Written by 1:59 PM Staff's Picks, Travel

Quirky Cafes of London!

Sew Over It

There’s a place in Islington full of women hitting the needle. The sewing needle, that is. In a cutesy space where wicker baskets rub shoulders with wall-mounted floral prints and prettily-patterned cushions, a £6 entry fee gets you unlimited tea and the chance to sew in company whilst using a serious range of needlework gear. Walls are lined with sewing machines, irons sit atop gingham ironing boards and there are racks full of scissors, rulers and other bits of sewing paraphernalia. Can’t sew? Don’t worry, classes are available too.


It’s not often we’re happy about our day going down the toilet. But we’ll make an exception for this Victorian ex-public lavatory, which has been beautifully refurbed into a teeny tiny daytime café. The original porcelain urinals have become a pretty counter, vintage lampshades dangle cutely from cisterns and diners sip impressively strong espresso surrounded by wall-to-wall gleaming tiles. The kookiness runs out when it comes to their brunch menu (cereals, pastries, toast) and lunch offering (soups, salads, sandwiches), but who needs ‘off-the-wall’ when you can have plain old ‘delicious’? The only real problem is how to explain to your significant other that you’ve started hanging around public places for hours on end.


London wasn’t the first UK city to open a café entirely dedicated to board games – that honour goes to Thirsty Meeples in Oxford – but this disused railway arch-turned temple to tabletop gaming is still one of the most ingenious ideas to hit the city in recent years. There are bookshelves stacked with more than 500 games, staff trained to explain the rules and once you’ve paid the £5 cover charge, they’re happy for you to keep playing until kicking-out time. There’s a range of cakes, sandwiches, salads and charcuterie platters too, but do be careful not to spill any on the games.

Net. Works

Decor wise, the description we’d pick for this funky, post industrial North London hangout is ‘Big ol’ Swedish furniture showroom’. Their website, however, calls it ‘London’s first and only members-only coffee shop’. Set amongst a pay-per-month co-working space, £10 per month buys you access to a room that’s all pine furnishings, comfy corner sofas, louche jazz soundtrack and white breeze block walls. The fee also includes three coffees, Wi-Fi and the opportunity to bring one guest. It’s a surprisingly relaxed environment, considering its packed with youthful workers chatting about the fine points of contractual agreements whilst nestled amongst pots of complimentary pencils. Plus, on your first visit, the super-friendly staff quite often give you a free drink to see if you like the place.

The Trew Era Cafe

This organic, veggie café has an incredibly strong brand identity. Sorry, that should be ‘Brand’ identity it’s the brainchild of Russell Brand and is located on the New Era estate in Hoxton: where he’d previously campaigned to stop residents from being priced out by development. It’s a non profit making social enterprise which stocks only locally sourced ingredients and is intended to support local and ethical causes. It’s pretty minimalistic in its décor – bare, fantastic walls, metal cages full of veggies, steel bars supporting vintage looking lightbulbs but they know how to froth a pretty pattern onto the top of your macchiato and offer fancy toasties including aubergine, spinach, feta and mint. Well, that is Hoxton, after all

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