The Out-of-Towner Itinerary

In I tried... on July 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Artwork by La Ola

When friends come into town, you always want to make sure you can show them a good time. Unfortunately, spontaneity doesn’t quite cut it in good old London town. Restaurants, nightlife, shopping, sightseeing– it must all be planned. As it so happens, I have two amigos heading for my beloved city and I thought I might share with you my itinerary for future reference. Despite London being an ever-changing city with venues constantly going up and down the cool barometer, this little guide for entertaining guests should be good for at least another six months.  I’ve done the thinking for you and planned for the three most important categories; eating, schmoozing and shopping…

First and most importantly, where are we going to eat?

Loud & Lively at Favela Chic

A stunning Brazilian-style restaurant and bar in the über cool area where Old Street meets Shoreditch, wildly decorated and attended by a fun, Soho-New Yorker type crowd. The food is excellent and you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing to the DJ’s eclectic mix of everything from Latin to Hip hop.


Authentic & Awesome: Story Deli Pizza
What a discovery! I dream about Story Deli Pizza in my sleep, this is possibly the best pizza I have tried anywhere in the world. The loft-style venue on Brick Lane is a treasure chest of nostalgic objects collected by the very stylish owner (all for sale).


Eat and be Entertained: The Supper Club or Circus
Cabaret style dining has been on the rise for the past year. You may have heard of the hugely successful Supper Club chain which now has a London base, serving you very fancy but extremely edible gourmet cuisine on silky white beds while singers, dancers, extortionist and mimics take their turn to entertain. Circus is London’s most recent addition to cabaret eating. The food is brilliant and if you don’t mind scantily clad burlesque dancers using your table as a stage and the swings above your head to… well, swing on– you’ll have a fantastic time.


Hungover & Ordering in: Ganesh Munchies
We like to keep the Domino’s pizza orders to a minimum so I was very happy to come across Ganesh Munchies. Especially with the girls, I want to offer them a healthy and stylish alternative for our hangover cures. Homemade organic and vegetarian meals such as roasted beetroot and peaches, tofu with crushed cashew nuts, wild rice with kidney beans– all delivered straight to your door.


Where will we ‘responsibly’ party?

Clubber’s Paradise: Maggie’s
Remember the 80s? Not really? Well it will all come back to you with a visit to Maggie’s, the latest “so naff that it’s cool” nightclub hotspot. Named after everyone’s favourite prime minister, Maggie Thatcher, the Chelsea venue is one big satire on Britain during those golden years. Iconic 80s memorabilia is everywhere– smokers get tagged with neon slap bracelets (remember those?), high rollers rest their champagne on giant rubix cubes, bar tenders dress like Tom Cruise from Cocktail and Maggie Thatcher’s famous speeches play through the speakers while you’re having a tinkle in the toilets. Dress like Zack Morris or Kelly Kapowski on the big nights, but you’re just as welcome in a boring old suit and tie. It is gamble to  just show up and expect to walk right in– do call ahead for guest list or tables.


Bar Hopper: Portobello Road
Tried and tested, not just for market shopping, Portobello road is actually an ideal place to bar hop. A rule for me in general when going out– avoid the barely legal crowd and do your bar hopping on a school night, such as a Thursday. Start at the top with Portobello Gold, where during the week, an eclectic, local crowd gathers to mingle and play drinking games. A little further down is The Star, a sleek venue which attracts a very good-looking bunch and makes a killer Bloody Mary. Next up is Trailer Happiness, kitschy, mid-60s Hawaiian fun serving Tiki cocktails poured into giant ceramic skulls. Be a trooper and don’t give up yet because you have two bars left to check out. The Electric is a bit of Notting Hill institution. If you know someone who can get you into the private members lounge where the big boys hang out, you will more than likely set up camp here and end your bar hopping madness. Otherwise, the Electric is an excellent bar (not so great for dinner)–do a quick stop here to sample their amazing wine selection. Last but not least is Mau Mau. The perfect place to end your night with the smooth Jamaican vibe, happy reggae music and intimate character. Try the ‘yo mum’ cocktail to really finish you off!


Destination DJ: Proud Galleries
DJ Mark Ronson is gracing one of my favourite venues in London with his presence as part of the iTunes festival on July 13th. Need I say more? Ok I will. Proud Galleries is a converted horse hospital in the centre of Camden which has kept many of its genuine features such as the stables, which now act as table areas for group bookings (ideal for birthdays). With regulars such as Amy Winehouse (pre-rehab visit number three) and the Arctic Monkeys, this might appear too rock & roll for some, but I’ve dragged several of my ‘little Miss Princess’ friends here and let’s just say they had a little too much fun.


Lounge Lover: Purl
If you can’t bare to be apart from your blackberry for an hour, first of all, grow up (I’m talking to myself) and secondly, get to Marleybone’s brand new underground lounge where they really have mastered the art of haute couture cocktails. You won’t get reception on your mobile phone here but you will get beautiful dark wood decor, leather armchairs, candle-lit caves and fantastic swing/jazz music. There is also a fully functioning retro phone booth if you’re that desperate.


Where will we shop?

Edgy Fashion seeker: Brick Lane Vintage Market
Portobello market shopping is too commercial for my liking now and so I’ve moved on to Brick Lane for the real deal. The entire area is so vibrant, run by young creatives and has undeniably taken over as the destination for vintage shoppers. The Old Truman Brewery vintage market is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (I prefer the more relaxed Sunday vibe) and plays host to vintage specialists from home and abroad. Find clothing and accessories for men and women ranging from the 1920s right up to the 90s.


Bargain hunter: Designer Sales UK
No matter what time of year, there is always a secret designer sale to be found somewhere in London. The satisfaction of picking up a classic Prada trench or a Zimmerman cut-out swimsuit for high street prices can rarely be matched for a fashionista. I’ll be taking the girlies to one of these Designer UK Sales on July 23rd at the Music Room for 60-90% off designers including Martin Margiela, Ossie Clark and Prada. Refer to the Designer Sales UK website for details and tickets (click on the title above).


Tourist Stop: Topshop Oxford Street
It just wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t stop by Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford street for a good two-hour grabbing frenzy. I will never tire of Phillip Green’s empire that has so faithfully provided me with countless Kate Moss dresses and affordable fashion jewellery that I don’t have to cry about when it gets abandoned by the sink of restaurant’s washroom after too many glasses of chardonnay.

(Click on the lilac titles for links to websites)

I hope this is useful to you for when friends come into town or even for my international readers who don’t have a London buddy yet, but need a little local advice on where to go xxx

  1. How come I didn’t get such a fabulous itinerary when I came to visit you? regardless, these places look awesome 🙂

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