Quite apart from having six floors of books (you can happily spend hours browsing) this store has a handy cafe and bar on the fifth floor which I found nice and relaxing having dodged into the store to get out of the rain!
203-206 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LE
+44(0)843 290 8549
Google map: bit.ly/W4Nfj8
So many visitors in the crushing crowds inching down Portobello Road completely miss the wonderful antique stalls in the rambling arcades. So go early - 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning - and enjoy the opportunity to talk unhurriedly to experts in their trade, then buy some beautiful, unusual presents for your friends or yourself. At 10 o'clock have coffee and freshly baked cakes at 'Books for Cooks' and leave the Road to the growing throng.
Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 www.portobelloroad.co.uk/
Google map: bit.ly/GYCQzz
Books for Cooks:
4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, W11 1NN
+44(0)20 7221 1992
Google map: bit.ly/Hi7DVH
I never realised quite how seriously Kiwis take their coffee until I discovered Federation's fantastic brews. The flat white is a thing of joy and there are loads of tasty cakes.
All Fired Up is a really lovely little cafe where visitors can choose a piece of ceramic art, a teapot, a plate or a cup and saucer and then paint it themselves to create a unique, individual work of art and an unusual gift for a friend. At the same time, sustenance is available to aid the creative process, with all manner of home-made cakes, sandwiches, Italian coffees and teas on offer. The shop/cafe stocks wrapping paper and cards and is a great destination for birthday parties and nursery visits.
All Fired Up Ceramics Cafe
34 East Dulwich Road, London SE22 9AX
+44 (0)207 732 6688
Mon-Sat 09.30-18.00 (late opening to 22.00 on Thur), Sun 11.00-17.00
Bus 12 to Peckham Rye
Google map: bit.ly/nmVYDY
In its current form this characterful café has been around for six years but before that it was a Vespa repair shop. When the repair shop moved to a new location they kept some of the old bikes and put them on the walls. Now the café is a busy trendy spot in Waterloo with wine and beer and a huge range of teas. They even have a cat. While in the area why not check out the designated graffiti tunnel.
132 Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, SE1 7AE
Closest tube: Waterloo (Northern, Bakerloo and Jubilee lines), Lambeth North (Bakerloo)
Google map: bit.ly/hVPURq
Crocodile Cafe in Muswell HIll. Mad service and strange food, but good coffee and a quirky terrace. Inside, the room is quiet, without baristas crashing their espresso filters on the bin. Stunning views across London.
122 Muswell hill
This is different venue to try when you're in the tourist hub of Covent garden. It houses the Poetry Society and every Tuesday they have an open mic night where aspiring poets read their works as well as a few more established performers and writers. They also have nights where published poets read. It's a lovely place to chill out admist the bustle of London - they serve good coffee and cake and other snacks. Take a book and indulge in some thoughtful repose!
22 Betterton Street, WC2
Tube: Covent Garden
London's best coffee, using beans sourced and roasted by the cafe's own staff. They know everything there is to know about coffee. Fairly cramped confines if you're drinking in, and long queues on market days (Friday and Saturday) - at other times, laid-back and friendly staff. Note that they do not sell tea or hot chocolate, nor do they offer low-fat milk.
Stoney Street, alongside Borough Market.
The caffeine fueled all night heart of Soho. It's a small place inside with a giant clanking old till and great coffee, best consumed at the outside tables where the full colour of Soho can been seen passing by.
22 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4RF, near junction with Old Compton; 020 7437 4520
OK, this place is full of Nathan Barleys and annoying haircuts, but for somewhere to sit and listen to (usually) decent music while eating cheap, massive slices of cake with your beer/coffee this can't really be beaten.
Cafe by day, club by night, there's a plethora of tables outside making for a very sociable vibe in summer. A good place to people-watch.
1 Dray Walk, London, E1 6QL (just off Brick Lane)
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