If you’re booking your London hotel soon and want to feel like you’re a Londoner, there are three great areas to stay in for a more local experience. Think neighborhood pubs, cute cafes, and Londoners going about living their life in the city…
As a native New Yorker, I think London has fairly mild winters, relatively speaking. But having been living in London for a few years now, I’ve noticed that there always seems to be at least a couple of very cold spells that creep in before the weather starts to warm up.
However, Londoners don’t let that stop them from doing all of the fun stuff that this city offers, and so as a tourist, it shouldn’t stop you either. You just need to know what things to do in London in the winter that will let you enjoy it without freezing your butt off. This list gives you a bunch of great ideas for what you should put into your London itinerary.
*BTW– when you see (WA) this means that this venue is fully wheelchair accessible. Also, COVID closures will affect most of these things, so check with the venue before you plan anything.
Do some indoor sports in London
London has had tons of indoor “sports” venues pop up over the last few years, and most of them are combined with a bar, naturally. So you can sip a cocktail or two while you participate in your chosen activity. It makes us Londoners feel better about drinking all the time…
Here are a small selection of the venues that you should check out for some fun drinking + activity. These places tend to be popular for group gatherings, so I recommend booking in advance to make sure you don’t show up on the day and get turned away.
Image Courtesy of Bounce
If you’re into ping pong, Bounce (WA), located in Farringdon and Old Street, is your spot. It’s also a bar, so don’t worry, if you aren’t good at ping pong, expectations are usually VERY low…
Image Courtesy of Swingers
For a very low-impact, low-speed sport, visit Swingers (WA) near Oxford Circus or Bank for fun games of mini golf (they call it crazy golf here) plus lots of cocktail and street food options on offer. There’s also Junkyard Golf in Shoreditch and Plonk Golf that has four venues around the city.
Image Courtesy of Flight Club
Only in England would it be considered a great idea to pair drunk people in a bar with some pointy darts… just kidding, don’t worry, it’s totally safe. If you want to get competitive with some dart throwing, head to one of Flight Club’s (WA) four locations and book you and your group an oche (pronounced like ‘hockey’) for some play time. The cocktails here are good, and strong… just the way I like them.
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Maybe you don’t classify Bingo as a sport, but this is my website so imma do it. Dabbers is a bar and restaurant that does super fun bingo events, where you can win prizes, sing songs, and more, all while you eat and drink. They do brunches, dinners and themed bingo events. They even do one that’s dog friendly.
Go on a food tour
Image courtesy of Devour Tours
Food tours are so fun in London, and the good ones support small food businesses during quieter times of the day and teach you a ton of history at the same time that you’re stuffing your face with a delicious treat. They tend to be inclement-weather-friendly as they pop in and out of warm food establishments, so a food tour can be one of the best things to do in London in the winter. You might find yourself outside at a market at one point but it’ll be worth it.
I have two companies that I recommend for food tours in London.
Devour Tours does a London Bridge & Southwark Food Tour, which packs a whole lot of British food history in with yummy dishes. One of the stops is at a beautiful restaurant that trains vulnerable young adults in the food industry, and you’ll also visit Borough Market and one of the oldest pubs in London.
Eating Europe also does some great food tours in London, with my favourite being the East End Food Tour, where you’ll learn about East London’s eclectic history, how it became so popular for street art, and of course, quite a few facets of England’s food scene.
Go to a London theatre or cinema
Cold weather is a great excuse to book yourself in for a couple of theatre shows or cinema experiences while you’re in London. I do love a cultural experience that requires me to just sit still and watch…
Image Courtesy of Bush Theatre
London’s most famous theatres make up the “West End”, and you can find tickets for those shows on sites like LoveTheatre (WA). But I recommend going a bit more niche for more unique shows and experiences as well as cheaper ticket prices. These smaller theatres, sometimes called Fringe theatres, often host shows that eventually transfer to the West End, so you’re seeing them for cheaper and before they get the hype.
There are tons of small theatres all around London that are still internationally known, including The Almeida Theatre (WA) in Islington, The Yard (WA) in Hackney Wick, and the Bush Theatre (WA) in Shepherd’s Bush.
Check out this list from the Evening Standard of London’s best independent theatres for theatre buffs for more inspiration.
Image Courtesy of Rich Mix
London’s independent cinemas
Sure, there are the typical multiplexes around London, but you’re here for a unique experience, right? Choose an independent theatre and you’ll also be supporting local Londoners and sometimes be contributing directly to charity.
For example, Rich Mix (WA) is a Shoreditch cinema run as a charity and that often has art exhibitions and other unique events and things to see. Plus, prices are cheap! There’s also the Lexi Cinema (WA) in Kensal Green which gives 100% of its profits to charity.
But of course there are many other unique, independent cinemas around London. Here’s a list of ones to check out from Conde Nast Traveller.
Drink (…for warmth, of course)
The default thing for Londoners to do when meeting up with friends in the winter is to meet at a pub, and remember that until around 8ish in evening, most pubs are family-friendly too (and for dogs!) making pubs great for casual gatherings.
So join in with the Londoner way and keep warm in a cosy pub while drinking a pint or having a glass of red wine.
In my opinion, the best pubs to do this are ones that aren’t in popular tourist areas like Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster. If you head to areas like Notting Hill, Hackney, and Hampstead, which are more like local neighborhoods and totally worth exploring anyways, you’ll find pubs that are more suited for families and longer, relaxed pub hangs. For example, they may have a fireplace or sofas to curl up on, and a delish food menu to order from.
There are tons of great pubs all around the city so you shouldn’t have to travel too far to get to one. But here are a few personal favourites of mine that are great for winter visits.
The Hemingway near Victoria Park in East London feels a bit like being in someone’s home, and they have beautiful lights strewn across the dining and drinking area which add to a cosy atmosphere as the sun sets. Sunday Roast here is fantastic!
Watch this video to see what else you can do in nearby Victoria Park, voted the best park in London many years in a row. Make a day of it!
Image Courtesy of The Spaniards Inn Facebook page
The Spaniards Inn (WA) on the edge of Hampstead Heath is in a beautiful 16th century building, most of which is sectioned off into different areas, making it super intimate and cosy. On days that aren’t really cold, you can sit out on their winterised patio, complete with twinkle lights and space heaters to keep you warm while you have one of their cask ales or craft beers on tap.
I’d recommend stopping at The Spaniards Inn for a lovely pub lunch after a winter walk around Hampstead Heath. See what you can do in this beautiful part of London…
Image Courtesy of The Gunmakers
The teeny tiny The Gunmakers pub in Clerkenwell is a hidden gem in the area, sitting between Exmouth Market and Leather Lane Market in Chancery Lane. You can sit in their winter garden, beautifully and intimately decorated, or venture upstairs with your drink to sit on one of the comfy sofas or armchairs. You’ll feel like you’re in someone’s Victorian-era home.
Visit one of London’s most unique museums
In the winter, the city’s most popular, free museums, like the Natural History Museum and the British Museum, get INSANELY crowded with both tourists and locals looking for something indoors to do that doesn’t cost money. Certain times of the year, like the week between Christmas and New Year, can get so bad that it honestly ruins the experience.
Leave those museums for another time and instead use this London visit to explore the city’s more unique and underrated museums.
Image Courtesy of The Garden Museum
Some of my favourite unique museums in London include:
The Museum of Brands and Packaging (WA) in Ladbroke Grove is a fun, alternative way to learn about English history. Walk through the museum displays that start a couple of centuries ago and work their way to present time, seeing the history of fashion, consumerism, trends and more in this country. It’s quite interesting!
The Fashion and Textile Museum (WA) in Bermondsey is great for anyone who appreciates fashion or design. The museum is quite unique in that it only has one exhibition at a time, which remains for a couple of months or so, and then it shuts for a couple of weeks, then unveiling a brand new exhibition. This means that you can visit multiple times and always get to experience and learn about something completely new.
The Garden Museum (WA) in Lambeth was opened in 1977 to help rescue the abandoned church of St. Mary’s at Lambeth which was due to be demolished. Instead, Rosemary and John Nicholson turned it into the Garden Museum, as the church is the resting place of John Tradescant, the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history, way back in the 1600s. Explore the stunning building to learn about Britain’s history with gardens (they love ‘em!) and see some beautiful plantlife. The Garden Cafe is also worth making a lunch reservation at.
Watch this video to preview some of the museums mentioned plus see a few more…
Go to an art gallery
If you’re more into art exhibitions than museums, choose one of London’s many art galleries to bumble around. Yes, everyone knows the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, but we’re going to go more local and off the beaten path…
Image Courtesy of SPACE
The Whitechapel Gallery (WA) in Whitechapel calls itself “the artists’ gallery for everyone”. The contemporary art gallery has been around for over a century, and according to the website it “has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Paul Noble, Thomas Struth, Sarah Lucas and Mark Wallinger”. Impressive. The Whitechapel Gallery is completely free to visit, just be sure to leave a donation to help support their efforts.
SPACE’s (WA), erm, space in London Fields is part of a wider project around London. Their mission is to provide affordable creative workspace and various support programmes to help artists grow their career sustainably. Many people don’t know that on the ground floor of this building there’s a revolving program of exhibitions open to the public and completely free to visit. I once visited to see an exhibition on local typography, and as I’m writing this, they’re preparing for an exhibition involving ghosts!
There is also currently an exhibition called Dialogue in the Dark (WA), which is completely in the darkness and brings you “through London” without the use of images, as someone without sight would experience it.
I’ll wrap up this curated list of galleries with Proud Central, a photography gallery in Charing Cross. According to their website, “Proud Galleries stages compelling shows by legendary photographers who continue to capture the most iconic people, moments and trends defining Pop culture”. Pop in for free to admire some incredible photography, and check out their upcoming exhibitions.
By the way, many of the places I mention throughout this article are included in my 3-Day London Itinerary. Have a look if you think it’s way too overwhelming to try to figure out how to pair all of the stuff you want to do together into one itinerary for your trip.
