A Local’s Guide to London
For an insider view of the world’s most beautiful and exciting travel destinations, F&W asked some of our favorite online photographers to show us their cities.
For her F&W Photo Tour of London, photographer and Instagram star Leila Peterson (@dearleila) presents a visual guide to her beloved markets, shops and historic pubs. The Hawaii-born, UK-settled talent specializes in wedding, portrait and lifestyle photography and has a knack for making her subjects look cool and natural—an art that may stem from her familiarity with the medium from an early age. “My parents documented everything when I was young. They’d have a Polaroid camera with us at all times, and showed me how to use it,” she says. “Photography grew from a hobby into something I can’t see myself living without.”
Nowadays she uses a digital Canon 5D MK II for work and reserves her favorite Contax 645 and Contax T3 for personal projects. “I like both for how amazingly sharp they are, and also because I just love film,” Peterson says. Read her London guide below, as well as her tips for shooting food.
Favorite London restaurant. Bocca Di Lupo in Soho, since I’m in love with Italian food. Their trofie al pesto transports me to the Ligurian Coast—it’s my favorite!
Go-to London coffee shop. Ginger and White. They have two locations—one in Hampstead and one in Belsize Park. I normally get a cortado or flat white, and one of their cakes.
Perfect London café. Monocle Café in West London is another favorite of mine. I get a flat white, chicken salad and green tea cake, then sit around for a while reading their magazines.
Expert cocktail bar. Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown has some of the best cocktails I’ve tasted in London. It’s a little hard to find, since it’s located on the third floor of a Chinatown townhouse, but it’s definitely worth the search.
Best boutique hotel. The Montague on the Gardens is a really cute boutique luxury hotel located in Central London, right next to the British Museum. They also have amazing afternoon tea.
Indie activity for a visitor. I’d definitely visit a few of the markets here. A few of my favorites are Borough Market, Brick Lane Market, Columbia Road Flower Market and Broadway Market.
Stylish London shop. A few come to mind. Margaret Howell for clothing, Hub for clothing and accessories; and Forest for midcentury modern furniture, lighting and housewares.
Ultimate London experience. I don’t think you can visit London without having some fish-and-chips. Try the Golden Hind, Fish Club or Nautilus for good fish-and-chips. Also, try some locally brewed beer at Camden Town Brewery in Camden, or Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick, East London. If you want to drink in a pub instead, the Bull & Last in Hampstead is a good one, and also the Prospect of Whitby in East London.
Tips for shooting (especially food). I think storytelling is important for any type of photography. Try shooting not only the food, but details such as the restaurant space, food preparation (if possible), the chef, or a drink being made by the bartender. I always feel much more of a connection to photos when they’re able to tell a short story about your experience.