Everything to see, eat and do in London according to architect (and model) Anna Kulik
FOLLOW ANNA'S INSTAGRAM & ARCHITECTURE STUDIO.
Looking back and around, trying to describe in short what is it so special about this city, made me remember again how passionate I am about this place, how much I care about every single area, and how much is there still to explore after all these years. I hope that if you come to meet my city, you will also fall in love - or at least leave with a feeling of mutual sympathy and dreams to come back. That is already a start of the promising relationship.
Tell me a bit about yourself. What made you fall in love with London?
In short, I am a multitasking queen - here comes the bitch emoji that boomed the web about a year ago. 💁🏼
I am a young, ambitious and, touch wood for future, a very lucky person. With support from family, friends and people around me I somehow managed to become a successful architect, product designer (everything from jewellery to furniture), latino dancer, and a model walking LFW for the last couple of seasons.
London is a perfect city for someone with a similar personality. It is buzzing, running and spinning around. A billion of new ideas emerge in this city every minute, and people come here to make their dreams come true. Everything around you motivate you to do things - so you do.
Not to say it is easy to live here - you have to get your shit together and toughen up. For me, it is more like a game, where the level bar constantly keeps rising and you just have to keep up with it - but it rewards you with new opportunities.
This is why I love it. And also, its insanely beautiful. And also, very different. And big. And busy. And I lived here for over 5 years, and still don’t know even a a half of the city. And the one that I thought I knew probably changed and became something even more exciting over time.
Neighbourhoods & Hotels
If you didn’t live here and came to visit, there will be a billion options for a stay.
The cheapest is no doubt crushing someones couch - and with so many nationalities concentrated in the city, you will be surprised to find out that probably 3 or 4 of your uni friends somehow ended up in here.
Airbnb is always an option if you are planning a longer visit, but if you are looking for 1-2 nights and something a bit more special, then here you go.
London is super-well connected, the tube goes pretty much EVERYWHERE. But concentrating on the best experience for a short stay, try to be as close to Zone 1 as possible. Zone 1 is still too big to be explored fully by foot in a couple of days, but you can use Boris bikes and get to the neighbourhood you want really easily.
Say left & down from Marble Arch as on the map above, that will be posh, luxury experience. Beautiful neighbourhoods with Victorian and Edwardian properties, Hyde park with ducks and chasing squirrels, Harrods sparkling with lights and red soles of louboutins, fantastic museums quarter (go for South Ken).
A bit above, closer to Notting hill gate, you can find the Portobello road flee market, which is a fantastic spot if you are into vintage and unique finds.
Stay in Dawson Place, Juliette's Bed and Breakfast, a period property with ensuite rooms and a pretty garden, where the breakfast is served in bed! It is also a pet friendly hotel. A night would cost at about 300£ if you are lucky and book in advance, it is an expensive but beautiful spot.
Bloomsbury - Knowledge neighbourhood.
I have very special feelings towards this part of the city - I studied around. This area is a concentration of universities, libraries and schools and pretty much any time of a year it is buzzing with Students. Northern part of it - Kings Kross - is one of my favourite spots in London. Fantastic mixed use development brought vitality to this area, and every day you will find so much to do from movie screenings on the canals to live music etc. If you have a chance to stay in St Pancras Hotel - do so. Ed Sheeran lives in this building .
Probably the most touristic neighbourhoods in London, offering plenty of site-seeng, shopping, bars and restaurants. Here will be the highest concentration of places offering a good avo-on-toast with poached eggs or a full English. I could probably walk this part of the city with my eyes closed.
Stay in DEAN STREET TOWNHOUSE to experience SOHO in full, MAYFAIR HOUSE for an apartment-like spot in between the two neighbourhoods (CENTRAL AF and Posh), or Hoxton Holborn Hotel for edgy spot in the centre, a tiny bit away from tourists crowds right off Covent Garden.
Next to the River
That is the prettiest part of the city - what can be more beautiful than the river? It is about 15km run if you are doing both sides, and you can see how the city changes around you. Perfect for romantic dates and slow walks, just starring at people and enjoying the sweet roasted almonds.
On the way you will find Borough Market, that is also one of my favourite food spots - see it in the next chapter.
If you are up for a stay in that area, try to get into Shard - a beautiful landmark building with amazing views and good bars.
From the other side of the river, closer to Tower bridge you will find Cheval Three Quays, who provide service apartments with kitchens just in front of the river.
Shoreditch, Dalston, Hoxton, City - trendy picking up neighbourhoods full of young professionals. The vibe is cool and creative in this part of London. You can find pop-ups, new galleries, start up cafes and shops, street food all around. Try to get into Shoreditch house for a night stay or at least for a glass of wine next to the pool with the view of City of London. There are cool spots like Hoxton Hotel and Ace Hotel for a quick stay as well that won’t leave you disappointed.
Big fat topic. Food is probably the other reason of why I am so much in love with this city. You can find any - absolutely any - type of cuisine you fancy and it would be DELICIOUS.
