Love Notes: LONDON

London’s staggering diversity means that you can find interesting people everywhere. But what’s the best way to hook up in such a world-class metropolis?

The thing worth remembering about locals is… they are everywhere and nowhere...

Between 12 and 14 million people live and work in London. The definition of a “London local” is therefore pretty fluid. The old London stereotypes of cheeky working-class cockneys or genteel, uppity blue bloods have always been a bit of a cliché and the old neighbourhoods where these archetypes dwelled have changed beyond recognition. The city is so fundamentally international in character that a Londoner is as likely to resemble you as stand apart. That said, some of the more reserved aspects of old England linger in certain aspects of people who live and work in the capital. But Londoners, despite that reserved exterior, are generally accepting of difference and pretty much unshockable. The key is to be polite and understated in your intentions. Do that, and you won’t go far wrong.

London is not a sentimental town but love can be found in unexpected places...


The best night to go out is… Thursday...

Many Londoners like to escape after a hard working week and avoid the influx of tourists and people from the provinces who pour into town on the weekends - especially in the West End and Shoreditch. That’s what makes Thursday the new Friday: It’s the perfect opportunity to mingle with up-for-it locals in heaving bars, restaurants and clubs, with the sort of intimacy you won’t find at other times. By comparison, Friday and Saturday feel like expansive amateur nights. Act like a pro.

The West End’s glorious diversity is a melting pot of desire.


Take us out for... A drink...

The British use the singular, but rarely mean it. Londoners LOVE a drink on the first date. In fact, they love a drink any time, any place, anywhere. In the capital, a casual libation can be either the perfect flirtation or a way of sealing a business deal. Londoners bond over a pint in a huge variety of ways, so be careful when reading the signs if someone invites you out. But it’s the glorious ambiguity of ‘going for a pint’ in London that makes it so appealing in the first place. It’s typical of a city full of surprises.

Find unexpected flirtation in… The British Library...

The British Library prides itself on housing every book ever published. You can pore over a myriad of iconic literature, from Shakespearean manuscripts and hand-scrawled musical annotations by Lennon and McCartney to first-editions of Daniel Defoe and illuminated issues of the King James Bible. The reading rooms, located in a spectacular and controversial post-modern building next to St Pancras station, are legendary for their tangible sexual tension. There are also great cafés, exhibitions and bookshops aplenty, if you choose to uncouple yourself from the texts. If the most potent sexual organ really is the brain, then the British Library is where it gets a workout.

Literary London is driven by flirtation


Best people-watching… Thursday, 11PM, Liverpool Street Station...

Liverpool Street station is a hugely busy hub, servicing London’s Eastern environs. Not only is the area the centre of the City’s financial institutions but tech and media companies have also settled in the neighbourhoods north and the east of the station. This has produced a beautiful culture clash, where suited-and-booted city boys and girls exist shoulder-to-shoulder with souped-up hipsters and international tech-geeks. All of these strands come together on the concourse of Liverpool Street Station after a Thursday evening, post-work drink. Witness all manner of boys and girls doing things they’ll regret before the last train home, with people they shouldn’t be doing it with. Remember to be discreet. A social media embargo is a given.

Here are some of our favourite London pubs, bars and restaurant for that legendary ‘drink’:

EAST 

The Old King’s Head, Shoreditch
The Old King’s Head is half populated by suit-wearing, city folk, with the other half comprised of hacks, producers and coders. It has a bustling, banter-heavy atmosphere, with great pub grub; the perfect experience of a traditional city boozer - and to buy a local a pint.

The Nightjar, Shoreditch
The Nightjar is a cool, subterranean spot just off the Old Street roundabout, where dark corners and cocktails can accelerate amorous intent.

The 'pulled pork benedict' at Dirty Bones: an unholy London fusion


Dirty Bones
A fun dining experience, Dirty Bones’ focus is American-style fast food done well, with a smattering of killer cocktails to wash it down with. We recommend the mac and cheese.

Andina
Peruvian street food is the order of the day at this lovely East London restaurant, situated just off Shoreditch Box Park shopping centre. Order the ceviche and get yourself a pisco sour to drink. Round the corner you will find the Owl & Pussycat for a lovely night cap to finish things off.

SOHO/WEST END

The Arts Theatre Club
‘The Arts’ is a classic late-night Soho bar with dancing. It’s also an incredible melting pot where luvvies and crew from West End theatres mix with after-workers, the odd tourist and an occasional gangster. Don’t tell them we sent you.

Bao
A London eating phenomenon, Bao has skyrocketed in popularity since branching out from temporary Taiwanese food stall to full-on restaurant. Serving up fluffy steamed buns with fillings like braised pork and sprinkled with peanut powder, the food is to die for. And with most buns coming in under £5, it’s easy on your wallet as well. Take our tip of heading to the Soho outlet but be prepared to queue.

The French House
The French got its name in the Second World War, when exiled members of the French Resistance and the Free French government would meet in the rooms above the bar. This is a beautifully atmospheric, wood-panelled little bar, catering to a hugely diverse crowd - but majors on the colourful denizens of Old Soho. The French takes its Gallic heritage seriously, so you’ll find a great range of wine, pastis and conversation here. There’s a great restaurant upstairs too.

SOUTH

Bussey Building, Peckham
A four-tiered bar, gallery and club in South London, Bussey Buildings’ selection of DJs is one of the best in the city. The first and third Saturdays of each month also host the South London Soul Train, where Londoners groove to some of the best funk, soul and Motown records ever made. Fun, but never intimidating.

Corsica Studios, Elephant & Castle
One of the best spots in London for house and techno, Corsica’s expert organisers have handpicked some of the best in the genre to create a dancefloor experience like no other. Prepare for a night out in Corsica to last well into the early hours, as song after song feeds your party spirit.

Negril
A lovely affordable dining experience in Brixton, Negril is a bit off the beaten track of Bowie’s hometown, but provides some of the best Afro-Caribbean food in the entire capital. Plantain, curry goat, dumplings and more are all cooked to perfection, in a restaurant that looks just like a home kitchen in the West Indies. We recommend heading down as a couple and ordering a platter to share: You’ll get a pick of the best grub for under £30.

Inspired to book a trip to London?