London Travel Tips From the Director of Last Chance Harvey

This is Part 2 of our interview with Joel Hopkins, director of Last Chance Harvey, which is in theaters now.

ANGLOPHENIA: What’s your favorite neighborhood in London – one that people may not be inclined to visit?

JOEL HOPKINS: I got very excited wandering around the Borough Market. Lots of very good restaurants have opened up around there. Really great produce, and a lot of restaurateurs go there to buy their produce.

Definitely the east of London is more progressive and newer things are happening there. I may be slightly late to this, but Hoxton is the equivalent to [New York's] Williamsburg in that, after it was discovered, it has lost a bit of its specialness. Artists moved in there and found affordable spaces to have studios, and it became a hit with restaurants and bars. Columbia Road Flower Market in the East End is great. Brixton is nice. It’s slightly off the beaten track. Very multicultural. It’s a bit like going out to Jackson Heights in Queens. Brixton has a big West Indian community and a big Indian community.

I do think London is huge. I’ll go down a street in London and think, I’ve never been down this street before in my life. Whereas in New York, after awhile, I felt as if I’d been down every street there. London has more wiggly streets to discover, and I’ve lived in London most of my life.

ANGLO: How has London changed as it has become more multicultural?

JH: I don’t feel like London has changed much. When I was growing up, it always felt fairly multicultural. What I noticed, after being away for 12 years, is that there is just more of everything. It’s just busier – more people, more people who have come from abroad. Definitely you’re conscious that London, much like New York City, is a stepping stone from a lot of places. I am enjoying being closer to mainland Europe, and being able to, very quickly, experience another country and culture and language. In New York, that’s harder to do.

ANGLO: What would you say is the most romantic location in London?

JH: Well, we filmed a lot on the South Bank, and I must say I really love it down there. I loved it as a boy, and it has only gotten better. I find it very romantic. I grew up in the north of London near Hampstead Heath, which is a very big park in London, but it’s not a pristine or manicured park. It’s more like the countryside – woodlands and rolling hills. It’s very romantic on a summer’s evening. There’s a lovely place there called Kenwood, which is a old stately home, and it has a bandstand next to a pond. They have concerts during summer evenings – jazz concerts, classical concerts.

ANGLO: What is your favorite live music venue in general in London?

I went to see something at the Roundhouse, which is in Camden Town, and that’s a beautiful old, Victorian building where trains used to come in and turn around. Now it’s been turned into an arts and music venue. It’s a lovely space.

JH: How about a restaurant recommendation?

While I was editing my film in Soho, I got really keen on this place called Andrew Edmunds. It has a private club there and a restaurant on the ground floor with really good food.

ANGLO: A good local pub?

JH: There’s a gastropub in West London called the Havelock Tavern with really good food. St. Johns is great as well.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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