11.23.2009

Cruisin' Cafes: London, England

I was given a task back in the first grade. At the mere age of six or seven, I, along with my classmates, was instructed by my somewhat feared teacher Miss Cullen to draw a picture of a place I wanted to visit more than any other. There were two ground rules: one, we could not select another planet; two, it had to be outside of the United States. Given my frequent viewings of Superman, and adoring the premise of stepping into a cherry red telephone booth to transform into someone with amazing powers, I chose London, England – after all, the one thing I knew about the country was that those very same phone booths were everywhere. Fast forward fifteen years, and I am still obsessed with “the Queen’s little place in the country.” Thus the reason why our second café journey is to London, England!

Maison Bertaux I’ve always wanted to be Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I have worshipped her for many, many years – aspiring to hold fast to her wide-eyed innocence, and jumble of thrill and surprise that seemingly overwhelms her when introduced to something new. Stepping one foot into Maison Bertaux, and you can’t help but feel like the golden-haired girl with imagination galore; for one moment you’re on a gritty Soho street, the next you’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole into a glorious little gem of a café which doubles as a quirky cake and pastry shop that would make Marie Antoinette herself giddy.

Founded in 1871, the true charm and enchantment of Maison Bertaux is in its aesthetic. Dainty china, pink shabby chic décor, and Parisian patisserie influences converge as one to create a cozy little nook which features an upstairs tea room for savoring warm drinks on blustery rainy days, and a slightly cramped – yet over the top quaint – downstairs sitting area should you feel the desire to gaze upon the pretty pastries being crafted on premises. Have a Coconut Macaroon or two for me, s’il vous plait! 28 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 5DD.

The Coffee Cup Perhaps I’m fazed by the history that Hampstead’s The Coffee Cup harbors – since it’s opening in 1951, its doorway has been graced by Paul McCartney, Sting, Emma Thompson, and Betty Grable. But I like to attribute my adoration of the spot to the cramped, run down style which wraps you up in the type of warmth synonymous with a snuggly scarf or plaid blanket huddled under in front of the fireplace as you slowly sip steaming coffee out of oversized mugs.

Inside, there is a rustic, log cabin type of cultivation courtesy of the wood paneled walls, out of sight cubbyholes perfect for curling up with a good book, and retro stools, all of which serve to create a noir-influenced elegance not often seen in more recently built establishments; while outside sits a handful of outdoor tables perfect for people watching as you down cup after cup of scrummy cappuccino. Just don’t forget to couple it with carrot cake topped with ice cream – the ideal complement to your toasty drink. 74 Hampstead High Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 1QX.

Poetry Café It is not surprising I should find myself head over heels with Covent Garden’s Poetry Café; after all, it is like a little slice of New York City’s Greenwich Village extracted and plunked down in the middle of London.

Poetry Café is a true-life version of the coffee shops that manage to pop up in literature all the time, but rarely appear in reality. It is a beatnik location that poses as a simple café and bar organized for people to shoot the breeze with strangers over wicked brews concocted right before your eyes in the mornings and afternoons; then, just before an event begins in the evening, everything changes. Seats are vacated and crowds of people shuffle down to the basement, cappuccinos and warm brownies in hand, and cozy up to plush sofas as various London-based artists take the stage. It’s a jazzy little place brimming with nostalgia; you’ll never want to leave! 22 Betterton St., London, WC2H 9BX.

Which of these London cafes would you like to cruise?


Fashionably yours!


Thanks to We ♥ It for the pictures.
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49 comments

kpeach said...

lovely images-this post is so great xo

janettaylor said...

Cute post, Erika!

X♥X♥

Jaime said...

I love that image w/ the cupcake! Though it's not a cafe I adore L'Orangerie in Kensington Gardens (I believe). It's the best- cucumber sandwiches, scones, and tea! :)

Dina's Days said...

The pictures you chose are simply adorable. I plan on visiting London one of these days, it's on my TO GO TO list.

Leah said...

Poetry Cafe seems so romantic and it's filled with creative people. Well, all the coffee shops you suggested look interesting. Thanks for this tip. I'll keep this post in mind next time I visit London.

The Blonde Duck said...

The first one and the Poetry Cafe, of course!

ana said...

All of them!!!! I love coffee ;)

Barbro Andersen said...

What a beautiful blog! In your description you sound just like me: "Without writing, fashion, caffeine, and music I would cease to exist" <3

fayeee said...

I've been to London,
such a lovely placeee and it seems to make me feel excited and there is this really cute coffee/cake shop on one of the kensington corners called "the muffin man"
ahhhhhhhhhhh its so cute
on the last day i FORCED us all to eat there
x

Couture Carrie said...

What a lovely post, darling! I wish I could fly to the UK right now and check all of these out!

xoxox,
CC

Jennifer Fabulous said...

I want to go to these places RIGHT NOW!! That would make my Monday a whole lot lovelier. :) Omg and I adore that second photo you posted. The cupcake looks delicious and so does the drink, but they are also much to pretty to be touched. Hehe.

Tights Lover said...

Great post. I'm such a big coffee drinker and love being in cafes! I think I would like The Coffee Cup the best!

Sherin said...

Oooo, I can't believe I've never been to any of these. I'm boomarking this page and will hopefully go to all 3 soon enough. I'm excited now: thats for the tips.

The Blonde Duck said...

Leopard print queen fact: In college, my half of the dorm room was pure leopard: comforter, curtains, pillows, chair cushions, scarves in basket, photo albums, chair...

My roomate had violet and eyelet lace.

