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New local rooftop bars + ice cream parlours aplenty

It must be the second bank holiday weekend of 2024 🍸🍧

The Nest - among more than 30 local rooftops to try

This week’s edition was going to lead with a thought-provoking update around the continued fight to support the creative industries, but there’s just so much going on atop local buildings now that we’re tipping towards more temperate months, we’ve bumped that in honour of the bank holiday.

As is now customary at this time of year, the definitive Camdenist guide to over the best local rooftops, from which to enjoy a glass of something cold and a plate of something delicious, is being fully updated for 2024.

Among a healthy crop of brand newcomers we’re gradually going to be adding to the list are:

🥩 The Devonshire Arms - London’s hottest gastro boozer just opened up its roof for the first time, adding 40 more covers to the restaurant in the process, so grab ‘um whenever the weather allows, as they are for walk-in’s only.

🍷 The Marquis of Anglesey - This handsome Young’s pub in Covent Garden has converted the big upstairs room with the addition of some very swanky retractable windows and roof, turning it into an al fresco West End oasis on warm days.

🪟 The Constitution - Young’s again here, completely reinventing this reopened canal-side pub, already famed for its beer garden, now with added all-weather terrace up top thanks to another retractable roof and windows.

🌟 Flute - Wraparound rooftop space circling an opulent central onyx-clad bar, situated atop Soho’s new Broadwick Hotel. Expect DJs, cocktails and memorable views across the central London skyline.

🍺 The Lock Inn - Replacing the old Camden Diner, this brand new party pub has rebooted its rooftop terrace with views of the perennial mele of the main drag up to the Market down below.

🎪1864 Rooftop - John Lewis on Oxford Street is going big on the cabanas and astroturf vibes for their sizable roof this summer - it just opened this week, too.

Plus there are reminders of all the faves and more, including the lush (and dog-friendly) Nest (pictured above), The Standard’s showstopping rooftop and Chalk Farm classic The Lock Tavern.

And ther’ll be reminders of a few long-promised terraces: whatever happened to the 2,000-capacity Zedwell rooftop at Piccadilly, for example? Or the 250-cover restaurant with terrace on top of Hawley Wharf?

And the exciting prospects of Camden Goods Yard’s farm-to-fork roof coming soon, plus the long delayed Hornsey Town Hall hotel rooftop eventually, if you head a bit north…


Ice Cream flourishes around Hampstead Heath

Badiani - coming to Hampstead

With news of a second brand new gelato parlour opening in Hampstead in virtually as many weeks, there’s clearly plenty of milage in selling ice cream to hungry Heath walkers on their way to/from an urban gander.

🍧 Renowned Florentine gelato brand Badiani has just announced its intention to open on South End Rd in a few days time, in a spot right opposite the Heath’s fairground site and near to the Overground station. Not only are they promising 16+ different artisanal flavours each day, but you can sign up for a series of soft launch events running June 4th-6th to enjoy free gelato, crepes, croissants and gelato burgers, plus free coffee, affogato or smoothie, all depending on the date.

🍧They follow hot on the heels of the almost as new branch of Amorino, well situated for the Well Walk Heath access, brightening up the heart of a currently rather tired High St line up.

🍧Then there’s the established Venchi Hampstead, and the classic side steet Oddonos, already well versed in serving the soft scoops to Heath walkers.

🍧Over the Parli Hill side, Swain’s Lane’s Creamery, part of the ever-popular Bistro Laz empire, has you covered.

🍧Or down towards Primrose Hill the jolly Reenies will sort you out for venturing further into the Royal Parks.

New things for summer

🥳Lovers of daytime partying take note; we’re about to get a new open-air music and food destination right in the heart Camden Town. Camden Courtyard will see a colourful sprucing up of the Electric Ballroom’s back terrace, including a ‘killer sound system’, Wray & Nephew cocktail slushies, spritz and pitchers to facilitate the summertime vibes, with local fave Pizza & Dumplings doing the food. They promise a decent line-up of DJs, live bands, and party promoters including Free From Sleep, UKG Brunch, Midnight Runners, Colorize, Ketoloco, too.

🎭Long term locals who remember the treasure trove of scripts, plays and movie books that was Chalk Farm Rd’s much-missed Offstage Theatre and Film Bookshop will be pleased to see that a new ‘theatre café’ has opened in the same unit. Libra Theatre Café is a new venture from two stage-loving friends, combining coffee and cake upstairs with a performance space in the basement (see listings below).

🍹Tomorrow night (Sat 25th) sees the grand opening party for kombucha microbrewery WildIsEarth in Kentish Town. Drop in and enjoy a live Italian folk band, booch cocktails and learn more about their fermentation process, low impact production methods and the resulting range of healthy, tasty, tangibly effervescent drinks, too.

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Celebrating KX

Granary Square from the Google HQ rooftop

It’s been some transformation, right?

The popular King’s Cross masterplan, which has been steadily reinventing Camden’s one-time vice and haulage wastelands, and lovingly repurposing its abandoned Victorian industrial infrastructure for 20 years now, has just won the 2024 RIBA London Award. 