Image Courtesy of Four Seasons Park Lane
Go to one of London’s luxurious spas
Be super bougie and book yourself in for a spa day at one of London’s most luxurious hotel spas. Some of the highest-rated in the city include the Four Seasons Park Lane (WA) (with its incredible views over the city), Espa Life at the Corinthia (one of the largest spas in London) and Akasha Holistic Wellbeing at Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly Circus (they have a treatment that uses 23-carat-gold minerals).
For more affordable and laidback spa options, there’s Cowshed (WA) (a Soho House brand with multiple locations), Linnaean in Embassy Gardens (Swedish-insired Medispa and beauty salon), K West Hotel and Spa (it has a snow room!), Hula in Hackney (Tiki-themed, vintage-loving), and Yemaya London in Streatham (luxurious but not insanely expensive).
Image Courtesy of Skylight London
Go ice skating
If it’s between November and February, then there’s one outdoor activity that I DO recommend doing in London during the winter… going ice skating. It’s easy to find ice rinks in Central London, like Somerset House and the Natural History Museum. But for something a bit more laid back and cool, head to Skylight London, a rooftop bar in Wapping that transforms into a cosy winter retreat complete with ice rink, winter igloos for eating and drinking, and an amazing view of the city.
See some live music or comedy
Ugh I LOVE seeing live music and comedy in London, I think it’s a GREAT night out that’s a bit more fun than just having a drink and staring at each other all night…
Image Courtesy of The Piano Bar
A few venues to check out:
The Piano Bar (WA) in Soho is a sexy little cocktail lounge in an old townhouse. There are live musicians playing every single night here, and they are incredibly impressive artists so you won’t be disappointed. This is a private club so one of you in your party will need to buy a membership, which is £50 and gives you 50 £10 off ticket discounts, which can be used all at once when booking tickets for you and your party, or over multiple nights or across the year.
Image Courtesy of The Bedford
The Bedford (WA) in Balham is awesome. From the outside, it looks like a normal pub. But insiders know that there’s a small theatre in there too, where you can see comedy shows and up-and-coming music acts. They have been hosts to stars early in their career like musicians Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and London Grammar, and comedians such as Catherine Tate and Michael McIntyre. The comedy shows are just £15 a ticket and the live music shows are FREE!
Image Courtesy of Sebright Arms
Head to the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green, hidden away just off of Hackney Road, for live music, good food and drinks, and very local vibes. Their claim to fame is hosting early shows for now-huge-acts like Charli XCX and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Have a read of this article on The Culture Trip for more indie live music venues to check out in London.
Shop at local independents
MMMMM… shops are so nice and warm, and so are the fuzzy feelings you get when you find a gem to take home with you at an independent business, knowing that you supported a local biz and found something unique. That makes shopping one of the best things to do in London in the winter.
Vintage and secondhand shopping in London
London is big on vintage, and there are big and small shops around London, but the best area with a large concentration of vintage shops is Shoreditch. You can hop from shop to shop without having to spend too much time outside, while digging through all the vintage vibes to hopefully uncover a special item or two to take home with you.
I share some good vintage shops to visit in Shoreditch in this video…
Charity shops are where you’ll find lots of secondhand pieces that people have donated and then charities sell them for donation money. You can find these all over the city, with prices varying depending on the wealth level of that neighborhood.
My favourite place for charity shopping is Notting Hill, as the charities send their most high-end stuff to their Notting Hill outposts, but this means you’ll also pay quite a bit of a “premium”. That being said, I don’t mind, as the selection is curated and so it’s more likely you’ll find something great. Other good areas for charity-shop-hopping include Northcote Road in Battersea and all around Chiswick.
London’s independent shops
When I want something new, I love supporting independent shops. Some favourite areas to find a lot of shops to hop back and forth to are Broadway Market, Columbia Road in Hackney, Brixton Village and Market Row, and Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill.
Watch this video to see some of the top underrated shops I recommend checking out…
Markets are also great for shopping for clothing, accessories, beauty products, and more. Check out the top markets to visit in London that you never heard of…
Do a food or drink-related workshop
Book ALL the (indoor) activities when it’s cold in London and you’ll be entertained for as long as you need. You could find a class or workshop for just about anything you might want to do, no matter how niche.
Here are some recommendations to start you off, beginning with food and drink.
Image Courtesy of Workshop Coffee
Workshop Coffee (WA), a London roastery with intimate cafes around the city, does Coffee Masterclasses on the weekends for anyone who wants to learn more about how they can do better coffee on their own.
Neal’s Yard Dairy hosts various events, dinner parties and workshops for those interested in cheese. They’re a great way to learn about England’s history with cheese… it’s an interesting one. Like… did you know Cheddar is a place?
Cabby’s is London’s first white rum distillery, and they now make gin too. Head to their Mile End distillery for “The Rum Taxi Experience”, where you’ll be greeted with a Rum and Cola or G&T and shown how the magic is made.
Learn how to make an afternoon tea experience yourself at Leith’s School of Food and Wine’s The Leiths Ultimate Afternoon Tea class. You’ll be taught how to create everything you need for a classic afternoon tea with a bit of a twist.
Learn to make something
Book into a workshop or class where you come away feeling creative and accomplished, armed with a unique and special souvenir to take home.
The Experimental Perfume Club in London Fields has one hour to full day perfume making workshops where you’ll find the scent that works best for your nose, and then learn how to make a bespoke perfume yourself.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, the only denim producer in London (and they do it sustainably) has a shop in Coal Drops Yard where they hold denim masterclasses. You’ll get to work on their vintage-looking but uber-professional sewing machines to create a denim masterpiece, like a bag. Find out more about the brand and the shop in our video showcasing them in our Sustainable London series.
Graffik Gallery, an urban art gallery in Notting Hill, runs graffiti classes suitable for both kids and adults. You’ll learn how to do stencil work, on a canvas that you’ll get to take home, and then you also get free reign to spray whatever you want on their gallery wall.
For couples, Anatomie Studio hosts Shibari rope skills classes. Shibari, aka Japanese Rope Bondage, is “the occasionally sexy art of tying yourself up in knots”. Join a beginner class to try something new and different! Anatomie is a sex-positive and kink-positive venue, and offers unique things to do in London in the winter.
Join a pub quiz
Lots of pubs around London draw people in on slow weekdays by hosting a weekly pub quiz. The idea is that it’s usually a small fee for each team to join, and the team with the most correct answers wins the cash prize. If you have at least two of you, it’s a super fun and casual way to spend a Sunday evening or weekday evening.
Even if you’re a solo traveler, you could absolutely walk up to a small team at your chosen pub and ask if you can be one more body… most teams will welcome the extra brain juice and will love that you had the courage to ask … Londoners aren’t used to that!
Honestly, the best way to find a pub quiz is to just keep an eye out for pubs with signs outside advertising their pub quiz night. A huge majority of them do quizzes so as long as you aren’t looking in the touristy areas (Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, Westminster, etc.) then you’ll find one easily. You could also ask at your hotel to see if they know of any quizzes happening nearby. They usually happen Sunday to Wednesday.
If you’re struggling to figure out how you’ll plan your first few days in London and want to include some of the stuff in this article, some things mentioned are included in the 3-Day London Itinerary. Grab that and your first three days in London will be sorted with locally-approved recommendations for what to do, see, eat and drink, all put together in a flexible, walkable plan.
Are you still looking for things to do in London in the winter? This list wasn’t enough? Well, check out these articles for more ideas for things to do in London.
- 12 Unique Afternoon Teas to Try in London
- 8 Sweet Treats To Devour In London
- 10 Amazing African Restaurants in London You Need To Try
Pin this to your Winter in London board…
Visiting London on Christmas Day? This guide will help you figure out how to have a lovely 25th of December, despite closures and empty streets (which actually sounds amazing to me!)
*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means I may earn a small commission if you buy something after clicking.
**2020 is obviously a very odd year for Christmas Day activities. We’ve tried to make notes where things are/aren’t offered this year but things change quickly.
London transportation options on Christmas Day
It’s very important to note that the tube, trains and buses don’t run on Christmas Day. I recommend walking as much as you can, as you’ll enjoy a very quiet London that only happens once a year. Also consider going to one of London’s parks, or just walk around admiring the city’s architecture, outdoor artwork, and Christmas lights.
Traffic is also super light, so rent a Santander Cycle (Boris Bike) and cycle around the city in a way you’d never be able to do the rest of the year! Watch the video below to find out how they work.
You can also take Ubers and black taxis but just note that they’ll be limited in number, so give yourself extra time to call one, just in case it takes a little longer than usual.
Where to get a Christmas meal in London
Select restaurants and pubs will be open for Christmas lunch and/or dinner. Most places will have a set Christmas menu, and the offering on that menu, as well as price, will vary. Book early!
Here are some restaurants and pubs serving up Christmas meals:
Cinnamon Bazaar (vegan meals available)
Gilbert Scott (veggie and vegan meals available)
Duck and Waffle (veggie menu available)
Ham Yard Hotel Restaurant (gluten-free, veggie and vegan meals available)
City Cruises will be doing a Christmas river cruise, which includes a Christmas lunch on board the boat while cruising the River Thames. (gluten free and veggie menu available on request, child-friendly)
Where to go to church on Christmas Day in London
If you have a favourite church you’d like to worship at on Christmas Day in London, check the church’s website to see when services are being held.
Since public transportation is closed, I’d also recommend asking your hotel concierge about nearby churches and cathedrals that they know are having services that are within walking distance.
*Obviously, many 2020 services will be closed or be taking place virtually, so again, check online to see what your church of choice is providing.
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Where to get Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day
A few festive afternoon teas are available on Christmas Day too. Again, book ahead.
Afternoon teas on Christmas Day in London:
London attractions and activities open on Christmas Day
Unfortunately, not much is open beyond some restaurants and pubs. However, here are some options for things to do and see.
