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Your guide to experiencing London like a local

Now that the royal wedding is behind us, there are still a few great reasons to visit London—not the least of which is our next The Future of Customer Experience event on June 7, 2018. Join Zendesk at the The Mermaid London for insight into where the customer experience is headed, and to hear from brands like Jo Loves, All Saints, Viaplay, Trivago, Slack and more.

We’re all for mixing a little pleasure with business, so we’ve rounded up some recommendations from a handful of expats, recent visitors, and locals based in Zendesk’s London office for the best ways to eat and drink your way through London.

Ace Hotel. If you want to feel posh, the Ace Hotel is located in Shoreditch, the hipster nucleus of the city, and pays homage to the area’s artistic, renegade history. As lovely a place as it is to stay overnight, the hotel intentionally connected with local businesses to encourage remote working and patronage. The property includes a flower shop, hosts events and club nights, and our local team can confirm that the restaurant, Hoi Polloi, is always a solid choice for a cocktail.

Duck and Waffle. I mean, come on. The name alone is a reason to check this place out. The Duck and Waffle offers stunning views from the top of The Heron Tower in London’s financial district, some 40 floors up. Better yet, it’s open for food and drinks 24/7, so you can begin or end your day here and feel like you’ve seen, literally, all of London.

The Boundary Rooftop Bar + Grill. If the sun is out (and sometimes it is), make a reservation at The Boundary Project’s rooftop terrace for dinner and drinks and views of East London. Even if the day is gray, the restaurant has a plan for inclement weather: a heated glass Orangery is open year-round.

Pergola Paddington. West London offers another rooftop hideaway in Pergola Paddington—a large, two-level space with multiple restaurants, bars, and an open rooftop. It’s a great spot to plan to spend some time over the summer. And if you find yourself at Paddington station, well, then, you’re already there.

The Ned. If you’re feeling extra posh, check out this is a private members-only club, also very near The Mermaid London. Housed in a former bank, there’s a bar appropriately located in the coolest place: the vault. But there’s also a food hall on the ground floor that’s open to the public. Restaurants claim distinct spaces in the old banking hall and change up the menus on a weekly basis—offering a fresh alternative to Harrods Food Halls, especially if you’ve already been there and done that.

Barrafina. Now with three locations in London, Barrafina offers Spanish fare with a little spontaneity—they don’t take reservations. The open kitchens and tapas menu create a warm atmosphere and there’s a little something to please everyone’s palate, including a glass of Cava.

Broadway Market. If you’re in town on Saturday, head to the historic Broadway Market in Hackney, East London to pick up some organic produce, street eats, and for some good old-fashioned people watching.

Columbia Road Flower Market. On Sundays, Columbia Road, on London’s East End, transforms from a street lined by 60 independent stores, coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants into a garden of abundance. You can pick up nearly any kind of bloom, and it may well be a photographer’s dream. The market is known for being colorful, crowded, and constantly serenaded by a steady stream of street musicians.

Redchurch Street. Redchurch Street, as well as next door Boxpark, offers trendy shopping and is what Vogue magazine calls something of a “design haven.” Back in Shoreditch and away from the scores of tourists descending upon Topshop in Oxford Circus, Redchurch Street is populated with cool, unique stores, restaurants, and cafés. This area no longer denotes “up-and-coming” so much as “arrived.”

sketch. Sketch London is a trendy destination where food, art, and music mingle. Take afternoon tea in the Instagram-famous pink room surrounded by David Shrigley paintings or pop in for brunch in the “Glade,” an indoor painted forest. Just be sure to make reservations… #sketchlondon photos are in demand. The “spaced-out toilets” are also worth a look, as one visitor put it.

Kensington Gardens. If you’re not a local, walking the Thames or strolling through an English garden is a must-do. Pretend to be royalty for a day by strolling through the galleries, sculptures, gardens, well-kept vegetation in Kensington Gardens. Fans of PBS’s Victoria won’t want to miss the Italian Gardens, believed to have once been a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria.

If you can’t make London, find us in Chicago next.

Suzanne Barnecut loves reading and writing stories of all kinds and duration. She is a frequent contributor to Relate, and creates brand content and tells customer stories for Zendesk. In her spare time, she can be found writing fiction, reading The New Yorker, and consuming (too many) pastries from San Francisco’s bakeries. Find her on Twitter at: @elisesuz.