Second part of the London guide is a list of cafés I think are worth visiting in London. Over the last few years the number of independent cafés has gone down drastically, and the number of big chains cafés gone up. What a shame. When you're wandering around London hunger tends to hit you hard and quick, and you end up going to whatever place is nearest to get some food. Maybe it will be helpful to know of some good places to go? Anyway, here are my favourites.
Victoria & Albert Museum café, Cromwell Road, South Kensington. This place is just down the road from where I was studying for four years, so I used to be quite a frequent visitor. The café is situated in the middle of the museum, which is also worth looking around, and in the summer you can enjoy your coffee outside in the courtyard. I prefer the inside however, as the rooms in the café are really pretty, with stained glass windows, beautiful wall paper and really cool lamps hanging from the ceiling. The food is absolutely brilliant, and you can get anything from a hot meal, sandwiches, salads, cakes, scones, biscuits, wine or a wide range of teas and coffees. It is also the perfect place to 'people watch', as there are always lots of different people there, from lonesome eccentrics to old ladies having their afternoon tea with their girlfriends. (You can find their website here)
The Breakfast Club, Camden Passage, Angel. (You can find a map here) The Breakfast Club also has cafés in Soho, Hoxton and soon in Spitalfields, but I think the Angel one is my favourite. It is really cosy, with lots of random things on display and funny photos on the walls, and the atmosphere is really lovely and has the feeling of a 'student place'. They have a wide range of food (always difficult to decide!!), and everything I've ever eaten there has been really tasty. Fancy a full English breakfast? Or a hamburger? Salad? Pancakes with berries, bacon, cheese or bananas? Or French toast? Cake? Coffee? Cocktails? Then this is your place. Definitely one of the places I visit most frequently, and I always take visiting friends here. Also, Angel is a really great area for shopping, if you want to avoid the great crowds. The tiny little street this café is located in has lots of little vintage shops, and market stalls that sell second hand things on Fridays and Saturdays. In Upper Street you will find many of the bigger shops, like Oasis, Monsoon and Hobbs. You can find The Breakfast Club website here.
Le Pain Quotidien. I don't really like big chains, but I have a weakness for Le Pain Quotidien. It is a French chain, they have cafés all over London, and most of their food is organic. It has a really lovely rustic feeling, with big wooden tables and always a huge 'community table' in the middle of the room. They serve great coffee and French pâtisserie, in addition to salads, soups, great cakes, cheese, wine and they have a very tasty breakfast menu. You can find their website here.
Scandinavian Kitchen, 61 Great Titchfield Street, close to Oxford Circus. I guess this café is mainly for Scandinavians living in London, but I think it's worth going to even if you're a Scandinavian only staying for a few days. They serve really great food based on foods from all the Scandinavian countries; hot dogs, open sandwiches (smørbrød), eplekake, lussekatter (when it's season for that), cinnamon buns, Solo, julebrus etc etc. There is also a little shop at the back, where they sell food for Scandinavians who really miss home and need a little stock of their favourites like Grandiosa, Smørbukk, kaviar, sursild, saltsild, knekkebrød (cracker bread), Bamsemums and similar things. You'll often see people in there with a little tear in their eye, hugging a packet of Rødkål and missing home. The Scandikitchen website can be found here.
Rays Jazz, Charing Cross Road, near Tottenham Court road tube. This cafe has been one of my regular places since I moved to London. It used to be both a café and a jazz cd shop, but they have now moved the jazz shop to another floor to have more space for eating costumers. It is situated in Foyle's Books, one of the biggest and best bookshops in London, but it also has a separate entrance from the street. Ray's Jazz is almost always full of people either eating, reading, writing, studying or having loud discussions. They serve great sandwiches, salads, cakes, biscuits and coffee, and they also have a big selection of juices and drinks. Absolutely worth a visit, and a great place to sit down if you want to read!
The Vintage Emporium, Bacon Street, near Brick Lane. Visiting The Vintage Emporium is like stepping into a different time entirely. Downstairs is a vintage shop with beautiful clothes from the Victorian area to the 1950s, and upstairs is the café serving coffee, cakes, salads, soups and sandwiches. Last time I was there, which was last weekend, there were to men singing and playing the double bass and accordeon, passing their hat around. It is a really fascinating place to go, full of beautiful vintage bits and pieces everywhere, eccentric and inspiring people all around and great coffee. Otherwise, the Brick Lane area is full of vintage shops, street markets and really interesting things to sea. You can find The Vintage Emporium website here.
Apart from these places I can also recommend the café at British Library, and if you're in Soho there are lots of lovely little independent cafés around.
Hope this list will be helpful, or at least inspirational!