WHERE TO: GO OUT
This is by no means a definitive guide – London has so many places to go out. Almost so much that it’s overwhelming trying to decide where to go, especially in comparison to the minimal choice we have in Cork. The main two areas I’ve been out in in London are Soho and Shoreditch, which both offer very different but equally enjoyable nights out. The average price of cocktails in London is £10-£12 pounds in most of the places I’ve been out, which is definitely steep and most of these places also have entry fees so beware of this when planning your budget/nights out!
Soho is the perfect area to go out if you’ve just been to a show and aren’t ready to let the night end. My favourite place to go out in Soho is Mahiki (actually in Mayfair but about a 10 minute walk from Leicester Square) – if you’re looking for cocktails so insta worthy you’ll be taking pictures of the ones on the neighbouring table, and maybe some C-list celeb spotting, this is the place for you. The music is pure pop, perfect for when you’re in the mood for a dance.
Another place I’d recommend in Soho is Be At One – its location is very central, just around the corner from the Prince Edward Theatre, and less than five minutes from Piccadilly Circus. If you’re looking to save money on drinks, download their app from the App Store and you can use the “Appi Hour” for an hour any day from Sunday – Thursday before 10PM and they have a very exotic choice of drinks. I’ve also been recommended Zoo Bar on Leicester Square – but I’m yet to make it there so I can’t give my two cents yet!
If anywhere in London has a lively nightlife, it’s Shoreditch. It has an abundance of themed bars like you’ve never seen before. The first place I must mention is Ballie Ballerson – multiple ball pits in a bar, what more could you want? As well as that it has good music (any bar that plays Amy Winehouse has me won over), a neon mural on all the walls for the perfect insta background, and, once again a very exotic cocktail menu. If you are going here make sure you book online first as some of their sessions do book out!
Also in Shoreditch is Dinerama, which is sort of an outdoor but covered over foodcourt combined with a bar. It has a very lively atmosphere and good music, but that is definitely secondary to the amazing street food. I had a halloumi kebab here and it was some of the nicest halloumi I’ve had in my life. I’d definitely recommend Dinerama as a good place to start the night!
Last but not least in Shoreditch is Nikki‘s, which is a Quentin Tarantino inspired bar. It has a very 80s inspired vibe which is incorporated in the music, decor, and colour schemes. Although it wasn’t packed, it was a very enjoyable place to explore – and to have an impromptu photo shoot on the Tarantino inspired bed which has definitely appeared in many insta posts!
WHERE TO: EAT
Obviously, you’ll never be at a loss for food in London. I mentioned Dinerama under going out, but their street food really needs to be emphasised here – it was honestly so good. The best idea to save money on food is find somewhere cheap for breakfast – and maybe lunch too depending on where you are – and stick with that for your whole trip unless you have brunch out instead of dinner that day. Or, you could even go one further and stock up on the likes of rice cakes and not buy breakfast out at all. Prêt à Manger was very useful for cheap enough breakfast, surprisingly good porridge and very dependable coffee. My one gripe with there was that everything comes in single use plastic, even cutlery had only a plastic option – however if you bring a reusable cup you get 50p off your coffee!
Another place I would recommend eating is Yo Sushi – although it is a chain, it’s one we don’t have in Cork and the sushi so good. The advantage of Yo Sushi is also that not only are the prices reasonable, but there are many across London so you usually won’t be far from one.
One place I wouldn’t really recommend is Rum Kitchen – we were so excited to try it out as everyone gives it rave reviews and recommendations, but our whole experience was a little bit disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing specifically bad about it, but the service was a bit slow, the food was a little expensive for what we got, and we felt a little bit like we weren’t sitting in a restaurant bit in an outdoor foodcourt style area (which I guess we were) but being served restaurant food.
Café Rouge and Côté Brasserie are two more restaurants I’d definitely recommend in the Tower Bridge everywhere, perfect for brunch or lunch. (Just don’t get extra hollandaise sauce in Café Rouge – they tried to charge us £2.50 extra!) London really has an abundance of places to eat so you won’t be stuck – just have an idea of where you want to go before you start looking around or you will end up hangry on the streets of Soho after an hour walking around.
WHERE TO: COFFEE
This is probably one of my favourite things of any trip I go on – discovering the best coffee. London really has some gems in this area, walk down any street and you’re guaranteed to find a coffee shop. Some of my favourites include Bar Italia, Shoreditch/ Soho Grind, and Joe & The Juice. If you’re looking for quality coffee definitely try Soho Grind. London is also full of coffee chains if you’re just looking for something familiar – every area has at least one Starbucks, or Café Nero which in my opinion is a step up from Starbucks. All that said however, some of my favourite coffee I’ve tried in London has been random cafés I’ve just wandered into that I couldn’t even tell you the name of – don’t be afraid to try the random, small, hipster coffee shop – I haven’t been disappointed yet. Camden is also such a nice spot to do this, as there are some really nice spots which also often have events such as poetry readings.
That’s it for my London recommendations for now – feel free to DM me any questions!