You know when you decide to go on a day trip or a short break to London and you just fancy doing something a bit different? Wouldn’t it be fab if there were a guide to the most stylish shops, restaurants and cultural experiences? Well – as of this month, there is!
It’s called Insider London and, as the name suggests, the book has been published to offer an insider’s tour of London’s best-kept secrets and diverse neighbours.
I had to get my mitts on a copy to find out if it lived up to its word….
The hardback cover is appealing and features some lovely colourful images that make you want to pick it up and have a good old nose.
The author is Rachel Felder, a London aficionado who has spent ample time in the city and, lucky for us, has decided to share her wealth of knowledge of the capital’s nooks and crannies.
Flicking through the book, there are plenty of images to accompany the copy – something that I personally love, as it takes the book from just being a guide to also being an ideal coffee table book that you can dip in and out of.
So what does it include?
The contents are split into three categories – City Essentials, Shops and Food & Drink.
City Essentials covers hotels; museums & galleries; parks, public gardens and open spaces; and theatres.
The Shops section looks at department stores; clothing & accessories; beauty, grooming & wellness; décor, flowers & items for the home; stationery, books & gifts; and markets.
And finally Food and Drink covers restaurants; pubs, gastropubs & cocktail bars; quick bites, bakeries and grab-and-go treats; fish and chips; afternoon tea; and coffee & tea bars.
Pretty much everything then.
As an interiors fan, I was particularly interested in the ‘décor and items for your home’ section and learnt that there are numerous independently owned boutiques that focus on a specific item or category – from fragrant candles to hand-cast bells. Who knew?!
I particularly like the sound of The Old Cinema – a huge vintage furniture store that is housed in a former movie theatre – as well as LASSCO Ropewalk, which is officially known as the London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company.
Having a good old read of the book I’ve found so many great tips and places I’d like to visit that there are just too many to mention.
However, here are a few of the ones I’ve earmarked to pay a visit soon!
- Melt Chocolates in Notting Hill Gate. Chocolate; need I say more?
- London Transport Museum in Covent Garden – for an educational family day out!
- Liberty – one of the world’s most charming department stores (window shopping galore!)
- Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – as it sells an array of sweets!
I’ve actually got an insider tip of my own; in Victoria there’s a cute little tea shop called Café Bella Maria (on Lower Grosvenor Place).
I discovered this place by accident and it’s a lovely little bolthole serving a variety of goodies – from Paninis and toasted tea cakes to a variety of scrambled egg combinations and homemade scones.
I’d love Rachel to try it out when reviewing places for her second edition Insider London; and no – I don’t have family/friends working there – it’s just a lovely place that I just keep getting drawn back to! I guess that’s the sign of a great place.
If you’re a Londoner looking to discover new gems, on a day trip to the capital or just taking a well-deserved break, this book is for you. It would also make a great gift for travel fans.
Put it this way, it's as useful for a first-time visitor to the city as well as someone on their 101st visit!
Each listing comes complete with the address, telephone number and website – as well as the closest Tube station – which is of course really handy to know.
The hardback book costs £16.99 from Harper Collins Publishers – I think it would be great to launch a paperback version to make it easier for people to take with them on their trip.
But for now I’ll stick with taking pictures of the pages I’m interested in so I can make sure I don’t miss a trick while I’m out and about in the capital.