Go swimming in Hampton Pool
Hampton Pool is heated, and on Christmas Day they’re welcoming brave souls to go for a dip. Make sure you book tickets in advance!
Watch the Peter Pan Cup
If you’d rather watch some swimmers from the comfort of your down jacket and thick mittens, go watch the Peter Pan Cup. The Serpentine Swimming Club holds an annual swimming race (every year since 1864) in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. Show up at 9am to see these brave souls do their thing. *This might not happen in 2020, no info out there yet about it.
Visit one of London’s incredible parks
All royal parks (which covers most of the major ones in London) are open on Christmas Day, so be very British and go for a brisk winter walk. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are a great combo for Central London, or head to East London and explore Victoria Park, frequently voted London’s best park by Londoners. Find out more about Victoria Park in the video below.
Go on a Christmas hop on hop off tour
Big Bus Tours has a special Christmas tour on Christmas Day. Book tickets here.
*Not available on 25th in 2020 but you can book on for the 26th!
Go for a Christmas boat ride along the Thames
Even if you don’t want to go for the City Cruises’ Christmas lunch cruise you can still book yourself in for a classic Thames river sightseeing tour. Christmas Day on the River Thames… what a treat…
*This year, it’s only the Christmas lunch cruise that’s available.
Go ice skating at JW3
The Jewish Community Centre in London has an ice rink that’s open on Christmas Day. What a fun thing to do! It’s pretty popular so book your tickets as far in advance as you can.
Go experience spookily quiet London
There’s truly no day like Christmas Day in Central London, the quietest day of the year. So grab a Boris bike or just put on your decent walking shoes and explore the city while it’s in this almost spooky state. It’s GREAT for taking photos without crowds of people blocking the way. If you go at night, all of the Christmas lights can be enjoyed in the quiet too.
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Enjoy Christmas Day in London! Be sure to tag @LoveandLondon and use #LoveandLondon on Instagram so we can see what you got up to around the city.
Buying a gift for your favourite London fan? I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas for London lovers that should make your shopping experience much easier, especially if you’re buying for someone who loves beautiful, unique items. If you’ve already done a “London gifts” Google search, you’ll have seen that many London gifts are very kitchy and cheesy… so I’ve sifted through the junk to help you choose from the best out there.
Also, most of the recommendations in this London Lover Gift Guide are from small businesses and artists, because well… we should all be supporting them over the big guys, ESPECIALLY this year.
Read on for lots of gift ideas for London lovers, even if they have no plans to visit any time soon.
*Many of the links in this article are affiliated, which means we earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking. Thank you so much!
British Food and Drink Gift Ideas for London Lovers
British food hamper
As mentioned in my gift guide for anyone visiting London in 2021 and that doesn’t want to be basic, a “London-y” or British food and drink hamper (aka gift basket) is a great gift idea for London lovers that you can DIY or buy ready-made.
If you want to make a hamper yourself, find a beautiful basket and load it up with some yummy English treats.
Some suggestions for your DIY British Food Hamper:
- English cheeses like Cheddar, Wensleydale with Cranberries, Red Leicester and Stilton (all links bring you to where you can buy them on iGourmet in the US, or use Google to find local suppliers in your area)
- Cheese crackers, like these ones
- Chutney. You put the cheese and chutney together on the crackers. YUM.
For those of you who are not looking to spend an hour finding the perfect basket for your hamper items and wrestling with wrapping paper, iGourmet in the US makes a “A Little Bit of Britain Gift Box” that does it all for you for $99. They have a couple of other British-themed options as well.
Alternatively, you can order something from Fortnum & Mason in London. They’re world-famous for their luxurious hampers, with ones that go upwards of £1000… WOAH. Their F&M wicker hampers (the baskets themselves) are also collectors items.
Two Fortnum & Mason hampers that ship worldwide (not the only ones!):
If your London-loving gift recipient came back from London appreciating good tea more than previously, they’ll love to receive beautiful, high quality teas as a gift. There are a few ways you can go about this.
If your giftee has watched my Londoner’s Guide to Soho, they’ll remember Algerian Coffee Stores being featured, and it’s where I recommend London tourists to go for affordable but still high-quality loose leaf tea in London, as well as coffee beans. It’s also home to London’s ONLY £1 coffee but that’s a whole other thing…
Algerian Coffee Stores is a fantastic small business that could use the support, plus their stuff is great and it ships worldwide. I’d recommend getting some loose leaf tea and a perhaps a classic teapot, which paired together would make a lovely gift, and the fact that it’s from this fab little shop in Soho makes it that much more special.
If you prefer something in fancy packaging you could instead opt for Fortnum & Mason’s tea selection, which is world-famous.
London-Themed Art and Homewares
London lovers would like a bit of their favourite city around the home, so here are some recommendations for cool London homewares (remember… we’re going for not cheesy!)
Prints and artwork
Etsy has some of the best prints featuring various bits of London, all designed and printed by artists and small business owners. I’ve compiled some of my favourites, that are beautifully designed or show more “local” nooks and crannies of the city… or both!
3-Panel Art Deco London Map on Canvas, see it on Etsy
Beigel Bake on Brick Lane, home of the world-famous Salted Beef Beigel. See it on Etsy
Reprint of a 1930’s London Transport Sign for Wimbledon, great for tennis fans. See it on Etsy
Kew Gardens Palm House London Retro Style Art Print, see it on Etsy
Brixton Market Art, Colourful Neon London Print. If they’ve been to Brixton, they’ll love it, but even if they haven’t, the colours are beautiful. See it on Etsy
The Pavilion Cafe, Victoria Park. Victoria Park, in East London, has been voted “London’s Best Park” for many years, and this cafe is a favourite of Londoners who live nearby. See it on Etsy
London Map of History and Culture. An incredibly in-depth map of London’s History and Culture – so intricate the map took artist Cally Lathey over a year to complete! See it on We Built This City (my fave London souvenir shop, now online and shipping worldwide)
Christmas Tree Ornaments
It’s hard to find Christmas tree ornaments that aren’t made of plastic, geez! But Selfridges is now selling London-y ornaments made of plaster, which is slightly better for the environment as it doesn’t take thousands of years to degrade…
Big Ben Christmas Tree Decoration, see it on Selfriges.com
Telephone Box Christmas Tree Decoration, see it on Selfridges.com
Double Decker Bus Christmas Tree Decoration, see it on Selfridges.com
Black Taxi Christmas Tree Decorations, see it on Selfridges.com
Other London-y homewares that would make great gifts
Tower Bridge Bookends. It does annoy me that the seller wrongly calls it London Bridge but hey… it’s cute. See it on Etsy
London Tube Map Coasters. There are a lot of London-y coasters online and many are bleh. These are cool, and plastic-free.See them on Etsy
Books about London
Books are a lovely gift idea for London lovers. The links for the recommended books go to an Amazon alternative in the US and Bookshop.org in the UK, which is a new site that is supporting the UK’s small bookshops.
Coffee Table Books about London
People love those big beautiful coffee table books but we rarely buy them for ourselves, which is why they’re great to get as gifts. Give your London lover one of these London-y coffee table books…
Portraits of Britain (Vol 3) – Hoxton Mini Press and British Journal of Photography
The most recent volume of Portraits of Britain contains stunning imagery reflecting much of what Britain has dealt with in 2020. See Brits protesting in the streets for the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s murder, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.
All On The Board: Inspirational quotes from the TFL underground duo
All On The Board was started by two Transport for London employees who wanted to use the whiteboards in tube stations to do more than tell people to “stay to the right.” So they started writing inspirational quotes, jokes, statements and more on the boards, and started sharing them to an Instagram account called All On The Board. It’s turned into a beautiful movement that helps to add a little happiness into Londoners’ commutes, with thousands of people sharing photos of the boards they spot each day, during normal times.
Their book is brand new (launching 26th November 2020) so you can tell your giftee that they’re one of the first to have it!
Elle Croft has put together a great list of London-inspired coffee table books for us, so for more ideas, have a read of the list.
Cookbooks from London restaurants to give as gifts
Dishoom: The first ever cookbook from the much-loved Indian restaurant by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar, and Naved Nasir
Dishoom is one of the most popular restaurants in London, known for bringing affordable but absolutely delicious Bombay-inspired cuisine to the city. The Dishoom cookbook is a Sunday Times Best Seller, from which you will learn how to make some of their most popular Indian “comfort food”, including their famous black daal.
The National Trust Book of Scones: 50 delicious recipes and some curious crumbs of history by Sarah Merker
If your gift recipient loved going for afternoon tea while they were in London, they probably had the famously British scone. And well… I bet they loved it, especially right when it comes out nice and warm…. Mmmmm…. ok anyways, this book in collaboration with The National Trust is a collection of various scone recipes from around Britain, and stories to go along with them.
For more London-inspired cookbook ideas, read Ashley Chalmers’s list of top London restaurant cookbooks to get inspiration from.
Finally, if your giftee would appreciate some page turners stuffed into their stocking or wrapped up for Hanukkah, I’ve got a few to suggest…
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Even though it only came out about a year ago, Queenie has sweeped tons of awards and accolades, and was named one of The Times, Guardian, Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Evening Standard’s Best Books Of 2019.
Queenie is the main character, a 25-year-old Black woman living in London, straddling Jamaican and British culture. After a messy break up from her long-term boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places. The story is entertaining while also diving into subjects like racism, sexism, and mental illness.
The 392 by Ashley Hickson-Lovence
Taking place on the (fictional) 392 bus in a period of just thirty-six minutes, the cast of characters travelling from Hoxton to Highbury is as varied and diverse as you’d expect to find on any East London bus, and each is beautifully portrayed in their own words.
For more ideas, browse these two articles written by Elle Croft:
London Colouring Book
If your London lover likes a bit of mindless colouring to end the day, get them my London Colouring Book. It’s filled with London scenes ready to be printed or uploaded to their iPad and coloured in in a creative way. Our favourite local London illustrator Jen from Jen and Jennifer illustrated it! And at just £11, it makes for a great small gift that can be delivered by email instantly (or you can schedule the delivery date.)