The plan’s ‘human-centric’ approach to a mix of open spaces, well-appointed boulevards and sustainable building design was a hit with judges and is regularly held up internationally as a gold standard for urban redevelopment.

Most locals (and wider Londoners) I chat with are rightly chuffed to have the fountains, the food and the free events of modern-day King’s Cross all on our proverbial doorsteps, while global tech and music brands can’t seem to get enough of gravitating to the ‘hood now, either.

But we also loved having the nightlife mayhem of Bagley’s, The Cross and The Key in situ here too, so we’ve done well out of the very different incarnations of the post coal years, haven’t we 😊 

Sure, the apartments in the likes of Gasholders are mind-bogglingly priced, but that’s hardly unique to KX, and the pseudo-public spaces can feel a little over-managed if you don’t behave in the approved way (a tale I heard this week from a lifelong local resident of getting ‘moved along’ for dawdling too long with a cigarette on their way home at night are uncomfortable to hear)

Striking silver techno-shed (hopefully that description does it justice?), 22 Handyside Street also won an award for its clever ‘light’ construction over the top of listed railway tunnels, and it’s well worth reading a bit more about it.

It’s been a delight watching the various buildings rise, whether you are being led up to the gardens and terraces of the Aga Khan Centre or down into the bowels of the to the Lightroom.

It will be fascinating to see what the next 20 years brings as this very engineered neighbourhood continues to bed in…

Camdenist in partnership with

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🎭 Our top 5 plays, shows and stage

performances this week

Between Riverside & Crazy, at Hampstead Theatre

🌃 Between Riverside and Crazy is a play about ex-cop Walter ‘Pops’ Washington, who has filled his palatial rent-controlled Manhattan apartment with an oddball extended family of petty criminals ever since his wife died. Now he’s being pursued by the landlords, the NYPD and the ladies from the local church. Until 15th June at Hampstead Theatre.

⚖️ Saturday night (25th) sees the regular Camden Cabaret & Comedy Club hop over to Chalk Farm (while it’s Jameston Rd home, the new Cushla bar, continues its refurb) to the new Libre Theatre Cafe, for drag, burlesque and laughs from Gypsylove, Brenda Lacreme and President Obonjo and Klause Fantastich.

🎶 This weekend (Sat 25th & Sun 26th) Meet Me In the Morning - tales, lies and a tribute to Bob Dylan touches on subjects like friendship, dreams, love, and war, topics as timeless as many of Dylan's songs and lyrics. It’s a concert with a twist, at Etcetera Theatre.

🤣 Stand-up show Vladislav (Baby Don't Hurt Me) sees our hero finding the funny side of returning to his war-torn hometown to care for his ailing father, and play a final life-changing game of chess. Sunday night (26th) at 2Northdown.

🏳️‍🌈 Remembrance Monday sees a couple of picture perfect husbands increasingly torn apart by distorted memories of homophobia and trauma from one Monday night. Runs until June 1st at Seven Dials Playhouse.


🎶Pick of the local live gigs

Pete Philly & Perquisite

🎸 London-based live Tour de Force Jo-Jo & The Teeth bring ‘ferocious melodies, dirty swaggering riffs, slick licks, big ass drums and groovy rhythms' to stomp your big boots to’, tonight (Fri 24th) at The Water Rats.

🎙️Head to King’s Cross backstreet music pub The Harrison on Tuesday (28th) to hear multi-talented singer, songwriter, actor and playwright Anoushka Lucas, who’s been writing songs since the age of 14

🎹 The music of Berlioz, Boyle, Britten and more will be performed by mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy with Malcolm Martineau on piano at the lovely Wigmore Hall on Wednesday (24th)

🎤 After a 15 year hiatus, Amsterdam-based hip hop duo Pete Philly & Perquisite (pictured above) have reunited and just released an eclectic third studio album ‘Eon'. You can catch the only UK date of their European tour at Camden Assembly on Thursday (30th).

🎧 Starting off the celebrations for 25 years of Little Portland St’s basement gem The Social, Sat 1st June sees new club night White Trash channeling influences from similarly named clubland institutions, with a big DJ line-up including Steve Proctor, SonLife (Live), Ben Osborne, Carl Loben, Bobby Bucys, Itchy Soul, Neil Thornton and VJ Girl In A T-Shirt.


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QUESTION: As Dua Lipa’s new docu-series hits Disney+ on the 29th, what do you think when Camden is given a global spotlight?

Love it - I'm so proud when this 'hood is showcased on TV and in movies etc.🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 67%

Hate it - can't we just all get on with living our simple local lives?⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 5%

Unsure - I'm chuffed to live in such a desirable area, but not that into all the attention it brings
🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 28%

Some of your comments:

It’s not ideal if the attention only brings in more ‘Camden tourists’. The area is becoming worse than Leicester Square.”

“I love feeling part of somewhere that’s so loved by people all over the world - I just wish more people who actually lived here were as enthusiastic about the area’s music scene and didn’t moan and try and get venues to shut down early!”

“Camden is special - not just the obvious bits of Camden Town, but the whole borough. Let’s keep it that way. Support new music as well as all the old talking heads in the TV series”

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