Diane said...

oh erika you are making me thirsty for some coffee...
all i have with me at the office today is green tea. i guess that will have to do. :P

MissNeira said...

First, I want to go to London! and then try to go to all of them! haha one day!

Jen said...

Oh, I do LOVE Poetry Cafe. I don't visit London often but that's definitely one of my must-stops. Gorgeous pictures.

All Women Stalker said...

Wonderful post, Erika. You are fueling my wanderlust!

-meream

Melissa Blake said...

Ahhh, I've always wanted to go to Europe! Lovely post!

Toothfairy said...

I need to get to london soon! I've planned a weekend trip for a million times, but never actually went! and it's only a 1 hour flight!

:S

loves

Elizabeth Marie said...

Awwww. I miss London. I spent ten years there, so this post is very near and dear to my heart.

Miri said...

Oh god, I wish I lived in London! It looks so cool! I went there when I was 6, like I could've appreciated it then!

Gaia said...

you say "I’ve always wanted to be Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland" me too!!!!

Lovely post!
I've been to a cafe in milan and I just loved it... I wish I coul open one nice place like those you talk about !

B a la Moda said...

I may go to London this Christmas. Thanks for the recommendations. Love cafes too.

xoxo
B* a la Moda

Mimi said...

Loving this post! I, like you, love Superman and Alice in Wonderland. Who doesn't want superpowers or journey into an unknown yet magical place? I guess London is as close as it gets. :)

Nubiasnonsense said...

The third picture seriously looks delish!! The cupcake looks so creamy.. Yum I am a huge coffee lover

Emily said...

all three sound divine! I love unique coffee shops - the poetry one sounds really interesting.

la petite fashionista said...

our flat while studying abroad was a mere 10 minute walk from soho! i wish i would have known about the Maison Bertaux; i definitely would have paid a visit!

xoxo

Nicole Marie said...

i loved london. i wish i had an english . or at least fake one :)

Taylor Sterling said...

ill take some coffee with pink marshmellows please!!

Luinae said...

The third one sounds fantastic!

Rachel Scarlet said...

omg omg...the last picture is sooooooo scrumptious! It's so sugary sweet and lovely! I've always wanted to visit London though.By the way, thanks for the comment btw XOXO

Patty Ann said...

ahhhhh this such a good review. omggg i wish i was back in england, and i could actually go check out these places. i used to study at cafes when i was in england. you make me miss it so much right now!!!
xxx

AlphaBetaChic.blogspot.com

miriam said...

fabulous post! Maison Bertaux is my favourite out of these. during my London years as a student, i used to spend almost all my hours there.

English Rose said...

Darling I am so glad you did this post - I absolutely adore all of the places you mentioned - Poetry Cafe has to be my fave though, it makes me feel like going this weekend, I think I just might...

http://iamanenglishrose.blogspot.com

michelle_ said...

this is a very great post ! i love ur intro on the childhood memories . isnt great when you remember those cute times ?
i love it even more when i can find the drawings i did when I was a kid . they always make me smile . my mom used to frame all of my artworks , so i still have them now :)

anyway thanks for your comment ! it made me really really smile !

i've got a new collaboration post up now :)

Rachel said...

All of these places sound so lovely! I really wish I had places like this where I live. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing like it nearby. Maybe I need to open a cafe... Hmm. Haha!

I have an award for you on my blog so be sure to check it out later. :)

AudreyAllure said...

they all look so quaint & lovely, i would visit all of them haha. there's actually a place that reminds me of those places here in new york - called the sweetiepie restaurant. very marie antoinette like. haha

dot said...

Can't believe I haven't been to ANY of these! And, as a (budding) screenwriter, I go thru phases where I basically live in cafes (not to mention, I LOVE a good cup of coffee!)

So what I vow to you, dear Erika, is to go to these places, spend some time, take a few shots, and send to you. Who knows maybe I'll find some good street style shots!

From this NYer ex pat in London, I am indeed most grateful for this lovely post. xox

dot said...

p.s. Because I haven't been to these yet, for me so far the best cup of coffee in London is at Burrough Market, from Monmouth Coffee. They've got a tiny hole in the wall near Covent Garden, on Monmouth Street. Two tiny tables, but excellent coffee.

On Saturdays, the queue for their coffee at Borrough market is a good half hour, but you just chat to a friend or people watch, and well worth the wait!

Apparently coffee houses in London go back centuries, and pre-date pubs. Ironically: they were just places where MEN would hang out and exchange ideas.

Elise said...

marshmallow and tea ! heaven !

Closet Cravings said...

Love it. I want to visit all of them. The pictures are so heavenly and sweet. =)

The Lil Bee said...

Poetry Cafe sounds like something out of a movie. And that bottom image is just about the prettiest, girliest thing I've ever seen!

Inspiration in Italy said...

Love this post, adorable! xoxo

Olive said...

Which one? As with most of your posts, I have to say, "all three!" Lovely images, too.

Sasha Sharma said...

alice in wonderland is so love! and the movie with johnny depp, wonderful (:
weheartit is the best!

Little Bow Prep said...

The first pic is so pretty!

MizzJ said...

Oh my how can I decide on just one? I want to visit them all! I love looking at pretty, delicate tea sets and that cupcake pic is just divine. The perfect thing to do on a rainy day with your girl friends.

MizzJ said...

Oh my how can I decide on just one? I want to visit them all! I love looking at pretty, delicate tea sets and that cupcake pic is just divine. The perfect thing to do on a rainy day with your girl friends.

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