Americana: London’s finest US exports
The trend for all-American burgers and shakes has put a low-key diner on just about every street corner. Meat Liquor, Five Guys, Shake Shack and Dirty Burger are among the best; as are Bodean’s, which screens American football to heavy-set men in baseball caps, and Red Dog Saloon, where you can take on a Man vs. Food-style eating challenge (either The Devastator burger or a corrosive stack of hot chicken wings). Of course, London’s taken more from US culture than a blasé attitude towards cholesterol. Try the Lexington in Islington for a rockabilly vibe and the Nightjar on Old Street for cocktails in a prohibition-era speakeasy.
Vintage and antique London: where one Londoner’s tat is another’s treasure
Instead of heading straight to Regent Street, why not spend your shopping break scoping out London’s market scene? The Topshop purchase that you could’ve made at your local branch is unlikely to retain the same sentimental value as a chance, sliding-doors moment of vintage delight. Portobello, Brick Lane and Camden Stables markets have a steady following of weekend rummagers, and there’s also an emerging car boot sale scene in various nooks of the city (pick one in an affluent neighbourhood for the best booty – Pimlico is a good bet). On a smaller scale, wholesome Crouch End eatery the Haberdashery hosts a monthly event called BARBOOT, where you can browse local jumble with a ginger daiquiri in hand. Look out for pop-up vintage fairs in Hampstead and Islington as well; one particular organiser does a stellar job of turning old churches and town halls into retro marketplaces.
All that’s feminine and floral in the capital: our pick of the bunch
There’s a softer side to hard-edged London that’s as feminine and romantic as Verona in spring – and here’s where to find it. Columbia Road Flower Market transforms the glitter and dirt of EC2 into a haze of botanical colour on Sundays, when you can pick up dainty lilacs and peonies by the armful. The Chelsea Flower Show – the Glastonbury of the garden world – is on from the 20 – 24 May. It’s an excellent opportunity to wear decorative floral headwear, and one of the only times you can do so without first having to suffer an expensive hen weekend. As for eating and drinking; High Tea of Highgate (which has recently changed hands) is the kind of place where the notion of bad things happening in the world becomes absurd. Drink petal infusions with ‘50s style lavender cake, then head south to spend the night at The Soho Hotel, or Soho House Group‘s suburban outpost in Chiswick – a former ice cream parlour with pretty duck-egg blue awning.