My friend Poly sent me a photo last week from Brockwell Lido before a swim. Quiet, peaceful, serene. I remember queuing with my housemate Giada for five hours to get in on a hot day once. It was brutal, but as soon as we laid our towels down and jumped in the water…glorious. With a hefty pang of jealousy, I realised I miss London…
It’s been my home for 28 years but for the foreseeable future I’ll be down in Somerset. This loveliest of lidos got me thinking about the other spots around town that I can’t wait to revisit. Read on for some of my favourite places in London.
What do you enjoy most about London? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
I have honestly lost count of the number of plays I’ve seen at the Globe. Often with a cold cider in hand, standing amid a sea of Yardlings (it costs £5 to stand), admiring another brilliant staging of a play. When it’s safe to visit again, I’ll be first in line.
Current status: The Globe has got all sorts of great content on its YouTube channel, including actors reading Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Far too many epic eats to ever commit to choosing my best or favourite restaurants in London, but here are three venues I really miss right now…
Lina Stores, Greek Street
When I next visit I’ll be asking for fresh crab linguine and a beautifully scented pomelo & basil leaf martini. I’m also excited that the Lina Stores Italian deli is back open on Brewer Street.
Roti King, Euston
The sight of roti being made in the kitchen at Roti King is a heavenly one. They’ve just reopened for dining in, serving their roti alongside varying curries, or their classic lentil dhal.
All the baos at BAO, please! For anyone who in the past has queued on the pavement for ages getting rained on, it feels like a bit of a silver lining that it’s reservations only at the moment!
Olympic Park, Stratford
The Olympic summer of 2012 in London still feels like a dream. My brother and I were incredibly fortunate to see lots of sports including a few athletics sessions in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. I’m sure I got laryngitis from all the cheering. The beautiful Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park outside is a testament to how well the games were thought out.
In the tiny area of Queenhithe in the City of London, walk along the Thames and you’ll find a slice of Anglo Saxon history. The Alfred Dock dates from at least 886 AD, when King Alfred the Great restored English rule to London, following decades of Viking raids and disputed control.
Current status: accessible to the public, or if you can’t get there you could always watch Last Kingdom on Netflix…
A literal breath of fresh air, stunning in every season and an antidote to all of life’s stresses.
Current status: Kew has been open for a while now, though some of their indoor offerings such as their art galleries have been off limits. Can book here for Kew and its sister venue, Wakehurst.
Royal Opera House
Beautiful ballets and epic operas. Following a huge refurb, the Royal Opera House’s airy meeting spaces, cafes and bars also make it a lovely place to hang out.
Current status: ROH has had a lot going on digitally, including this live staging back in July of new and favourite ballets and opera works, set against the backdrop of their lamplit auditorium.
BFI London Film Festival
Ok, so it’s not technically one place because it pops up all over London, but it’s a bloody good festival. Red carpets, dark room Q&As and a chance to see unexpected, surprising films from around the world. London is lucky to have such a celebration of film each year. And this October it will be UK-wide as everything is going digital.
Current status: The BFI LFF 2020 programme will be announced in early September.
From the moment I first walked into the Wimbledon grounds with my uncle and brother, that was it. Smitten. I’ve camped, queued, gone after work and been up before dawn. Ballot tickets are how a lot of people visit, but you can actually get tickets daily on Ticketmaster, for all the show courts. That’s how I got a semi final ticket to see Andy Murray on his way to winning his first Wimbledon.
Current status: Wimbledon cancelled the tournament for the first time since World War II so the 134th championship will take place next year instead. Double portions of strawberries and cream all round I think? Till then, there’s always highlights.
It doesn’t matter that it will probably take me years to earn enough points on my Loon Fung supermarket loyalty card to get money off my shopping. It always cheers me up to pace those tiny aisles and afterwards to listen to buskers along the busy street outside.
Current status: restaurants have taken a big hit but the streets of Chinatown are now dotted with tables, which is brilliant. Loon Fung supermarket has been open a while, but it’s quieter than it’s ever been; expect a temperature check and mandatory mask wearing.
Imperial War Museums
I LOVE the museums and art galleries of London with a passion that would make Casanova look tame. As I spent 6 years working in Press and Marketing at Imperial War Museums, I had to give them a mention. IWM is in fact five museums – IWM London, Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast (all in London) as well as IWM Duxford and IWM North.
IWM London, where I was mostly based, reopened in 2014 after a huge refurb of its First World War Galleries. In my view, IWM exemplify what all museums should be about – fascinating collections, moving stories and diverse voices.
Current status: sadly HMS Belfast can’t reopen yet but all other sites are now back in business. I’m excited to visit IWM London soon and see Ai Weiwei’s 5 star-reviewed art installation, History of Bombs.
Liberty of London
As a teenager, I would haul myself from Harrow (Zone 5) into Central London often with the same end goal: to peek at the flowers outside Liberty and gaze at the gorgeous stationary. Nowadays my biggest indulgence is getting my hair cut in their Taylor & Taylor salon. Though it’s been a while…!
Mr Toppers Barber Shop
Last, but never least, it’s true London gent, Mr Topper the Frog! I’ve never been inside Mr Toppers Barber Shop so I can’t vouch for their haircuts, but my brother and I play a game of sending each other a picture of Mr Topper whenever we’re passing one of their branches. Look for him on Moor Street near Shaftesbury Avenue, on Tottenham Court Road or Great Russell Street.
The great thing about London is there’s always something going on around the corner, down an alleyway or through a set of polished doors. London will always be open, and I’ll always call it home.