London Guide • Chi-San Wan
Chi-San is one of the grooviest gemini's (and Londoners) I've ever met. Not only that, but as an epic creative consultant, she has one of the best eyes, so when she emailed me spots in London that I had to check out, I tuned in and referenced only her list. I'm sure a few of you have seen the likes of the cookbook that she co-authored, A Simple Table, scroll by in your Insta feeds. I'm so stoked for those of you headed to London to check it out through Chi-Sans' wonderful lens.
VIOLET • This lovely little spot is on leafy Wilton Way, slightly off the beaten track from the hustle and bustle of Dalston. You’ll find the most delicious cakes for an afternoon treat but if you need more, their quiches, toasties and salads are just as delicious. Started by Claire Ptak (originally from Cali) on Broadway Market (a stone’s throw away, and worth a trip on Saturdays), it’s picture-perfect – which is no wonder as Claire is also a food-stylist.
P.FRANCO • A cosy neighborhood wine shop and bar, dishing up incredible plates on the side, should you need something to soak up the grape juice. They change up the resident chefs every couple of months, but if you find yourself there and no chef; no problem, as their cheese and charcuterie offering is one of the best.
PRIMEUR • Nestled between Newington Green and Highbury in an old motor workshop, is this bistro with communal seating and counter top dining (my favorite). With sharing plates and low-interventions wines, this is a great space to while away a long and dreamy sunny evening.
UCHI • Found on a very unassuming street corner in Hackney, the beautiful interior is a juxtaposition to the street you’ll have just walked in from – brushed gold, soft pinks, bare wood and meadow-like foliage. Uchi serves amazing Japanese food that feels like you are dining at your very tasteful Japanese friend’s home.
GRANGER AND CO • This place never fails to hit the spot. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner very well with both naughty dishes and more nourishing plates available. I love to take morning or lunch meetings in the Kings Cross branch – you’ll definitely be able to find something you’ll love on the menu at this Aussie joint.
ROCHELLE CANTEEN • For years, Rochelle Canteen only opened during the week and only for lunch – a haven for locals and freelancers like me. Recently, they have started opening over the weekends and in the evenings too, so everyone else is in for a treat. Located in the bike shed of a former boy’s school, through a wooden door and walled garden; it’s a true East London gem.
RAWDUCK • Weekends at this casual dining space are great. The bigger joint to sister Ducksoup in Soho, Rawduck has a more eclectic menu, which draws on Asian influences and includes interesting ferments and vinegars which you can ogle at (and smell!) whilst you perch on one of the wide communal concrete tables.
ESTERS • This tiny neighborhood café is a destination for most people. A short walk away from nearby Church Street, once here, you will be rewarded with the most delicious food. Though the menu is small, whatever you choose will be nothing short of amazing. They have the best cakes, sourdough, coffee beans and they even make their own almond milk which I am obsessed with in my iced coffee when the sun comes out.
CAMPANIA AND JONES • This is the most wonderful ramshackle restaurant, set in an old dairy shop. In fact, I celebrated my 30th here. Delicious, seasonal cooking with an excellent selection of wine, you’ll be transported to Southern Italy with its faded romance and pretty interior.
HAMPSTEAD HEATH • One of the lushest parks in the capital, Hampstead Heath is also one of the highest points in London. Wander around the ancient parklands, go for a dip in one of the ponds, watch the sunset and then pop to the nearby Bull & Last for a drink and a bite to eat – voted one of London’s best pubs year after year.
GLASSHOUSE SALON • If you need some pampering, look no further than this organic hair care salon, part of the creative hub that is Netil House, near London Fields. They take pride in the best hair solutions with the most natural processes out there, using the finest organic products. As if that’s not fabulous enough, they also run Glasshouse Journal – a mixed bag of fashion, beauty, culture and lifestyle news you’d want to read about.
TOWPATH • Come rain or shine, you have got to sit and watch the world go by at this hole-in-the-wall along the canal. It’s the most charming café, only opening between the months of March and November. In the colder months you can sit and enjoy a cheese toastie with blankets and watch the ducks in the canal, and in the warmer months you can share seasonal plates cooked to perfection whilst the cyclists huff and puff at the café-goers in their way who are trying to decide what to have from the small but perfectly-formed menu.
COLUMBIA FLOWER MARKET • To experience a Cockney delight, there's nothing more east London than a morning spent at the flower market. If you’re claustrophobic, this is not the place for you. However, if you go with the flow, you will be mesmerized by all the flowers, plants and market folks that fill what usually is a quiet Columbia Road. The best bargains can be found towards the end of the trading day, then you can drag your bountiful finds into The Royal Oak or The Marksman for a traditional Sunday Roast.
VICTORIA PARK • A great open space with three massive lakes (including a boating one!), a sunny day can be well spent in Victoria Park. Bring a picnic or grab something from the Pavilion café which overlooks the boating lake – they do the best chai and Sri Lankan breakfasts, a nod to the founder’s love for the country.
