London is known for its highlights: Big Ben, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, and double decker red buses. Locals though know the real heart of London lies in the boroughs surrounding the tourist sites. From Notting Hill to Shoreditch, Chelsea to Greenwich, and Hackney to Brixton – London’s larger than life character is comprised of bits and pieces of the diversity of each neighborhood. I don’t consider myself a local but I am starting to understand this perspective a bit more now that I’m in my third London residence in 8 months.
Where you live in London seems to say everything about you. People here are quick to ask “whereabouts do you live?” early in a conversation to gain fast insight into your personality. Initially, I found this jarring and felt guilty stereotyping, but truth be told, where someone chooses to live in London does say a lot about them. West = posh, expats (Chelsea, Fulham), East = hipster (Liverpool, Shoreditch), South = up and coming (Brixton, Putney), North = mixed bag (Angel, Finsbury Park), central = money (Knightsbridge, Kensington). I’m sure a real Londoner could give you more accurate adjectives but this is my quick take on it.
All this reflecting on neighborhoods is a result of moving from West London to North London this past weekend. I spent time wandering my new neighborhood between bouts of unpacking and buying home goods. I’ve found my new coffee shop and potential dry cleaners. There are tons of little convenience stores and plenty of local pubs to try out. There are two parks within a 10 minute walk and I’m close to a football stadium. Although this description could fit so many neighborhoods in London, the vibe is distinctly different from Fulham.
Adjusting to a new neighborhood will take some time because I absolutely loved Fulham. I highly recommend it if you’re an expat moving to London or just want a unique tourist experience. If you’re ever in the area, you’ve got to experience a few of my favorite spots:
- Manuka Kitchen – Good coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Small so make a reservation if you can.
- Shot Espresso – Australian coffee shop that will win you over with their great customer service and amazing drink order memory. They would have my Americano with milk started before I even opened the front door.
- Harwood Arms – Michelin-starred pub, enough said. Reservation definitely required.
- The Fulham Mitre – My “local” (AKA local pub) while I lived in Fulham.
- Bailey’s Fish and Chips – This tiny fish and chip shop attracts people from all over London and has been on several Top 10 restaurant lists.
- Cock Tavern – Great casual spot for a Sunday Roast. Pets allowed too.
And a handy Google Maps view to boot. All of these places are walkable from the Fulham Broadway tube stop. Enjoy and say hello to my old stomping grounds if you visit!