London-inspired jewellery to gift a London lover
Still need more gift ideas for London lovers? Give them a little something to wear that will remind them of the city they love.
Sterling Silver London Skyline Disc Pendant Necklace. Comes with free engraving. Find it on Etsy
Statement Recycled Oval Stones Earrings. The colours are the same as the tube trains, and the speckled bottom shape looks so similar to the speckled floor in the carriages. Find it on Etsy
City of London Skyline Sterling Silver Ring. Find it on Etsy
One Pound Coin Pendant. Choose the year! Find it on Etsy.
Right so you’ve got quite a few gift ideas for London lovers now… I think you should be sorted. Happy gifting and let me know what your giftee’s reaction is to their London-y gifts.
- Gift Ideas For Anyone Visiting London In 2021 (Who Doesn’t Want To Be Basic)
- 9 London-Based Black-Owned Fashion Brands To Shop Now
- 10 Hidden Gems To See With Three Days In London
Pin this to your “gifts to buy” Pinterest board…
Every year, I’ve published a “What to get someone visiting London next year” gift guide, and looking back, I think it’s catered to the “basic” traveler a little too much.
What’s a “basic traveler”? Well… he or she is someone who wants to do the usual. The major sights, the classic attractions, the areas of London that locals actively avoid.
If that’s you, or the person you’re getting a gift for, don’t worry, that’s fine! No hate here. In fact you should check out last year’s gift guide because it should still be pretty helpful for that type of traveler. But over the last couple of years here at Love and London, we’ve shifted away from that. We want to help you see the other side of the city, the one with character, the one that Londoners rave about, the one that makes you say “I could totally see myself living here.”
So this year, because of that mission, and because we want to be supporting small businesses over the big guys as much as possible, this gift guide will be for the non-basics, and if you’re getting a gift for someone who fits this description, then you’ll absolutely grab some good ideas from this article.
Right… let’s talk gifts.
*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means if you purchase something after clicking it, I will earn a commission. This is at no extra cost to you and helps to support Love and London during a very difficult time.
Clothing to gift someone visiting London in 2021
There are two things that I think people would definitely appreciate being given as a gift in anticipation of their trip… a beautiful London-inspired jacket, and stylish-but-walking-friendly shoes.
For anyone visiting London in the spring or fall, a classic coat makes for a great gift, as receiving a nice new coat can feel quite luxurious, and of course, it helps keep your giftee warm, duh. If the visit is planned for summer, a light trench coat will work too, as evenings can still get quite cool.
This trench coat (shown above) from sustainable and ethical coat company Noize doubles as a vegan leather raincoat too.
For men in need of a coat that’s a bit warmer, the Everlane ReWool Overcoat has a very Londoner-approved shape and texture to it… quite sophisticated. In addition to looking great, this coat is made with recycled wool!
Walking shoes for London
I am always searching for shoes that are comfortable for traipsing around London but that still look good and don’t ruin the planet. So over the summer I picked up a pair of Allbirds’s new flats and well, they are SO comfortable…
On top of that, they are made more sustainably than most shoes. The Women’s Tree Breezers are made with renewable eucalyptus tree fibers and have a Brazilian sugarcane outsole, which is made with the world’s first carbon negative green EVA.
For men, I’d recommend the Men’s Tree Loungers, a slip-on made with similar materials and again they are machine washable, so when they start to get smelly or dirty, just chuck ‘em in the wash.
Allbirds makes quite a few different types of comfy and sustainably-made shoes that are great for travel, so check out the Allbirds site for some more gift ideas. They also have a really great return policy in case your giftee isn’t a fan.
Want more London-friendly clothing and shoe suggestions? Check out the London Packing Guide, which also makes for a great, affordable gift.
Make their flight or hotel stay more special
A little bit of luxury is SUCH a treat for someone with a big trip planned, so it would be such a lovely surprise to be gifted a flight upgrade or a more luxurious hotel stay than was originally expected.
If the giftee hasn’t booked their flight or hotel yet, this is your chance! Just make sure they don’t book anything before you actually get to give your gift.
If they HAVE booked it already, a flight upgrade might be a bit tricky if you aren’t on the booking yourself, but give the airline a call to see if there’s anything they can do to help you pay the difference for an upgrade from say, economy to premium economy.
The hotel is a bit easier, as you can likely call them directly, ask for the upgrade, and pay the difference via a payment form sent to your email.
Do something fun to “gift” this to your giftee… like print out a picture of the view from their upgraded room and put it in the card you give them on exchanging day.
If you want to book the hotel for them, I have some resources to help you find a great one.
This article gives suggestions for less touristy areas to stay in, and great hotels in those areas at different price points. Or find out which London hotels have their very own rooftop bars.
I have a whole video series sharing my stays at four different hotels in London, from budget up through to one of the most luxurious suites in London. Watch the whole series here on Youtube, and see one of the videos below.
Finally, if you happen to have the 3-Day London Itinerary, there are tons of great hotel recommendations in the London Hotel guide, which you will have gotten if you opted for the bonus package.
Give them a unique London experience
Of course, one of the BEST things you can get someone traveling to London is an experience they can do while actually here. People ALWAYS get more out of experiences than actual physical items when it comes to receiving gifts.
There are two ways you can give an experience to someone… book it for them, or give them a gift voucher for it.
Book it for them
This option is best if you are traveling with the person you’re getting this gift for, as it requires no effort on their part and because well, you probably know their itinerary pretty well if you’re traveling with them.
Because of COVID times, it might not be possible to book some tours out very far, but it’s worth a look, especially if you’re reading this well into 2021.
Tours and activities
Book a tour or activity for you to do together, and then pop the confirmation page into a card and BOOM, you’ve got yourself an amazing gift.
Now, because your gift recipient isn’t into those boring ole generic London walking tours, let me help you out with some unique tours and experiences you could book that will impress them with your knowledge of off-the-beaten-path London.
Black History Walks
A ton of Britain’s history is completely whitewashed, and therefore, most tours don’t cover the actual reality of what happened. Enter Black History Walks, which does walking tours around the city that will open your eyes to various parts of Black Britain.
I once did a walking tour of Notting Hill, which was truly eye opening. I thought I knew Notting Hill inside and out but I learned SO much about the impacts that the Black community have had on the area.
Women of London tours
Women of London tours takes guests around different areas of London and introduces them to the smaller and often missed tributes to the women who shaped London. They currently have two tours to choose from, one that covers women’s history around Westminster, and one about working women’s impact on East End history.
Uncomfortable Art Tours
Due to the UK’s (frankly horrifying) colonial history, a huge portion of the artifacts displayed around London’s major museums were actually stolen by the Brits from various countries around the world. But… well you rarely read about that when you stroll around the British Museum reading their plaques…
So get clued up on the true history of the pieces with an Uncomfortable Art tour. They currently run at six sites: the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the Queen’s House (National Maritime Museum). You can even buy a “Display it Like You Stole It” badge on the tour, which is a call for museums to start being more honest about how their pieces were acquired.
London Photo Session
It’s so hard to get decent photos of the whole travel group when you’re dealing with cloudy skies, a stranger holding your (very expensive) camera, and people bobbing in and out of your shots.
If you want to have some professional-grade photos from your trip that you can frame and admire for years to come, gift your recipient a professional photo shoot. A photographer meets you and takes incredible photos of you with the London sights, without you having to worry about anything. Good photogs can even make rainy days look beautiful!
We work with a wonderful photographer named Ewa, and if you go through this page, you’ll find out how you can get extra photos by mentioning that we referred you.
There are of course a ton of other experiences and tours you can book as a gift for a London visitor, here are two articles that will give you more options:
Gift vouchers for London experiences
Ok so if you can’t book the tour or experience directly for them, that’s totally fine. Many indie tour operators and vendors sell vouchers, so you can pay for the experience for them but they can pick when they do it, or if they offer a few different tours, they can choose which tour they want to do.
My favourite food tour operator in London is Devour Tours, I rate them a bit better than the second one on this list because they incorporate a non-for-profit stop into their tours. Their first London tour takes guests around London Bridge to find out about the history behind many spots in the area and the food that is special to London in various ways.
Devour also does tours all over Spain and in Italy, plus they’re doing a ton of virtual experiences right now, so their gift voucher could be used in a ton of different ways.
Eating Europe Food Tours
Eating Europe also does great food tours, they started in Italy and now have tours all over Europe and they now have multiple tours in London, including a cocktail tour around Soho and a food and street art tour around East London.
You can buy a gift voucher, called a “Flexi Pass” from Eating Europe, which has no expiration date and can be used all over Europe, not just London.
Other tours and experiences
With so many small businesses in London struggling this year, so many will be offering gift vouchers for future spending, including restaurants, shops, tour companies, experienced-based companies and more. So if your gift recipient has a few “must do’s” on their itinerary, check all of their websites to see if they’re offering gift vouchers, and I think you’ll be in luck.
Some other small vendors in London giving gift vouchers:
- Women of London tours
- Carousel – a venue with constantly rotating chefs from around the world putting on supper clubs. Great for discerning food lovers.
- Hayman’s Distillery – head to London’s Balham to see how Hayman’s gin is made with a distillery tour.
Many of the experiences in this list of unique experiences to take in London link to a Virgin Experience Days page where you can buy vouchers for the experience suggested, so I recommend having a browse of that for more voucher ideas.
Gifts to Get Them Excited About Their Trip
Here are some things you can make or get your future London visitor to help build the anticipation for their trip.
No, not just any old guidebook for London… a beautiful coffee table book filled with both beautiful images and London info will help build the excitement for what they will see when here. It can then sit on their coffee or bedside table ready for them to browse as they wait for their trip to happen.
We’ve got a great list of the best London-related coffee table books, have a read and you’ll find at least a couple of lovely options for your giftee.
