London – Noble Rot is a restaurant and wine bar that is decidedly good for the soul. Here there is a story behind every glass and whether you order the most affordable tipple or something truly extravagant, you’ll be regaled with wine-making tales and given the very best pairing suggestions. It’s the work of the duo who created and still run Noble Rot magazine – a publication I highly recommend.
5. Kyoto Japanese Peace Garden, Holland Park
I discovered this spot when I first arrived in London and spent days wandering the city trying to figure out if moving halfway across the globe was indeed a smart thing to do (eight years later I’m starting to feel confident that it was). Holland Park is a wonder in its own right, its woodland paths make you feel like the city is very far away indeed, but it’s the Peace Garden that calmed my mind in those early weeks. Utterly soothing and lovingly maintained, it’s made even more brilliant by the fact that Holland Park’s Daunt Books is just a short walk away.
An antique-filled Vauxhall joy, this revered restaurant and bar is found within a Georgian mansion, originally constructed for the Duke of Brunswick in 1758. It’s the sort of place you discover and then have no desire to share. The fare on offer is faultless, the history fascinating, but I return time and again for the interiors, which brim with salvaged museum pieces, given new life, that will take your breath away.
I became obsessed with the hand-poured, sow wax candles of Paul and Niko after joining one of their candle-making workshops back in 2017. Their scents are inspired by their travels and it’s amazing how you tend to be drawn to one of their creations in particular. For me it is Viagem, a blend of coconut, oregano and fig that smells of Portugal.
They run their workshops in a glass studio attached to their lifestyle store, Bonds. Hackney (there is a second location now in Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross). I adore the Hackney location for its proximity to E5 Bakehouse (home of the best sourdough in London) and London Fields Lido, and the wares it contains – upstairs is a ceramics studio so there’s always something new to admire. It smells heavenly too.
Thanks to Liz for her brilliant recommendations! Earl of East London is new to me, so I can’t wait to check it out.
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