May 24, 2022
4 min read

A Journalist's Guide to London

Trying to boil down London to just one city guide isn’t possible. There is way too much going on in the UK capital to choose just a few restaurants, shops, or hotels. In fact, we’d argue that London makes even NYC seem tiny in terms of potential travel time between areas and highlights along the way. So, instead of giving you one top list, we’ve decided to show you a variety of perspectives from one of Safara’s bases. 
First up is 
Annabel Herrick’s
guide to London – with a focus on the North East, including Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Islington, and the surrounding areas. As a freelance journalist, Annabel has written for CN Traveler, Vice, and Stylist, and is the person we call for tips on the best coffee shop to work from, the new spot for a 6 pm cocktail, and where to escape from the city noise. Whether you’re looking to work out or shop, her London selections are second to none. 

Favorite places to eat in London? 

I loved the 
Friday food market
 on Southbank when I worked in Covent Garden. There are various 
Natural Kitchens
 all over London and they do great salads; good for meetings, too. I just discovered a lovely organic market at the end of my road, Manse Road, in Stoke Newington that’s on every Saturday morning. They have whatever the farmers have grown that week, as well as honey, homemade bread, cheeses, milk, etc.

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? 

 is such a special place. Under the arches by Farringdon station, it feels like it’s been here forever – although it only opened in 2021. Think old Italian trattoria: low-lit, beautiful service, and even better negronis. My two tips are to be quick, tables are made available 14 days in advance; and, order the vodka pasta. 
Natural Kitchen
Brutto // Natural Kitchen

What are your go-to bars around town?

I’m more about pubs than bars. A few that come to mind: 
Faltering Fullback
 in Finsbury Park; 
The Water Poet
 near Moorgate; and the 
Southampton Arms
 in Gospel Oak, which has a wonderful live jazz duo, only takes cash and is a very old-fashioned, proper ‘old man pub’ with great local ales.

Best place for coffee in London? 

London Grind
 (various around the city) is an easy choice and always good (short and strong with oat milk, please). Any 
Hoxton Hotel
 is also reliable for a quiet spot for a morning coffee meeting.
Faltering Fullback
Grind // Faltering Fullback

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to shop, where should we go?

Has to be 
Rivington Street
 in Shoreditch for mid-to-high-end brands, like Acne, or 
Church Street
 in Stoke Newington, where you’ll find lots of lovely interiors boutiques and antique shops.

We’ve lost our luggage, where should we get a new wardrobe?

In and around Shoreditch, you’ve got 
Brick Lane
 for vintage, 
 for local designers, and 
 for bigger brands.
BoxPark // Spitalfields

Where can we get our hit of culture, while avoiding crowds of tourists?

Clissold Park
 in Stoke Newington for a stroll (and the goats), or smaller Shoreditch galleries like 
. Now I’m freelance, I tend to go to galleries midweek (a luxury, I know) as I can’t handle weekend crowds.

We’re looking to party, like a local. What’s your spot?

Rowans Tenpin Bowl
 in Finsbury Park. It’s very weird but very fun. The 
Old Queen’s Head
 in Angel, or 
 in London Fields for a crowd-pleasing summer rooftop bar, plus a year-round sauna. 

We’d love to see some live music in London. Where to?

Union Chapel
 in Angel is a beautiful venue.
Union Chapel
The Old Queen’s Head
Union Chapel // The Old Queen’s Head 

A favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The northern edge of 
Hampstead Heath
 is away from the crowds. Ideally not on a weekend, but super early, when it’s misty if you can handle it.

The best date spot that will actually have a table?

You have to book in advance wherever you go really. I’m so not the right person to ask for this – I just like a big beer garden, with good ales (easily pleased). So, maybe further out in North London, like 
The Spaniards Inn
 in Hampstead, which is lovely.

Where should we go for a walk in nature (if not a full-on hike)?

Hampstead, Clissold Park, or Lea Valley
 – there’s also an old railway line above Archway that not many people know about. Download 
Go Jauntly
 for more ideas, they have loads. 

Tips and tricks for getting around town?

Cycle – that’s my number one tip if you’re brave enough. It’s really not as scary as it looks.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

The best galleries, but midweek if possible: 

You need to work, but the wifi is down. Where do you go?

One of the many beautiful Stoke Newington cafes. 

Where’s the coolest place for a workout? 

I love spinning at 
 (they do hip-hop-themed classes). There’s a tiny, community-focused yoga studio called 
 near me that’s a registered charity, their classes are amazing considering their low prices. Other amazing studios with a cult following (more expensive) include 
 (Marylebone) or 
 (Camden, Shoreditch, Soho).
YogaHome // Indaba

Where should a jet-lagged traveler go for a restorative spa or massage?

I’ve heard treatments at 
 are amazing.

Any other must-sees or dos?

Columbia Road Flower Market
 on a Sunday. Get there early.

And, for a trip outside London, where would you go? 

42 Acres retreat
 in Somerset, or the 
Pembrokeshire Coast
 – it’s so wild there.
Pembrokeshire Coast
Columbia Road Flower Market
Pembrokeshire Coast // Columbia Road Flower Market
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