My 5 Favourite Cafés and Bars in Weird and Wonderful Places

There are thousands of places to eat and drink in London and many are housed in beautiful locations. But for me, there are 5 go to places if I'm showing someone round London or catching up with a friend and want to go somewhere extra special. Some of these places require a little bit of effort to get to, but they're all equally magical when you get there.

Here are my 5 favourite cafés and bars in weird and wonderful places:


1. The roof café at Alfies Antique Market

Located a 7 minute stroll from Marylebone Station, Alfies Antique Market is a vast Aladdin's cave of treasure set over several labyrinthine floors. You could spend half a day browsing through all the wonders on sale, but when you've had your fill, head up to the cosy roof top café on the third floor where you will be treated to an amazing view over the rooftops of Central London. There's an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the spring sunshine with a pot of tea, or you can sit inside in winter on one of the plush sofas with a glass of wine. Visit the website: www.alfiesantiques.com/cafe.php 

Closest station: Marylebone (Bakerloo Line)

2. God's Own Junkyard


Having recently moved to East London, God's Own Junkyard has taken top spot in my list of favourite places to take visitors. It truly is unique and well worth the pilgrimage: it's a vast neon sign gallery shop located in a seemingly anonymous industrial estate, but step inside and your retinas will be treated to a million volts of dayglo rainbow. It's also home to the equally quirky Rolling Scones Café where you can revive yourself from Stendhal Syndrome and enjoy the upbeat pop ambience and playlists. 

Incidentally, the industrial estate is also home to two breweries and the Mother's Ruin Gin Palace and is a stone's throw away from the genteel eateries on Orford Road (known as Walthamstow Village), so it's worth making an evening of it. Check opening times before you go - the units in the industrial estate only open Friday - Sunday but they are open quite late. Visit the website: http://godsownjunkyard.co.uk

Closest station: Walthamstow Central (Victoria Line and Overground)


3. Fatboy's Diner

This one really is a bit out of the way, but it makes arriving even more satisfying when you get there (my friend once walked half a mile down the A13 carrying a huge meringue before realising they were walking the wrong way). This beautifully maintained 1950s American diner is perched in Trinity Buoy Wharf in the Docklands and is home to exactly the kind of delicious burgers and milkshakes you'd imagine. It's a bit bittersweet to visit now as the diner used to be the guest of honour in little community of artists, but last time we visited it had been moved round to a less prominent position to make way for the general clutter of gentrification, but it's still a unique place to visit nonetheless. You can combine a visit with a breezy stroll along the Thames path with great view of the Millennium Dome (which it will forever be called to me, as per my 1999 edition A-Z) and visit the eerie Longplayer instalment next door, which is programmed to play music for 1000 years. 

Closest station: c.15 minute walk from East India Dock (DLR)


4. The Sky Garden


The Sky Garden is a very badly kept secret of a hidden gem, which means you have to be quick off the mark to book yourself a free visit when the bookings open for the week ahead (though there are a few ways you can visit without a reservation - check the website). Situated in the late thirties floors of 20 Fenchurch Street (a.k.a. the Walkie Talkie building a.k.a the one that melted those cars Archimedes-style), The Sky Garden is a surreal tropical Eden that offers 360 degree views of London from a series of breath-taking terraces. 

There are several restaurants and bars, but just be aware that the menus are all on the pricey side. I visited just after reading High-Rise by J.G. Ballard, which added another level of surrealism to the experience of visiting a utopia in the sky in the middle of the Square Mile. Definitely book you and your bff a visit and take your camera, but be aware that you have to go through airport-style security to go up. Visit the website: https://skygarden.london/sky-garden

Closest station: Monument (Circle, District and Northern Lines)


5. The Tamesis Dock

Moored along the Albert Embankment just up from Lambeth Bridge is the cheery yellow, green and red Tamesis Dock, surely the friendliest pub boat in London. It's a great stop off point if you're undertaking an epic walk of the Thames path, but it's also a great place to head for a night out as the drinks are affordable, there's good food and live music, not to mention stunning views of Parliament at nighttime. 

The boat is surprisingly spacious with three floors of seating, including a lower deck featuring a swinging egg chair and an upper deck with heated outdoor seating. They also hold kara-uke nights (yes, karaoke with live ukulele backing) - again, something on my 2018 to do list! A great place to celebrate a birthday, and as it's a bit off the beaten track, it never seems to get too crowded. Visit the incredibly cute website: http://www.tdock.co.uk

Closest station: c. 15 mins from Westminster (Jubilee, Circle and District Lines) and Vauxhall (Victoria Line)



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