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Every afternoon, without fail, I crave a cup of coffee.
Not for the caffeine jolt, though.
Coffee is how I punctuate my day. I use it as an excuse to stop what I’m doing and reflect as I enjoy the pleasure of sipping a latte in solitude. It’s become so important to my day that I get antsy if I go without it.
Since moving back to London in May, I’ve been too busy traveling to explore much of the city properly. But I have found the time to explore my wonderful new neighborhood, Balham, and in the process, I’ve discovered my new favorite cafe: Lavish Habit.
After nearly four years of near-constant travel around the world, I’ve learned how quickly you can go from being happily anonymous in a new town to aching for some kind of stability, even if it’s short-term.
That’s where becoming a regular comes in.
Finding a place that you can visit habitually — whether it’s a cafe, a restaurant, a smoothie stand, even a particular desk at the local library or a favorite spot of sand on the beach — can do wonders for helping you put down the faintest of roots in an unfamiliar destination.
By becoming a regular, you’re no longer anonymous. People recognize you and smile. In turn, you bask in your increasing local knowledge, even if it’s just the fact that the coffee is nice here.
And when the place in question is somewhere that you genuinely enjoy — it’s all the better. That’s what I found at Lavish Habit, one of the prettiest cafes I’ve ever seen.
Sure, the wifi is great, and the outlet situation is decent, if not outstanding. But I go to other cafes to work. Lavish Habit is a place I go to get away from my work.
Lavish Habit pulls triple duty: it’s a cafe, a boutique, and an antique shop. It’s probably the girliest place in London with everything from faux-vintage jewelry to Mexican sugar skulls to the most gorgeous wrapping paper you’ve ever seen, all in bright colors.
In the boutique portion, you’ll find the following things for sale:
Necklaces, purses, and books starring Bill Murray.
Porcelain cups shaped like guinea pigs.
Enough vintage-style bird-themed glassware to outfit a Portland wedding.
The basement is home to many of the larger items and antiques, like these steamer trunks, alongside the occasional creepy doll.
Though I’ve admired a few of the dresses on the racks, I have yet to buy anything other than food here. I usually grab some avocado toast, a dish I will always associate with Australia, home to the best breakfasts on the planet.
In the back you’ll find a garden — perfect on sunny days.
As for the coffee?
It is good coffee. Believe me. Everything else would fall away if the coffee here wasn’t good. (They use Monmouth Coffee, which has a great reputation in London.) But I even drop in here to pick up a small takeaway latte, even though I could get much larger ones down the road at Starbucks.
So if you’re coming to London sometime and looking for a nice cafe at which to unwind, I have just the place for you.