The Handbook
The Handbook

Few blogs and Instagram feeds showcase the cornucopia of delights our city has to offer more than East London Mornings. It was founded by Katya Katkova, who grew up in Klaipeda, Lithuania, on the shores of the Baltic Sea – worlds away from the smog, the crowds and the landmarks of London. But sometimes you need a fresh eye to see the utter beauty in your own city and Katya has done just that. Her photographs and blog posts are a love letter to London, the city she moved to in 2009 and the inspiration for her starting the blog.

She has since amassed over 80K Instagram followers checking in for inspiration on where to book their weekend brunches, hot new openings and beautiful open spaces all over the capital. Katya calls Hackney home (hence the handle) but her knowledge of the capital runs far beyond that. Her Insta feed is like having a local, in-the-know friend on speed dial for where to go.

We sat down with Katya to delve deep into her London knowledge, plus steal some of her travel tips from cosy UK staycations to all-out beach glamour.

Warning: your must-visit list is about to get much longer…

Describe your perfect day off in London…

It would always involve some wondering around the city, exploring new areas and a delicious brunch with friends followed by an exhibition or a cosy pub.

What’s your favourite part of London and why?

As you may have guessed, it’s Hackney, where I live. It’s the most vibrant part of the city with so much character and soul.

What are your favourite places in the neighbourhood?

Regent’s Canal and Broadway Market – it feels like the heart and soul of Hackney. There is no better place on Earth on a Saturday morning than there, on the market, chilling in a sunny spot with a coffee in hand and seeing friends. Pure happiness.

Where would you book a breakfast meeting if you wanted to impress?

I like to keep it iconic and always book my breakfast meetings at the Café Boheme in Soho. The central London location is convenient but, for Soho, it’s rare to find a quiet and peaceful place.

What is your favourite restaurant for a treat?

For the last year or so it has been BRAT. The place isn’t cheap, but when you’re in need of a treat it never disappoints.

What are your favourite restaurants for when you want to keep it lowkey and local?

It will always and forever be my local Italian on Broadway Market, Bella Vita. I’ve been going for the past ten years and I’m sure I’ll be going for another ten.

Where’s the coolest bar in London right now?

I do prefer a good old pub to a cool bar, but TT Liquor in Shoreditch is pretty cool. For pubs, I love the Cat & Mutton, Dove and the Clapton Hart.

The Water House Project

You must go to

The Water Project on Mare Street. The team behind it used to run supper clubs but now finally have a permanent spot and it’s right around the corner from my house. I’m so excited for them.

Where would you book for a really special occasion?

Cornerstone in Hackney Wick. It’s remote and the seafood is exceptional.

What’s your favourite London park and why?

Victoria Park. It’s been my local for the last 12 years and I probably know every single tree there by now.

And what about secret spots? Can you share any of yours with us?

It’s not very secret, but I’m surprised how few people have been to Hackney Wick when I mention it. It’s such a beautiful day out and there’s so much to explore from the Hackney Marshes to Fish Island and the River Lea. Plus, all the bars, cafes, breweries and restaurants in the area.

Where is next on your list when it comes to London’s restaurant scene?

I always have a list of restaurants that I want to visit, and it only grows and grows. I still haven’t been to The Clove Club, Luca and Flor, so those are on my list.

Lobster Pasta at Cecconi's | Image: @eastlondonmornings

What’s the absolute best dish in London?

That is a hard question, but I do have a soft spot for lobster pasta. The last time I had it, it was in Cecconi’s Shoreditch and it was the best treat.

East London Liquor Company | Image: @eastlondonmornings

London is obsessed with brunch. Where do you rate for a good one?

My recent discovery, the East London Liquor Company. I’d been there a few times for drinks before, never for food, but their new brunch menu really surprised me.

Where’s great for Sunday lunch?

Osteria Wolf in Stoke Newington. I went there last week and it was absolutely lovely – perfect, relaxed service with Italian-inspired sharing plates. That’s all you need on a Sunday afternoon.

Where is great to go on a date?

Smokestack… unless your date is vegetarian.

Where is the best place to buy flowers in London?

Columbia Road Flower Market. And yes, I love that it is crowded! It brings the vibe and life to the market. The secret is to have a brunch before and show up around 2pm just before the market closes so you can get the best deals.

Where do you get your hair cut in London?

Toppers of Hackney on Wilton Way – they always look after me.

What was the best exhibition you went to recently?

The Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern preview – it’s an absolute must-see.

The Gallery at Sketch | IMAGE: @eastlondonmornings

Where would you go for a fun night out with friends?

Gloria on Great Eastern Street. I love that place! It’s so fun, but not too noisy and the pasta is one of the best in town.

Where is worth visiting for the interiors alone?

Sketch and The Gallery restaurant above – both are amazing.

What’s your favourite London hotel?

I love a London staycation and have recently been to Soho House’s Redchurch Townhouse, Zetter Townhouse and the new Hoxton in Southwark.

Redchurch Townhouse
The Hoxton Southwark
Zetter Townhouse, Clerkenwell

What about further afield? What’s your favourite hotel in the world?

Without a doubt, Soho House in New York. I had the best three days there last year and would go back in a heartbeat.

It’s a tough time for travel right now but where do you recommend going for a good city break when things return to normal?

I loved my latest getaway to Tel Aviv, it was the perfect three-day destination to recharge in the sun, eat amazing food and explore all the art and architecture the city has to offer.

Best London spa?

I don’t go to spas that often but the Nobu Hotel spa in Shoreditch is great.

Where’s your favourite beach hotel and why?

Hands down it has to be Bodrum Edition. I only spent two days there last year but they were an unforgettable two days.

Bodrum Edition | IMAGE: @eastlondonmornings

What is you favourite hotel for a country staycation?

I simply couldn’t choose but I adore these four; Chewton Glen, Dormy House, Soho Farmhouse and Thyme.

Chewton Glen
Dormy House
Soho Farmhouse
Thyme

You’ve captured a real aesthetic on your Instagram page, what are your tips for capturing a great picture?

For me there are only two secrets: daylight and having something to say. Don’t post for the sake of posting. Post as you go and you will always stay authentic and genuine.

How did you get into blogging and influencing?

I’ve had my blog since I moved to London in 2008, but it was just a hobby/side project. Then two years ago I realised I enjoyed working on it more than the actual day job. So I quit and I’ve never looked back.

Any tips for curating your Instagram feed?

I run social feeds for other businesses and the very first thing I would say is ‘plan, plan, plan’. Once you find your style and language, keep it simple and natural. If you don’t feel like posting, don’t. Getting your head around algorithms can be overwhelming and draining, you can burn out and feel unmotivated if you push too hard. When that happens, take a break, but be consistent.

 

Check out Katya’s blog at www.eastlondonmornings.com 

and follow her on Instagram @eastlondonmornings

 

Want to find out more about celebrities and influencers? Check out The Handbook’s Celebrity & Influencer platform here. 

The Handbook has teamed up with The Grill at The Dorchester for an exclusive competition. Entrants will have the chance to win a dinner for two at The Grill at The Dorchester when it re-opens! www.dorchestercollection.com