My city: London

Our ‘my city’ series puts a new perspective on some of our favourite places, as we catch up with creative residents, asking them to divulge their best kept secrets. From their favourite galleries, to their go-to coffee spot, there are plenty of hints and tips on how to stay like a local.

Here we catch up with Kate Halfpenny, a wedding dress designer and fashion stylist, who lives in London.

Kate Halfpenny with some of her dresses. Image: Tom Medwell

Kate Halfpenny with some of her dresses. Image: Tom Medwell

Where do you go for the best coffee in London?

Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market, not only is it the best coffee, but the location is perfect for really absorbing London’s delicacies and people watching.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in London, and why?

I lived on a boat in Chelsea Harbour – I was the poorest person in the whole complex but had the best times and the biggest parties. It was like a floating apartment with parquet floors. The silliest thing I ever did was think I could sail it, so I took it to Richmond for the day. I nearly ran it aground it so many times and then I couldn’t get it back into the harbour, so I had to ask a neighbour to do it!

What’s your preferred way to travel through your city, and why?

I’m afraid I’m a gas guzzler and drive everywhere in my big car – it’s the need for speed and moving large items all the time that makes me use it, although I must say I do have a weak spot for a London bus if I’m not in too much of a hurry.

If a friend’s visiting, which is your go-to restaurant to show them a decent London dinner?

I love Primeur in Stoke Newington – it’s located in an old disused car garage and still has the original pull around garage doors. It’s perfect for cosy winter supper or sipping their fine prosecco with a light salad in the summer. The speciality beef wing, which is similar to a four rib and perfect for sharing. Plus, the owner Jeremie is just the most charming man on the planet – you feel like you’ve been friends forever.


Primeur, Stoke Newington. Image: Primeur

Can you reveal your best kept London secret?

My store if you’re looking for a wedding dress, we do get a lot of brides zooming in on the Eurostar from Europe, or flying in from New York, we are definitely a bridal address-book secret.

When you travel, is there anything you take that you can’t live without?

My Larke sunglasses, they are perfect to hide the jet lag and to filter out the sun, plus they’re British made.

Where’s your favourite place to experience London’s art scene?

I can’t get enough of the White Cube Bermondsey – they showed the latest Tracey Emin exhibition which I couldn’t resist buying a print from. When the annual summer exhibition is on I head to the The Royal Academy, which is again perfect for an affordable edition. I also love the Serpentine – Cy Twombly’s show there was my favourite so far.

White Cube Bermondsey. Image: White Cube

White Cube Bermondsey. Image: White Cube

Tell us something only living in London would allow you to know?

That there is no better place to live, it has everything and I am guilty of not taking full advantage of it!

In London, what’s the most popular neighbourhood to live in at the moment?

I don’t know about popular but I love King’s Cross. I live with my husband, just on the border of King’s Cross and Camden and I feel so lucky to have a little house here. Everything you need’s within walking distance, from the best organic food stores to amazing restaurants. They’re even creating a whole new outdoor lido in the new development around King’s Cross St Pancras, so we’ll even be able to swim outside nearby soon. You can wander down the canal to the East or jump on the Eurostar to Paris in a heartbeat.

Describe your perfect day in London…

Walking down the canal to Caravan in King’s Cross for breakfast, then jumping on the bus to Oxford Circus to wander through the West End to Dover Street, shopping on the way and popping into the Photographer’s Gallery. I’d take a pitstop lunch a Barafina for some delicious clams and negro ham if I have time to face the queue, then head on to Somerset House to see what’s on. The perfect day would be rounded off with dinner at our local, the Lord Stanley in Camden.

Caravan, Kings Cross. Image: Caravan

Caravan, King’s Cross. Image: Caravan

If you didn’t live in London, what other city would you live in and why?

I would live in LA, some of my dearest friends live there and my husband and I just love it. The sunshine makes you happy every day and I love some of the mad houses in Echo Park – it’s the best suburb. Plus, the fact that you can be in Palm Springs in a few hours.

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all?

We have an idyllic fisherman’s shutter-board cottage in Whitstable. It’s a slice of heaven when we want to escape the speed of London. We have log fires and cosy winter walks, and in summer the rose garden is perfect to sit in all day, drinking Pimms and day dreaming.

When you leave London, what do you look forward to most about coming back?

Our gorgeous home and two cats Punk and Chicken, it makes me so happy to walk in the door and put the kettle on… I am so British!

Credits: Primeur image from Matt the List, White Cube image from 3rd Dimension and Caravan image from Fluid London.

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