Or if you think they’d prefer something with less pictures and more words, there are tons of fiction and non-fiction books that are based in London and the UK that would be great to gift a bookworm. Give them a goal to finish them all before they head to the airport… book nerds love that kinda stuff.
We have two lists to help you with this:
- 13 Fascinating Books About London’s History To Read Now
- 11 Books Based In London And The UK To Read During Lockdown
3-Day London Itinerary
Your giftee would probably LOVE for a Londoner to sit down with them and give them a walkthrough of all of the best things to do in the city. You can give them the next best thing with the 3-Day London Itinerary, a digital itinerary made by a London expert (me) with a flexible plan for three days in the capital. It’s not completely linear, it has tons of options that will suit various different travel styles, tastes and budgets, so it’ll feel like your giftee has their very own custom itinerary.
The 3-Day London Itinerary will relaunch with the 2021 version in February, but from mid-November you can gift someone the itinerary, and it will land in their inbox on launch day. If you’re reading this after February, you can still give the itinerary to someone as a gift, just select the “gift” option at check out.
London Packing Guide or London Colouring Book
Need a little extra something to give? The London Packing Guide helps take the guesswork out of packing for such a big trip. It comes with a London weather guide, clothing and shoe suggestions (with links!), printable packing lists for each season, and more. Grab the London Packing Guide for just £9.99, and you can opt to give it as a gift at checkout.
There’s also the London Colouring Book, which has a bunch of London-themed colouring pages which can be coloured in by printing them out or by uploading them to your iPad to colour digitally. The colouring book was illustrated by Jen and Jennifer, a local illustrator who’s also a friend of mine. Check out the London Colouring Book.
Make a London-inspired food hamper
Hampers, or you might know them as gift baskets, are very popular to give as gifts in the UK, and you can pick up some very swanky ones depending on where you order from. I recommend making or buying one for your recipient, and filling it with English treats that they can enjoy before they’re able to make it over to London. Hopefully you’ll also get in on some of that snack action…
If you want to make a hamper yourself, find yourself a beautiful basket and load it up with English treats.
I’d recommend (with some links to where to order from if you’re in the US):
- English cheeses like Cheddar, Wensleydale with Cranberries, Red Leicester and Stilton (all links bring you to where you can buy them on iGourmet)
- Cheese crackers, like these ones
- Chutney. You put the cheese and chutney together on the crackers. YUM.
There are of course many other fun things you could add, like Christmas Pudding, English Sparkling Wine, English Cidre, and more.
If you’re like ermmmmm I don’t want to DIY a gift, iGourmet makes a “A Little Bit of Britain Gift Box” that does it all for you for $99. They have a couple of other British-themed options as well.
Or if you want to go PROPER London and super fancy, you can order a hamper from Fortnum & Mason in London. They are world-famous for their incredible hampers, with ones that go upwards of £1000. Their F&M hampers, the baskets themselves, are also collectors items.
Two Fortnum & Mason hampers that ship worldwide (not the only ones!):
Gifts to help preserve the London memories
How about a couple of cute things to help preserve the memories your recipient will make on their London trip?
I love this cute travel journal made by an independent craftsperson on Etsy. It’s made with recycled paper and the cover is made from textile industry waste, so it’s incredibly eco-friendly. They can use the journal to record their experiences and thoughts after each day of their trip, so they can always remember the small details of it.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with all of the ticket stubs, flyers, and small items you accumulate on a trip that you can’t seem to toss in the trash as they’re associated with your amazing time away. Gift a lovely little box for them to keep those bits and bobs in for the next few years, and to help them remember all of the fun they had.
Ok… I’ve given you a pretty good list. If you can’t find something for your London-loving giftee well then I might not be able to help you 😉 But again these gifts are great if you’re buying for someone that wants to avoid the overhyped and overdone, and who like GIFTS that are out of the ordinary too.
If you’re after something for someone who wants the touristy London, check out last year’s gift guide.
Happy gifting and let me know how it goes!
Pin this to your “Gifts to Get” Pinterest board…
Fashion, but make it BLACK-OWNED.
Let’s make supporting the Black community part of our every day and “normal” agenda. Showing your support and allyship takes more than just posting a black square or sharing something we’ve seen on our stories. The more we work to become intentional and less performative, the sooner we will see change.
Within the fashion industry, there has been a disproportion of representation of Black people in comparison to our white counterparts. Not only with models and industry management but with brands you find showcased and promoted on certain platforms. Social media has allowed brands that would otherwise not be seen in mainstream media to have a voice and reach the masses in a less traditional way.
It’s time to shift the focus to where we are spending our money and who we are supporting. By buying Black, you are contributing to the growth of the Black economy as well as encouraging and motivating Black business owners. Every brand has a story and when you learn of the story or faces behind some of these fashion brands, you’ll feel a connection.
If you are looking for Black-owned businesses to support within the fashion industry, I have collated a list of 10 Black-owned and designed fashion brands that are based in London.
Image courtesy of Velviere
Velviere is a brightly coloured luxury fashion brand for men and women. Initially starting as a men’s clothing line, they have since ventured into womenswear. The classic and vibrant brand currently stocks a number of jacket styles that have different versions to complement both male and female body types – like “his and hers”.
This brand is more than just a clothing brand, but a lifestyle one too. Velviere strays away from the traditional navy and grey and uses bold blues and bright oranges which differentiates them from other luxury fashion brands.
My favourite piece is the ‘Soho Orange’ jacket. I usually go for a simple black or navy jacket, but I love how bright the orange is and who doesn’t want to stand out in the crowd?
Image courtesy of TTYA London
Founded by London-based fashion stylist Irene Agbontaen, TTYA London is a fashion brand that caters to women who are 5’9” or taller. TTYA London gives women of a taller stature timeless and classic pieces that last beyond a season or trend.
For mainstream brands, despite their catwalk models being tall, the items that actually hit the store shelves are not always complimentary for those with longer limbs. Even with basic t-shirts or jeans, you may find that the arms are short or the trousers showcase some unwanted ankle. That is where TTYA London comes along. As well as their statement pieces, they also have a range of basic t-shirts and jeans to bridge the gap of items on offer for taller women.
TTYA London as a brand is more than just a fashion label. An online and offline community has been created to inspire and empower women to stand tall in themselves and their journey through life.
Trapstar was founded by three young Black men, friends who started off making t-shirts and selling them at Portobello Market. Since then, they have gained notoriety globally and have a store in Notting Hill.
Trapstar is among the fashion brands that are loved and praised by the UK urban music scene. The clothing brand can be found being worn by many of the UK’s rappers, which has contributed to its growth online and internationally. Since having US rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z invest, you can even find Rihanna and Rita Ora sporting the apparel.
Their products range from t-shirts to tracksuits, socks to facial masks, catering to both men and women. For me personally, it’s the rags to riches story that makes me buy into the brand. I love that the founders are just your average guys that had a dream and built an empire.
Notting Hill | Trapstar London website
Image courtesy of Fi Dem & Co
Fi Dem & Co
Fi Dem & Co is a Black clothing brand that is all about culture. Their creative and quirky products showcase different elements of African and Caribbean culture. They hope to inspire people to grab one of their statement t-shirts and represent with confidence.
Fi Dem & Co specialise in graphic t-shirts with African and Caribbean sayings, my favourite being the t-shirt with the list of Nigerian foods.
Their recent styles use the typography of well-known and popular t-shirts, but then add an African spin to them. An example would be their ‘Chale’ t-shirt on which they’ve used the typography from the TV programme Friends.
It’s a fun and quirky brand and personally, I can’t wait to see what else they come out with.
Image courtesy of Sincerely Nude
Sincerely Nude is a women’s nude clothing brand that caters to a wide range of body shapes and sizes. It was started to celebrate women of all shades and to offer clothing that was nude for those of different skin tones.
As well as being inclusive of skin tones, they’re also inclusive of size, with their clothing ranging from extra small to double extra large.
Sincerely Nude is based in London but offers worldwide shipping of their diverse range of products. From two pieces to bodysuits to boob tape, you’re a click away from styling your Sincerely Nude.
In addition to being a nude womenswear brand, they spread messages of positivity and self-love. They highlight the importance of loving yourself, internal beauty and empowering others. A brand that celebrates all skin tones, offers a range of products and sizes and spreads self-love, what more could you ask for?
Founded by Cameroonian twin sisters, they wanted to combine the two worlds they live in through clothing. Grass-fields produce beautiful African print pieces with bold colour.
Offering clothing from UK size 6 to 20, Grass-fields’s pieces are versatile in style, bold and bright in design. You can take one of their pieces and either style it for a casual brunch or dress it up for a day at the racecourse.
What I love the most about Grass-fields is their ‘Mummy and Me’ collection. My daughter is still a baby, but I can’t wait for her to be able to wear cute matching outfits with me. If you’re a lover of African print and statement pieces, shop Grass-fields.
Image courtesy of Dao London
Dao London is a modern African inspired fashion brand that uses African Kente material to create unconventional stylish pieces. Dao London is for the woman who wants to be bold and radiates confidence.
The Kente Bustier is a versatile statement piece and by far one my favourite current items. It can be both casual and classy; on their Instagram they have it over a black shirt-dress giving simple and sultry vibes.
They have strayed away from the usual traditional way of styling African print and are keeping it up to date with the latest fashion trends.
Image courtesy of God’s Gift London
God’s Gift London
This next Black-owned fashion brand is God’s Gift London, who specialise in accessories for all occasions. How you accessorise an outfit makes a difference and God’s Gift London aims to give your outfit that little bit extra and boost your confidence.
In addition to accessories, they also have a variety of jackets and bags available for purchase. They have a woven style handbag which I am fond of, it’s different to what I would usually purchase, but that’s the point.
God’s Gift London promotes confidence, individuality and authenticity, all at affordable prices.
Image courtesy of My Buba Prints
My Buba Prints
My Buba Prints is an African inspired accessory brand born-and-bred in London. Their handmade products are bright and bold, embodying African culture.
