It's pretty easy to find your stock-standard coffee shops that you would find in any city - There probably either a Costa, Caffe Nero, or Starbucks sitting on just about every high street corner.
However, there are some excellent cafes hidden in and around London. You just have to know where to look. My favourite cafes include My Village and Neal's Yard Salad Bar - both unmissable (but hard to find!)
My Village Cafe
My Village Cafe is the first decent coffee shop I found when I moved to London. It's a tiny oasis located right in the heart of tourist-choked Camden. But instead of being pretentious and full of hipsters, it has a really genuine feel.
Walk into the shop and you could be somewhere in North Africa, just stepping away from a bazaar in Marrakesh. The shop itself is owned and designed by - if memory serves correctly- an Iranian designer who you usually see greeting regulars and welcoming newcomers in the cafe. The inside is all soft, untreated wood, quiet music, tiny rustic chairs and tables. A little breathe of quiet after the busy-ness of Camden.
But to top off an already standout cafe, their hot chocolate is some of the best I've had. It's thick and nearly pudding-like in consistency. No cheap Cadbury chocolate mix is being used here! The food is also delicious and fresh; there are piles of fresh salads to choose from, along with wraps, and a variety of mouthwatering vegetarian fare. I would recommend the pita with humous, or haloumi wrap. Although to be honest, I don't think you could really go wrong with any choice here.
Getting there and away
My Village is hidden in plain sight - it's right across the road from Stables Market in Camden. The easiest way to get there is to go to either Chalk Farm Station or Camden Town Station on the Northern Line. It's about a 10 minute walk from either of these stations.
Neal's Yard Salad Bar
1, 2, 8 - 10 Neal's Yard Covent Garden
London WC2H 9DP
If you've visited me in London, there's a good chance I've taken you to Neal's Yard Salad Bar. Based in smack in the middle of London, this is a whole lot more than a salad bar. The cafe specialises in vegan and vegetarian food but you can also get your meat fix if it suits your fancy. There are also some Brazilian choices, along with some really odd combinations that are strangely tempting (Sweetcorn pudding anyone? Earl Grey tea with rum?).
However, if you're not after lunch or dinner, it's a great place to go for a coffee - or ginger hot chocolate. Following on with my recommendation for My Village, I would also highly recommend the ginger hot chocolate here. It has freshly grated ginger mixed in with their high-quality hot chocolate. Not one to miss, let me tell you.
However, one of the biggest draws of this cafe is its hidden-away feeling, and utter quirkiness. London is primarily a city of gray stone, but the Neal's Yard area is bursting with vibrant colours you don't see anywhere else in London.
Getting There and Away:
Neal's Yard is a bit tricky to find, but it's worth persevering, especially since it takes you to some of the most interesting parts of Covent Garden. Although tucked away down a tiny alleyway, Neal's Yard is just a 10 minute ambling walk from Covent Garden Tube station on the Picadilly Line.
Do you have any cafes to add to the list?