It’s as aesthetically appealing as solidified dog sick, but when it comes to hipster cool points, Hackney has them in bucketloads. Crowned by the media as London’s most talked about district, edgy pop-ups are emerging faster than professional lifestyle consultants can wipe the coke crystals from their nose on a Monday morning.
It’s not that I’m adverse to the odd toddle round Dalston for a pretentiously named cocktail involving East London-brewed tonic water. I like overpriced truffle and satsuma cafes as much as the next girl. But sometimes you just want to go somewhere that’s really bloody nice. Not cool. Not trendy. Not bag lady-meets-retro chic. Just nice, with a limited number of people chundering narcotics and curry onto the pavement at 3am.
That’s where Richmond comes in. Renowned as one of the poshest post codes in the UK, this staunchly Tory borough might not be Corynista trendy, but it’s the prettiest place in all the London land.
So what’s to fall in love with?
1.) The shopping
Less crowded than the Saturday afternoon hell of Oxford Street, Richmond’s high street is a mini-Bond for West Londoners. From the Kiehls and Whistles, to the host of independent shops selling glorious things I’d have to sell a grandparent to afford, there’s enough cashmere to put your post-Christmas sales wish list into a coma. If your wallet (like mine) can’t handle the mean streets of Richmond, there’s always Kew Retail Park. Home to a large TK Maxx and a Boots, this hidden enclave on the shitty side of Kew Gardens station makes up in bargains what it lacks in size and style.
2.) The river
Despite the risk of flooding, everything looks better on the riverbanks. Luckily for SW London dwellers, these (slightly damp) banks are lined with alcohol distributing establishments. While Richmond is a posh chain hotspot- think Gaucho, Jackson & Rye (say yes to the fried chicken) and Pitcher & Piano- you don’t need to go far for independent eateries. Kew Gardens and nearby Teddington are home to dozens of privately owned restaurants and cafes, serving everything from classic Italian to Thai and Lebanese.
3.) The pubs
London’s equivalent of Cinderella, Richmond pretty much turns into a pumpkin after midnight. (It’s all about Clapham for some throwing some late night shapes on the dance floor.) But while it’s not so hot on after hours fun, it’s great for pubs. Try Tap on the Line at Kew Gardens station for post-work drinks or the Botanist in Kew Green for an instagrammable Sunday afternoon snack. Beer lovers should also try out the Pig’s Ears Cellar in Richmond. Think pulled pork, ale and all sorts of other magical, artery clogging treats.
Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY. Alright, so technically there’s no lions. Or tigers. Or bears. But Richmond Park is home to lost of deer and other wildlife. One of the eight royal parks, it’s the largest open space in London with 2,500 acres of greenery to roam around. (So if you can’t see any lions, tigers and bears, at least you can pretend to be one.)
5.) Kew Gardens
In case there wasn’t enough green space in Richmond Park, tree huggers can continue their pursuit of nature porn just around the corner in Kew Gardens. Offering something different during every season, over Christmas you’ll find it’s illuminated at night, with fairground rides and food stalls for the children. (Or grown ups who aren’t very good at adulting.) It’s like a posh version of Winter Wonderland for the people who feed their family organic kelp salad.