A global field guide to design, (life)style and secret finds
est. 2007
  1. My Secret London with Sarah Drinkwater

    It’s back! By popular demand! My Secret London! This is where I pin down prominent London style/design/food insiders and ask them to share their favourite London addresses and secret destinations with Wee Birdy readers. This is London by locals – and knowledgeable, super-stylish locals at that. Here we go…

    Sarah Drinkwater (pictured top right) grew up in the countryside with a postcard of London above her desk and moved there to study. After careers as a vintage clothes buyer and a journalist, she turned her favourite hobby – exploring London – into a career and now works as a community manager for Google Plus Local, helping users find great new places to go to through their friends. Sarah also blogs (sometimes, honest) at www.theenchantedhunters.com.

    Best shops for vintage homewares?
    I love coloured glassware, and Vintage Heaven on Columbia Road is, as the name suggests, rammed full of pastel glass ice cream glasses, deep green vases and piles of mismatching saucers. The Old Cinema in Chiswick is one of those treasure troves where they have everything from red velvet rows of cinema seats to industrial steel lockers and kitsch Seventies porcelain. And I’ve picked up some great midcentury bargains at The Peanut Vendor, a tiny shop on Newington Green.

    Best shops in London for clothes?
    I feel like high street fashion’s never been better for us early thirty-somethings who are simply not into Topshop’s mesh crop tops anymore. I own lots of Whistles, who balance great quality basics with quirky prints and luxe leather jackets. Cos lets me pretend I’m an extremely trendy architect with their sculptural shapes and great jewellery (I love oversize jewellery) and Hobbs’ NW3 range can be cool, too – I just bought a grey merino wool tight-fit jumper in the sale with an orange paperclip print.

    Aubin & Wills also turned up some sale goodies, like a balloon print silk shirt dress, and Liberty has the very best selection of pricey brands including Carven, which I wish I could afford. I’m also pretty excited about Folk‘s new womenswear range…

    Best shops in London for accessories?
    The only jewellery I wear are necklaces, but I wear one every day, and I’m always looking out for them! Tatty Devine is the classic quirky London jeweller, and I own plenty of their cheerful pop art pieces. Luna and Curious on Calvert Avenue stock some really unusual items by independent designers, and they’re right opposite the queen of enormo jewels, Mawi. My burger locket necklace by Lazy Oaf is my current favourite, and I’d love one of Jessica de Lotz’s wax seal initial pendants.

    Best shops in London for buying gifts?
    I really like giving books as presents, and both Broadway Bookshop and Daunts in Marylebone have the best recent novels and those gorgeous coffee table books you don’t buy for yourself. I just bought a friend a design-your-own-banner kit from Nook on my local high street, too. They do craft workshops which I think make a great gift.

    Best shops in London for perfume, make-up and skincare?
    At the risk of sounding poncy, I wear Diptyque’s Vetyverio, which smells like the velvet-lined inside of a wooden box, and their Marylebone shop is a bit of a treat. For most of my beauty and skincare products, I head to Space NK, a micro-chain that stock both unusual brands and big hitters like Laura Mercier and Nars.

    Best places in London for food?
    Between my job and my insatiable curiousity, I’m a bit of a tart and always keen to try new places. I’d definitely take any visitor to two places; Bob Bob Ricard, a luxe restaurant dishing up Brit classics that’s decked out like an Edwardian gentleman’s club, and Spuntino, a cool-as diner with bourbon cocktails, bone marrow sliders and peanut butter and jelly icecream for pudding. I’d also nudge them in the direction of Pitt Cue Co’s trailer on the Southbank which is dishing up macaroni cheese and pulled pork patties, and Mark’s Bar below Hix in Soho for some mighty fine cocktails.

    You’ve got 24 hours in London. Where do you go? What do you see? What do you buy?

    That’s so hard! I’d start with breakfast at Towpath Cafe overlooking the canal and then pick up a Boris bike so I could avoid the crowds. First stop would be the Barbican, a Brutalist arts centre that’s endlessly interesting, whether you want to see their current Bauhaus exhibition or just wander around the grounds. From there, cycle to the Southbank and stroll past The Globe, The Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye.

    Grab lunch at Pitt Cue’s Trailer and haul your bike over the bridge to Liberty in Soho, for the best collection of British design in one place. A nice cup of tea at Kaffeine will prepare you for cycling up to Hampstead Heath for a ramble with the best view of the whole city. I’d pick up a beer and a burger at Dach and Sons, then head to the Everyman Cinema there to watch films how they should be watched; on a sofa, with waiters bringing you mojitos!

    Where do you go for a good coffee in London?
    I’m a coffee fanatic so this changes all the time; my current favourites include Ozone Coffee Roasters right by Silicon Roundabout and arty cafe The Russet. But for the best coffee and breakfast, try the avocado on sourdough (so hard to get in the UK!) at Wilton Way Cafe, where they run London Fields radio in the corner, or the bircher muesli in a jam jar with passionfruit at my beloved local, Mouse and de Lotz.

    Your number one London shopping secret?
    Never judge a book by its cover; the shop next to Wilton Way cafe looks a little challenging from the outside, but sells an amazing collection of vintage glasses (for not junky prices).

    Thanks Sarah!

    Click here for a Wee Birdy map of Sarah’s Secret London, complete with all the addresses and contact details.

    Click here for more Secret London posts.

    • http://www.mycreativephotography.co.uk/blog Michelle

      Wow what a list. I better get working on them.

      • Anonymous

        Sarah’s done a magnificent job, hasn’t she?

    • SmallestSarah

      I really enjoyed reading this post 🙂 I am moving to Kingston-Upon-Thames at the end of the month and cannot WAIT to explore London. I hope you continue with this series of posts!

      Sarah x


      • Anonymous

        Hi Sarah, enjoy exploring London – you’ll have a ball. And yes, I’ve got a stellar line-up of London insiders planned for future posts. Excitement!! X

        • Smallest Sarah

          Yay! Can’t wait to read them 🙂 x

    • http://misskitty-catgoestotown.blogspot.com.au/ Kitty

      Wow! I want to know where that magnificent beef wellington is from! After seeing it on Masterchef last night I have a hankering for it!

      K xx

      • Anonymous

        It’s from Bob Bob Ricard – I heartily recommend it for dinner in London, and they even have a button at your booth that you press for Champagne. Fabulous. X

        • http://misskitty-catgoestotown.blogspot.com.au/ Kitty

          Thanks Wee Birdy – will try and check it out! The menu looks fabulous!

          K xx

    • http://agirlastyle.com/ A Girl, A Style

      Hurray! I always *loved* when you ran these features (and I think it was how I first discovered so many great London designers, artists and locals). Thank you so much for introducing me to Sarah (I’d not come across her before), and I absolutely adore her list!

      Embarrasingly, I’m still yet to go to the Barbican, Bob Bob Ricard and the Towpath Cafe, so this is a timely nudge!

      Briony xx

    • http://twitter.com/Convo_Pieces Zoë (Convo_Pieces)

      Brilliant list! Lots of new things to find when I’m next in London town… and that strawberry souffle, oh my!!

    • Gemma Jones

      Okay! London’s Callling!

    • LuAnn Poli

      Wow! The photos of the shops are so inviting! Makes me want to visit London for the shopping alone! And I’m with you, Zoe; strawberry souffle – bring it on!