5 coffee shops to watch the world go by in London

1) Bar Italia

Bar Italia is a wonderful survival from the heady days of 1950s Soho. It retains a real old-school charm, as well as a Gaggia machine and original mechanical till. It was opened in 1949 and is still run by the same family. Open from 7 am to 5 am it’s a great place to come late at night, as memorialised in the Pulp song of the same name.

street side of Bar Italia in London

2) Coffee Plant

A community-hub cafe in Notting Hill’s Portobello Road with an alternative and arty vibe, and a rather basic décor. Sit in the window or outside on the street to watch the market traders, tourists and locals going about their business.

exterior view of Coffee Plant

3) St James's Café

In the middle of St James’s Park in central London this cafe is perfectly located for a relaxing coffee amongst the quiet trees and greenery. The building, with its wooden organic geometry, is very elegant and fits beautifully into the landscape.

 St James's Café

4) Nude Espresso

Nude’s new open-spaced cafe is in a warehouse-like room that houses their micro-roastery, right opposite their original cafe. The huge windows offer great views of passers-by in this creative area, full of interesting independent shops.

Nude Espresso bar

5) Climpson & Sons

This popular cafe has a good view onto one of London’s hippest enclaves. At the weekend, when the street market is open, it gets very busy, but come in the week for a more relaxed experience. This area has an arty, creative and enterprising vibe. The people-watching here is great.

people outside at Climpson & Sons


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