More than just an exhibition centre, Olympia is a café-culture haven.
Why go there?
To be the first of your mates to discover country-pub charm five minutes from the Hammersmith flyover.
What’s the vibe?
Geographically and vibe-ically it’s halfway between chic Kensington and shabby Hammersmith, a lovable mix of stunning des res houses on the green and the best greasy spoons in town.
Olympia? They do horse jumping there, right?
The area adopted the name of the grand old Olympia London exhibition halls, which still host everything from the Olympia Horse Show to the Great British Beer Festival. Don’t worry, they clear up after each one. No chance of stepping in dung or slipping on a puddle of, you know… real ale.
I’m hungry. What’s on the menu?
Let’s see, what’s the time? For breakfast, any cabby who’s done the Knowledge would order the bacon sarnie from Frank’s by the station. For lunch it’s worth joining the queue at L’Elysée on Hammersmith Road for cut-above sandwiches and salads that are surely too tasty to be good for you. In the afternoon, head to Betty Blythe (Blythe Road) for fashion and tea, and when it’s dark, pull up a chair for excellent Persian plates at Alounak, just across the tracks in Russell Gardens.
And to drink?
The Queen’s Head on Brook Green has a spacious garden out back and log fires inside for all the great pub box-ticking you could ever wish for.
Now, where’s the party at?
Olympia is more of a daytime destination. But at night you can very happily hunker down at one of the many excellent gastropubs, such as The Crown & Sceptre on Holland Road.
And if I prefer retail therapy?
There are a handful of interesting little shops on sleepy Blythe Road. By the Moon sells boutiquey homewares and classy knick-knacks. A few doors down, Honeybunch deals in handmade crafts, gifts and furnishings. Their greetings cards are lovely enough to wallpaper your lounge with.
And if I only do one thing?
Head for Kerbisher & Malt on Shepherd’s Bush Road, one of London’s finest fish-and-chip shops. The tartar sauce is homemade, fish is battered floaty-light, and CCTV allows you to see what the kitchen is doing to make those chips something genuinely worth losing your heart to.
By Laura Lee Davies, who never thought she’d like her onion rings pickled.
Take a look at more of London’s best bits here.