Listen up, because this one is the real deal. The other two ‘perfect days’ articles that have come before were kind of hypothetical, made up of a number of really good days packed into one. But, as London is my new home, I decided to give it special treatment and use an actual day that I had a few weeks ago when my best friend came to visit. So this is my genuine, bona fide perfect day in (North) London.
9am – Eat cake for breakfast at Dominique Ansel Bakery
To be fair, I never claimed to be healthy. I am not the kind of person to get up at 6am and do yoga or drink kale smoothies after going for a 5k run. Therefore, I am not going to apologise for a moment for suggesting cake for breakfast, especially if that cake is as good as the ones they sell at Dominique Ansel
. They are most famous for their hot chocolate blooming marshmallow flowers, but everything they do is beautifully displayed and such good quality. They do a wonderful breakfast range – from avocado toast to enormous welsh rarebit croissants – but I was just too tempted by their incredible range of dainty little cakes. I had a sea salt almond honey tart and my friend had a ‘lime me up’ cake complete with lime caramel you could make yourself. They may look small but because of their richness they are a perfect portion. If you want to start the day with way too many calories, and a hot chocolate thick enough to stand a spoon in, then this is the way to do it!
10:30am – Lose yourself at Camden Market
Living in NW5, I am very lucky to be within walking distance of Camden Market. Even living so close and visiting fairly often, I still don’t feel like I have seen all of it and every time I go I get completely lost! Camden Market is a total maze, made up of a number of different parts including the Stables, the Kerb food market and the Lower Market Hall. Camden is such a diverse area that there is something for everyone, and the market is absolutely no exception. Why not eat Super Mario mac and cheese from the Mac Factory
, buy beautiful hand-crafted wire jewellery in the Lower Market Hall or take your photograph with the robots outside of Cyberdog
? Or, if you want to do something a little bit more relaxed, you can sit in the sun and watch the boats go by at the Camden Lock. One tip – try and get here early, as the market can get incredibly busy around lunch time.
12:30pm – Eat your weight in mozzarella at The Cheese Bar
It wouldn’t surprise me if you had already seen The Cheese Bar
advertised on Facebook – their videos
of poutine drowning under mounds of cheese and incredibly stretchy mozzarella sticks have been shared endlessly and I have had friends as far away as the west coast of America asking me about it. Cheese is definitely having a moment right now (it might even have replaced bacon as the go-to food obsession) and The Cheese Bar offers it by the bucket load. We ate the mozzarella sticks (which really did stretch that far) and delicious cheese and chorizo toasties on freshly-baked sourdough bread. Not only is the food amazing, but the location is too: it’s outdoor seating area is right by the Amy Winehouse statue in the market, so you can eat your cheese while watching an endless stream of tourists doing completely bizarre poses.
2:00pm – Climb to the top of Parliament Hill
You might want to grab a snack for the road (I recommend a toffee and pistachio cronut from the entrance to the Stables Market) because the next stop is a little bit of a walk. Parliament Hill, in Hampstead Heath, has some of the best views of the city, and there is no better way to get there than by taking a long, leisurely stroll through Hampstead itself. Walking through the winding streets and quaint cafes, it feels as though someone has dropped a rural country village into Zone 4. It’s hard to believe you are only a few tube stops from the city centre here – it feels like a different world. First walk past the antique shops on Flask Walk, then choose your dream house on Willow Road before winding your way up into the park past the boating lake and the many dog walkers who spend their afternoons here. The path up to Parliament Hill is pretty steep but the views are incredible and I could sit here for hours (cronut in hand) trying to pick out all of the iconic buildings that make up the London skyline. As an added bonus, this is where the cover photograph for Mumford and Sons third album Wilder Mind was taken!
4:30pm – Visit one of London’s most colourful streets
London has no shortage of multi-coloured, Balamory-styles streets – from Portobello Road in the West to Bywater Street in the South – but one of my favourites is Kelly Street in Kentish Town. It’s a long, curved road where each house is painted a different shade of pink, blue, purple or yellow to create a beautiful pastel rainbow. Make time for a slow walk down the tree-line street, and don’t be afraid to take far too many photos of your favourite coloured house. Fun fact: the whole street was painted for free by paint company Dulux so that they could film an advert there.
5:30pm – Go Southern at The Blue’s Kitchen
Dreaming of deep-fried Oreos
I have always loved Southern food (even more so since I visited New Orleans last year) so as soon as I saw the menu at the Blue’s Kitchen I fell head over heels in love with the place. Everything about this place is fantastic – from the industrial-style decor, to the enormous cocktails, to the live jazz and blues that plays there most nights. And don’t even get me started on the food: if you love bbq or soul food you will struggle to choose what to eat here because everything looks so good. I recommend the buffalo chicken burger or the catfish and prawn jambalaya, which I could easily eat every day for a year without complaint. For dessert, go against all your better instincts and order the deep-fried oreos with salted caramel sauce. It sounds so wrong, but it tastes so right.
7:00pm – Laugh out loud at The Camden Comedy Club
Right across the street from The Blue’s Kitchen is the Camden Head, which boasts a very reasonably priced pub downstairs and hides one of Camden’s cosiest but best comedy clubs upstairs. Camden Comedy Club
hosts shows in this tiny L-shaped room most nights, but the variety shows on Saturdays are an excellent choice (plus tickets only cost £10). Everyone’s taste in comedy is different, but with a variety show hosting 5 or 6 very different comedians, there is something to suit every sense of humour. On rare occasions, touring comedians will practice new material here, but even if you see a total unknown you will laugh until your stomach aches (and burn off some of those deep-fried Oreo calories in the process).
10:00pm – Dance the night away at Proud Camden
Credit: Proud Camden
By this point we were absolutely defeated, and decided to go and drink wine in our pyjamas, but if you want to keep the night going then Proud Camden may be the perfect choice for you. Tucked away in the stables of Camden Market, Proud is absolutely crazy: inside it’s doors you can find bouncy castles, ball pits, a secret roof garden as well as themed karaoke and 80’s- style comedy game shows. It’s London, so some of the drinks are pretty pricey, but the tickets are cheap and if you keep your eyes out for drinks deals you can have an excellent night out here, while staying on something kind of resembling a budget.
What would you do on your perfect day in London? Let me know in the comments!