Visit London Blog » spitalfields Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:51:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Six Things We Learned on the Eating London Food Tour Tue, 06 May 2014 08:22:22 +0000 Bread & butter pudding at The English Restaurant

East London has long attracted people from all over the world: silk-weaving Huguenots, persecuted Jews, Bangladeshi chefs… who have all made their fortunes on its cobbled streets – alongside the native Cockneys born and bred here. So where better to hold a heritage food tour?

The Eating London food tour lasts about 3.5 hours and is packed full of fascinating facts about Brick Lane and Spitalfields, hidden gems and visits to everywhere from a traditional English boozer to a Brick Lane curryhouse. Visit London went along to sample it for ourselves – and left with brain and belly delightfully full. Here are just five things we learned on the way…

1. St John does an amazing bacon sandwich

St John Bread & Wine knows a thing or two about meat – its founder is the pioneer of the ‘nose to tail’ food revolution after all. So it should be no surprise that its bacon sandwich is a real treat, and a great way to kick off the tour. Made using Gloucester Old Spot rashers, for once the delicious smoky bacon is the main event, not something to be smothered in ketchup!

2. How to spot a real bagel

While tucking into hot salt beef bagels at the Brick Lane Bagel Bar – juicy meat falling away, pickles sliding, mouths drooling – we learned how bagels are made the proper way. Unlike supermarket bagels which are steamed, real bagels are boiled before being baked. You can tell it’s not the real deal if it has the telltale grate marks on the underside.

Cheese tasting at Androuet

3. You can get a cheese wedding cake at Androuet

French cheese shop and restaurant Androuet served up some delicious English cheeses for us to try, expertly paired with dried fruits and nuts. Our attention was also caught by the photos of giant cheese wedding cakes they supply for more savoury-toothed couples. Brie-lliant!

4. It pays to look up

Our Eating London guides constantly surprised us by pointing out street art, strange buildings or quirky signs we’d missed – despite having walked around the area countless times in the past. Many times a whole new world opened up just by looking above eye level.

5. You can still buy fish & chips served in newspaper

In the 1980s, the powers that be decided serving fish & chips in newspaper was unsafe as the ink could seep into the food. Poppies in Spitalfields has ingeniously got around this law by printing their newspaper with edible ink! It’s also just been voted Best Independent Fish and Chips Restaurant in the UK at the National Fish and Chip Awards – an award well earned, after tasting their wonderfully light cod, chunky chips and piping hot mushy peas. Well worth a look.

6. There’s always room for dessert

Filled with tasty drinks and snacks from some of East London’s finest restaurants, the tour ended at Pizza East with a slice of salted caramel chocolate tart. Sprinkled with almonds and sea salt, no-one could resist scoffing down the entire slice (despite all that had come before) accompanied by a cuppa and chatter. Well, we had been walking after all – it was well earned.

Eating London’s East End Food Tour takes place Monday to Saturday at 10am. Adults £59. To book, visit

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London Shopping News: House of Holland, Harrod’s Christmas Shop, Godiva, Harvey Nichols Wed, 31 Jul 2013 12:48:24 +0000 From the opening of Harrods Christmas shop to designer fashion being flogged from the back of an ice-cream van, London has some fabulous shopping treats in store for you this week!

Christmas Arrives Early at Harrods

Christmas may be five months away, but Harrods has already opened its festive shop. The Christmas World department opened in the luxury store last week as shoppers have been soaking up blissfully tropical temperatures in the capital. Sited on the third floor of the Knightsbridge department store, the 2000-square foot space oozes wow-factor with a snow-globe village, a life-size alpine ski chalet and a replica of the Tower of London. It’s also heaving with Christmas cards, stocking fillers and decorations. Plush crackers can be snapped up from £14.99 to an eye-popping £1,299. If you have cash to splash, there’s a 6ft Santa Claus that could be yours for a cool £3,999. Also available are vintage-style festive decorations created by New York designer Eliot Raffit.