There is no Best food in London, but here are couple of my favourite picks.
Burgers: Bleeker street burger. Greasy, cheap, melting in your mouth. There are so many good competitors, like Meat liquor and Honest Burgers, but for me Bleaker is #1.
Meat: If you fancy a steak, go to Flat Iron. The steak worth the wait - its only 10£, yet the meat is incredible and cooked amazing. Believe me, I’m a massive fan of steaks. The place itself is very pretty and good for both a business meeting or a romantic date.
Hot dogs: One of the greatest concepts I met in the city is Bubble dogs. The place serves hotdogs with champagne, and the interior design of the restaurant is conceptually representing these two ideas. Should I mention that Sloppy Joe hot dog is the best of the best…. Mouthwatering.
Chicken: Chickenshop is another great spot, now a chain. They only serve grilled chicken and sides. Don't forget to order an apple pie in the end, with both cream and ice-cream.
Italian: Ciao Bella on Lamb conduit street. A proper Italian restaurant run by family. Try spaghetti al cartoccio in white wine sauce.
Indian: In terms of food, an absolute winner or what I call Spicy Deliciousness is Tayyabs in Whitechapel. Traditional Indian, bring your own booze, the food just can’t get any better. If you are up for both great food and a fancier atmosphere with contemporary touch, try Dishoom - also a chain. Perfect for sharing. Chicken ruby and black daal are the must.
Asian: now this chapter can go forever - I’m a fan. For the best udon go to KOYA bar in soho and try tempura atsu-atsu with tamago. If you are in the mood for a ramen - go to daddy bones also in soho, or kanadaya in Covent Garden.
Kay tre is favourite Vietnamese. Move to China town and find the best duck in your life (I’m serious) in Four Seasons. You need to ask for Boneless Roasted duck - enjoy. Best Japanese for me would be Eat Tokyo, they have it in Holborn and in Soho.
Street food: Go to Borough market, Spietalfields market Brixton Village, Camden Market for all sorts of street food. Borough Market also has great oysters, while from Spitalfields market you can walk to Colombia road flower market on Sundays and that will be the most beautiful part of the day, especially in the peonies season.
Brunch: There are too many brunching places in London, in every single neighbourhood. So many that avo-on-toast with eggs became a cliche. For a brekkie that will be a bit more unusual go to the Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell (book in advance!) and try… everything. But especially blueberry pancakes.
If you want to impress not only by food but also by atmosphere and don’t mind to pay a bit more, try Duck and Waffle, Sushi Samba in the City - the two are with the view. Fuccina in north London is a cool Italian with a twist, and the interior design is very cool. Sketch has decent food but overpriced, so better go there just to enjoy the cocktail and music.
After the above, should I mention I’m not the healthiest eating person in the city? The rule is, you want to eat healthy, cook yourself or ask for a salad. But you are not in London to eat healthy :)
Drinking for me has to tick several boxes: good coctails/wine, cool place/views.
Rooftop bars that are in my list: Aqua Shard, Aqua Oxford Circus, Radio FM, Madison rooftop, Sushi Samba, Shoreditch House.
Cool places with great cocktails and music: Sketch in Oxford Circus, Cahoots in Soho, Escapologist in Covent Garden.
If you are going to drink after work and not planning to spend a massive amount on trying cocktails, go to any local pub. London is great with beers, ales etc.
If you are an architect in London and willing to learn as much as possible about London architecture - both historical and contemporary - download the app called London Guide. I don’t know how the authors collected this amazing amount of content, but literally every single building will be there - and it is very intuitive to use. You will know about the architect, the year it was built, and interesting facts.
If you are willing to hear a bit of a tour about this or other neighbourhood from architectural perspective, try to book a toor in New London Architecture. They do very good walks with knowledgeable guides.
Out of museums, my favourite is V&A - they have the best exhibitions ever! The permanent collection is also cool.
Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced London as being amazing for wellness/spa/treatments. It took me almost 3 years to find a place where they can do a very good manicure, which is a small spot in Tottenham court road called Beaty Box Nails. It is always super busy, there are about 5 or 6 asian ladies working there with about 10-12 customers at the time. Don't be scared by that, they do great job. Ask Linh & QT for a manicure, and Mai for pedicure.
Tips & Secrets
London's best kept secret?
There is a Timeout magazine that you can pick up at any tube station on Tuesdays, that will give a brief outline of everything happening in the city this week. Not much secrecy - but everything changes every day, I mentioned before that this city is spinning with incredible speed. So good luck to try to manage to fit all in your diary! There is a lot of freebies every week as well, so don’t miss out.
As for me, I also enjoy just getting lost in this or another neighbourhood and walking there alone for hours looking into the buildings or stopping for a coffee. If the weather is permitting, there is no better way to get to know the city. And develop this very special, private relationship, that gradually grows into… love.
I love you London, with all my heart.