I’m often asked for recommendations of bars, restaurants and things to do in London, and to be honest with so much to do in this city I struggle to make recommendations because there are so many places I wouldn’t want you to miss.
I have decided to start creating examples of day and weekend trips, where you can try and do it all in a day, or just pick up ideas for places you’ve never been. I will try and limit these day trips to one or two areas of London so you can find a few things to do in one area (eat, drink and entertain) and I will also try and theme them where possible as to what kind of experience you may have.
Having a vegan sister, I’ve decided to create this weekend example trip first. It incorporates lots of 100% vegan and vegan-friendly options to ensure you are able to find breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also incorporates loads of things to do and is not aimed at only people who are vegan, but those who like trying new things and perhaps have vegan or vegetarian friends. I can promise you that whatever your diet, you won’t find any of these options disappointing as a result of the menu.
Please be warned that this is not supposed to be a traditional tourist day trip, in fact I’m not promising you will see any of the obvious tourist photo opportunities such as the London Eye or Big Ben (you won’t be seeing him for the next 4 years anyway – see you in 2021 if this is on your list). However, you will visit some of the best food and drink venues and be entertained by some great attractions with great unique selling points.
Saturday will take you from Shoreditch to Camden and Sunday is Covent Garden to Westminster and back again. All photos used in this post are taken from the websites of these venues or from sites such as Design My Night, if you feel I have used a photo that needs citing, please do get in touch.
Head to Old Street station on the Northern line to start this foodie tour of London.
Stop 1 – Shoreditch Grind
I am a huge coffee fanatic, and I absolutely love Grind even though it’s a chain. The Shoreditch Grind offers great coffee, juices and smoothies (and phenomenal espresso martinis if that’s what you’d rather have for breakfast). In terms of vegan breakfast options there is an Acai bowl, porridge and smashed avocado on toast. You can also ask for most of the options without eggs.
Stop 2 – entertainment and midday cocktails
It’s a weekend, so it’s definitely okay to start drinking in the early afternoon. Ballie Ballerson opens at 11:30am on Saturdays and this is essentially a giant ball pit bar. You absolutely have to book ahead, and the cocktails are rather pricy for what you get, but it’s definitely something to tick off on your bucket list – who wouldn’t want to spend their Saturday in a giant ball pit for adults?
If you are the person who is thinking “umm me, I don’t want to spend my Saturday in a ball pit for adults” then I would head to Junkyard Golf instead, for epic crazy golf and weird sweet-covered cocktails. I will warn you that for those of you who are vegan, they do top the cocktails with gummy sweets so I would ask for your cocktail without. This is a hilarious mini golf outing in Old Street where you play golf and drink cocktails through various course setups and it’s always a lot of fun. You will not find vegan food here, but don’t worry because I have a great place to attend afterwards.
Stop 3 – Food (Lunch to dinner options)
If it’s not a particularly sunny day, then you can head to Mooshies for great vegan burgers. Otherwise jump on the Northern Line from Old Street to Camden and prepare for some great vegan stalls at Camden Market.
Living north of the river, this is one of my favourite spots to visit. Not only because you can always find great food and coffee, but because I love walking down the canals and popping into vintage shops. Vegan food stalls include Good Dogs, Club Mexicana (which you can read more about in my other post here) and Voodoo Rays.
If you can possibly fit in more food after this huge lunch, or the weather is not the best, then I would recommend having dinner at Mildred’s Camden.
The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm
Stop 4 – the music scene
Just a short walk from Camden, I wouldn’t miss checking out the iconic music venue The Roundhouse. It’s definitely worth seeing the venue itself, and if you can catch a show the inside is just as phenomenal. Particularly for the music gigs you will need to buy your ticket in advance, though definitely check to see what’s on the weekend you’re in town.
If you are more of a theatre person than a music person, I have seen a lot of great theatre shows at The Roundhouse, so definitely worth having a look or chatting to the reception team on the door to see what’s on that night.
If you don’t have a ticket, head to Camden Assembly who always showcase new artists and are a great venue to go for a drink and a burger at. Their vegan burger is Woody Harrelson: Portobello mushroom, aubergine, roasted pepper, vegan cheese, ginger sweet chilli and almond milk aioli.
Stop 5 – the bars to start your night in
If you decide to go to bars instead, then the following options are great to start your night out in and not far from Camden. Both bars are places you can spend a couple hours in and are quirky/interesting enough to just be glad you went.
Cocktails are served in tea pots in Simmons bar, it’s a quirky skull disco bar (yes you read that right) but it’s always super busy on the weekend – you will definitely be standing and don’t bother booking a table. The music is 80s, old school RnB and pop and it’s a great place to start your night out.
