Meet Elisia Brown: a London-based social media editor with a penchant for Bad Girls Club re-runs, literature and ASMR tingles. Living in China for a year gave her her first taste of solo travel and wanderlust, and she's been hooked ever since...Read on to experience a complete guide to her home city.
It’s raving on a Thursday, 24-hour tube service and unorthodox hangover cures.
It’s a nail salon with a full acrylic set for £10, eyebrow threading and an in-house braider.
It’s farmers markets, halal butchers and Caribbean takeaways.
It’s kilo sales, sample sales and car boot sales.
It’s old and new. Glass towers in financial hubs and a 17th century palace.
London is a cosmopolitan city stitched like a patchwork quilt – a rich cultural legacy largely owed to immigrant communities servicing a labour starved post-war Britain.With 18th century art institutions, first-rate international cuisine, the world’s leading universities and one of the most developed transport services in the world, it’s no surprise that this is one of the most exciting places to experience.
While English is the official language of the UK, over 300 languages are spoken in London alone. The regional dialect, ‘cockney,’ is associated with the east end of the capital. And let’s not forget the heavy influence of diverse ethnic groups – Jamaican patois has lent many of its words to region specific London slang.
Colloquial phrases (Regionally varied, non-Brits may use at their own risk):
Pocket [verb] – steal/receive
Quid [noun] – money
Oi! [exclamation] – hey! [impolite]
Cheers/safe [exclamation] – thank you
Mate/Bedrin [noun] – a friend (usually a term of endearment.)
Bloke [noun] – a man
Fella [noun] – a male friend or a significant other
Missus [noun] – a female significant other
- London is very similar to other major cities – being street smart and aware of your surroundings can help make your stay safe and enjoyable.
- Keep your phone out of sight when walking – moped gangs have been known to swipe them from unknowing pedestrians.
- UK drivers drive in the left lane – be mindful of this when crossing the road
- Spitting in public is frowned upon (but unfortunately still practised)
- Greeting strangers when passing them by is not common – hopefully soon this will change.
- Londoners, like most people in the world, can either be very friendly, aloof or hostile. Try not to take it personally.
WHERE TO VISIT
Southbank Centre – a multi-venue art space with talks, performances and festivals. Be sure to check out the Southbank Street-food Market on weekends, situated in the Southbank Centre Square. Meat eaters must order the confit duck burger from The Frenchie – otherworldly.
Libreria – a cosy little bookstore with a whimsical interior.
Barbican Centre – a huge arts centre in the City of London. Great for a photography walk, if not for its architecture alone.
The Tate Modern – a contemporary art institution/event space in one of the most scenic parts of the city.
The Black Cultural Archives – a dedicated learning space and archive to preserving, collecting and celebrating Black British history and heritage.
The V&A – a beautiful 18th century art & design museum located conveniently close to The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum.
Alexandra Palace & Hampstead Heath – go for incredible views of the city.
WHERE TO EAT
- Anderson & Co
- Winger & Mangle
- The Crocodile Café (Something homely)– a cosy, independent café in Muswell hill, which also doubles as a gift shop. It’s very relaxed and family-friendly. The outdoor patio is a good spot if the weather is nice.
- Fed by water
- Hare & Tortoise
- Jam Tree
- Maloko (Something local)– a crepe café offering up a variety of creative, plant-based sweet and savoury crepes. Bring your own bottle.
- The Arch Duke
- Rum Kitchen
- Satay bar
- Sichuan Folk
- Il Giardino (Something authentic) – a rustic trattoria in the heart of Peckham serving up traditional Sardinian cuisine. It's been open since the 80s and is still going strong.
- Sky Garden
- Drink, Shop & Do (Something different)— it's all in the name.
- Fish & Chips – a British national treasure. Order cod, chips with a bit of salt and vinegar and a side of curry sauce (for dipping). Thank me later.
- Morley’s fried chicken – another unofficial national treasure, but nonetheless, important. Dotted all over South London, Morley’s is popular with high school students and any other fried chicken lover who only wants to spend a few quid on something tasty, cheap and quick. You’re well on your way to becoming a Londoner.
WHERE TO SHOP
Roaming a city’s streets is one of the few things that can give you such a full scope of its rich culture. Try to avoid the tourist trap that is central London and explore local, independent establishments.
- Vintage Kilo Sale – a ‘pay what you weigh’ indoor vintage clothes market. These are dotted all over the capital. Fun and friendly.
- Spitafields market – clothes, trinkets and food stalls under one vibrant roof. Head there near market closing, as some traders may be willing to lower their prices.
- Camden Lock – a plethora of stalls, cafes and food markets in one place. Also great for souvenirs.
Queen’s Walk – a popular stretch covering most of London’s iconic landmarks. Start from Westminster (via Southbank) and end at Tower Bridge and city hall – absolutely beautiful in the evening. Hungry? Head over to Dim T to reward your lengthy expedition.
Notting Hill Carnival – an annual street festival celebrating Black British/Caribbean culture. Expect dazzling carnival costumes, thumping sound systems and delicious food. It is the largest street festival in Europe.
Dans le Noir – diners eat in pitch-black – a truly unique experience.
Friday Lates – a monthly event where the top museums host extended tours, talks and music nights.
Black History Walks – a walking tour covering the Black British presence in UK history.
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