Currently, their line consists of print scrunchies and headbands, which are easy to style and perfect for both adults and children.
Each sale made by My Buba Prints goes to supporting children in West Africa. They are currently working with the charity, Change for Ghana, and donate £1 from every order.
When I was 16/17 years old I literally lived in headbands, I would have loved a brand like My Buba Prints to have been around back then. Personally, I love a bold accessory. My current wardrobe is full of black clothing, so adding bright accessories levels up the outfit.
Support Black-owned fashion businesses and if you can’t now, bookmark this page for later and share it with your friends and family. With fashion moving online and brands mentioned in this article being online-based businesses, subscribe to their newsletters so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to visit London during one of their pop-ups or grab something from their website.
London Fashion Week takes place in September, which would be a great time to head to London. It’ll give you the chance to catch some of these Black-owned fashion brands and more on the runway and having pop-up stores.
London may not be the fashion capital of the world, but it definitely is a contender.
- 10 Amazing African Restaurants In London You Need To Try
- Important Things To Know As A Black Person Travelling To London
- 10 Hidden Gems To See With Three Days In London
Whether you know the history of London or not, I think we can all agree that it’s an incredible city… right? I mean, even if you have no idea what happened in a particular building or why a specific monument was created, you can still appreciate its age and beauty.
But understanding the fascinating, troubling, strange and diverse history of London only makes a visit to the English capital so much richer. When you walk the streets of London, knowing the multitudes of stories each one has borne witness to over the centuries, the city takes on new layers of wonder.
And luckily for us, there are plenty of books about London’s history that can teach us about the city throughout the ages. So whether you’re hoping to learn about London’s bygone days in more general terms, or you’re curious about a specific slice of history – an era, or a topic – these books about London’s history are the perfect addition to your bookshelves!
Non-fiction books about London’s history
London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
If you’re not just looking for a book about London, but the book about London, this hefty classic (it’s over 900 pages, but don’t let that put you off) is the ultimate guide to London’s history, spanning from the age from the Druids all the way to the present (or, at least, till it was published some twenty years ago).
Peter Ackroyd has created a history (he calls it a biography, which makes me love it all the more) not only of the city as a whole, but of specific aspects of its history: gin, childhood, sex and even sewage are delved into, offering readers a broad and deep understanding of all that London has witnessed in its immense lifetime.
Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the Twentieth Century by Marc Matera
It’s impossible to look at London’s history without acknowledging the widespread and important contributions that Black people and communities have contributed to the city we know and love.
Part social history, part biography, Black London shares the stories of Black Londoners who were remarkable in their own unique spheres – from political activism to newspaper editing, from jazz performance to sexuality – exploring what it meant to be Black in London in the twentieth century.
In Search of London by HV Morton
A slice of history in itself, as well as a tale of London throughout the ages, In Search of London was written in the 1950s by travel journalist HV Morton. Morton, while walking the streets of his city, recounts the history of his favourite places, many of which are still firm favourites for visitors today. His familiar style of writing feels like you’re being taken on a tour by a friend, and as the blurb states:
“Morton’s quest for the city’s heart reveals how London’s daily life is rooted in a past that is closer and more familiar than we might think.”
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
Sure, Jack the Ripper might be one of London’s most notorious (and nefarious) inhabitants, and the mystery of his identity has undoubtedly endured… but how much do we know about his victims? Jack the Ripper history tends to focus on the perpetrator and the grisly details of his horrific crimes, while the women he killed are relegated to side notes, labelled as prostitutes, and nothing more.
In The Five, Hallie Rubenhold aims to bring these women into the light, sharing their histories, and the society and culture they lived in. The lives of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly are built from the small scraps of history that mention them, and the result is an insightful – and often surprising (for instance, there’s no evidence that some of these women were ever prostitutes at all) – account of five humans who deserve the dignity of being properly remembered.
If you have any interest in the Jack the Ripper case, skip the cheesy tours and read this brilliant book instead.
Do Not Pass Go: From the Old Kent Road to Mayfair by Tim Moore
Years ago – well before I lived here – I visited London with a friend, and we spent a full day attempting to stop at every single street or station on the Monopoly board. I can’t remember if we made it to all of them, but I do remember it was a gruelling day of traipsing from one end of the city to the other!
I could have saved myself a whole lot of effort by reading Do Not Pass Go: From the Old Kent Road to Mayfair, which takes readers on a tour of the Monopoly board, telling the histories and tales of each of the tiles on the board. Tim Moore spent a little more time than I did on his tour, staying at a fancy hotel in Mayfair, visiting an inmate at Pentonville prison, and discovering the quirks and mysteries of the destinations that ended up making the Monopoly we know today.
Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital by Lloyd Bradley
Written by Lloyd Bradley, a music journalist and author, Sounds Like London is an exploration of Black music since World War I, when the Southern Syncopated Orchestra brought jazz to the city.
From the jazz clubs of Soho to the streets of Notting Hill, and plenty in between, Sounds Like London includes contributions from huge musical names such as Eddy Grant, Osibisa, Russell Henderson, Dizzee Rascal and Trevor Nelson, with an introduction by Soul2Soul’s Jazzie B.
London: A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr Matthew Green
Historian and broadcaster Dr Matthew Green, who also has a PhD in the history of London (from Oxford, no less), brings the past to life by focusing on six very specific periods in time: Shakespeare’s heydey, Medieval London, the plague, the era of coffee houses, the reign of Queen Victoria, and the Blitz.
It’s told as a guide book of sorts; a time-travel tour, whereby the reader is led to a particular location in modern London, and then, by the flick of a ‘switch’, lands in that same spot in whichever era Dr Green is describing. This book engages all of your senses as London’s sounds, sights, and even smells, are described in great detail.
It might sound silly, but it’s a clever and fun way of learning about different periods in time as though you are a tourist within history itself.
The Diaries of Samuel Pepys
Can you imagine your diary one day being published, and referred to as a guide to history? I somehow can’t picture my teenage crushes and catfights ever making it into print (at least, I hope with all my heart they never are) but Samuel Pepys’ diary entries have become an important insight into Reformation England, giving us a snapshot of his daily life from 1660 – 1669.
Pepys – who was an MP as well as an administrator of the English navy – recorded the intricate details of his life: what time he woke up, his finances, the weather, and what he ate. But he also recorded his thoughts and perspectives on some of the key events that took place in that era (the coronation of King Charles II, the plague, and even the Great Fire of London).
Probably the most unselfconsciously honest insight into a specific period in London’s history, Pepys’ diary is just a straight-up fascinating read.
Shakespeare’s London on 5 Groats a Day by Richard Tames
“I know you’re a fan of Shakespeare.”
“More than a fan. We’re involved.”
If you can relate to this quote from 10 Things I Hate About You, then you need to read Shakespeare’s London on 5 Groats a Day. It’s a quirky, charming travel guide that shows what it would have been like for a budget traveller in Shakespeare’s day.
From things to see and do, to where to shop and stay, and even where to go for the best celeb spotting, this is basically Love and London, but for Elizabethan times.
Beastly London: A History of Animals in London by Hannah Velten
London was once filled with animals, from pigs to horses and even bears and elephants. These days, unless you visit the zoo, the creatures you’re most likely to see are squirrels (cute), urban pigeons (guaranteed to fly at your face at least once per trip) and the occasional rat (ew).
In her history of London’s animals, Hannah Velten shares the relationship between Londoners throughout history and the animals that kept them company. Beastly London offers a glimpse into a side of the city’s past that’s not often inspected, while exploring the ethics of the way many of the animals were treated over the years.
Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem
I’d never heard of mudlarking before I moved to London, but it’s a fascinating pastime, which involves scavenging for items of value on the banks of the River Thames. When the practice began in the 18th century, it was so much more than a hobby – people made their living by selling whatever trinkets they’d pulled from the muddy banks.
These days, metal detectors are used to find treasures (and whatever else lies under the surface!), some of which tell fascinating stories that offer glimpses of the history of London. From brooches to buckles, clay pipes to combs, Lara Maiklem shares some of the pieces she’s found during her 15 years of mudlarking, and the history of the river that washed them up.
Fictional books about London’s history
If you’d prefer to learn your history through fiction rather than pure fact, I’ve included a couple of titles that give readers a taste of London’s history via stories. They’re just as educational as they are entertaining.
London: The Novel by Edward Rutherford
In a story that spans an incredible sixteen centuries, Edward Rutherford brings the lives of Londoners throughout history to life in this epic tale. Based on real events, the story weaves together some of London’s key moments, people and places, in a page-turning book of over 800 pages.
As well as bringing you on an incredible journey, London: The Novel will teach you things you never knew about this city… including how Soho got its name, and the origin of wedding cakes.
Get London: The Novel by Edward Rutherford at Books a Million
The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor
If you love crime novels, and you love learning about London’s history, this is the book for you. Set during the time of the Great Fire of London, The Ashes of London is a fast-paced spy thriller that follows the hunt for a killer through the charred streets of the city.
This fascinating period of London’s history – the Great Fire, the abolition of the monarchy, the execution of Charles I – is brought to life in this pacy, history-fuelled thriller.
So whether you’re after a sweeping overview of the English capital, or you’re more curious about a specific time period, or topic, these fascinating books about London’s history all promise one thing: by the time you turn the final page, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for London than ever before!
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The traditional ways of searching for “things to do in…” have changed and many of us are now looking to social media to give us inspiration for our trips.
As much as I love a Lonely Planet guide, I use Instagram and blogs as one of my main tools for inspiration and information for my trips. I turn to both the geotags and hashtags to find places to see and people to follow.
Here’s a list of 10 Black London-based influencers for you to follow for all your London inspo needs. Whether you are a fashionista and want to prepare your suitcase to be London fashion-friendly or if you’re looking for cute coffee shops and restaurants, you’ll find someone on this list for you.
Insider tip, always check out the highlights – they usually have a whole host of gems for you to discover. If you see anything on someone’s Instagram grid that you like, you can always “save” it for later and create a “London folder”.
