Below is my review. The “wins” and the “fails”.
Last year, I had a bit of an obsession with “instagrammable” cafes. That is to say, pink, flowery, cute – “Instagram-friendly”, essentially. Suitably “out there”, usually pimped out with unicorns and Barbie pink (otherwise known as “millennial pink”). Here I specifically focus on these pink, flowery cafes as opposed to the more “hipster” styles (although another post may follow on that category, we’ll see). I have selected the 6 cafes I went to last year which best fit this description, and below is my verdict on each.
I should also add that all the photos in this post have #nofilter, in order to give the most accurate impression. Additionally, all these photos were taken on the same camera (a DSLR as opposed to an iPhone).
I’ll start with the ones that didn’t make the cut for me. For various reasons, these did not live up to my expectations.
Mayfair or Knightsbridge or Chelsea or Oxford St or Belgravia
This is probably the cafe most people associate with “instagrammability”. Now a chain around London, the Elan cafés are decked out with pink everywhere, countless flower walls and cute details. However, for me, this café falls short. I’ve been twice, at different locations, and both times the service was terrible (confusion over which table ordered what, orders not brought out at the same time, and so on), and the food was overpriced. The croissant I had was borderline stale, and there were problems with payment both times (being charged extra and then issues when trying to bring this up). On top of all that, these cafes are not even particularly “instagrammable”. I mean, maybe to a rookie – as I mentioned, they do have a very cool “look” – the problem here is the lighting. I haven’t yet been able to post any photos from Elan on Instagram, as I’m very particular about lighting. I prefer natural light, or failing that, something which can mimic this fairly well. Elan doesn’t provide either of these options. I get the impression it’s very much a fad.
The verdict: don’t go. Wouldn’t recommend.
The Knot Churros
This place wasn’t bad. I would definitely recommend going, just to see it, as it’s definitely cute. The reason it’s going on my “fails” list is more to do with the fact that I wouldn’t personally go back unless I was taking photos for something like Instagram. Again, it’s more of a “fad” place. The churros and ice creams with candy floss and coloured decorations are beautiful, but some of the decorations hurt my teeth to the point where I actually couldn’t eat them, and the churros didn’t taste great (although the soft serve ice cream was good). The lighting isn’t bad though – but the place is rather small, and I get the impression there’s often a queue. We actually got kicked out after about 20 minutes so that someone else could sit down, which although understandable, doesn’t make for a particularly relaxed experience.
The verdict: go once.
This place wasn’t bad either – but I wouldn’t brand it particularly “instagrammable”. I trekked all the way to Hackney for this, and although it’s definitely cute and I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area, I don’t think it’s worth the journey. What I liked most about Palm Vaults is that the menu is entirely vegetarian, and they do multiple coloured lattes which you can order with glitter. In terms of instagrammability however, the lighting wasn’t great, and it’s difficult getting the hanging plants and exposed brick in a shot while avoiding other people.
The verdict: go if you’re in the area.
Now for the winners, the places I’d actually recommend. Even though these are instagrammable, I’d recommend giving them a visit, whether or not you happen to bring your camera. These are places I’d actually visit for non-insta-photo related reasons.
I LOVE Peggy Ps, and will definitely be going back. I’ve been several times, and each time I’ve experienced great service and fantastic food. This is, in my opinion, how it’s done. If you want to create an instagrammable cafe, it needs to be founded in something. What I mean by this is there has to be a “hook”, something appealing about the experience (as opposed to the café just looking cool). Peggy porschen focuses first and foremost on quality. Their teas and cakes are really different and interesting (and delicious). I’d go whether or not you plan on bringing a camera. I would however recommend weekdays, and if you want to get a good shot I’d recommend early morning. I also like that the “instagrammability” lies mainly in the food itself, and in the exterior. This means there isn’t a massive queue of people blocking your shot, or ruining your experience by taking lots of photos.
The verdict: yes yes yes.
If you want a super luxurious yet different hot beverage, and you’re not averse to something sweet, I’d highly recommend St Aymes. They don’t do brunch foods like Peggy P’s, but if you’re just looking for a coffee and cake, I would recommend. The only thing to note is that during peak times the outdoor seating does go fairly quickly, so again I’d say go in the morning rather than evening and weekday rather than weekend to ensure you get a seat. The good news is, again, as the “instagrammable” bit is outdoors, the lighting will be good – but you might not get a seat if there are loads of people, and of course it does get cold (although they do provide blankets!)
The verdict: go if you can.
This place does amazing avocado toast. That is all.
It’s fanciest I’ve seen – I’m talking flower petals on top, avocado arranged in a beautiful shape, beetroot hummus, etc. However, the lighting isn’t great. On the other hand, this one is less “discovered” than the other two in my opinion, so there are fewer people in general – however, much like with Palm Vaults it’s hard to avoid getting other people in your shot. If you’re not as fussed about natural lighting I’d definitely recommend. Or if you just want some really fancy avocado toast.
The verdict: go for the food, not the gram.
Have you been to any instagrammable cafes recently? Or even visited one of the above? If so, let me know what you thought!