Henry Holland Tours London in an Ice-cream Van!

Roll up, roll up for Henry Holland’s Ice Cream van! Forget frozen treats, the fashion designer is touring the capital in a Mr Quiffy van – named after Holland’s voluminous hairstyle – with his ice-cream-inspired summer collection in the boot. Kicking off in Covent Garden, the roving pop-up will sell a House of Holland limited edition collection that includes everything from iPhone covers to signature slogan t-shirts, all priced from £15 to £150. There’s even a mirror at the back of the van for people who want to try clothes on. The mobile boutique will be in the Covent Garden Piazza on 2-3 August; Carnaby Street on 8-10 August; Monmouth Street, Seven Dials from 15-17 August and Spitalfields from 29-30 August.

Godiva in Covent Garden

Luxury chocolatier Godiva has opened a brand new store in Covent Garden’s Market Building. As well as stocking Godiva’s signature gold gift box collection, you can also indulge in chocolate bars, ice-cream and delicious strawberries dipped in chocolate. Yum!

Savile Row Tailor in Harvey Nichols

Calling all stylish men! Savile Row tailor Chester Barrie is to open a concession in Harvey Nichols’ flagship store in Knightsbridge tomorrow (August 1). Founded in 1935, the company offers ready-to-wear clothes, as well as bespoke tailoring.


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London Challenge: Family Day Out For £50 Tue, 09 Jul 2013 13:00:40 +0000 "Driving" the driverless trains on the DLR Saying hello to the animals at Mudchute City Farm The Greenwich Foot Tunnel Outside Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre Learning through play in Discover Greenwich Standing on the Greenwich Prime Meridian Line Pirate Alice Leghorn at the National Maritime Museum Playing in Mudlarks at the Museum of London Docklands A well-deserved sit down at Poppies restaurant in Spitalfields

Can a family enjoy a day out in London for £50? I accepted this challenge and set out with a friend and our daughters for a day out. We only spent money on travel and food, as all the attractions we visited were free.

Morning: Mudchute Farm and Discover Greenwich
Mudchute Farm is one of London’s largest city farms and easy to reach on the DLR. From Crossharbour station, it’s a short walk to the farm where we said hello to the animals, watched horse-riding lessons and then exited at Millwall Park for the playground.

From here it’s a five-minute walk to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under The Thames to reach Greenwich. (Do note, if you have younger children the lifts don’t always work, so be prepared for stairs.) It was a scorching day, so we all appreciated how cool it was in the tunnel. Within minutes, we were in Greenwich. Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre, has lots for children to do. We enjoyed dressing up, building towers and playing games. You can pick up a free map from the Tourist Information Office here and we grabbed ours and then went to the park.

Lunch: Greenwich Park
We were spoilt for choice for great picnic locations at Greenwich Park but we chose to climb the hill to the Royal Observatory, and eat our packed lunches admiring those magnificent views. We then watched the 1pm ball drop at Flamsteed House.

It’s possible to get photos of the Prime Meridian Line outside the Observatory courtyard as the line continues across the path outside. Just look for the “kissing gate” to the right of the courtyard to see it. We walked down the hill and found the Prime Meridian is also marked on Park Vista – a road near the boating lake. This called for more photo opportunities and, again, there was no-one else there.

Afternoon: Free Museums
The National Maritime Museum is a fabulous family-friendly museum and we played on the large floor map for some time before heading up to the All Hands! children’s gallery. On the hour, there are free family events to meet historic characters and we met Alice Leghorn – a female pirate who is well worth seeing.

We all wanted an ice-cream as it was such a hot day but ice-creams from a van in the park were £2.50 each; instead, we nipped to the supermarket nearby and bought a pack of four ice-creams for less than £3.

A short ride on the DLR and we got to Museum of London Docklands with another excellent children’s play/learning area. The girls had an hour in Mudlarks damming a stream, loading cargo on a ship, weighing and building before we visited the galleries.

