'Millennial pink' isn't just a throwaway phrase. It's an epidemic sweeping London's cafes and restaurants. As social media becomes more influential in people's choices of where to eat and drink, many cafes and restaurants have turned their attention to becoming as Instagram-friendly as possible, in order to keep customers coming through the door. If it's a pink selfie you're after, head down to these rosy London eateries:
Peggy Porschen, Belgravia
The original cafe beloved by Instagrammers, it's rare to walk past this Belgravia bakery and not see multiple people posing for photos outside. We truly salute the staff for their patience in dealing with the smartphone-wielding masses, many of whom don't seem to show any interest in actually, you know, eating or drinking there.
The reason for Peggy Porschen's popularity? A seductively curvy pastel pink exterior, topped off with a flower arch over the door. The (fake) flowers change seasonally, usually brighter colours in the summer, and more toned down, glittery offerings for Christmas.
The cafe plays up to this with beautiful cakes and coffees that finish off that Instagram shot perfectly — the latte art here is seriously impressive.
Peggy Porschen, 116 Ebury Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9QQ.
Elan Cafe, various locations
We've been watching Elan with interested fascination since it burst into our Instagram feed in late 2017 — it's the quintessential example of a business that's been built entirely by — and for — Instagram, and it's been very successful thus far.
What began as two pretty pink cafes (in Park Lane and Brompton Road, which tells you all you need to know about the target market) known for their flower walls, has quickly converted into a sprawling empire of flowers, pinkness and Love Hearts, across five branches at time of writing — with a sixth on the way.
The Knightsbridge cafe opened in December 2018, and is the pinkest offering to date, with the coffee counter modelled like a carousel (pink horses included, naturally). The piece-de-resistance is two booths embedded into a wall of giant plastic Love Hearts.
Instagram popularity is a curse as well as a blessing it seems. Elan doesn't take reservations, which means the queue is often out of the door for brunch at weekends, and we spotted a cautionary sign at the Knightsbridge branch advising customers that they could only have tables for 45 minutes before they'd be asked to leave — best make that photoshoot snappy, then.
Elan Cafe, various locations and expanding fast. The Knightsbridge 'Love Hearts' branch is at Hans Crescent, right next to Harrods.
The Gallery at Sketch, Mayfair
Fancy Mayfair restaurant Sketch is best-known for those toilets — sleek, futuristic egg-shaped pods, located in the venue's East Bar. But the pinkness doesn't end there. Book yourself in for afternoon tea or dinner in The Gallery, which the restaurant itself describes as "forever pink".
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Seating comes in the form of millennial pink velvet armchairs, which, now we think of it, also have an air of help-I'm-hatching-out-of-an-egg about them, and matching sofas. Even the walls are pink-washed, and currently display prints by artist David Shrigley.
The Parlour's rather pink too, actually. Kudos to the interior designer for taking a theme and running with it.
Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XG.
Palm Vaults, Hackney
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Palm fronds and pot plants dangle from the ceiling in pink macrame pot holders, while pink furniture invites you to take a seat, and brightly-coloured cakes, smoothie bowls and coffees adorn the menu. This is Palm Vaults, a vaguely tropical-themed veggie and vegan cafe in Hackney, which we visited in 2017:
Dogs are welcome, but laptops and tablets are not — this is not a place for lingering, as has been made clear to us on past visits when staff have been rather abrupt. For the best selfie spot, head to the toilets.
Palm Vaults, 411 Mare Street, E8 1HY.
Cafe Miami, Hackney
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Pastel colours are the order of the day at Hackney's art deco eatery, Café Miami. It's not completely pink — the exterior is a blue-grey shade — but it is subtle, and its retro nature makes it one for the 'gram, without a doubt. The pancake-heavy menu is also rather photogenic.
The retro, metal furniture is an understated mixture of baby pink and baby blue, with pink candy stripes jazzing up the walls. Decor-wise, it's probably the most-hangover friendly place on this list, and it specialises in carb-heavy breakfast and brunch dishes to boot.
Café Miami, 24 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0PD.
Wallace Restaurant at Wallace Collection
After a cultural morning taking in the impressive sights of The Wallace Collection, we wouldn't blame you if you were suffering from a touch of museum fatigue. Head to the Wallace Restaurant, an oasis of space, calm, and yep, you guessed it, pink, to clear your head.
The walls of the conservatory-style restaurant are pale pink, with cornices and window frames left a contrasting white, resulting in a doll's house-like effect. There's something very calming about the space, a combination of those subtle pink walls, green trees, and airy, high ceilings.
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Breakfast, lunch, snacks and afternoon tea are all on the menu, and reservations are recommended. You don't need to be visiting The Wallace Collection to dine in the restaurant — although with all this on show, why wouldn't you?
The Wallace Restaurant at Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, Marylebone, W1U 3BN.
Frank's at Bold Tendencies, Peckham
Hipster hang-out Frank's in Peckham is all about those skyline views... or at least it was, until it opened for its summer 2017 season and punters found that someone had applied weapons-grade volumes of pink paint to the concrete staircase over the winter months. Those skyline views and Aperol Spritz shots were ousted from Instagram, replaced by selfies and #SquadGoals shots that were all so very, very pink. So pink.
