Wonderful Italian-style 'gelateria' just by Chalk Farm tube station. Enjoy one of their delicious sundaes and then walk it off on lovely Primrose Hill. A perfect place to take the kids.
Just next to Chalk Farm tube station (Northern Line)
Intimate underground music venue in the heart of Dalston. Sounds and styles may shift night-on-night, but it seems all of the promoters have their fingers on the pulse of their respective scenes. A local sweatbox that parades hyped acts at least six months before they truly blow up... but then can't afford to them back once they have. I admire that in a venue though.
38-44 Stoke Newington Road. London N16 7XJ
This is a wonderfully atmospheric pub that constantly looks shut from the outside so is never too busy. Upstairs is a room that could be your lounge. Every Wednesday they put on live music and they never fail to impress me. The old chesterfield chairs allow you to go beyond relaxation and let you take in the acoustic sounds played out to you.
Number 2 Queens Crescent, Chalk Farm
Now I know it's a church but it also doubles as a fantastic music venue. I've been to a lot of London venues and this is my all-time favourite, great acoustics, good ambience and it also has the benefit of not being too big or impersonal.
Nearest tube: Highbury and Islington
Ok, it may only be suitable as a summer venue but what a venue!
Beautiful courtyard setting, small and intimate, slightly sloping down to the stage to give a good view, and some cracking acts. Kasabian and Prodigy playing there stand out as being awesome gigs. Even though it can sometimes take a while to get a beer, at least they have a orderly and well managed queuing system!
The Strand, central London.
While Brixton is a close second, the Astoria is my favourite due to the ease of getting a beer, the size of the venue and its central location. Given that it doesn't look like it will be around much longer, go there while you still can!
The only downside is having a toilet attendant trying to offer you aftershave - you may want that in a nice bar but not midway through Maximo Park!
Tottenham Court Road
Just down the road from the mighty Shepherdess Cafe, towards Old St station and on the left-hand side of City Road, is a little street called Westland Place (there's a shop on the corner called Renaissance which sells gothic fireplaces).
This is the home of St. Jamie Oliver's original Fifteen restaurant but also featured in the execrable film, Closer. A door on the left-hand side of the street labelled Westland Place Studios, between the fireplace shop and an old piping company premises, was the Julia Roberts character's front door in the vacuous, self-regarding snorefest.
In this scene, Jude Law's character makes a reference to going to "the pub round the corner". He was talking about the Eagle, a pleasant old boozer behind the Shepherdess Cafe, that features, along with City Road, in a less well-known verse of the nursery rhyme, Pop Goes the Weasel.
Probably the best live music venue for bands that are just about to hit it huge, or major acts getting back to the grime pit for a real atmospheric and intimate experience and nowhere else can lay claim to hosting the Libertines in a major venue before all the hype and nonsense.
A great performance at the Astoria ultimately proves whether you can last or fade. Sadly it looks like the Astoria itself may die a death before too long.
Whether you're standing at the back or moshing at the front the Academy is ideal - small enough for that intimate atmosphere, big enough to generate some noise and passion. OK, so it's sponsored by Carling, so the beer's not great so for a pre-gig pint and some nosebag, nip into the Dogstar on Coldharbour Lane for some good value Mexican food.
Carling Academy Brixton: 211 Stockwell Road London SW9 www.brixton-academy.co.uk/
Whether you're standing at the back or moshing at the front, the Academy is ideal - small enough for that intimate atmosphere, big enough to generate some noise and passion. OK, so it's sponsored by Carling, so the beer's not great. For a pre-gig pint and some nosebag, nip into the Dogstar on Coldharbour Lane for some good value Mexican food.
Carling Academy Brixton: 211 Stockwell Road London SW9 www.brixton-academy.co.uk/
Watching bands here is more of a musical experience than just a 'gig'.
Despite the venue being miles from any sort of humanity, the looming site of this magnificient glass building with its atriums and arches makes the one and half mile trek up the hill all worthwhile! Once inside Ally Pally you will be amazed by the amount of space there is and the decadent interior: gold-painted scrolling handrails on winding marbled stairs carpeted with lush velvet makes going to the loo feel like a royal visit!
The huge expanse of the building means that acoustics travel far and wide, making even the smallest band sound magnanimous. An excellent example of this was The White Stripes gig where the stark two-piece made so much noise that many were afraid Jack White's shrieking vocals would shatter the glass ceiling.
Alexandra Palace is truly a venue fit for kings!
Alexandra Palace Way
This gorgeous building houses quality music nights. A wonderfully civilised venue. Great acoustics - stone and brick and a massive space really help here, as does excellent amplification.
A lovely atmosphere - I'm convinced that because people sit on pews, and because it's a chapel, the audience listen to and appreciate the music more.
You won't get beer spilled on you here! Great acts have played here from Bjork to Jose Gonzalez. A true treat for music lovers - easily the best venue in London and one which attracts excellent artists.
Compton Terrace, Upper Street, Islington, N1 2UN. +44 207 226 1686
Nearest tube: Highbury & Islington
A wonderful gig venue, that is all about the music. From the signs telling you that nobody is here to listen to your voice, to the sound, and the overall ambience.
311 High Road
London NW6 7JR
This former cinema with its art deco interior has to be London's leading venue for gigs. Has a capacity of just under 5,000 and the slanted floor ensures a great view for all. Many names play and is only a short stroll from Brixton Tube Station.
211 Stockwell Road, Lambeth, London, SW9 9SL , Brixton Tube 5 mins away.
Cracking greasy spoon that attracts a high celebrity quota, possibly because of its proximity to London's once-and-future-trendy Shoreditch/Hoxton/Dalston.
Thankfully though, this is unreconstructed full English territory - irony, Day Glo and creative use of hairspray are firmly off the menu, as are the words organic and sustainable.
It's not a depressing relic, however, and its airy and cheerful design has carved it out a niche as a film location. Crews are often spotted filming in there on a Sunday when it's closed and the most recent flick to feature its hallowed interior was Notes on a Scandal.
For an added sprinkling of stardust on your gammon steak, check out the gallery of Polaroids behind the counter showing the legions of soap stars, presenters, actors and reality TV protozoa who have enjoyed a sarnie and a mug of something hot over the years.
221 City Road
+44 (0) 20 7253 2463
There's a magical Arctic experience hidden away behind the busy shopping hell of Regent Street. The build up to going inside is part of the fun.
First, you raise your body temperature by a few valuable degrees in the normal, heated Below Zero bar downstairs, which serves creative fresh fruity cocktails such as a scrummy apple and blackberry crumble concoction.
Everyone is allocated a 40 minute time slot so when your time comes they give you space-age silver cloaks, thick gloves and snow boots and you go into the Ice Bar. Inside it's minus five degrees and everything inside is made from clear crystal ice from Sweden – the walls, the bar, the tables and the chunky glasses, which you slurp simple but super-strong vodka cocktails from. Drinking doesn't get more refreshing than this.
50% off at 500 London restaurants for a year. Also, I picked up a leaflet that gives you £20 off the RRP, use the promotional code TASTY and it knocks the price down to £49.95, for 12 months membership.
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