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The Native | Alessandra Baldacchino shows us around London

Travelling is always risky business – get stuck in a touristy area and your meals are terrible as is the rest of your stay. Alessandra Baldacchino shows us how to travel around London like a native.

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
1 December 2017, 9:15am
Alessandra, 23, was born in Malta, and lived in London for a year. If you’re visiting London, these are the places she recommends to hang out like a native.

Best place to eat

Try the steamed buns a Bao for an authentic Asian experience
Try the steamed buns a Bao for an authentic Asian experience
From the food joints I’ve tried, I’d definitely recommend Bao for their steamed buns, Andina in Shoreditch for healthy Peruvian food (vegetarian friendly), and Kanada-Ya, Bone Daddies and Shoryu for Ramen.

For a good brunch in the East, head over to Albion, or Hackney Bureau which is just a short walk away from Broadway market. Crosstown and Bread Ahead won my mini best doughnut hunt in London which are conveniently sold in most food markets around. There’s also a bakery on the amazing Bricklane which will make you feel like you’re entering a traditional Hal Qormi bakery: Beigel Bake.

If you’re on a burger hunt, try out Flat Iron, Five Guys and Bleaker Street Burger in Spitalfields Market, or if you feel like a pizza, Pizza East never disappointed.

Best place for a night out

If clubbing is your thing Fabric should be on your go-to list
If clubbing is your thing Fabric should be on your go-to list
Soho, Camden, Brixton and Shoreditch are the places I always ended up in on nights out. If you’re into the clubbing scene, Village Underground, XOYO, Phonox and Fabric should be on your go-to list. The Jazz Café and Koko in Camden often organise events, and for fancier gigs you may enjoy the Royal Albert Hall, and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Dalston Superstore has a cool underground club scene and Brilliant Corners has gigs on a Sunday afternoon.

If you’d like a drink with skyscraper views without the queuing, City Social is a more low-key resto/bar in the City, situated in the iconic skyscraper Tower 42.  

Sofar Sounds was a concept I really enjoyed for its spontaneity. Once you select a borough, you will be hosted in a home or privately owned space which is only revealed to you a few days before. It is an evening of intimate gigs by upcoming artists and some well-known ones if you’re lucky.

Random bonus: You can enjoy smashing dishes at Elysée in Fitzrovia past midnight after a night of delicious Greek food.

Best place to stay

The Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall has one of the most luxurious spas in London
The Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall has one of the most luxurious spas in London
The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch is an innovative hub which marries art, design, culture and tech. They took the lobby areas and transformed them into collaborative working spaces. You can party at the rooftop bar and terrace whilst enjoying the panoramic views of the city (and the giant purple telescope!). The brasserie, Hoi Polloi, within the hotel is stunning and often has live classical music playing while you’re dining or having a coffee.

The modernist Hoxton Hotel is both in Holborn and in Shoreditch and is also beautifully designed. There’s a Chicken Shop and their own coffee joint called Holborn Grind which serve Espresso Martinis.

If you’d like a grander experience of London, the Cortinthia Hotel in Whitehall Place has one of the best locations and by far the most luxurious spa I have ever seen, spread over four floors and complete with sleeping pods.

Best spot for shopping

The Brick Lane market has a very different culture to other markets in London. The street is buzzing every Thursday and Sunday, aligned with all sorts of vendors from artisan food stalls, vinyl record stalls, vintage clothes (there’s an underground vintage warehouse!), antique furniture and indie designer wear. If you’re going in summer, there are various food and arty festivals beside the Sunday Up market in the Old Truman Brewery.

On Saturdays, a little East End street between Regent’s Canal and London fields is transformed into the Broadway market which is full of fine book shops, hipster cafes, and stalls with fresh produce, authentic street food, art and clothing.

Best adventure activity

Take a breath of fresh air and hang around like a monkey at Go Ape in the greater London area
Take a breath of fresh air and hang around like a monkey at Go Ape in the greater London area
Grab some friends and plan a day at one of Go Ape’s locations in Greater London. You might need to take a short train ride outside the city centre to the countryside where you can go on forest Segway rides, zip lines and high ropes course through the treetops to literally ‘hang’ out with your friends.

Best areas to wind down and enjoy nature

Hire a barge for a bit of a change of scenery. You can even spend the weekend
Hire a barge for a bit of a change of scenery. You can even spend the weekend
My favourite parks around London are Regents Park, Holland Park and Victoria Park. You can have a picnic on a nice day or sometimes stumble across an open air cinema. Hyde Park is also impressive for its size and I’d suggest hiring a red ‘Boris’ bike for two pounds for the whole day and enjoy cycling through it. If you’re up by Camden and Regent’s Park, make your way to Primrose Hill and enjoy views of London from grassy high grounds.

You’ll see that the canals which flow through London are full of inhabited barges and canal boats which you can rent out for a change of scenery and even spend the weekend.

You can also stroll around Hampstead Heath Woods but be sure to stop at Karma Bread bakery on the way to get your fix of doughnuts and sandwiches for the road.

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...
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