This sounds like a more expensive option, as the door price is £30, but this is all inclusive of your 2 hour session and you don’t spend anymore inside. It’s set as a 1920’s casino and B.Y.O.C stands for Bring Your Own Cocktail. The bar doesn’t have an alcohol license, so they don’t serve you their own alcohol onsite. The way it works is you bring in your own unopened (must be unopened) bottle of spirit and the bartenders will combine it with syrups, bitters, liqueurs and anything else to create your perfect cocktail. They recommend bringing 1 bottle of unopened spirit between two people, and they favour unflavoured spirits as these are most versatile. Just as a warning, you should only bring what you can consume between you in two hours.
During your visit you will be have a professional mixologist come to your table who will listen to your preferences so they can tailor your cocktails to your taste. You may receive sharing drinks or punchbowls, individual cocktails or bespoke shots.
With this one, book ahead if you can!
Stop 6 – Going out out
Jazz Cafe (check their What’s On page for entry prices as these vary between events) – club nights are 10:30pm-3am and Saturdays is Soul City, combining soul, disco and house music.
Blues Kitchen Camden (£7 on the door, free before 9pm) – definitely not your best spot for vegan food, but as I’m listing this as a late night venue hopefully that won’t be a problem. Saturdays are Electric Soul nights.
Shaka Zulu (£10 before 10pm, £15 before midnight, £20 after) – Every Saturday is a Twisted Circus club night, if you haven’t heard of that then here is some information:
“Twisted Circus (@TwistedCircusUK) is a huge national party previously
hosted at iconic locations such as Indigo o2 & Bloomsbury Ballroom.
More than just a party, our weird and wonderful circus acts perform
throughout the night and shape your evening to anything our imagination
can conceive! 15mins of Entertaining performances take place 3 times
every Saturday from fire breathers to contortionists, the acts combine
to create a truly twisted party experience.”
Located in the Stables Market in Camden and based over two floors, Shaka Zulu is the perfect place to spend your Saturday night. The DJs play the best of House, Funky House, Commercial R&B and Club Classics.
Stop 1 – Brunch
As you may have seen from my other posts, Brunch is absolutely my favourite meal of the day on the weekend.
By Chloe, Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of my favourite tourist spots, particularly when the food stalls are up and the sun is shining, it’s one of the best spots to visit.
For brunch at By Chloe, I would go for the Daily Pancake with coconut whipped cream, but if you’re feeling more savoury, then The Early Bird or Morning Glory. Check out their brunch menu here.
By Chloe has brunch until 4pm, so suitable for whatever time of day you get out of bed! If you are more of an early riser, I would definitely recommend getting off at Waterloo and walking across Waterloo Bridge to Somerset House and visiting their River Terrace. Fernandez & Wells in Somerset House is a gorgeous place to have a coffee from 9am on Sundays. This is also a great way to squeeze in some of the lovely London tourist spots without getting too involved in the tourist scene.
Or, Tom’s Kitchen is also open on the terrace (April-September only) from midday if you fancy checking out Somerset House after your breakfast.
Stop 2 – Entertainment
Seeing a show on the West End is on most peoples London bucket lists. Now on Sundays most show are closed, but you can watch the Matilda matinee at 3pm at the Cambridge Theatre if you want to squeeze a show in and it’s just a 7 minute walk from By Chloe.
Another option from Covent Garden would be Namco Funscape (back across the bridge to Westminster). This huge arcade contains dodgems, pool, ping pong, an escape room and bowling, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained for hours. This is also somewhere you can stay late into the evening and they offer a variety of packages depending on what your interests are, it’s open 10am-12am!
Stop 3 – Cocktails
Obviously no day trip of mine would be complete without recommending cocktail bars. Keeping within the Westminster/Covent Garden area I would recommend Opium cocktail bar, which is designed to look like a dodgy opium bar from the outside in China Town, but offers some of the most unique cocktails I’ve seen in London. Check out their menu and I’m sure you’ll want to visit. To give you an idea, here are some examples from their different menus:
Audemus Umami spirit, Cocchi Americano, black truffle oil, caper berries
Stoli Elit vodka, Galliano l’Authentico, Solerno Blood Orange, San Pelligrino Blood Orange reduction
Cardamom Wild Turkey bourbon, apricot liqueur, chocolate bitters
Burnt butter, vanilla and cinnamon Martell VS, white sugar, Angostura bitters, Perrier Jouet Champagne
The London Cocktail Club in Covent Garden is a Victorian Speakeasy. You do have to be a member before attending their Covent Garden branch, but you can fill out a form on their website!
Eve Bar in Covent Garden, is a gem I discovered through Cocktails in the City. I would suggest booking first (generally in London, book a table if you can), but their champagne ice-lolly whisky cocktail I had at CITC London was incredible, so let me know what you end up trying!
That’s it for this weekend in London itinerary, let me know your thoughts and I hope some of this has given you ideas for curating your next weekend out.