London - a trip to Clapham and Walthamstow
March 31, 2019
I spent a few days in London, invited by Visit London. Our program? An itinerary out of the usual routes in order to discover new places. In the past, I already went to Hackney, but this time I had the chance to enjoy taking a stroll at Walthamstow (North-East of London) and Clapham (South-West). I loved this itinerary because it made me realize that it’s in fact so easy to visit places outside of the center of London. It only takes 15 minutes from the most touristic places to get to calm and nice places, where you can visit by foot!
In order to make everything clear, I wrote all addresses by zone, so you can use my article to visit. I hope it will make you want to visit these places which are less touristic because they are so lovely!
Please note that this trip and all activities has been gifted to me by VisitLondon. But it doesn’t affect my judgement :).
I stayed at Qbic, the greenest hotel in London! Solar panels on the roof, second-hand furnitures, smart showers and a free drink if you accept that your room won’t be cleaned every morning during your stay. Nice ideas!
It is very well situated (just next to Aldgate East and only 15min away from Liverpool Street); my room was super cosy and the all-you-can-eat buffet in the morning was delicious. They even had everything needed to make waffles,… waffles!!
Walthamstow is situated in the North-East part of London. We started the day by eating bread toasts! Nothing special you would think, but remember I was in London! Finding good bread in the English capital is always so difficult! At Today Bread, the Swiss chef makes the bread with local flours. His traditional bread is so crunchy! With just a bit of butter and jam… what a happiness! The place is very family-friendly, and many people come to work with their computers. A relaxing place I really enjoyed!
Then we went to William Morris Gallery, where the artist of the same name used to live. It is nowadays a museum exposing his creations: wallpapers made by hand during the 1860s. William Morris had a very modern vision for his century, and he already preferred handicraft instead of big factories, while respecting his workers’ rights. I was impressed by his innovative mind, and I fell in love with his patterns that would totally fit in our current homes. I recommend you to visit this museum!
Art made us hungry! We went to Sodo Pizza, where we ate a yummy mozzarella and really nice pizzas. The Winter Goat one was amazing! The dough is made with leaven and all ingredients are local. I also tasted the orange wine that I didn’t know before; it was a nice discovery!
I also let all my creativity out at Inky Cuttlefish Studios where I learnt the basics of Screen Printing. I got the opportunity to print by myself a pattern inspired y William Morris on a totebag. You can learn a lot of things at this workshop: you can book an appointment to create your items or just go there and buy pieces of arts made my local artists. It is a very nice souvenir to bring back home, and it’s even better when it is made by our hands!
We spent a lovely moment at Francis Road, my favorite part of this trip. It was on a Friday afternoon, and there was no car, just a few people wandering. The atmosphere was so peaceful with these small houses and cute shops. I would love to live in such neighborhood, far from the crown and noise, within a small loving and creative community! I discovered there a small shop full of treasures named Venner. Seriously, I wanted to buy everything! But I have been very reasonable and only bought 3 rolls of paper (they are so beautiful I created some frames to put on my walls). I also watched for a long time the earrings created by a local artist. If you are looking for a present, you will surely find it at this shop!
I also spent some time at Yardam, a wine bar held by a family, and that sells nice delicatessen and cheese (and also some beers, so beautiful that they look like pieces of art!). By the way, the bread from Today Bread I wrote about just before,… It was also available there! That’s all very local!
In the evening, I was amazed by God’s Own Junkyard, a space where the personal collection of ‘Neon Man’ is exposed (it is a family business). Many movie makers come to this place to find some nice lights. I really have nice memories from this place! All these colors, all these lights! Wonderful! It is also possible to have some drinks there, so you don’t have any reason not to stop by. Just near this place, at Mothers Ruin Gin Palace, you can taste some home-made gin with local products. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly!
The nicest point about London on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s that the main bus and underground lines works non stop, all night long! You can party all night without worrying about commuting back home. According to the people living in London, they are very safe at night, so no worry.
Here are some nice activities to do in central London. Firstly, there is The Shard, this huge building that offers a breathtaking view over London. The ticket costs around 35£ per person (like the Empire State Building in New York); it’s quite expensive but the scenery is really beautiful! It’s the only spot where we can see how big London actually is…
Of course, there is also London Eye, a huge wheel built near the Thames during year 2000. I always wanted to ride it, and I got the opportunity to be gifted the ‘Champagne Experience’: one entire cabin just for me, with a guide to explain to me what I was seeing (and help me to take the best pictures), and a glass of Champagne. What an unforgettable experience! Moreover, I was super lucky to see a beautiful blue sky! The cabin didn’t move at all, so don’t worry if you fear heights you still can ride it. The experience lasted around 35 minutes, but it felt like 5 minutes as there were so many things to see. The classic ride costs around 27£. I recommend to do it a least once in your life!
Also, I would like to share with you a nice restaurant address: the Roast, located just near Borough Market. It is a bit more expensive than the usual lunch, but it is absolutely delicious. My friends Boubou and Tri and I really enjoyed this place!
On Saturday we went to London’s South-West city: Clapham! It is a lively neighborhood with large parks, where arts is at every corners. Clapham is at only 15min from Central London by train, just as Walthamstow. It is easy and fast to go there. Once you get at destination, you can all visit walking.
We started by having a drink at a weird place: WC Wine and Charcuterie. As its name suggests, this bar has been built in… 100 years old public toilets! I was very surprised! But I liked the originality and the cosy atmosphere.
Then we went to Studio Voltaire where we visited a fascinating exhibition about Oscar Wilde. Did you know that he has been put in jail because he was gay? In England, it was a crime until 1967. I learnt many things thanks to this exhibition, and I liked that the Studio supports the LGBTQ+ community.
At night time, we had a drink and ate some pizzas at Venn St Records, just near the studio, in a small and lively street (there is a market there in the morning). I especially loved the Happy Hour offer at Venn St: 2 pizzas + 2 drinks for only 19€… It was almost the same price than a simple cocktail in Paris :D. There are bands playing music 6 times a week, so it’s the perfect place if you want to discover new bands while drinking nice cocktails!
Then we went to the Omnibus Theater where we attended a cabaret-like play: ‘Lipstick: Fairytale of Iran’. Only two actors were on stage for 90 minutes. It was a very moving play. If you go to Clapham, have a look at the Omnibus Theater’s program, they always have interesting plays about sensitive topics.
We also made a stop at Tooting Market. It’s an indoor market where you can do some shopping (especially for vintage and designers items), have a drink and eat. We went there around 10pm and it was quite crowded, with a festive atmosphere! If you are with a group of friends who have different tastes, this place will please everyone as there are so many different bars (and the music changes according to it). Tooting is part of the Top 10 of the best worldwide places according to Lonely Planet… It would be too bad not to go there :)
Last visit of our trip: Tooting Tram & Social! We went there to dance in this huge club that plays live music with DJ sets. I got so excited when I heard a nice 90’s music playlist… That’s all what I love! The club is so huge, there even is a large mezzanine. If I write especially about it it’s mainly because I don’t like when dancing too close to other people. At Tooting Tram & Social, you have plenty of space! That’s particularly nice when you dance like crazy!
We finally came back to our hotel by train. I was so happy it was still working at this time of the night. It was quite crowded in fact, and perfectly safe. Paris, learn from it!
I hope this travel report allowed you to learn about new spots to discover during your next trip to London! If you are used to visit this city, just like me, it’s very nice to go to these new neighborhoods. Feel free to comment and tell me if you have already been there or if you want to ! See you !