ACUPUNCTURE • If the daily grind of London is getting too much, and let’s face it, any big city will do that to you, I make sure to book in a session with my wonderful acupuncturist. So wonderful, Natasha has never got round to making a website as she’s just too busy being the best human possible, helping other humans feel more human again, from the front room of her basement flat. I saw her throughout my pregnancy, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She is truly the best, and I cannot recommend her enough.
HOSTEM • A haven for the cult-fashion obsessed, Hostem has the most beautifully crafted range of brands, selected for their ever-evolving space in Shoreditch. A true destination, you’ll want to try on everything and take most things home.
MOMOSAN • This little Japanese shop has been curated by the very lovely Momo, displaying the most beautiful products (ceramics, glassware, jewelry, textiles), chosen for both it’s form and function. The ever-changing window installation has always stopped passers-by in their tracks for its pleasing aesthetic and possible photo opportunity.
GOODHOOD • A trip into Shoreditch requires a stop at Goodhood. Going 10 years strong, this minimalist and contemporary store houses womenswear, menswear and homeware. I can guarantee you won’t be able to leave without buying something for yourself or a present for someone else.
DOVER STREET MARKET • There is something really brilliant about this multi-story luxury indoor market by Rei Kawakubo. You could while away an entire afternoon gasping at the sheer amount of goodies on display – from perfume to jewelry, both womenswear and menswear from established luxury brands to interesting emerging designers. When it all gets too much, you’ll need to take a break at Rose Bakery on the top floor for a matcha latte to help you get through the rest of the building.
CONTENT BEAUTY • When I’m not making my own lotions and potions, I look to Content Beauty, the only place to buy all your organic beauty products in London. A small but perfectly formed natural apothecary in Marylebone, the customer service is amazing and the staff are really passionate and knowledgeable.
LEILA’S • You’ll find the most delicious, seasonal produce in this small shop off the iconic Arnold Circus. Choosing the best of the crop, you’ll want to buy all your groceries here and then grab a bite to eat next door in the café. Simple and non-fussy, this place really champions less is more – something I can get behind.
MARGARET HOWELL • A true contemporary British designer. Beautifully crafted and minimalist in design, the inspiration always comes from workwear uniform. In the flagship store on Wigmore Street, you’ll find a lifestyle store that Howell has carefully curated alongside her clothing collection. There are books, ceramics and furniture available to buy that you know you’ll find in Howell’s home.
ALEX EAGLE • Smack bang in the middle of Soho is this light-filled space that seamlessly blends retail and home into an immersive shopping experience. All selected by Alex herself and inspired by her travels, you can find rare books, fashion, art, ceramics and furniture.
STRUT • One of the best pre-loved designer stores I know, Strut has a great selection in both locations, with all clothes in perfect condition. The one on Broadway Market is more high fashion led, whereas the one in Stoke Newington has more casual day-to-day attire available.
LIBERTY • This iconic London department store started in the late 1800s and most parts of the original building are still standing. Housing quality and luxury goods with an eclectic aesthetic throughout the store, Liberty is a must visit.
GENERAL STORE • If you find yourself in Peckham, do make sure to pop in to General Store. There you will find the best selection of food and drinks stuff for your kitchen, to take-away to nearby Peckham Rye or presents for the foodie in your life.
BARBICAN • Even after visiting for many years, I can still get lost at the Barbican. The building is known for its brutalism design, an architecture lover’s dream. The Barbican Centre is one of the largest performing arts centers in Europe and on any given day, you will find a couple of exhibitions (one for free). It also has a cinema, 3 restaurants and a wonderful conservatory of botanical bliss. You can spend hours wondering around the buildings that make up the Barbican Estate, peeking into people’s homes and lounging on the grass verges. There’s even a small organic shop to buy your picnic needs.
TATE MODERN • Part of the Tate group, the Modern is a contemporary art gallery located along the bankside south of the Thames. Having recently undergone a massive transformation with an additional building, there is much to see here. Their permanent collection is worth the trip enough, but the exhibitions they curate are incredible. The grand entrance of the Turbine Hall has an immersive space and the gift shops are perfect for picking up extra cards to stash in your stationary drawer for when you forget one for an occasion.
KYOTO GARDEN • A Japanese-style garden in the middle of Holland Park, you can find colourful plants, water features (including a waterfall) and koi carp, you’ll be transported to a place of zen if the crowded shopping streets of Kensington gets a little too much.
WHITE CUBE • With spaces in Hong Kong and London, the White Cube is one of the world’s leading modern art galleries. The one in Bermondsey is a stark and austere space in a renovated 1970s building, with a good program of artists and features. Take a day trip to Bermondsey and include lunch at Jose, a small Spanish tapas joint or 40 Maltby Street, a natural wine and seasonal plates restaurant, underneath railway arches.
MODERN ART • A contemporary art gallery, hidden behind the bustle of Old Street, in a renovated pre-war factory. Pop in for a quick culture fix, as this space is small, and include Victoria Miro if you’re in the area.
SPA TERMINUS • The railway arches that make up Spa Terminus are home to like-minded food producers and distributors. You’ll find businesses who are passionate about their produce and will open up their arches to sell to the public on Saturday mornings. You’ll find everything from coffee, biodynamic fruit and veg, ice cream, bread, honey and beer here - a great place to kick off your weekend.