London Boy! A guide to the London based on Taylor Swift’s new song –

London Boy! A guide to the London based on Taylor Swift’s new song –

Today, Taylor Swift released her latest album, Lover, to a fairly positive reception.

The one song that really captured the imagination of the British public, though – and not entirely in a good way, was London Boy – which is basically Estelle’s American Boy in reverse.

It’s (presumably) an ode to her English boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn, and features the breathless declaration: ‘God, I love the English!’

As someone who finds the overwhelming presence of English people the single most trying aspect of London, I’m afraid I can’t relate.

The vision of the Big Smoke the song presents is also pretty scatter-gun. We’re not sure we fully believe that Swifty is as enthused about all of these areas as she claims, and it reads more like bus timetable or a ‘things to do’ guide.

That said, if you want to visit some of these attractions in a way that proper Londoners (aka people who hate their very existence) do, here’s how.


I find it implausible that Taylor Swift would ‘enjoy walking in Camden Market’, on the basis she’s neither a cyber-goth nor a 16-year-old Italian tourist.

No area of London trades on its past glories more than Camden: it’s the Liverpool of London boroughs. Amy Winehouse used to hang out there, true, and back in the heady days of 2007, you might have had the thrill of spotting Noel Fielding in an old man pub. But it’s 2019 now and Camden is, famously, no longer cool.

If you simply must go there then the Wetherspoons is alright. It’s next to the canal which is quite pretty, and is one of the few ‘spoons that plays music, actually turning into a sort-of club late at night.

But you might have a better time in neighbouring Kentish Town, which is colourful and pretty in a Brighton sort of way. It also has The Pineapple, which is a genuinely great pub.

Kentish Town also features a pub in a toilet… the toilet I’m referring to being North London.

Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

Absolutely not. Even in its glory days, it doesn’t seem like it would have been her scene.


Sitting right next to Hampstead Heath, Highgate is upscale enough that it’s plausible Swift would hang out here, ‘watching rugby with [her boyfriend’s] school friends’.

By far the best thing to do in Highgate is take a walk on the Heath – it’s a bucolic f***ing paradise! It also has Highgate cemetery, with its monument to Karl Marx. But, if Swift and her boyfriend are rugby fans, this is likely to be of little interest.

There’s a Margaret Thatcher statue opening in Grantham soon, so they might be be better off waiting until then.

I once worked in a really good gastropub in Highgate, but I parted there on bad terms and I’m therefore not going to tell you what it’s called, purely out of spite.

Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

Yes. it’s already chock-full of celebrities – although admittedly more in the vein of ‘someone in the cast of Horrible Histories’ than ‘platinum-selling superstar.’

The West End/Bond Street/Soho

‘Now I love high tea, stories from uni, and the West End,’ sings Swift. I can believe that she enjoys high tea. I can just about buy that she likes spending time in central London.

But no-one likes ‘stories from uni’.  No matter how madly in love you are, there is nothing more boring than listening to someone else’s anecdotes of higher education, most of which amount to ‘once, I got really drunk!’

All those nights you laid in your boyfriend’s arms, regaling him with tales of what you and the rest of the Badminton Society got up to back at Durham? He was actually bored as f***, mate.

There’s obviously lots to do in the West End, though. It’s a place which has enough theatres, boutique shops and high-end restaurants to keep all but the most discerning popstar happy.

If your budget is lower than Taylor Swift’s, Brasserie Zedel has the swanky, opulent vibe of the dining room in Titanic and is fairly affordable with friendly service.

Soho has a decent vibe up until around midnight, at which point it’s a struggle to find anywhere open and it starts to feel a little forlorn.

But The Glasshouse Stores on Brewer Street feels like something out of a 1950’s Graham Greene novel (a good thing) and, crucially, it’s really cheap.

Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

Yes – she’s starring in Cats so presumably likes musicals.


‘Is Shoreditch sh*t now?’ is a debate that’s been raging for a good twenty years now and I’m here to answer it once and for all.

Yes, Shoreditch is ‘dead’, in a sense. No, it’s no longer at the vanguard of anything, nor is it exactly cool.

But there’s still lots of good stuff there, and particularly if you’re rich – which, happily, Taylor Swift is.

To start with, it has Lyles, which is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in London. The area also boasts some great clothes shops, such as APC, YMC and Goodhood – the grand bazaar of expensive streetwear. If Swift were ever to become a ‘sneakerhead’, she’d find herself in hog heaven.

Shoreditch is nice at, say, 7pm on a Wednesday evening in summer, simply because lots of attractive people who wear nice clothes work there. But on a Friday or Saturday evening, the vibe becomes is a little too boisterous. A little, dare I say, ‘basic’. Do yourself a favour, Ms Swift, and avoid.

Hackney, meanwhile, is indisputably the greatest borough in London. From Stoke Newington to Clapton, it offers an embarrassment of riches, as well as more green space than any other district.

If you like natural wine, then check out P Franco. It’s tiny and expensive, but the staff are passionate about what they do and the soap they have in the bathrooms is simply… Superlative.

Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

Swift specifically sings that she likes ‘Shoreditch in the afternoon’ so yes, this is perfectly plausible – some of her new music has been so sickly sweet that it wouldn’t be too surprising to catch her at the Cereal Cafe or Ballie Ballerson.

Would she hang out in Hackney? She should be so lucky!


The tragedy of Brixton is that it’s still quite good while on the verge of no longer being so. Obviously, gentrification is a problem affecting most areas of London but it feels especially pernicious here – perhaps because the gentrifiers are particularly annoying (whereas in Hackney, where I live, I am widely beloved by the local populace.)

Brixton suffers from its proximity to Clapham, by some measure the most obnoxious area of London, and sadly its rampant Claphamisation continues apace.

Brixton still has a great vibe though, and the Afro-Caribbean influence remains very much present. It’s a lovely place just to walk around, particularly through the market, which has some excellent shops and restaurants.

Do we believe that Taylor Swift would hang out here?

Now? Not quite. In five years? Sadly, yes.

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