Waterloo and Embankment tend to get a little overlooked when it comes to areas to hang out, but look a little closer and you'll find historic streets packed with pubs – not to mention you're a stone's throw from Covent Garden and Chinatown. Whether you're after a day of art or day of eating, here's everything you need to see, drink and do in the neighbourhood.
Tally Ho's gin safari
Whether you're a jaded Londoner or just visiting for the day, Tally Ho Bikes tours will show you a whole new side to the world's greatest city. Ok yes, we might be biased on that one. The tours are run by hipster historians, which should tell you everything you need to know: there'll be beards, there'll be tweed and there'll be booze, too – this is a gin safari after all, taking you around the backstreets of Southwark and Bermondsey. Your guide will be riding a bespoke gin bicycle, stuffed with – you guessed it – gin, while your noble steed is a classic British Pashley bike, complete with basket for you to fill with epicurean delights.
Sista Barista Café
You must be exhausted having cycled around all afternoon, so a coffee and cake pit stop is absolutely vital. Sista Barista Café, right next door to Tally Ho HQ, is a delightful family-run café baking up apple and cinnamon buns (yum), chocolate banana bread (yum) and the gooey-est gluten-free brownies around (yuuuuum). Hell, why stop there? Get the New York deli melt, a delicious tower of pastrami, cheddar, pickles and mustard, or an all day breakfast. Go on, you deserve it.
The Kings Arms
We've set before that no day in London is complete without a proper boozer, and The Kings Arms on Roupell Street is just the ticket. Nine real ales, a historic location… and an unexpected banging Thai kitchen. What more could you ask for?
(image: Engin Akyurt)
From British boozer to Irish pub, you won't find a finer pint of Guinness in London than at The Pineapple. This family-run favourite prides itself on its hospitality, and the food screams 'classic pub done proper' – think hearty lasagne and generous plate of Wiltshire ham egg and chips.
Millars General Store
Want a loaf of freshly baked loaf of bread to lug around with you all day? How about some heirloom tomatoes? Or some of those strangely addictive hummus crisps? Pop into independent food shop Millars and you can have it all and then some, from snack to sourdough.
One of London's grandest courtyards and neoclassical buildings, Somerset House has become a working arts hub, home to young businesses and a burgeoning creative community. It also has a small exhibition space, currently given over to Mushrooms: The Art, Design & Future of Funghi, bringing together the work of 40 artists, musicians and designers. It sounds mad, and it is – but it's utterly brilliant, too. Bear in mind, though – you need to book in a timed slot online before you visit.
From the vaunted Petersham Nurseries comes sister site La Goccia, a more accessible Italian-inspired all day restaurant dishing up plates as beautiful as the floral surrounds. Come for brunch, stay for lunch and then go wild in their shop, where you'll find the kind of knick knacks you'd chop off your right arm for.
The clue is in the name: this place does legendary dumplings. If you needed extra convincing, just walk by the Chinatown restaurant and see the dumplings being made in the window. When you see how much precision goes into these little parcels of soup, it's basically rude not to have some.
Crispy on the outside, golden and gooey on the inside: oh we do like a Scotch egg, and Lundenwic's are some of the best. Have a classic pork sausage one, of course, but make sure you save room for the more avant-garde iterations: vegetarian black pudding maybe? Cheddar and smoked bacon? Sweet potato and falafel? No, we're not yolking (sorry not sorry).
FURTHER READING: Too far south for you? Check out our guide to Haggerston.