Book Recommendation: London Style Guide


Hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend and didn't allow the rain to get in the way of a good time.  I was lucky enough to be invited to a rather fabulous birthday-cum-garden party that could have been a mud bath but ended up being bathed in sunshine.  This summer has left me so weary of being anxious that the weather should be fine for special events, that I find myself just wishing Autumn would arrive and put an end to any overly-optimistic expectations.

To the matter in hand.  Despite being very much a city girl, I always used to find London quite overwhelming and exhausting.  It was only when I started to heed the advice of people who knew better and treat the city as a collection of villages that I really was able to get to grips with the place.  If you want to explore London an area at a time (the only way to cope with it, in my view) then this is the perfect book to help you do just that.

The author, Saska Graville, is a Londoner who knows her city really well and sincerely and generously wants to share the places she loves with others.  Not only that, but she also gets other Londoners to share their favourite places.

Each chapter of the book covers a different area of the city and opens with a simple map of the area being covered.  The subtitle of the guide is Eat, Sleep, Shop.  It is telling that, whilst these headings are well covered throughout the book, not every chapter covers all three of those topics.  She hasn't tried to shoehorn in a hotel in every area just for the sake of the structure of the book.  Clearly, if she doesn't love a place, it doesn't make it as an entry - very reassuring.

Each chapter ends with an interview with a Londoner in which they are asked very specific questions about the places they love and use and are inspired by.  Each interview contains around 10 questions and the interviewer approaches the subject from different angles with the result that even those  who may have been tempted to mention places that made them look cool or sophisticated  have given some revealing and informative answers.

Having said that, the Londoners in question are mostly pretty cool people anyway.  Many of them own very trendy small businesses focusing on fashion, interiors or food.  There are a couple of well known interior designers (Kit Kemp, Abigail Ahern) and a property developer who was involved in the restoration of St Pancras, Harry Handelsman. 

I know quite a few of the places that are featured and many others have been on my list of places to go for some time.  The lovely photos make me want to go to so many places that I might need to consider relocating.   

The guide packs a lot into quite a compact book.  Just about small and light enough to carry around:

Each chapter opens with an introduction to the area and a simple map:

There are dozens of very individual and independent shops.  These two are in Islington:

I definitely need to pop into this pub in Kensal Rise for a drink and a gawp at the decor:


40 Winks B&B in Shoreditch has long been on my hit list.  Need to book well in advance though:


The interviews with Londoners offer lots more insight:

This is such an interesting, varied and accessible guide that I think it will prove indispensable, once purchased, for Londoners and visitors alike.

If you like to buy online you can pick it up very reasonably at Amazon and Waterstones:

Take a chance and buy yourself a copy.  If you don't love it, you will know someone who will.

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