5 Secret Cafes in London

By Dominique Chapman

One of my favourite things about visiting a new city is all the new cafes and restaurants to try. Take London - hundreds of coffee and lunch spots line the city streets waiting for you to come in out of the rain to, but how do you figure out where the good ones are? Of course, not in your guidebook. It takes a fair bit of digging, some exploring and even more eating and drinking to figure it out - but that’s the fun part! To help you along, I’ll let you in on the secrets of five of the best cafes in London, in case you don’t have the time to sip tea or grab your morning coffee in hundreds like I did in the search for only the best.

Swan

This delightful restaurant and bar is located at the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe, home to two iconic theaters. Set over two floors you can enjoy a meal of cuppa while admiring the stunning views of the Thames and St Paul’s. What I love about Swan is that it you can enjoy a pre-theater meal or afternoon tea where you can treat yourself to beef sliders, scotch eggs and other moreish treats – paired with a tankard of Hobday Smoked Brown Ale.  There is also a charming café and bar located in the main theater foyer where you can order soups, sandwiches, salads, coffees, teas and homemade cakes. 

Brasserie Zedel

Who knew that buried just under London's bustling Piccadilly Circus lies a stunning art deco French restaurant? Featuring an enormous, grand Parisian-style dining room with high vaulted ceilings and marble columns, this jewel of a brasserie is one of the most intriguing and unusual places to visit in London - any almost everyone has absolutely no idea it exists. They also offer a surprisingly good-value menu for the grandiose style of the decor. Why not drop in for a spot of tea and a patisserie after a long afternoon of sightseeing? Zedel also serves a competitively priced set lunch and dinner menu - guests can feast on authentic Carottes Rapees, Coq Au Vin and Tartes aux Fruits for just £12.75 per head. If you're looking for unique things to do in London, Zedel is also attached to the 1920's-style Bar American and the Crazy Coqs jazz club, where visitors can enjoy a fabulous open mic cabaret show every Thursday evening, showcasing many respected names in musical talent from the heart of London's West End. Something for everyone!

Rabot 1745, Chocolate Cafe

Another one of London hidden gems, this fair-trade chocolate cafe can be found on a side street just off London's famous Borough Market, offering quirky bar-stool seating in a stylish, colonial plantation inspired space. Sourced from the company's original cocoa estate in St. Lucia, customers can enjoy an exclusive range of innovative beverages using freshly roasted cocoa as an alternative to coffee beans. A delectable delight from one of my favourite secret spots in London. My favourite thing to do is go for an artisanal lunch on the go from Borough Market, then stop by Rabot 1745 for a chocolate latte for dessert!

Drink, Shop & Do

This cafe does exactly what is says on the tin. Not only can you stop by for a traditional afternoon tea in a bright and airy teashop setting, but customers can also purchase quirky, affordable products from a range of independent designers. Looking for non touristy things to do in London? Why not add an activity to your teatime booking to liven up the afternoon! This can include being trained by a friendly arts-and-crafts expert in how to make hand crafted flower headbands, printed tote bags - even nipple tassels! What's more, this tea room transforms by night into a trendy cocktail bar with an 'old skool' night club just downstairs - perfect for a truly unique and varied night out exploring London's hidden gems!

Yumchaa

For hardcore tea enthusiasts out there looking to spice up their trip with a few unique things to do in London, this cafe is perfect to shelter from a typical rainy spell on your London visit. With several branches across the city, this kitsch, up-and-coming brand offers a wide variety of both classic and innovative tea blends, including Blue Cornflower Early Grey and Gunpowder Green Tea. A friendly staff member will also help you choose the perfect cake to compliment the flavour of your beverage (the Zucchini and Lime Cake is a must-try). Tea is served in authentic leaf form in a generous tea pot, complete with a personal tea strainer for just £2.70. With plenty of wooden tables, cosy armchairs and free WiFi, this secret spot in London is perfect to refuel and find your bearings whilst soaking up the easy-listening playlist and laid-back atmosphere.

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