Sally's guide to her favourite neighbourhoods in London

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City Guides: London

Sally was born and raised in London, where her dad has lived all his life and my mum moved to from Sweden at the age of 19.

Besides London, Sally has also lived in a couple of other cities. She studied in Brighton and Vancouver and worked in New York for a little while. She is now settled back in London where she works for a charity that supports young people.

Tell us more about this charity that you work for!


We work with 16-17 year old students who are high achieving but from low-income backgrounds so don't necessarily have the support to get into the best universities and professional sectors, even though they definitely have the ability.

In the UK, social mobility is an issue and it can be hard to move out of the socio-economic group that you are born into. We want to make sure that no matter what your background is you can go to the top universities and get into whatever profession you want.

How long have you lived in London and what do you love and hate about the city?


Minus those four years away, I've lived here for 22 years.

I love love love London, but of course there are days when I can't stand it.

Things that I love about London are:

The green spaces- we have the most beautiful huge parks, that was something I really appreciated after living in New York- London is green! Summer time in London mainly for my favourite day of the year which is Notting Hill Carnival.

Notting Hill Carnival is a huge street party that originated as a Caribbean festival and has evolved into Europe's biggest street festival. It is just a day of dancing in the streets, jerk chicken and music which are three of my favourite things. London is generally great in the summer for free outdoor fun activities.

Things I hate about London:

Unfortunately I have to take the Northern Line on the tube every morning and this is a daily battle because there are so many people- not a great way to start your day! I hate the Northern Line, but I do love the Victoria Line (lucky because I live by the Victoria Line).

Another thing I hate is coming out of Oxford Circus station to the shopping crowds and lots and lots of tourists on their way to the giant Topshop.

Notting HillPictured above: Notting Hill carnival (credit: Adrian Scottow via Flickr)

What are Londoners like? Are you a typical Londoner?


Londoners, like most people from big cities, have a bad rep, but I'd like to think we are not that bad. We don't really talk to each other on the underground and in general people are in a rush, but every now and then there will be shared smile or funny moment amongst strangers.

I think it depends on my mood whether I'm acting like a typical Londoner- I'm sure I have gotten annoyed with tourists walking too slow down a street, but then I also love that we have people coming to see our city. It's a fast paced city but as long as you're not judging Londoners on their mood whilst on their commute to work, people are friendly!

Which London neighbourhood do you live in and what's the vibe of it?


I live in Brixton in South London.

Brixton is a really great place to live, it's really alive and buzzing. As soon as you step out of the station you'll have buskers and preachers and market stalls all making lots of noise. There are a lot of young people living there and on a Friday and Saturday the streets and pubs are full of people enjoying the weekend.

What are your favourite eating and drinking spots in the neighbourhood?


EAT

There is Brixton market which has a lot of great small restaurants and a lot are bring your own bottle. I love Elephant in particular which is Pakistani and does a great Thali.

There is also Negril up Brixton Hill which is a really nice caribbean restaurant, if you get the sharing platter you will be full for a week.

I would also recommend Asmara, an Eritrean restaurant I tried recently, the food was delicious and I love the style of eating in Eritrean restaurants where everything is edible including your plate!

Also there is a cool tapas place in the basement of a church at the end of my street called Gremio. Its an old church so all stone walls and candle lit.

GremioPictured above: Gremio de Brixton (credit: Gremio de Brixton's Facebook Page).

DRINK

I live across the street from a pub called the Effra Hall (not to be confused with the Effra Social) it is a great Pub with live jazz on Sundays and Thursdays, and when they are not playing jazz they are playing Sean Paul.

The cocktail bar Kaff* is also good fun and has cheap cocktails. Then I would head down the road to an area called Camberwell which has great pubs that stay open late- in particular The Tiger and The Sun.

Tiger Picture above: The Tiger, photo by Reading Tom via Flickr

What is there to see and do in this neighbourhood?


In the summer it's got to be Brixton Lido, an outdoor pool in Brockwell Park- it is so much fun and only £3. You get all different people there from all different walks of life and its just a really fun place to hang out when the sun is shining.

Pop Brixton very recently opened. It's a whole group of shipping containers that have small shops, bars and restaurants in. It looks very cool and kind of feels like you are at a festival. I'd also recommend a wander around the market.

For something a little more cultural there is a museum called the Black Cultural Archives which explores the history of black communities in Britain over centuries.

What are some of the other neighbourhoods in London that you love?


Camberwell:
I love Camberwell because it is a calmer version of Brixton. Drink at the Tiger, eat at Silk Road (amazing asian food) go see the beer garden at The Sun.

Hackney:
The vibe is very hipster, eat at one of the many Vietnamese restaurants, drink in the Pub on the Park in London Fields. London fields Lido is also amazing!

Notting Hill/Ladbroke Grove:
The vibe is smart old London, and very British.
Eat at Fez Manghal for delicious Lebanese (BYOB), drink at the Portobello Gold for tree house seating, and go see Notting Hill Carnival.

Peckham:
Another area that is really changing and becoming very popular to move in to, also pretty hipster.
Eat at The Begging Bowl for Thai food, drink at The Montpelier pub or for impressive views of London, Franks* bar which is on the top of a 5 storey car park. To do, visit Peckham Rye the park.

What do you do to relax in London?


Go to the parks. Or in Winter- red wine in a nice old cosy pub.

What are some of your favourite outdoor spaces in the city?

So many! Brockwell Park in Brixton, a new favourite is Crystal Palace which has huge stone dinosaurs hidden in the bushes built over 100 years ago!
Hyde Park for the Serpentine lake and watching the roller bladers.
Richmond Park which is in the suburbs and is a but more wild, deer and rabbits included.

What are some of the must-sees/dos that you recommend for a visitor to your city?


There must be so many, but maybe aside from the usual tourist attractions, what do you think is worth visiting for the traveler who wants something different.

My absolute favourite place in London is the Southbank centre, especially in the summer. It has loads of free fun arts and music events going on and is right on the Thames by the London eye. Its really iconic and has such a welcoming feel for everyone. Ropewalk market is a great food market that happens on a Saturday in Bermondsey- you can pick up some delicious street food, a gin cocktail and enjoy them whilst sitting on some unusual furniture that spills out from the antique shop.

Colombia Road flower market is beautiful to take a stroll down at the weekend. Check out a bar called The Bridge in Shoreditch and go sit upstairs for a drink, sort of feels like you're in 1920s Paris. Go dancing at Troy 22, a tiny club in Soho that feels like you are in someones living room and is free and open till the small hours. Also check out Gordon's wine bar, its hundreds of years old and underground- great for wine and cheese and right on the river.

Where can one get great breakfast or brunch in London?


Brixton is actually a great place for breakfast and brunch places, I really like Pullens in Herne Hill right by the park.

What about your favourite spot for desserts/sweets, if you have a sweet tooth?


Hm thats a hard one- probably just a 99p flake ice cream from an ice cream van by the River Thames

alt Pictured above: The London Eye from Southbank
altPictured above: Southbank Centre


* Kaff is now permanently closed
* Franks is closed till further notice


Stylish stays in London


This briliantly decorated, instantly bookable, 3 bedroom house in Notting Hill is nestled in the heart of West London and fairly near Portobello.

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Going to London? Check out more places to stay in London on Roomorama.