Even the most hardened of London explorers sometimes need to refuel. And the design geeks among us would always prefer to do so in a cafe or bar with some serious design credentials. Luckily, a few real gems have popped up lately. Here are my three favourites; first the V&A Reading Rooms on Exhibition Road in Kensington.

V&A Reading Rooms

V&A Reading Rooms

A bookshop with a bar; why has no-one thought of that before?

V&A Reading Rooms

V&A Reading Rooms

Not just any bookshop with a bar either, but one where you’re welcome to sit and read any book that takes your fancy for as long as you like. And with books from Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting to How to Become an Explorer of the World, something is sure to catch your eye.

V&A Reading Rooms

V&A Reading Rooms

Second on my list is not consciously a design destination, but Look Mum No Hands is taking the cycling world by storm, and doing pretty well in the design stakes too. It’s simply a great idea (friendly bike workshop, food and drink, and a big screen to show the races) executed very well indeed.

Look Mum No Hands

Look Mum No Hands

It’s in a gorgeous space on Old Street with lofty ceilings and lots of space. The interior is filled with mismatched furniture, cycling stuff and limited edition screen prints; creating a welcoming atmosphere for cycling fans, coffee addicts and design geeks alike.

Look Mum No Hands

Look Mum No Hands

They even have their own range of merchandise including branded socks(!) and this gorgeous bag…

Look Mum No Hands

Look Mum No Hands

And it’s run by my very lovely friends Sam and Lewin.

Look Mum No Hands (2010)

Look Mum No Hands (2010)

Last but not least is a pop-up on the Southbank; the Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe. Its burst of colour is a welcome addition to its grey concrete environment.

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe

It fuses the Hindi concept of ‘Jugaad’ which means ‘making do’ or ‘making sure things get done’ with the recent phenomenon of the pop-up, creating an exciting, vibrant space where everything is upcycled, reused or reclaimed.

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Cafe

But it’s only there until October 4th, so pop in quick!

Those are my three favourite spots – what are yours?

You may also be interested in:

Further reading for the especially geeky: