10 reasons to visit Canary Wharf this weekend

Written in collaboration with London Marriott Canary Wharf 

It’s time to put a few myths to bed today, people. First and foremost, this whole rumour that Canary Wharf is for suits and bankers only needs to end right here and right now. And while we are at it, let’s throw out the idea that it’s a bad thing that the London location becomes a ghost town on the weekend as well. The calmness and beauty of Canary Wharf on the weekend is a welcome change to the usual hustle and bustle stress of this city. Times they are a’changing and after 18 years of hearing that Canary Wharf wasn’t really worth a visit, I took matters into my own hands and explored the neighbourhood to form my own opinion, alongside a stay at the London Marriott Canary Wharf. For an entire weekend, I devoted myself to uncovering every hot spot, green space and shopping situation that this booming London neighbourhood had to offer. What I found left me wondering what took me so long to get here in the first place. I think people were telling me not to go just to throw me off the scent and to keep this area of London all to themselves. No longer, dear reader. No longer. Let’s explore Canary Wharf. 

1. The Coffee Culture

Let’s start with the first thing I did when I got into Canary Wharf. I was on the hunt for a cup of coffee. These days I think the coffee culture of a neighbourhood says a lot about the area itself – more so than your standard high street. So, I went looking for local coffee haunts. I asked a few members of staff at the London Marriott Canary Wharf where to go and even took to twitter to inquire about the best cup of coffee in this neck of the woods. I was rewarded with two must visits and over the course of the weekend I popped into them both for a try. So, mark down these two if you’re on the hunt for caffeination. It’s important to remember that not everything is open on the weekends, so please note that the two I have listed here are operating on Saturdays and Sundays. You won’t show up and be greeted with a locked door. No worries there! 

640 East

Located on Montgomery Square, this is the perfect place for an al fresco coffee moment. The open air cafe is contemporary with friendly staff and tables with a decent view for people watching.

Cafe Brera 

The terrace at Cafe Brera may have influenced my tastebuds ever so slightly when it comes to evaluating the cuppa I had while there. This is an amazing little corner of Canary Wharf with a beautiful outdoor terrace overlooking the park and currently themed with an Italian summer decor. Take a book and prepare yourself to sit for hours on end in this little slice of paradise.

2. Lunch at The Ivy in The Park Canary Wharf

Yes, Canary Wharf has an Ivy. And yes, it’s serving the delicious menu you are used to seeing at The Ivy restaurants dotted around the city. But, here’s where it stands out as a member of this restaurant chain. The Ivy on The Park Canary Wharf sits alone on the corner of one of Canary Wharf’s most picturesque, not to mention bustling, parks. It also has some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered in London. It is genuinely an absolute treat. I visited the restaurant on the day of the Wimbledon finals and we sat with a table overlooking the park, where hundreds of people were gathering to watch the finals on the summer screens. It was a day to remember and this location has most definitely made it into my top ten favourite places to eat in London! Order the steak tartare and the lobster spaghetti. I’m still dreaming of this meal with a view.

3. Art & Architecture 

As an avid supporter of the arts, I’m embarrassed to deliver the following fact. Canary Wharf is home to the UK’s largest collection of public art. How, in 18 years of calling this city home, have I not visited a neighbourhood where very corner you turn you are confronted with an original piece of art? It just all seems so very wrong. But, it’s been corrected, so I’m going to stop beating myself up about it and instead say to you…”what’s your excuse?” The weekend is the perfect time to visit and take in every piece of art that you can find. Canary Wharf have made it pretty easy, providing a downloadable art map for any visitor who wishes to explore. But, while exploring, take time to appreciate the art that is all around you that is a little less obvious, however altogether more intrusive. Of course I’m talking about the buildings. The architecture in Canary Wharf is incredible and is worth a swoon or two. 

4. Pizza at Radio Alice

Radio Alice have literally just opened doors in Canary Wharf, so my visit was appropriately timed. This London pizza favourite has been on my hit list for months and I was all too pleased to finally sit down to enjoy the pizza without a queue. That’s Canary Wharf for you on the weekends – another epic plus point. All your favourite restaurants and shops without the insane wait time to get in or check out. 