We played in the sunshine in Canary Wharf before heading to Spitalfields for dinner. The area is well-known for excellent street art so we made sure we had time to explore and take photos.

Dinner: Fish and Chips
Poppies of Spitalfields has 1950s style decor with the friendliest service. There are kids’ meals on the menu and we all perked up when dinner arrived. We all enjoyed our day and I’m glad we proved that a family day out does not have to be expensive in London.


  • Two adult one-day travelcards (top-up on Oyster cards): 2 x £7.30 = £14.60
  • Pack of 4 ice-creams from supermarket: £2.69
  • Dinner at Poppies, including drinks: £31.80
  • Total: £49.09

Laura Porter writes the London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She’s @AboutLondon on twitter and fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.

More ideas for enjoying London on a budget

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What’s On in London This Weekend: 13-15 July 2012 Thu, 12 Jul 2012 09:00:27 +0000
Brand new music and a brand new festival head up this weekend’s activities in London. There’s also the chance to sample top tapas and wear a French wig (not at the same time).

New Music 20×12 Weekend at the Southbank Centre
Beat boxing, fire artists and even giant wasps are promised in this weekend of musical premieres and activities at the South Bank Centre. Twenty new pieces have been commissioned for 2012 as part of the London 2012 Festival. They’re all 12 minutes long and are inspired by the dynamism of the Games. You can fit rather a lot into 12 minutes – take the short opera Our Day, which tells the story of Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters against the backdrop of the troubles in Northern Ireland in 1972. Most events are free but some workshops are ticketed.
13-15 Jul

Bastille Day celebration at Canada Square Park
This not-so-British celebration is part of the City of London Festival which runs in June and July. Bring your own wine and cheese to commemorate the turning point in the French revolution when the Bastille prison in Paris was stormed in 1789. The anniversary is France’s national day, and so it’s fitting that French acts will perform in Canada Square Park in Canary Wharf in the afternoon and early evening. Entertainment starts with euro ska jazz from Santa Macairo Orkestar, followed by young musician L whose songs are twists on French music, and finally the KKC Orchestra which fuses hip-hop and electro swing.
14 Jul

Vietnam Summer Festival at Spitalfields Market
Vietnam is proudly waving its flag at this brand new festival at the renowned Spitalfields food market, where food stalls from different regions will offer tasters of dishes like the classic Pho noodle soup - often eaten for breakfast in the country. If you’re feeling energetic, try out traditional Vietnamese games like jute-bag jumping (much like sack races in the UK) or the intriguingly named “dragon-snake”, a complex group game involving a script, a doctor and a very angry dragon.
14 Jul

Rioja Tapas Fantasticas at Potters Fields Park
It will be fiesta time on the South Bank for this celebration of top Spanish cuisine. Raise a glass of red, white or rosé Rioja wine in Potters Fields Park, overlooking Tower Bridge. Tapas – the perfect walk-and-eat cuisine – will be on sale from London’s Spanish restaurants and live Spanish music and cookery demonstrations are also on offer. You might return as a wine buff after some workshops and wine walks with experts Olly Smith and Susy Atkins.
14-15 Jul

What are you up to this weekend? Post your tips below.

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Celebrate International Women’s Day 2012 in London Wed, 07 Mar 2012 12:45:08 +0000

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women everywhere. Find out how you can mark this important date in London:

March over Millennium Bridge: Join celebrities, activists, and Women for Women supporters on Millennium Bridge as part of the Join Me on the Bridge campaign, promoting peace and equality. Meet on the south side of the bridge at 10.30am, then march across it, along Victoria Embankment and into the ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall for speeches. 8 Mar

Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre: Five days of gigs, films, talks, theatre, poetry and more, coinciding with International Women’s Day. Highlights include Equals Live 2012, a concert hosted by Annie Lennox; speed mentoring; and keynote speeches by Eve Ensler and Mary Portas. 7-11 Mar

Support Creative Women at Spitalfields: Spitalfields Market is holding an International Women’s Fair this weekend where you can browse books, arts and crafts by creative women and enjoy free entertainment including comedy, music and ballroom dancing. Free tours of the Women’s Library take place at 12pm and 2:30pm. 10 Mar

Invest in You at Inner Space: Wellbeing centre Inner Space is hosting an afternoon of free talks for women with a theme of Invest in You. Register at 10 Mar

Know of another Women’s Day event? Tell us in the comments below.

