As cosy season (slowly but surely) approaches the capital city, and Londoners begin their annual search for the snuggliest spots to hibernate with a hot chocolate; I thought I would take it upon myself to point you in the direction of leafy green Highgate and – more specifically – the Queen’s Wood Café.
Tucked away in a corner of the woods is a little cabin café and community garden that will draw you in like a moth to a flame (or me to the candle aisle in TK Maxx) with its wholesome allure. The café and garden are dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the local environment, so basically, paying a visit to the Queen’s Wood Café is as good for your conscience as it is your taste buds – so, what are you waiting for?
Originally built in 1898 as a wood keeper’s lodge, the property suffered increasingly from neglect over the years and by 1998, the lodge was completely derelict and its gardens were a tangle of weeds and nettles. With the prospect of demolition on the cards, Wanjiku Kamau and Murray Shelmerdine stepped in to save the day with their idea of setting up an eco-project to preserve and restore the building and its gardens. The garden was transformed, the café was opened, and the rest was history.
With an aim to enrich the lives of their visitors, Queen’s Wood Café serve up a range of wholesome, homemade food (made with seasonal produce from the garden), a varied programme of cultural events, and some tranquil respite from the hubbub of London life. The vibrant community garden (maintained by a team of dedicated volunteers) grows delicious seasonal fruit and veg, and holds food-growing and compost-making workshops for green-fingered Londoners to get stuck into.
This isn’t a regular café, this is a cool café, and so you can expect to find all sorts going on inside. From live music and poetry events to meditation, yoga and forest bathing; this place truly has it all. They’re also home to the Woodland Retreat, a therapeutic group practice that aims to provide affordable therapeutic experiences and services through a diverse range of workshops. They are also advocates for local art and regularly exhibit the work of talented local artists in the café (you can find out more about that here). Oh, and you can hire the space for parties and private functions too.
With a menu of tasty treats and an atmosphere as cosy as the cuppa you’ll be sipping on; there’s every reason to pay a visit to this hidden gem. And if you’re still not convinced: they’ve regularly been referred to as the best café on the 78-mile long Capital Ring Walk – not too shabby, hey?
Find out more and plan your visit here.