How Cool is Camden
Camden Town is an oasis for the cool, quirky, bright and wild trends (and trend-setters) of northwest London. This is where ‘alternative’ types chill; where punk, vintage & grunge reign supreme; where some of Britain’s most successful bands first performed. So it’s no surprise Camden is a must-see for both the artistic and fashionista Janes.
We have created our Alternative Guide to visiting (and shopping) in Camden. Check it out. Or don’t. Whatever, we’re cool…
Days in Camden start slow and easy – everything opens roughly 10am until 6pm. Camden Town’s 1000+ shops are open EVERY day of the year apart from December 25th. That makes us shoppers very happy! Wear comfortable shoes, dress casual, have cash in your purse for market purchases and make sure you have plenty of room for some awesome street food later. The best way to get yourself to Camden is via the London Underground. Simply follow the Northern Line and hop off, surprisingly, at Camden Town Tube Station. You will immediately emerge onto the High Street, which will undoubtedly be heaving with all sorts of individuals, so be smart and don’t get swept away…
THE ECLECTIC CROWDS
It’s the crowds that will give you your first real taste of what Camden is all about! Look past the tourist swarm, and you will get a glimpse of this place 15 years ago. From the Tube Station, you want to walk in the direction of the brightly coloured row of shops, with giant Converse sneakers, serpents and angels bursting from their exteriors. This is the direction towards Camden Lock. This bustling street is also perhaps the busiest section of the entire neighbourhood, so Average Janes recommend keeping your handbag in sight. You will spot familiar faces such as Urban Outfitters and H&M, but hold back that urge – the proper unique finds, vintage items and stunning bargains are waiting only a few steps away…
THE LABYRINTHINE MARKETS
Divided into several sections, the main markets you’ll want to make a beeline for are: Camden Lock Market and Camden Stables Market tucked off to the side of the High Street (lookout for huge horse sculptures). You will find everything odd, artistic or edited, with a slight touch of ‘commercial’, in the vast expanse of maze-like markets Camden offers. Retro shirts. Shedloads of second hand denim. Gorgeous vintage blouses for summer. Classic Levis ripped into hotpants. You will even find actual vintage clothes (not preworn Primark “vintage” that your local markets can try to pawn you). There’s old records. Nostalgic stalls of books no longer in print. Pianos ready to play. A jaw-dropping collection of genuine animal fur coats and 100% leather jackets. There’s even a proper artistic quarter of the markets inhabited by insanely good artworks, illustrations, handmade jewellery, often with the artist themselves selling their work for quite a reasonable price! You’ll seriously get lost. In a great way.
For that grumbly tummy – Average Janes suggest trying Camden’s incredible variety of street or stall food. There will be no avoiding the ready-to-go Asian cuisine near the entrance to Camden Lock Market. Those guys will yell at you, literally, but do offer free samples. If the staff aren’t yelling at you to try their food, the intoxicating aroma of a fresh Pad Thai, Crispy Shredded Beef or ultimate Mexican wrap will surely yell at your tastebuds! And the price for whatever you want is always roughly around a fiver.
THE BARS & TUNES
No London trip is complete without having a chilled out sip at a trendy bar. Camden has an extensive list of these. Recently, Janes has discovered a cocktail so cheeky. So exciting. And so delicious, that we just had to share it: try the Brazilian ‘Caipirinha’ for yourself by visiting the Spiritual Caipirinha Bar just off Chalk Farm Road. Then we suggest checking out a live gig right across the road at The Barfly, a famously great dip into the grungy underground music scene, where tomorrow’s next big thing may be playing! As Camden was the birthplace of Britpop, (think Blur, Oasis and Pulp who all have roots here) you have an incredible chance during your visit to experience that rich musical history live. The best venues for events include the Roundhouse, which is a converted railway engine shed where artists such as Pink Floyd have played, now the annual home to the iTunes Festival. Or KOKO, which incredibly was once a variety theatre where Charlie Chaplin performed and the Rolling Stones recorded, now transformed into one of London’s most thrilling places to be part of a live audience. When it comes to live music, Camden is King, playing part in the careers of big names like The Ramones, The Clash, Bob Dylan, Motorhead, REM…
THE LOCKSIDE STARBUCKS
I know, I know, surrounded by so much left-of-centre culture and we mention the most corporate coffee brand in existence! But in all fairness, this particular Starbucks that sits picturesquely adjacent to the lock not only has the greatest real estate in Camden – it has a killer rooftop terrace. And sometimes you just can’t beat those gingerbread latte cravings.
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Check out the fab band we saw Yeast