Insider guide to London: Cate St Hill

Cate St Hill - - picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
Cate St Hill on Lamb’s Conduit Street – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

We first met architecture historian, researcher and writer Cate St Hill when she was running social media for the British Council at the Venice Architecture Biennale a few years ago.

Since then, she’s gone on to become a staff writer at Blueprint Magazine – one of the UK’s leading architecture, design and art magazines – and is also working with architectural bad boys FAT to develop their -exhibition for the next Biennale.

On top of all that Cate runs her own blog, which includes a weekly selection of three things to do in and around London, exhibition reviews, look books from furniture and fashion designers and Q&As with other creatives, illustrators and artists. And she’s a serious Francophile, with some great recommendations for lover’s of French food and homewares.

So it’s probably no surprise she also has one of the most impeccably decorated London flats we’ve ever seen (check out her Instagram for a glimpse), right in the heart of town in between Kings Cross and Russell Square.

Cate St Hill - - picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
Cate St Hill inside Persephone Books- picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
Cate St Hill - - picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
Cate inside Perspehone Books – image by Jessy Boon Cowler

The best place to buy books: Persephone Books, Lamb’s Conduit Street. This is my favourite bookshop in London, if not the world. It sells neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly women) writers. Each silver-jacketed book looks the same from the outside, but inside each is different, with colourful patterned endpapers by textile designers. My favourite book so far is ‘Good Evening, Mrs Craven’, twenty one short stories written by The New Yorker columnist Mollie Panter-Downes during the second world war. The shop itself is warm and inviting, always with fresh, fragrant flowers and friendly staff who have an in-depth knowledge of all 104 titles.

Patisserie Deux Amies - copyright Kim Traynor
Patisserie Deux Amies -image copyright Kim Traynor.

My secret place: Patisserie Deux Amies, Judd Street. A stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of King’s Cross is a small but perfectly formed French cafe. It’s easy to miss, but once inside, it’s quiet and peaceful, with only the background noise of Classic FM. Patisserie Deux Amies could easily be my favourite place to buy baked goods as well, their croissants are some of the best you can find this side of the channel and their chocolate truffle torte is to die for. Once the sun comes out though, you’ll have to fight for the two seats under the awning outside.

Favourite place for vintage finds: The French House, Lamb’s Conduit Street. This is another find on Lamb’s Conduit Street and again with a French theme. The owners of the shop have a house in the south of France and come back with vintage finds, such as art deco clocks, engraved glassware and old enamel sugar and spice pots. The last thing I bought was a dark green kilner jar for about £12 and a cosy orange and grey wool rug in their recent sale.

lounge bohemia
Lounge Bohemia – image via World’s Best Bars

The best place for cocktails: Lounge Bohemia, Great Eastern Street. You wouldn’t really know that there was a stylish cocktail bar in between the dodgy kebab shops where Great Eastern Street meets Shoreditch High Street, but walk through a open door and down some stairs and you are greeted by a dimly lit bar with a retro vibe. The cocktails are an experience in themselves- there’s a martini with bubbles and a small rubber duck or there’s the Russian Breakfast, a chocolate cocktail that comes with homemade chocolate caviar. I usually go for the Sergeant Pepper (£7), which has notes of black pepper and elderflower.

Dinings restaurant, London
image courtesy of Dinings restaurant

The best place for sushi: Dinings, Harcourt Street. I’ve only been here once, but it was so out of this world that I have to say it’s the best sushi in London. It’s in a tiny townhouse in Marylebone, with a glass bar overlooking the chefs preparing the food on the top floor and a couple of tables below. They mainly do what they call ‘Japanese tapas’, for example seabass carpaccio with shards of truffle, sashimi topped with foie gras mousse and seared Wagyu beef with porcini mushrooms. My mouth’s watering just thinking about it.

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