Laura in London: Okan, Kobox & Queen of Hoxton

After a rather long break, Laura in London is back! This summer I've eaten at so many characterful restaurants, sweated at more fitness studios and been to my fair share of bars. So it's only right I share them with you! Here are a few of my favourite places to EAT, SWEAT and PLAY in London!

Eat – Okan

I am a huge fan of Asian food: I’ll take noodles, pho and curries over pies, pasta and pastries any day. This understated Japanese restaurant packs a punch of flavours into its amazing street food dishes. I really enjoy the special tofu noodle bowl, but there are many other street food dishes to choose from, including the classic ‘Okonomiyaki’ – a savoury pancake. Whilst Okan have recently opened a restaurant just outside of Brixton, their small, cosy stall in Brixton Village remains my favourite place to eat. It’s full of character: the large open windows are perfect for people-watching, and there’s a sense that you’re eating in someone’s home. The small wooden tables are squeezed into the same area as the kitchen, meaning you hear every sizzle, smell every ingredient and see each dish being freshly prepared. I’d also recommend the elderflower, ginger and gin cocktail – it’s so refreshing!

Where? Brixton Village and Coldharbour Lane
How much? Most dishes are between £8-10
Best for... Authentic Osakan street food

Sweat – Kobox

Kobox has been on my ‘studios to try’ list for a while now, but I only recently got around to going. It was totally worth the wait! The unique mix of strength and cardio, the first-class equipment and pumping playlists all contribute to this being one of the best workouts in London for me. I used to do some kickboxing at university and really miss the sparring side of the classes, so it felt good to be back throwing punches at a heavy bag (amazing stress relief!). The full body workout class is exactly what it said on the tin! We’re talking three day DOMS. My only grumble is the price – it’s at the higher end of the boutique fitness gyms in London, but the intro offer is good value and a perfect way of trying it out without breaking the bank.

Where? Moorgate or Chelsea
How much? Intro offer is 2 classes for £25, or £20 a class.
Best for... Getting fit whilst taking all your anger/stress out on a punching bag!

Play – Queen of Hoxton

One of my favourite places to catch some post-work sun during summer is the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch. This rooftop bar has different themes throughout the year and a cocktail menu that changes accordingly. This summer was ‘The Lost Boys’, so the roof was decked out in dessert island props, wooden huts and even a giant ship's wheel! The music is always great and the atmosphere is relaxed: the only difficulty is getting a seat! As the sun goes down you see people chasing the last of the light by moving across the rooftop, out of the growing shade. Once the sun sets, the fairy lights are on and it’s transformed into a cute hideaway. They also host the Rooftop Cinema and various other fun events, like Hip Hop Karaoke (definitely worth a visit!). Once the summer is over, the roof’s cover comes on and it turns into a snug tipi complete with wood-burning fires and faux furs.

Where? Shoreditch
How much? Cocktails are £7-9 
Best for... Feeling like you're on holiday, whilst in the middle of London
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