Wonderland; a place where croquet is played with flamingos, tea parties are never-ending, and hookah smoking caterpillars mix with cats who grin. Not too dissimilar to a Friday night in Soho. This seminal work of Charles Dodgson [aka Lewis Carroll] written in 1865 sees our heroine grapple with anthropomorphic creatures, fantastical landscapes, philosophical riddles, and investigations into logic. Yet, how different could it have been should Alice have followed KOMPAS instead of the White Rabbit?
MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY
Punished by Time to be stuck at 6pm (tea time) eternally, it is no wonder that the Mad Hatter was so nutty, spewing riddle after riddle [just why is a raven like a writing desk?] and frequently changing seats to pass the time. No doubt infuriating and tiring, Alice could just open up KOMPAS to find a new location, somewhere not even the poor Dormouse would want to fall asleep in…
Nearest Tube: Marble Arch
This place is a pastel-hued, blossom-coated dream, and would not go amiss in Wonderland. Hundreds of flowers adorn the entrance and interior walls, cascading over the gold cutlery and cups and saucers with a gentle gold-rimmed blue or pink… And that’s before you’ve even drunk your Unicorn Latte; baby pink, and topped with 24ct gold, one sip and you’ll be smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Founded by sisters Michela and Lois Wilson as a tribute to both the works of Wes Anderson, and their Nana’s flower garden, Saint Aymes is pure decadence. Intended to provide the busy and the stressed with a little slice of paradise in the middle of the city, Saint Aymes certainly does that. Alongside their celebrated Unicorn latte, they serve a variety of pretty cakes, pastries, and ice creams. Due to the dainty nature of the café it is not suitable for children, and tables can only be occupied for 1 hour. The Mad Hatter might thank Time’s curse for this one.
“I’M LATE, I’M LATE, FOR A VERY IMPORTANT DATE!”
You could blame this whole thing on the White Rabbit; it was him that Alice followed down the rabbit hole that landed her in Wonderland after all! As the herald for the King and Queen of Hearts he is certainly one to keep on the right side of, and as Christmas is coming up there is only one gift Alice need buy him to garner some favour.
Nearest Tube: Camden
Walking out of Camden tube station is akin to stepping through the Looking Glass; the myriads of characters you’ll encounter are as if you are in Wonderland yourself. It is this kooky environment rich in fascinating industrial history that continuously influences owners and designers of The Camden Watch Company. Founded as an offshoot of their design studio – AMS Design – this knowledge of end-to-end design is evident in every watch, hand crafted and beautifully presented, with an amazing attention to retaining a local-cum-historic aesthetic. Their popular watch, No. 29, would be a great pick for the White Rabbit; modelled on the Victorian pocket watches that would have been worn by the Camden train workers in the 1900s, it’s so beautiful he would be looking at it so much he would never be late!
THE HOOKAH-SMOKING CATERPILLAR
Sat atop his giant mushroom, Hookah pipe in hand, the Caterpillar is a funny old character. Pseudo-philosophical – in between puffs – he is quite combative with poor Alice, who is undergoing somewhat of an identity crisis (“Who are you?”… “I hardly know, sir, just at present…”) Sounds like she’s in need of a drink.
Nearest Tube: Clapham North
Enter through their nondescript red door and enter a magical world full of Eastern charm, and cheap pizza. Inspired by the souks and bazaars of North Africa, plump cushions line the floor, colourful rugs droop from the ceilings, a wonderful kaleidoscope of colour flickers from the multi-coloured lanterns…be inside for more than 5 minutes and it will be hard to believe that you’re in the middle of London. Elaborate décor aside, the pizzas are brilliant and affordable, while the cocktails in their downstairs bar (the Electric Basement) are strong and plenty. Here there is also a stage and piano for live entertainment throughout the week, while their Magic Tent hosts free cinema screenings every Sunday. All this, and out back they have a beautiful shisha garden. A true hidden oasis!
CHAPTER 8: THE QUEEN’S CROQUET GROUND
A ridged ground, croquet balls that are live hedgehogs and mallets of live flamingos, the Queen of Heart’s croquet match is not your ordinary affair. Yet aside from gorging on jam tarts it is one of the Queen’s favourite activities, and in order to stave off her execution, Alice needs to keep her head in the game (get it?) and keep the Queen entertained.
Nearest Tube: Stratford
What once was an old car park rooftop has now been transformed into a multi-purpose events venue, replete with bars and pop-up food stands (offering Vegan and Vegetarian options also). The industrial monotone of concrete and scaffolding is interspersed with planters and old cars filled with shrubs, complete with hundreds of fairy lights. During the summer the space turns fairground-esque, with batting cages and side stalls, while during the winter you can experience everyone’s winter Olympic favourite, curling. There’s also an open-air cinema year round.