Frank's Cafe at Bold Tendencies, multi-storey car park, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4TG.
Kalifornia Kitchen, Tottenham Court Road
Day-glo pink staircase? Check. Pot plants? Check. Vegan health food? Check. Kalifornia Kitchen was already very 2019 when it opened back in November 2018.
'Healthy is sexy' is the slogan, and a quick glance at the menu reveals a prevalence towards health foods such as kale, avocado, chia and buckwheat, although you'll still find a (vegan) burger or curry too. You get the feeling that the whole menu was designed with social media in mind though — the croissants are pink, the pancakes topped off with a sprinkling of edible flowers.
We've noticed something of a correlation between vegetarian/vegan restaurants and pinkness (see also; Palm Vaults, Tell Your Friends...). Is this just because they are trends that have come to forefront of popularity in London at similiar times, or is there something else going on here? Are vegan restaurant owners generally trendier than their carnivore counterparts? Answers on a postcard please.
Kalifornia Kitchen, 19 Percy Street, W1T 1BZ.
We're in hen do territory with this chain of cocktail bars dotted around the capital, each with its own unique style. Soho's Simmons is a particularly lively place to start a night out, with minimal seating offered around the edge of the petite bar, the rest of the floor space given over to dancing.
Scalloped fabric lampshades above the bar and garish retro wallpaper are reminiscent of Deptford's Little Nan's bar, but the neon pink lighting is far from anything you're ever likely to come across in your grandmother's front room — it's more strip club than scones and tea, bathing the entirety of the venue in a sultry pink glow.
Simmons, 2 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 4AE.
Tell Your Friends, Parsons Green
When two Made in Chelsea stars (Lucy and Tiffany Watson, if you're interested...) team up to open a vegan restaurant, you know it's going to be Instagram-friendly.
Things begin subtle — pale pink walls lined with pot plants, a velvet pink sofa... so far, so standard. But once they switch on that neon light on the opposite wall, the whole place is bathed in an eerie pink glow more reminiscent of a nightclub than a (pricey) west London restaurant.
The menu is entirely vegan, with plenty of plant-based version of much-loved dishes, including burgers, fish and chips, and curry — here's our review from August 2018.
Tell Your Friends, 175 New King's Road, SW6 4SW.
Hummingbird Bakery, various locations
Pink and brown have been a solid part of Hummingbird Bakery's branding since the all-American bakery landed in London in 2004.
The cakes are bold — huge slices or portion with strong, unapologetic flavours — and the decor at every branch toes the same line.
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What would Dolly do?🌈 Make like @dolly_pawton and keep Fridays a time for self care, sharing the love and everything indulgent! And with our fabulous Treat a Friend Friday offer (buy a cupcake and get another one free to treat someone), you can afford to sprinkle a bit of magic on someone’s day like Ms. Pawton herself! bit.ly/treatafriendhbb 🐾💕 #dollypawton #sharethelove #treatafriendfriday #friday #weekend #whatwoulddollydo #dolly #pupcake #love #share #cupcakes #rainbowcupcake #treats #selfcare #indulgent #fabulous #justaregularbreakfastfordolly
Every bakery has a boutique feel to it, meaning space is limited and seating is at a premium. Avoid weekends and lunchtimes if you want to sit down and enjoy the surroundings (and smells — it smells divine).
Hummingbird Bakery, Soho/Ricmhond/Angel/Portobello Road/Spitalfields/South Kensington/Richmond/Guildford.
Farm Girl Chelsea (and Notting Hill)
Originally a Notting Hill hidey-hole, Aussie cafe Farm Girl opened an all-day venue in Chelsea, and called in interior designer Beata Heuman to transform it into a 'playful yet sophisticated space'. Mission accomplished, as colours that really shouldn't work together look fantastic, all drawing attention to those pink light bulb framed arches at the end of the room. It has an air of circus chic about it, don't you think?
Farm Girl, 9 Park Walk, SW10 OAJ.
Tonight Josephine, Waterloo and Shoreditch
Waterloo-based cocktail bar Tonight Josephine now has a Shoreditch venue, self-described as a "the pink hole in the wall basement bar [which] promises sass, girl power, and the sweetest of cocktails."
What that means in real terms is a mixture of booth and bar style seating with a pink glittery wall as a backdrop, leather benches and booths, and green and pink neon lighting.
Tonight Josephine, 39a Hoxton Square, N1 6NN, and 11 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL.
If you're into food and drink served with a side of Instagram likes, you might also be interest in:
- London's gold cafe, where gold is sprinkled or painted on much of the food or drink
- 5 flowery London cafes you probably didn't know about.
- Where to get yourself one of London's prettiest coffees.
- This afternoon tea is a fantastically floral experience.
- This gorgeous flowery cafe just 30 seconds from Oxford Street.
- Covent Garden's new tea shop and museum has been designed with Instagram in mind.