Metropolitans: Stephanie Brookes, radio presenter and author
I am…a presenter on Hoxton Radio and also an author. Since presenting on my weekly show, I have been getting to know east London very well, which has been fantastic – Dalston, in particular. I feel really lucky that my life and work is very much intertwined with London; for example, I remember I was standing outside the Piazza in Covent Garden when I received the telephone call confirming my first book deal. The city holds so many ‘working’ memories for me, whether it’s a cafe I’ve spent hours writing in, or a new discovery I have made whilst heading to a meeting. I predominately write from home now, which is in south east London.
The area of London I call home is…New Cross. I have lived here for years now, and it just felt like home from the very beginning. This area is still largely undiscovered and yet you’re in central London in five minutes by train. I live close to a lovely park, and only a short walk away from some of the best pubs in south east London. We’ve recently had some great cafes open up in the area, including the fantastic Maddy’s Fish Bar on New Cross Road.
I’ve got to have a meal at… The Royal Albert on New Cross Road – I have been going there for years and the food is always delicious. Further up the hill you’ll arrive at Chapters restaurant in Blackheath, which serves a great all-day menu and some fantastic cocktails. If I’m heading into the centre of town, The Grenadier in Belgravia is one of my favourite places for a cosy meal and they also do the best fish and chips in London. If I’m in Soho, I love going to Kettner’s for cocktails, and the main dining room always has a buzzy atmosphere. Andrew Edmunds along Lexington Street is a must for an intimate meal, with an ever changing, seasonal menu.
I tend to get my threads (clothes) from…the high street and secondhand shops. I really like Whistles, H&M, Zara, and I’ve picked up some lovely pieces recently from Anthropologie. If I’m in secondhand shops, I often find some great accessories.
To enjoy London nightlife, you should…take the people you have the most fun with and bespoke a night around what you want – the beauty of London is the sheer amount of choice. For example, if you want a night of glamour, you can’t beat cocktails at the American Bar in The Savoy. Likewise, you could have a more low-key evening, grab a pizza at Pollo Bar in Soho, and then head onto some of the pubs in the local area – The French House is a must. You can design a night around any budget, that’s why London offers something for everybody.
If I was mayor, I would…make London more pedestrianised, particularly during the summer months. This is a selfish decision on my part as I love walking everywhere, and so the more access I have, the more I can easily navigate my way around the city.
My favourite spot to check out art is…the Hayward Gallery along the Southbank. I actually remember the first exhibition I went to which was Antony Gormley’s ‘Blind Light’ – it was years ago now but it was an evening I’ll never forget. I highly recommend this gallery as it is in a great location to make a day of it too – after you’ve visited the gallery, you can sit with friends along the Southbank and just watch the world go by.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to…explore the capital by foot and head towards those places recommended by Londoners, who have a real insight into what the city has to offer. It’s great to see and visit all the usual sights, but you get a real understanding by exploring those places you never thought to visit before.
The things I miss when I leave London are…the incredible array of restaurants and pubs, as I am a real foodie. In fact, when I arrive back in London, the first thing I do is call my husband and suggest we go and try a new restaurant or pub we haven’t been to before – just one of the many reasons I love London.
My soundtrack to London would include…Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks. It is such a beautiful and atmospheric song, and I often think of it as I’m walking around the city. I was listening to it just the other day in fact, and it just gets better every time – the soundtrack to London, in my opinion.
Follow Stephanie Brookes on Twitter: @stephbrookes