Travel: London: Neighborhood of Islington by Ginevra Held

Islington is a lovely Northern London Neighborhood.  Exploring London’s neighborhoods I have come to the realization (and please excuse me if this is obvious) that neighborhoods consist of a “high street” with shops and places to eat, all located together, and around that, comprising the bulk of the neighborhood is residential.  That is in essence a neighborhood.  And most cities are simply a compilation of neighborhoods, or rather, little villages all joined together.  The main financial area of a city differs from this neighborhood formula, in that although there is still what one could call a high street, instead of houses there are offices.  That is pretty much it.  And this neighborhood/village formula is pretty much true of any city in the world, be it London, Paris, Milan, San Francisco, you name it that is what it is.

Now back to Islington.  As I said, it is a very nice Northern London neighborhood, whose High Street is I would say jam packed.  The High Street in Islington is called Upper Street.  Basically you exit the tube at Angel and walk a little to the left and then on and on and on.  Upper Street has everything, one off stores, eateries, boutiques, makeup, broken glass, human fire hydrants …..wait no, those last bits were from an SNL sketch - I love and miss you Stephan!

Shops I noticed included Jigsaw (you may remember the Duchess worked there briefly as an accessories buyer), Space NK Apothecary, Benefit Cosmetics, Uniqlo.  There are also real estate agencies everywhere.  Which I suppose tells you this is a popular residential area. There is a lot of stuff to eat and buy in Islington.  Which frankly I find a bit scary.  

Personally, I was on a mission to find Ottolenghi, the upscale food boutique founded by an Israeli chef, who’s cookbooks I own and cherish.  I am going to save my discussion of him for a another post.

Islington's Upper Street

Doors on Charlton Place

Doors on Charlton Place

Before I went on my long walk along upper street, upon exiting Angel Station  I wandered to the right and into Camden Passage.  In terms of cuteness, this pedestrian alleyway is adorable.  There were cute little boutiques here, and places to eat of course, and some antiques for sale.  All very lovely and very pleasant to meander and enjoy.  Small but fun, and much more fun than the upper Street in my opinion.

London's Islington Neighborhood

Down from Camden Passage, you can wonder over to Duncan Terrace/Place which consists of lovely brick Georgian homes, with brightly colored doors.  Very cute.

To conclude, although I enjoyed exploring this Northern London Neighborhood, if you are in London for the first time or even the second, I certainly wouldn't bother.  London is huge and this is not a must see.  If you are looking for a place to live, or you have seen most of London, then this is certainly worth a visit.

Of Note in Islington:

Camden Passage - Pedestrian alleyway with small boutiques, eateries, antiques. 

Duncan Square/Place - Residential area with brick buildings with brightly colored doors.

Upper Street - lots of boutiques - some high street names (Jigsaw, Uniqlo), some one off places, eateries - beauty (Space NK Apothecary), fashion, interior design boutiques  - real estate agencies everywhere.
Of note particularly for me was Ottolenghi : 287 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ

Really is its own village or city within a city

London Islington
London Islington

Grocery stores, the way to feel at home when you are away. by Ginevra Held

Please Note: This is a Waitrose in Belgravia.  There is a net-a-porter car in front of it.  THIS is a proper posh delish Waitrose.  Their poshness varies by 'hood, so keep that in mind.

Please Note: This is a Waitrose in Belgravia.  There is a net-a-porter car in front of it.  THIS is a proper posh delish Waitrose.  Their poshness varies by 'hood, so keep that in mind.

One of my favorite things to do when I go traveling is to go to a grocery store.  Sick right? But grocery stores tell you a lot about the place, and they make you feel like a local and not some tourist getting taking advantage of, eating another god damn pizza. True fact, I saw Japanese people eating American style pizza in Vienna.  Weird.

Why am I talking about this, because Whole Foods is here, people.  Where? you might ask.  Here. In London.  Now what does that mean.  Well as much as I hate to admit it, it is my new favorite place.  I feel better about life when I walk into this Whole Foods.  Like I am not so god damn far away, or lonely, or freaking out about life, or any of that shit.  I’m in Whole Foods and its like you know what? there is a lot of organic food here with my name on it.  So there.

Before I came to London, I was dreaming about Waitrose.  Waitrose is a chain grocery store in England, and I remember really liking them when I was here with my family. The one we went to was in South Kensington and it was lovely.  Probably because everything in South Kensington is lovely.  The one here downright sucks.  By here I mean Fulham.  And if I just walk a little block farther, I am inside a Whole Foods.  So f Waitrose. 

The other super fond memory I have of a supermarket is in Bruges.  We had tried a couple of times eating at restaurants and it was just a bummer, catered to tourists, over priced and gross.  Since we always stay in apartments, we checked out the local grocery stores.  They were phenom! Best part, not only did they have Fage yogurt, hello Trader Joe’s, they also had passion fruit.  Wait whaaaaat? yea passion fruit.  And it was lovely.

Vienna had super weird supermarkets, this must be why the lovely Japanese people were eating the aforementioned pizza.

In New York, we stayed near the Museums, the Met and while it was the Upper East Side, it was not like you know, the Upper East Side.  There was a suggestion of a Supermarket to go to in the neighborhood and I was just like ugh, so we went out and as we were walking, I saw this couple with a Whole Foods bag, stopped them immediately and was like Oh my God, where is Whole Foods?  Well my friends we found it and it was amazing.  It was huge whole foods, all the guys in the produce section were like these really nice African dudes (like actually African, like we spoke French to them), so much selection of stuff, and then the best part was the     queue for the tills.  It was automated! You get in a line, there are two side by side, and then a screen tells you which cash register to go to and which lines turn it is.  In San Francisco, its this bullshit honor system and either you get taken advantage of or the other person does, and no one pays attention, because its San Francisco and everyone is either high or has literally nothing else to do so they are just completely out of it.  True fact.  Anyway, that was New York baby and I loved it!!!!

Paris, well its Paris so everything is great.  Including the Monoprix baby!!!! If you need yogurt or cheese or anything really hit one of these up and you will not be disappointed.  But if you are looking for the ultimate in fine Food Hall experience, its all hail Bon Marche, the Grande Epicerie, possibly the most wonderful place on earth.  Pristine fruits and vegetables, and amazing food from all over the world, prepare foods, more brands of bottled water and boutique beer and my god everything.  Truly the best place on earth. I could live there.  Actually, now I actually could as they have expanded and opened a home section up top.  I think they want me.

Grocery Re-cap:


Waitrose- normally the best but varies by location

Marks & Spencer - good for most things, not as discerning as a good Waitrose

Whole Foods - just as you would expect, lots of organic, lots of good food, at very high prices. But doable if you are careful.

Harrods Food Hall - super bougie, not for everyday use unless you are a Saudi Prince living in the area


Monoprix - has everything, reasonable prices

Bon Marche - the gold plated everything, most amazing Food Hall ever, but being Paris, actually reasonable in a way

New York:

Go to Whole Foods, that’s all.  They have that shit down there.