On my recent trip to the UK, my boyfriend Tom and I spent a long weekend with our friends Adam and Lena in London. As one of my all time favourite cities, I was super excited to explore areas I hadn’t seen before and to revisit old favourites, but I also wanted to see a side of London that the locals see.
We wanted to stay in the thick of it all so we chose the Landmark Apartments in Shoreditch which was not only very affordable but it was modern, clean, comfortable and most importantly located on Rivington St – in the heart of Shoreditch. This put us within walking distance to a huge number of pubs, bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants and shops – the perfect location for us to get our hipster on.
So what did we do all weekend?
Well, after arriving on Friday night and meeting Adam and Lena at our apartment we went for a boozy dinner at one of the many great vietnamese restaurants nearby and headed to a couple of the clubs and bars nearby. Unfortunately, the amount of wine consumed at dinner and the subsequent consumption of whiskey sours in dark corner bars means I can not for the life of me remember the names of anywhere we went…oops. It was great fun though!
Fortunately the rest of the weekend is a teeny bit less hazy. On Saturday morning we dragged our hungover selves a couple of blocks to brunch at the Breakfast Club in Hoxton.
After a revitalising breakfast accompanied by a delicious green smoothie and a decidely average coffee (to be fair it’s probably great by UK standards) we wandered the streets of the East before catching the tube to Borough Market – London’s best food market. I go every time I’m in London because the food is impeccable and the atmosphere is always buzzing. We bought amazing seeded spelt bread, mushroom pate, creamy English cheese and juicy olives to share for a picnic-style dinner – delicious! We also splurged on a few of the many gluten free brownies on offer, cheekily devouring them with some hot English Breakfast tea before we even made it home, because. Brownies.
On Saturday night we went out in Shoreditch to a few pubs but once again I can’t remember their names – I blame it on the cider! We met up with some other friends of ours who’d come down to London and some of Adam and Len’s friends who living in the East as well. It was a greta night! You really are guaranteed a good night out if you head out around Shoreditch and Hackney…it may not be cheapest but you’ll have loads of fun.
A lazy Sunday morning called for breakfast at The Albion at the Boundary Hotel, just a stone’s throw from our apartment. On the walk to this delightful cafe and bakery, I spied a Photo Booth in the Lobby of Ace Hotel on the Shoreditch high street (amazing looking hotel by the way). On my travels throughout Europe five years ago, I became particularly enamoured/obsessed with the Photoautomat booths in Berlin and so I practically shoved Tom through the door to get a photo of us taken. Discreet? Hell no! But so worth it and we now have a lovely little photos trip memento from that day.
East London has some beautiful street art an while we waited for Adam and Len to catch us up, Tom and I took some time to photograph some of it. It really is amazing the talent and variety of mural art in this area and if you appreciate street art I’d highly recommend you check out the area.
But back to the Albion. I’d read and heard so many rave reviews about the food at this joint and was not disappointed. Not only was the place an absolute visual delight (classic white tiles and light and all that jazz) , but we managed to score a seat just before the masses arrived and had to line up. Winners!
I ordered the Grilled sweet potato hash with spinach and poached organic eggs (as did 2 out of 3 of my companions) and it was superb, our fourth Member wasn’t too hungry so he ordered some toast with jam and was delighted by it, in case you were wondering. I did have to add a fair bit of salt to mine as I prefer a more savoury flavour and the sweet potato was obviously sweeter than a regular hash but it was still a lovely meal and an even lovelier, warm setting. We all loved our meals and the coffee wasn’t to bad either. I would have loved to partake in some of the amazing bakery treats there but oh well. Maybe one day!
From The Albion, we walked through Bethnal Green to the Columbia Road Flower Markets where the East End chappies convinced us to buy some gorgeous ‘goodbye’ blooms for Tom’s family. The markets were a fair bit smaller than I had anticipated but very busy! It was a great atmosphere and there were lots of cheap, beautiful blooms on offer – a popular weekend haunt amongst locals it certainly is. Lena and I enjoyed wandering through the boutiques and thrift stores and when the cold hit us I convinced my English counterparts it was time for this Aussie to go inside and have a cup of something piping hot to stay sane. I would have loved another coffee but after my series of disappointing cappuccinos I opted for a quality English Breakfast tea instead – mmmmm. It was sad to finish our tea and farewell our friends, but we will see them in no time I’m sure. After our group goodbye hug we caught the tube to Covent Garden to say our final goodbyes to Tom’s family (for them moment).
I won’t go into details here, because it is quite personal but after another cuppa and some hugs completed, we were back in Hoxton sharing ciders and asian food with Tom’s uni friends who travelled from around the country for one last night of fun together. We drank wine, ate dim sum and chatted until the early hours and it was the perfect end to our long weekend…now to plan the next trip!