Our pal and editor-at-large Eric Kvatek takes us on a tour of London with his buddy Kiro to show us how to experience the city from all angles. Expect all the best vintage, tasties and colourful people who make London the super fun capital that it is so proud to be. What a trip!
Elk in the Woods
Wonderful food locally sourced for traditional English breakfast, though with veggie sausage. A great place to fill up before the stores and markets open. Loved the homey woody vibe and the friendly staff.
Fat Faced Cat
A nice mix of “ladies and gents vintage clothing”.
Hearts & Daggers Militaria
Kiro stumbled across this old style military memorabilia shop down a side alley. Full of patches, medals and uniforms from Europe and the US.
Notting Hill & West //
Highly respected Scotsman and straight shooter Graham Cassie has been a pal and trusted source of advise for shopping in London for many years. Kiro is always happy to dig around Graham’s showroom which just so happens to be featured as a location in the 1966 movie Blow-Up. By appointment only and these days mostly rental aimed at designers. Kiro did manage to purchase some uncut lengths of 100 year old bandannas!
Ascertaining the day to visit for the best vintage clothing was surprisingly confusing. It seemed like every website and expert had a different opinion. We settled on Friday morning and it was good enough. The market expanded up the road with a less formal gathering of ragtag dealers which was almost more interesting than the “regulars”.
Shoreditch & East //
Basquiat at the Barbican Centre
So lucky to have caught this exhibition of gathered works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Amazing to see his art and also so much archive photos and film from 1980’s NYC art scene and street life. Basquiat’s use of found material to create art on a budget is really inspiring. While Kiro has been a fan for many years, this was a unique chance to see so much Basquiat in one place.
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club cabaret
Slightly hard to find under the radar cabaret, a mix of comedy, drag, music and racy acrobatics. Very LGBT with some occasional doses of BDSM and on the spot body piercing and fire play! So not for the prude, squeamish or faint of heart. We really loved the duo Aloha Dead, haunting vocals with a steel slide guitar. To top it off there was actually a performance with a theremin!
Carpenter’s Arms free house
After a long day of vintage shopping we were happy to be sent to this clean bright airy pub in Shoreditch. Really loved some cold pints of Lawless lager.
Giraffe World Kitchen
A quick place to power up with juice and brekkie for an intense day of shopping at Old Spitalfields market. Specializing in unique dishes from around the world with a mix of exotic kitschy decor.
House of Vintage
Plenty of denim for everyone and a nice mix of European and North American vintage. The original store is based in Toronto, Canada with fresh vintage arriving constantly from “across the pond”.
From the moment we walked in Ricardo was our new best friend. We were all wearing the same vintage Seiko diving watch, the one used in Apocalypse Now, it was male bonding at first sight. While Kiro shopped Ricardo and I talked about old cameras, movies and the onslaught of gentrification taking place in almost any desirable neighborhood across the globe. Amazing vintage men’s clothing for girls and guys.
Old Spitalfields Market
While the cleaned up modernized version of this market space is a little too upscale for my tastes there are still plenty of great vendors to rummage through. Besides vintage dealers there are crafts, arts and food. We saw a sign for oysters but the layout is just expansive enough that we never found them!
Search & Destroy
Cool quirky shop with an interesting mix of vintage. An old turntable in the window spins vinyl LPs. Had a good time chatting with filmmaker Lana MacIver!
An utter labyrinth of vintage stalls selling an array of cool old clothing. Get lost!
Soho & Central-
The Crobar rock bar instantly became our stop at the end of most nights. Soon enough Kiro was a favorite with several of the regulars, while he may have not understood a word they were saying we had a blast. Ice cold cans of Red Stripe and a jukebox crammed with metal, classic and punk rock. Despite all the face tattoos and spiked leather jackets a very friendly crowd.
La Bodega Negra
Recommended by everyone, this cool underground bar and restaurant is hidden behind neon signage for adult video & peep shows. While seemingly packed every night we managed to get seats at the bar. While they do serve food, Kiro really liked it for the cocktails and people watching. Somewhat amazingly, the owner of the building picked us out of the crowd and bought us a round of shots priced thirty pounds each!!! So I have no complaints about this fun lively destination.
Lamb & Flag pub
Proudly the oldest pub in Covent Garden, since 1772. Was the scene of bare-knuckle prize fighting in the early 19th century which earned it the nickname The Bucket of Blood. Good enough for Kiro and I to endorse it!
Social Eating House
I learned the hard way that if you want to eat anywhere popular in London you have to make reservations well in advance. After several last minute failures we managed to get a table here dangerously close to closing time. It perfectly satisfied Kiro’s request to try something “trendy” for a change of pace. The back of the menu lists the locally sourced ingredients and states how many miles away from London they arrive from.
Somlo Omega Vintage Boutique
The world’s only Omega authorized shop selling vintage Omega watches. Part of the Somlo store located in the Burlington Arcade. Literally, window shopping at it’s best.
When Kiro realized he needed an extra suitcase we settled on Tumi as it was a short walk from the hotel. When the sales staff asked Kiro what monogram he wanted, he told me to decide for him. Now he has to live with it.
Simply one of the best vintage clothing stores in London, if not the best. Brilliant vintage items for sale pulled from their famous and expansive by appointment only showroom. Owners Doug and Roy are tireless when it comes to sourcing stock and generously sharing iconic rare men’s vintage items in their series of books and publications. Kinda like when you have a dream of finding amazing old stuff but it isn’t a dream, it’s a visit to the Vintage Showroom.
Kiro just had to experience classic British dining so oysters and venison at Wiltons (since 1742) was an easy decision. We dressed as formal as possible and researched which fork is for what but despite our ragged dress and plethora of fine dining faux pas the staff did there best to help us out. The food utterly fabulous.
This guide was written and shot by our editor-at-large and adventure specialist, Eric Kvatek.