For lunch at Radio Alice, I tried the pizza collaboration with Bubble Dogs. It was basically buffalo chicken wings in pizza form and I swear I could have eaten the whole meal again twice. It was delicious and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone looking to branch out in their pizza discoveries this week. Alongside the original pizzas, the decor was also quite fantastical and made for a rather incredible experience all around. Definitely put this on the must visit list. 

5. Cocktails and Starters at The Big Easy

The Big Easy Canary Wharf has to be one of the most impressive restaurants as far as location. The building itself is absolutely surreal and the outdoor seating with a view is idyllic on a hot summer’s day. But, I have to warn you that the adult slushies are dangerous and the sharing platters are absolutely addictive. On the weekends, their bottomless brunch is legendary and on every single night of the week they have an offer for bottomless this or that, ranging from chicken wings to fried shrimp. If you like to eat and go big, this is your place.

6. Nails at The London Grace

Nails and cocktails, what could go wrong? Well, worst case scenario is that you pick a colour you wouldn’t normally go for. Other than that, I can’t think of a better combo. I needed a quick varnish and London Grace gave me a shade of pink that went perfectly with an Aperol Spritz, served before the first coat of paint even touched my fingertips. If you are looking for a manicure or pedicure on the weekend in Canary Wharf, this is the only address you need. They are brilliant, end of. And that’s not just the Aperols talking. The proof is in pudding. My nails colour is still holding strong, with no chips, as I write this a week later. 

7. Manhattan Grill 

I think that first picture of steak says all it needs to about the Manhattan Grill. If you are looking for a big juicy steak, served with an all American round of sides, a great glass of red and a sweet finish, book into Manhattan Grill. Now, I may be prejudiced here, as this is modelled on an American steakhouse, but this stands out as a solid favourite in my visit for the weekend. The service was unrivalled, the view of West India Quays was quite romantic at sunset and the steak was…. well, I just can’t stop telling people about how good the steak was. And, if you have trouble deciding what cut of steak you want, you can order all five of the best to share and try. Just call it a steak education! 

8. Summer Screens

From June until September, Canary Wharf will be showcasing sporting events and movies on the screens in the park. You can either go super smart like we did and book into the Ivy for a table with a view, or grab a blanket and a picnic and create your own little movie screening experience. For listings, check out Canary Wharf’s page with all the details. We’re definitely headed back for the screening of Jurassic Park at the end of August! 

9. Shopping Underground and Overground

One of the most surprising differences with Canary Wharf shopping vs, let’s say, Oxford Street shopping is found in the fact that most of it is underground. There is literally a maze of a mall that exists below the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. And currently, on the weekends, you can expect about a tenth of the traffic you see on a busy London shopping street. I found myself getting lost in the the epic amount of stores that exist below ground. I never queued to pay or try on anything. I was straight in and straight out. It was, hands down, the most pleasant shopping experience I’ve had in London in ages! But, saying that, there is a whole above ground world that exists for more eating and drinking. So, do your shop below and then come up to celebrate your finds with a cold brew or a quick antipasti with a view. {Note – you absolutely have to pop into Roka for some sushi…. I mean this is just heaven on the green.}

10. Where to stay: London Marriott Canary Wharf

I can’t leave without mentioning my gracious hosts for the weekend – London Marriott Canary Wharf. If you are coming into Canary Wharf, from further afield, do consider this as a place to stay. It has all the comforts we’ve come to know and expect from a Marriott, and more. However, it has views that are quite honestly breathtaking, a gin bar that features over 180 gins for the discerning palette, and staff that are always willing to bend over backwards to insure your visit is second to none. I had a few hours of work that needed to be done in the hotel in between excursions and the executive lounge was my little home away from home. With afternoon tea served alongside my computer, I was a happy as a clam. Although, I have to admit that the view from my corner suite in the hotel was always calling my name. So when the work was done, or in the morning, if I had a few minutes before leaving, I could always be found sitting by the window, overlooking this beautiful city I call home. 

A big thank you to London Marriott Canary Wharf for inviting me to discover a whole new area of London, I would have never otherwise thought to share on my own. 


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