I thought it was only right that I start with myself, Ashlee Moyo, a travel content creator based in London.
When I’m not in the skies, I love exploring my back garden. In 2018, I made it my mission to discover what London has to offer and to take my online community with me. Since then, I’ve brunched in London’s most Instagrammable cafes, dined in family-run restaurants and uncovered a host of different things to do during different seasons around the city.
Being a first-time Mum, I also share content on “baby-friendly” London, from baby-friendly restaurants to stations that are accessible with a buggy. Travelling to a new city can be a challenge, especially with children, so I love sharing tips to make it that bit easier.
Join me as I venture into all the corners of London and the world.
Zeena is a fashion, lifestyle and travel blogger, bouncing between London and Marrakech. If you’re looking for cute Instagrammable and luxury places to visit in London, Zeena is your girl.
There is more to Zeena then fashion and travel though. She has her own accessories line called ‘By Zeena’, offering affordable and dainty pieces of jewellery as well as statement sunglasses.
I’d keep an eye out on Zeena’s stories, they’re a great way to get to know her personality beyond the perfect poses on her Instagram feed.
Tia on Tour
Tia is an absolute travel queen and her brightly coloured feed is the perfect inspo for places to see around the world.
She took the travel restrictions and used them as an opportunity to discover London. Both her stories and Instagram grid share some of London’s hidden gems as well as places you can take day trips to from London.
When I am looking for London inspo, I have a snoop through her “Home” highlight. She recently took a trip to Peckham Rye Park, and from the photos she shared, it looked like she was wandering through a tropical rainforest. That’s what makes Tia stand out from other London content creators.
Where to even start when it comes to Efe. He is a London-based content creator and photographer able to capture amazing photos of different London locations.
You’d be amazed to find out that a lot of Efe’s photographs are taken on his iPhone. He’s also joined the creators on Instagram that are using Reels to captivate their audience. On his Reels, you’ll find amazing time-lapses of London. My favourite of his was taken on the London Underground, called Tube Boredom.
If you fall in love with something on his page and would like a unique souvenir to take home with you, Efe also sells digital prints.
Laku Davies is a content creator and storyteller capturing many of London’s landmarks and more. You’ll thoroughly enjoy and be in awe of her photographic journey through London.
You won’t find faces on Laku’s page, as she only captures the architecture of London. Also found on Laku’s Instagram page are IGTV videos from around London, highlighting different things you can do such as a Thames River cruise.
Laku captures some of the well-known London’s landmarks from unique and distinct angles. They aren’t your typical tourist style photos and I would recommend using Laku’s page as a guide for scenic places to visit.
Starting her content-creating journey back in 2016, Illyana has grown from an Instagram page sharing her fashion to a blog and Instagram page with a greatly engaged and interactive online community.
Keeping up with all the latest fashion trends and also creating her own, her Instagram is a hub for fashion, beauty, and London locations.
Aside from sharing her fashion and products, she talks about her personal struggles, like having a speech impairment. Illyana has made it her mission to always be open and honest with her community whether it fits in with aesthetics or not.
Product recommendations, where to shop, new places to explore or where to dine… Illyana’s blog and Instagram are both catalogs of information and inspiration for you.
In My Sunday Best is brought to you by Sade, a Senior Architectural Director by day and London content creator by night (not literally – haha).
Sade uses her platform to showcase her daily life, her fashion and beauty, and to encourage and empower. If you’re a caption lover like myself, you’ll love Sade’s. They are like little diary entries and she really talks to you.
What I love the most about Sade’s content is that she’s just a regular woman like myself. She embodies what an “influencer/blogger” used to be. Someone whose life on social media appears genuine and real.
Formerly from Washington, D.C., Nicole is a fashion blogger with an empathise on inclusive fashion. Her blog was initially used as a personal outlet and has since blossomed into a platform for inclusivity, fashion, self-love, and self-care.
Nicole has been London based since 2010 and over the years she’s shared and styled all the latest fashion trends.
Having a Ghanaian and Filipino background, she also shares her experiences having two different cultures and being of mixed heritage.
She has a podcast called Mixed Up Podcast which shares the stories and experiences of those with mixed heritage growing up in the modern world.
Stephanie Yeboah is a self-love queen! She shouts from the rooftops about loving yourself and enjoying your body no matter the size or shape.
In addition to content creation, Stephanie is also an author. Her book ‘Fattily Ever After’ discusses navigating through society as a fat Black woman, the history of body positivity, dating, mental health, and more. Stephanie describes her books as a love letter to all the fat Black women out there and says she wants it to encourage and help larger women build self-esteem.
Her social media is a billboard for confidence, fashion, and positivity. She shares her daily adventures through life on her stories and her grid is full of fashion.
Eboni a sweet souled YouTuber, Blogger, Actor, and Singer. Yes, this woman is a woman of many talents.
Eboni shares affordable fashion tips, beauty bits, and local Londoner lifestyle. I’m also a huge fan of her Reels and Tik Toks, they’re all cute and fun. She currently has started a Reel series called Beautiful London, sharing some of London’s prettiest locations.
People will see Eboni’s fair skin and not realise that she is of both Jamaican and Dutch heritage. Have a look at her #BLM highlight, where in addition to great signposting and informative content, she also shares her journey of having fairer skin and being mixed race.
What I love about Eboni is that she is very open and allows herself to be vulnerable online. Her creativity is inspiring and I look to her when I need some content inspiration.
Following Black content creators is a great way to show allyship and support the Black community. Instagram pages such as @influencerpaygap and @theblacktravelalliance, highlight the differences in representation and opportunities for people of colour. They hold companies accountable for the lack of diversity and the obvious pay gap between creators based on their race.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been a stepping stone for change. As individuals, we need to be proactive in encouraging and championing diversity. It’s not enough just to share an infographic on our stories.
By following Black content creators, not only are you getting daily doses of great content, but it’s really encouraging and motivating. Whether it’s a follow, like, comment, or share, it goes a long way.
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I used to think that coffee tables were for, well, coffee. Maybe some snacks. A glass of wine at night. Remote controls.
That was before I became obsessed with interior design, and it was then that I discovered the world of coffee table books: gorgeous, hardcover publications jam-packed full of inspirational photos and snippets of information, perfect for flipping through – a few pages at a time – while sipping your afternoon cuppa.
The best thing about coffee table books is that there’s one for every niche out there. I have a whole book on Coca-Cola, and it never fails to keep me amused (plus it looks cute, which is, of course, extremely important). London isn’t exactly a niche, though, so the good news is that, when it comes to London themed coffee table books, you’re absolutely spoiled for choice.
So whether you’re looking for the perfect addition to your own coffee table, or you want to find a gift for the London lover in your life, these 11 London themed coffee table books have got you covered, offering escape, inspiration and a bit of interior flair to boot!
Cereal London City Guide by Rosa Park and Rich Stapleton
Part travel guide, part inspirational photo book, the Cereal London City Guide is an essential addition to any London lover’s coffee table. Created by Bristol-based minimalist travel and style magazine Cereal, this stunning book contains photo essays, interviews with local designers and architects, itinerary ideas, illustrated maps, and oodles of inspiration.
True to the much-loved Cereal style, you won’t see many of the main London tourist spots in here, but you might discover a hidden gem or two, and you’ll certainly see the city from a different (and very stylish) perspective.
Maps of London and Beyond by Adam Dant
If you’re the sort of person who gets to know a city through studying maps (I can’t be the only one, can I?) then this book will keep you captivated for hours at a time.
Created by cartographer and artist Adam Dant, Maps of London and Beyond is a visually stunning coffee table book packed with colourfully illustrated maps of London, showing various neighbourhoods of today, as well as days gone by. There are famous faces to be spotted, unusual visualisations of familiar maps (such as a spherical tube map, or a map of London in perfect squares) and countless tiny, clever details to look out for.
A Year In London by Amadeus Long
This is the Rolls Royce of London coffee table books, costing a whopping £150, but it’s an absolutely stunning depiction of the capital in every season.
In 2016, photographer Amadeus Long spent (almost) every single day traipsing around the 430 stations on the London Underground network to discover the city’s nooks and crannies. He captured the people, the places, and the character of London, which you can explore in the pages of this gorgeous book (I’m a big fan of the rainbow sprayed edges!).
And if you like his photos, you can purchase his stunning prints to hang on your walls, to bring a bit more of London into your home.
Get A Year in London from Amazon
Pretty City London by Siobhan Ferguson
Do you spend hours getting lost in the absolute rabbit-warren of London-themed hashtags on Instagram? Get offline, and get your nose in the Pretty City London coffee table book, which was created by the woman behind the popular and always inspiring @prettycitylondon Instagram account.
In the pages of Pretty City London, you’ll find gorgeous shop fronts, florists, coffee shops, vintage cars, and some of the most beautiful bookshops around London. There are also plenty of tips on how to get that perfect Insta-shot of your own, so if you’re planning to take envy-inducing photos of London next time you visit, this one’s for you!
Humans of London by Cathy Teesdale
You might have heard of Humans of New York, but London’s humans are just as fascinating, and worthy of their own inspiring book!
Described as ‘the perfect antidote to feeling lost in a big city’, Humans of London is the story of 250 Londoners, as captured by Cathy Teesdale and her team. From the heartwarming to the heartbreaking, each featured Londoner shares their own tale: their hopes and dreams, fears and failures, triumphs and tears.
It’s a celebration of diversity, and of the beauty of the city and its inhabitants, and it offers readers an intimate peek into the lives of the people who make this city what it is.
Startup London by Christina Hopkinson and Rick Pushinsky
Did you know that over 200,000 startups launch in London every single year?
This book shares the stories of 30 such startups, from a handmade denim brand to a fashion magazine, an app, a distillery, and even a plant nursery. The founders of each of these creative ventures shares their vision, their passion, and their pursuit of success in one of the world’s biggest cities.
The book comes with a separate booklet that includes tips for entrepreneurs, so you can be inspired and informed all at once!
