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An artistic lunch at the V & A – in London

If you’re visiting London and want a haven to pause from sightseeing or shopping for coffee or a light lunch, there’s a cafe I’d like to recommend to you.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington is a stone’s throw from Knightsbridge where every tourist visits Harrods to buy a tin of Earl Grey tea to take home for their mother and self respecting fashionistas check out the designers at Harvey Nichols. I was there to meet a friend for coffee before a spot of sightseeing in Greenwich (more of that later).

As you enter through the front entrance, don’t forget to look up at the two enormous chandeliers that hang above the front lobby. The first is a sculpture by architect Zaha Hadid, made of black crystals individually suspended on wires to make a shape which looks like a swarm of bees, hence it’s name of Swarm.

Swarm chandelier at the V & A in London

The second, above the information desk is of blue and yellow Venetian glass baubles by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly – it’s Murano with a modern twist.

Glass chandelier in the lobby of the V & A Museum

If you can resist temptation, move on through the gift shop and you find the internal courtyard where you can take a coffee when the weather is fine. The shallow oval pool throws up jets of water and you can sit on the steps in the sunshine, or even paddle of you’re feeling hot.

Courtyard at the V & A museum

On the other side of the courtyard you find the cafe which has recently been moved back to it’s original location when it opened in the 1860s as the first museum restaurant in the world. We sat in the Gamble room which is covered on all surfaces with decorative tiles and mottos below the ceiling such as Hunger is the best sauce.

The cafe at the V & A in the Gamble Room

On either side are two smaller rooms, decorated in similar arts and crafts style, one in Greens and Gold by William Morris, the other with blue and white Dutch tiles by Edward Poynter.

The decoration was dark and rich as a fruit cake, but if you find it too overpowering you can take your refreshment in the stark white modern corridors on either side of the cafe, with a classical marble sculpture for company.

Cafe at the V & A

Oh, by the way, in case you thought I was only feasting my eyes on all the decoration, the food was first class too. You can have anything from a slice of cake, to a salad lunch or a hot meal and I thought it was reasonably priced for central London.

Cakes at the V & A

After coffee and cake with my friend for around £4, I returned the next day for a substantial salad lunch which set me back £6.95. I’d much rather relax here in beautiful surroundings than some of the overpriced pavement cafes that I saw in Knightsbridge. And if you have time, the museum is wonderful too, especially if you love fashion, textiles and beautiful objects generally. And it’s free entry – what could be better?

If you’d like to combine your artistic lunch and cultural activities with an evening show, take a look at London Theatre Breaks to round off your perfect day out in London.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
Nearest Tube: South Kensington

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17 Comments

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    Darshana
    March 25, 2009 at 4:53 am

    What really caught my eye in this post on Victoria and Albert Museum were the image of those two chandeliers. Especially the Swarm. It has a incredible artistic quality to it. But it is no wonder considering it was designed buy Zaha Hadid who had won many awards for architecture.

  • Reply
    body detox diet
    August 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

    i love eating fruit cakes, specially with extra walnuts, almonds and raisins. another favorite of mine is the Dresdner Stollen or German Fruitcake

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    February 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

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    Lily Evans
    September 1, 2010 at 9:23 am

    i love those german fruit cakes because they have more nuts in it ..

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    Interlocking Tiles in Delhi
    February 13, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Me and my husband are planning to vacation in London but we have no knowledge about this place it’s a favorites place to visit. I think your blog gives us a gift by publishing such informative post. Through your blog I get to know about this museum an in my view point museum is the right place to know about the history of any country. Thanks for it.

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