Okay, confession time: I was born and raised in England—but I left London 14 years ago. Moving from such a massive, super diverse city to the teeny-weeny Okanagan Valley in British Columbia gave me anxiety (a lot of it). So, over the years, LondonTown has drawn me back time and time again for a much-needed culture fix. But here’s the thing: while the city changes daily, once a Londoner, always a Londoner.

Whether you’re looking to hit up an art gallery, market, or a cozy wine bar, this cheeky little guide gets you scouting out London like a local. First up: England is (pretty much) cashless now, so hold fire on exchanging those Canadian dollars—and take a credit card.

The next stop is London. Mind the gap.


Culture up with the Our Time on Earth exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery. Running until August 29, the exhibit starts with a sense of wonder, deep in indigenous teachings, with eighteen thought-provoking works co-produced by Musée de la civilisation in Québec City. From design and art to technology and fashion, the exhibition uses a global perspective to show how people, animals and the planet can creatively work together to navigate the climate crisis—and inspire hope for a future world.


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Price: Adults £18 ($25 CAD)

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, Barbican, EC2Y 8DS

Columbia Road Flower Market is a gem of a market in Bethnal Green. Hosted Sundays (8 AM-3 PM), the buzzing road is jam-packed with quaint shops—from vintage, homeware, art galleries, a British cheese shop, plus coffee and pastry shops to boot. Flower vendors by the bucketful line the length of the road, so there is no mistaking they are well and truly the gorgeous centrepiece here.

Every trip back involves at least one trip to the theatre. Whether you are eyeing up Harry Potter & the Cursed ChildWickedThe Lion King or Les Misérables, take a peep at LondonTheatre.com. We scored Hamilton stall tickets for £45 ($62 CAD) instead of £65 ($90 CAD)—booking fee included.


A short walk from West End’s theatreland is The Barbary (or baby sibling, The Barbary Next Door). Head here for ridiculously delicious North African bites from a vibrant, ever-changing menu split up by the land, sea and earth (and obviously snacks). At this tiny Neal’s Yard restaurant with 20-odd seats, you can watch all the fire-obsessed action from the open kitchen (smack-bang in the middle of the restaurant). Straight from the clay oven, Naan e Barbari is the perfect for soaking up every morsel (ordering one will quickly become two).


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16 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP

With a sign that reads “J. Scott & Sons,” you can say Hector’s is a different kind of wine bar. Through industry word-of-mouth (which is how I found them), the cozy neighbourhood hang-out is fast becoming one of the buzziest in London. A rotating, by-the-glass wine list—spanning Jura to Emilia Romagna and Catalunya—serves up classic crowd-pleasers to the weird and wonderful. While their small plates range from conservas (tins) to playful riffs like crisps topped with Serrano (ham). The idea is to get comfy in one of their nooks—and just be you (because you can). Say hi to the owner Jimmy.


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49a Ardleigh Road, De Beauvoir, N1 4HS

Eating out in the city adds up quick-fast. But lunchtime set menus make stellar eats much more palatable. Most of the time, eateries focusing on British ingredients offer a two or three-course menu with an affordable price per head—ranging from £28 ($39 CAD) to £38 ($52 CAD)—on average. Gymkhana—one of the top-rated Indian Michelin Star restaurants located in swanky Mayfair—has a banging multi-course (like four), multi-item set lunch menu for £39 ($54 CAD)—and it was big enough to feed two of us).


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42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4JH

Finding proper fish and chips in central London is a difficult task. But tucked away on unassuming Poland Street, just off Oxford Street, is Golden Union. Encased in an airy, golden and expertly seasoned batter, the flaky, sustainably-caught fish seriously glistens. As the portions are fairly hefty, take a peek at the small cod and hand-cut chips before diving in on the large.


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38 Poland Street. Soho, W1F 7LY


There’s a lot of football hype with Euro 2022 and the FIFA World Cup just around the corner. As the world’s only not-for-profit ball producer, Alive and Kicking is the definition of the beautiful game. Each handcrafted ball is not only worthy of the footy pitch but also a spot on your mantlepiece. With every purchase, ethical jobs are created, healthy communities grow, and local economies in places like Ghana, Kenya and Zambia become stronger.


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147 Hoxton Street, Hackney, N1 6QG

Price: £20 ($28 CAD) to £100 ($138 CAD)


Everything tastes so much better when slow-cooked in clay. So, wrapped snuggly in my backpack-of-a-carry-on is an extremely cute Tiipoi Karipot. With product studios between Bangalore (India) and London (England), Tiipoi mixes epic craftsmanship with functional design. Think of their small Karipot as the definition of natural cooking done naturally: a combination of river clay and serpentine rock is skillfully hand-sculpted, then fired unglazed at low temperatures. Oven and hob-safe (both gas and electric), bring your adorable new sidekick out to the dinner table to say hi too (it’s only right).


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Price: £69