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Frightening Films in London this Halloween Wed, 26 Oct 2011 16:30:57 +0000

Avert your eyes and put down your popcorn as classic horror films hit London’s cinema screens this Halloween.

Jameson Cult Film Club Presents “Chills in the Chapel”, Union Chapel, Islington: 29-30 Oct
The Jameson Cult Film Club presents two horror classics in the atmospheric setting of the Union Chapel, Islington. Steel yourself for The Blair Witch Project (1999) and the best horror remake of all time (fact), Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) on the 29 and 30 October respectively.
Read more abot Chills in the Chapel

Brain Wash Presents Fright Night at Curzon Soho: 28 Oct
Don your most gruesome fancy dress for a night of DJs, VJs and drinks and a rare screening of Tom Holland’s Fright Night (1985) at Curzon Soho. Regularly voted as one of the greatest horror films of all time, Fright Night follows one boy’s mission to prove that his neighbour is a vampire. The fun starts at the bar from 9pm, with the screening from 11.30pm.

Halloween Screamings, The Round Chapel, Hackney: 28, 30 & 31 Oct
From the creators of the Rooftop Cinema Club comes a short season of creepy classics, including The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976) and Halloween (1978), on the 28, 30 and 31 October. Doors open at 6.45pm and there’s a licensed bar – serving spirits no doubt.

The Underground Picturehouse at The Water Poet Spitalfields: 31 Oct
And finally for some light relief, head to The Water Poet in Spitalfields for a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) on 31 October. Doors open from 6.30pm for a 7pm screening.

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London Photo of the Week: S&M Cafe in Spitalfields Fri, 24 Sep 2010 08:00:51 +0000

If you’re looking for some comfort food, take some inspiration from Gareth1953‘s photo and nom some sausage and mash at the S&M Cafe in Spitalfields.

On the subject of Spitalfields secrets, we also really enjoyed the vintage and modern Spitalfields photos posted on Spitalfields Life on Wednesday, showing street scenes as they were in 1912 and this week.

Add your photos to the Visit London Flickr pool and we could be featuring you next week!

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Photo of the Week: Spitalfields Sat, 06 Feb 2010 09:00:19 +0000

This week’s photo by The_Guvnah shows a historic building façade in Spitalfields which has been preserved when a new building was erected. It’s a slightly bizarre solution to modern life in historic buildings.

Seen anything fascinating in London recently? Add your photos to the Visit London Flickr pool.

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Looking Forward to East Festival 2010 Thu, 24 Dec 2009 13:35:24 +0000 East Festial 2010 will be held 4-9 March

East, one of London’s most exciting, quirky and cool festivals, is just around the corner!

East is an annual festival that celebrates the cultural and creative life of East London. Next year it will be held from 4-9 March and, while we can’t reveal too much at this stage, we can tell you that it’s going to be just as interesting and diverse as ever.

East 2010 will explore four key themes:

  1. Architecture
  2. Asian Subcontinent
  3. Travel
  4. Minimalism

The six-day festival features around 80 events held at East London venues ranging from The Barbican to Brick Lane, Whitechapel Gallery to Spitalfields Market.

Previous East festivals have seen innovative new collaborations, work from world-class artists and performers, and record audiences. This is one London festival you really don’t want to miss.

In fact, why wait for March? The Christmas break is an ideal time to get out and about in East London. For inspiration, check out the East London Walks page, our Only in London East Itinerary and the DIY East guide. That way, when the festival rolls around, you’ll be fully prepared to enjoy East!

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