7 design-led London cafes to enjoy from the inside

From minimalist industrial spaces to zen Japanese spots

Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur, love to people-watch, or are looking for an alternative to your WFH space, London’s cafes are back in action after an extended period of take-away only service.

Londoners can once again enjoy their favourite beverage from the cosy comfort of indoors. However, it’s not just the inviting armchairs that speak to us at these local spots. From cool muted tones at NOLA in Peckham to industrial chic at Stoke Newington’s Jolene, these London cafes offer plenty of interior inspiration too.

NOLA, Peckham

Photography: NOLA

NOLA’s owners, Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, are known from the band Oh Wonder; however, the COVID-19 pandemic led them to open this recent addition to Rye Lane in Peckham. NOLA is a speciality coffee shop that brings elements from coffee shops the duo have visited around the world to the neighbourhood – a place that offers much-needed calm in an elegantly designed setting. The decor is minimal and modern — light wood, accent lights, clean lines, and a touch of greenery fill the slender shop, and offer a warm, welcoming space.

224 Rye Ln, London SE15 4NL

WatchHouse, Bermondsey

WatchHouse is a coffee shop and roastery housed in the old graveyard watch house in Bermondsey Bermondsey
Photography: WatchHouse

Located in a former 19th-century watch house on London’s famous Bermondsey Street, WatchHouse offers industry-leading speciality coffee in a beautifully designed location.
The brand’s namesake location had a complete redesign during lockdown and has now reopened with decor inspired by the streetscape. The Bermondsey Street haunt’s interiors use natural materials including marble, timber and clay, and were designed by London-based designer Deidra Hodgson.

199 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UW

Cadogan Cafe, King’s Road

The curving roof inside Cadogan Cafe on King’s Road
Photography: James Brittain

Enveloped in 15-centimetre-thick concrete panels, the Cadogan Cafe is located on Duke of York Square, next to the Saatchi Gallery on King’s Road. The space connects to nature with a rooftop garden and fully retractable curved windows that allow diners to spill out onto the surrounding square (weather permitting).

It was designed by architecture studio NEX who took inspiration from a section of the Grade II-listed wall from a military building that used to occupy the site.

Duke of York Square, Sloane Street, Chelsea

Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market, Haymarket

Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market, Haymarket
Photography: St James’s London

Rose Bakery was created by Rose Carrarini and her husband, Jean-Charles, in Paris, quickly gaining cult status before expanding to London, Tokyo, Korea, New York and Los Angeles within Dover Street Market stores. Rose Bakery London began in 2004 in the original Dover Street Market store on Dover Street in Mayfair. The undeniably cool interior is decked in natural light and features a sleek steel counter – the parallels to Dover Street Market’s minimalist Japanese aesthetic are evidenced by the sharp, clean lines and neutral colour palette.

18-22 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4DG

% Arabica Coffee, Broadway Market

% Arabica Coffee on Broadway Market
Photography: % Arabica Coffee

Tucked away in Hackney, East London, is the famous Broadway Market. Here is where you’ll find % Arabica’s London Flagship. When founder and CEO, Kenneth Shoji, was scouting locations, his goal was to find an authentic, popular and vibrant destination – and that he did.
The design fuses form and function: a wood-clad custom Slayer machine takes centre stage and is complemented by original bespoke furnishings displaying the unique % Arabica logo. From the light switches and wooden table and chairs to the mirrors and flooring, every detail has been designed and brought to life by Shoji.

33 Broadway Market, London E8 4PH

Omotesando Koffee, Fitzrovia

Omotesando Koffee in London's Fitzrovia is all about understated Japanese design
Photography: Omotesando Koffee

Omotesando Koffee began as a one-man coffee shop but now boasts locations in Singapore, Kyoto, across Southeast Asia, and also, Fitzrovia. Its London location is clad in contemporary Japanese pine, envisioned by Alessandro Perinelli of Perinelli Design who creates the Omotesando Koffee ‘cube’ as the centrepiece, surrounded by soft, warm tones and muted lighting.
8 Newman St, London W1T 1PB,

Jolene, Stoke Newington

Jolene London restaurant and bakery in Stoke Newington
Photography: Patricia Niven

Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell – the pair behind Jolene and Westerns Laundry – elect a style that finds a niche between contemporary chic and industrial-utilitarian. The duo reconfigured the Stoke Newington space to be as simple as possible, making sure to keep the focus on the food. That said, the design does not disappoint: the uneven nude wall behind the counter, the incandescent strip lights, neutral colour scheme, and pairings of seemingly disparate materials make this a spot that encourages lingering stays.

21 Newington Green, Mayville Estate, London N16 9PU

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