Portrait of Britain Volume 3
The other two ‘Portrait of Britain’ volumes are fantastic, too, but if you have to choose just one, I recommend Volume 3, which captures the country (not just London) in 2020, including the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the important Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Portrait of Britain’ is an annual photography competition, and this book is a showcase of the best entries from 2020, with portraits of key workers, doctors and nurses on the front line, protesters, and people living their day-to-day lives. It’s a collection of hope, of unity, and of beauty, and it’s a breathtaking reflection of modern Britain.
Get the Portrait of Britain Volume 3 book at Waterstones
Launderama by Joshua Blackburn
Launderettes (or laundromats) aren’t your average coffee table book subject, but somehow, this gorgeous (and extremely niche) book on London’s launderettes is inspiring, compelling, and, quite frankly, just cool. Who even knew that the city had so many cute places to wash your clothes?
I, for one, did not, but author Joshua Blackburn visited all 462 of the city’s washing establishments, selecting his favourites to share in this brilliant little book (and it is little – it’s not your average, oversized coffee table book), and now I want to see them all!
Buildings that Made London by David Long and Josie Shenoy
London is home to plenty of iconic buildings, but I bet you’ve never seen them like this before! Using original architectural drawings found in The National Archives, artist Josie Shenoy brings some of London’s most recognisable structures to life in new and beautiful ways between the pages of this gorgeous London themed coffee table book.
Although technically a children’s book, this one is great for adults, too. With fascinating facts and snippets of history accompanying each detailed drawing, it’ll keep everyone entertained for hours, while they’re getting to know more about this wonderful city.
Little People in the City by Slinkachu
Street Artist Slinkachu presents London’s smallest corners in this quirky book, depicting the lives of the artist’s ‘little people’: tiny figurines of men, women, children, and even pets. And when I say tiny, I mean miniature! These mini characters live out mini scenes of normal, and not-so-normal life (e.g. a father defending his daughter from the vicious attack of a bumblebee!) in what might be the strangest of all the London themed coffee table books.
After photographing his creations, Slinkachu leaves them where they are, so when you’re walking around London, be sure to keep your eyes peeled (or maybe bring a magnifying glass) to see if you can spot a teeny tiny street art installation!
Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground by Chris Nix, Siddy Holloway and David Bownes with Sam Mullins
Just when you think you know everything about London’s iconic London Underground (a.k.a. The Tube), you discover that there’s still more to learn!
This hardcover book uncovers some of London’s hidden subterranean secrets: forgotten or repurposed stations, tunnels and shafts and bunkers below the hustle and bustle of the city. Photos, illustrations and architectural drawings are accompanied by a written history of London’s forgotten underground, making this a fascinating and hauntingly beautiful book.
So whether you’re looking for inspiration for an upcoming visit to London, a way to relive a trip you took to this incredible city, or just something beautiful to adorn your coffee table, these London themed coffee table books have got you (and your interior design) covered!
Which one do you most want to flip through?
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In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement that was triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the US, protests took place all over the UK demanding change in the way the UK system has treated Black people.
The Black community in the UK made it clear that the UK is no better than the US with regards to the unfair and biased treatment of Black people and in particular young Black men. Unfortunately this unfairness trickles into Black-owned businesses and they need our support more than ever.
With that, Black Pound Day was founded by Swiss (a former member of the So Solid Crew) in an effort to encourage people to invest and support the growth of the Black economy. On the day, you‘re encouraged to replace your usual purchases with purchases from a Black-owned business.
When is Black Pound Day?
The first Black Pound Day launched on Saturday, 27th June 2020. The response on social media was outstanding and it was great to see people coming together to support Black businesses.
Due to the success of the first one, Black Pound Day takes place on the first Saturday of every month.
So… if you find yourself in London on the first weekend of the month, here’s a list of great places you can visit and support on Black Pound Day. Or actually… any day!
Black-Owned Food and Drink businesses
Located in North London is the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant, Chuku’s. Founded by a Nigerian brother and sister duo, Chuku’s restaurant has all the flavours of Nigeria with an interesting twist.
Chuku have created the ‘Chop, Chat, Chill’ culture at their restaurant. The phrase ‘chopping food’ is a term frequently used by Nigerians, which means eating and enjoying food. The ‘Chop’ represents you enjoying their variety of their dishes. The ‘Chat’, you having great company. Lastly, ‘The Chill’ is from the environment created in the restaurant allows you to chill out and relax after a greatly filling meal.
Home of the chop, chat and chill, it’s the ideal place to eat as their tapas-style dishes are created to encourage socialising and sharing. It’s great if you’re someone like me who likes to try several different things on the menu.
£ | Tottenham | Chuku’s Website
Uncle John’s Bakery
The UK’s first and favourite Ghanaian bakery shares the great bakes of Ghana with the local community and beyond. The family-owned bakery opened in Tottenham in 1995 by Uncle John himself along with his wife.
I’d recommend that you try the Sweet bread. It’s great for a savoury full English breakfast or a sweet French toast.
They also sell all your favourite African snacks from meat pies to Ghanaian doughnuts – also known as puff puff. The best part of Uncle John’s Bakery is that after all these years, it still has the family and community feel it started out with.
££ | Tottenham | Uncle John’s Bakery Website
Dark Sugars Chocolate Shop
Located on Brick Lane, Dark Sugars brings the tastes and stories of cocoa and chocolate from Ghana to London. Founded by a lady called Nyanga, Dark Sugars offers an array of luscious, melt-in-your-mouth truffles and chocolates.
In the summer you can enjoy a great range of ice cream flavours, and in the winter, Dark Sugars is home to a great range of hot chocolate flavours.
As their truffles and chocolates are available to enjoy all year round, stop by and make sure to try their cardamom and orange truffle. If you’re a little adventurous like me, the chilli truffle is definitely for you.
££ | Brick Lane | Dark Sugars Website
ISO Sushi Wok and Grill
Founded by internet and comedy sensation Stevo The Madman, ISO Sushi serves authentic Japanese cuisine.
I personally prefer vegetarian sushi if I’ll have sushi at all, but at ISO Sushi they have a range of different sushi on offer. They also have a great grilled and work menu for those looking for something more comforting to eat, like their King Prawn Yakisoba – a king prawn and noodle stir fry.
And for all those Ramen lovers, they’ve got a great selection to choose from.
£ | Isleworth | Chingford | ISO Sushi Website
Saint Aymes Cafe
As one of London’s most Instagrammable cafes and home to the unicorn latte, Saint Aymes is perfect for an Instagrammable Black Pound Day.
The pink paradise often sees your favourite London-based content creators visiting for afternoon tea, a slice of their rainbow cake and of course, to take photos with their floral walls.
I would recommend the Marie Antoniette milkshake, which is part of their enchanting menu that includes edible 24ct gold.
££ | St. George’s Fields | Saint Aymes Cafe Website
Duo is a stunning restaurant and nightclub in the heart of Camden.
One of my favourite events hosted at Duo on Saturdays is Pancakes and Prosecco. Unlimited pancakes, unlimited Prosecco, cheesy karaoke and … I’m not one to enjoy late nights, so I love that Duo have great events that take place during the day. They also do a Mean Girls themed afternoon tea, which I’d say is ‘so fetch!’. Lol…
Whether you are looking for Instagrammable food and drinks, a cute location for photos, a great day out or somewhere to party the night away, Duo is for you.
££ | Camden Town | Duo Website
Golden Touch Hair and Beauty
Golden Touch Hair and Beauty is a family-run business that specialises in providing hair and beauty products that cater to African and Caribbean hair. All your hair needs can be found here. Find all your favourite brands from Shea Moisture to Dark and Lovely filling the shelves.
I love shopping for hair products and I definitely plan my next stock up to be at Golden Touch Hair and Beauty.
£ | Forest Gate
Glam by Mimi
Self-care is so important and sometimes we just want to be pampered. Glam by Mimi offers a range of services that will have you feeling good on the inside and looking great on the outside.
Based in Rotherhithe, Glam by Mimi offers manicures, eyelash extensions, facials, waxes, wigs and weaves and much more.
£ | Rotherhithe | Glam by Mimi Website
Located on the well-known Portobello Road, Hair Lounge offers first-class service for Afro hair. Their hair treatments range, from a simple wash, cut and blow-dry to braids and bridal hairstyling.
Charlotte Mensah, the founder of Hair Lounge is an award-winning hairstylist who sells a wide range of haircare products for Afro, mixed and curly hair. She believes that Afro hair needs to be nurtured and cared for properly. This led her to create Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil, which can be purchased from Hair Lounge.
The founder of the salon also offers educational workshops in Ghana to enable young individuals to better themselves and their craft.
If you’re in need of a new weave, keratin treatment or you just want to have your hair nurtured and nourished, head to Hair Lounge and the team will ensure that you and your hair are well looked after.
£££ | Portobello | Hair Lounge Website
Round Table Books
Located in the heart of Brixton, Round Table Books, a bookstore that sells inclusive children’s books.
After learning that only one percent of children’s books have a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnicity, founders Aimee Felone and David Stevens found it necessary to create a space that offers representation for children.
Following the success of being a pop-up store in 2018, they have gone on to be a permanent fixture in Brixton. If you’re in the UK you can also order from them online.
Being a parent of a Black child myself, it’s great to see that she’ll have the opportunity to read books with characters that represent her, which I wasn’t able to do growing up.
£ | Brixton | Round Table Books Website
The Black economy thriving creates opportunity and inspiration for the Black community. Now is the time to support the growth of the Black economy and to make changes globally.
Black Pound Day is an opportunity for everyone to support Black businesses. Whether you’re taking a trip to London and are looking for somewhere to eat or you want to support the movement from abroad.
You can also support Black businesses by sharing their content with your friends and family, joining their mailing lists and engaging with them online.
Let’s make ‘spending Black’ part of our normal and not just for one special Saturday of the month. Find out more about Black Pound Day around the UK.
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