Dulwich Festival Artists Open House May 2017


Escape the hustle and bustle of the city, a short 15 minute train ride from London Bridge, for a rare opportunity to step inside an array of prestigious addresses in Dulwich. Meet people from all walks of life as you wander around artists stunning collections within their cosy homes and gardens, each with their own unique character, beauty and ambiance.

Dulwich offers countryside feel with its pretty shops, chic restaurants, classic pubs, a popular Saturday farmers market and quirky cafés. The area includes Tudor, Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian houses and much green open space.

Over 250 artists open their doors for Dulwich Festival ‘Artists Open House’ over two weekends in May. Each house has a distinctive signpost outside for you to easily recognise and identify them as part of the festival. The homes get transformed into an exhibition gallery space for the weekend.


Our quirky itinerary highlights (apart from being nosy in the artists homes) include viewing tiny porcelain globes, upcycled chairs, neon lights, tiled gardens lined with beautiful alliums and pond cottages. Some of the properties we viewed boasted wonderful views over London. We’ve included our top festival recommendations and pictures for you below.

If you missed the festival fear not, Dulwich features as part of the London Festival of Architecture with an instillation in place at Dulwich Picture Gallery throughout June  and Open House London  16 & 17 September.

Here’s our Festival quirky itinerary…

  • Property #1 and #2 Pond Cottages SE21 7LE

Beautiful cottages situated a stones throw away from Dulwich Village. We loved the kinetic sculptures.

  • Property #7 SE21 7DN 11 Desenfans Rd

The garden tiles in this property were fabulous surrounded by the beautiful stone sculpture ornaments from Zimbabwe hand carved and hand polished.

  • Property #16 The London Chair Collective 144 Rosendale Road, SE21 8LG

View up cycling at its quirky best

  • Property # 18 147 Rosendale Rd SE21 8HE

Gardener showing crafts with natural found objects


  • Time for a pit stop at Property #22 Volcano Cofee Works Gas Gallery 40 Martell Rd SE21 8EN After your coffee head upstairs in the artists workshops to see a spectacular view of London.
  • Property #38 20  Tabert Rd SE22 


See mysterious paintings and meet the friendly cat!

  • Property #44 Ian Dunn Woodwork and design SE22 9BN

Bespoke cabinetmakers and unique Brilliant neon

  • Property #46 41A Archdale Rd SE22 9HL

Quirky bespoke creations set in an amazing house

  • Property #54 46A Heber Rd SE22 9JZ

Limited edition prints of the Barbican, we had house envy in this place!

  • Property #93 Blenheim Court, Peckham SE15 4QL

Don’t miss a visit to see the tiny Porcelain Globes

  • Property #96 87 Lyndhurst Way S15 4PT

Street Scenes of vibrant Peckham neighbourhood including Franks

  • Property #155 Havelock Walk Studios SE23 3HG

Quirkyness around every corner.





Discover Quirky Farmopolis

Farmopolis The Jetty, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0FL

Farmopolis is currently an undiscovered gem in South East London. A peaceful secret escape, take in the views of this interesting addition to the peninsula with a nice quirky touch.

Some of the plants that have been relocated from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are available for adoption – prospective plant parents can draw a picture or write a message about the kind of home they would provide and the best applications are selected each month.

Experience the ‘wow’ factor upon entering this spacious unique event space. Herb infused cocktails (the ginger beer and basil combo was particularly tasty) served alongside a great sunset drinking deck for balmier evenings, there should be exciting things to come for this garden haven.

There’s friendly service serving delicious fresh food, turning locally sourced ingredients into tasty meals, all whilst enjoying panoramic views. See London’s first floating garden blossom on the Thames.

Take part in the upcoming workshops including bird box building or learn how to upcycle. There’s yoga sessions for grown ups and little ones too and a cinema event space soon to host the quirky Nomad Cinema screenings.

There’s a dynamic year-round programme of live music, experiential supperclubs, literary salons, immersive theatre, creative workshops and talks, transforming the Jetty into a hub of creativity and wellbeing. 

Before you leave check out the compost toilet, an experience in itself! How have we not know about this major new urban farming destination until now?!

Quirky Brixton Itinerary

Brixton never fails to deliver a great social atmosphere, spend hours wandering the streets of this multi cultural gem. The area has great transport links, it’s the final stop on the Victoria line and the first stop on the night tube! let us introduce you to all things buzzing about this quirky district…

Quirky Brixton culture…

Just around the corner from the tube is the legendary Electric Avenue made famous in Eddie Grants song but also the first market street to be lit by electricity.

Opposite the station is the David Bowie memorial, a visit is a must. The mural, on the side of Morleys department store on Tunstall Road is overflowing with floral tributes for the Brixton-born singer.

Step inside Morley’s department store and take the stairs where you will find a series of quirky facts on the wall offering a history of Brixton.

A short stroll up the hill why not pay a visit to the Black cultural archives documenting the Black experience in Britain.


Situated in Blenheim gardens stands a 200 year old refurbished working windmill. It grinds flour which you can buy, you can even take a tour of the inside. This summer the windmill hosted open air shows and recently screened Moulin Rouge in its shadow, part of the Herne Hill free film festival

  • The Clink  HMPrison – a dining experience to remember
Another fascinating surprise, step through the security gates into the Clink Restaurant, you will be served by the prisoners learning a new trade. There’s no alcohol for obvious reasons however this dining experience is definitely a unique unforgettable, delivering change within the walls of this Category C prison.

Grab a drink on the balcony and take in the hustle and bustle of Windrush Square. This is also an event space for a wide range of activities from craft classes to open mic nights. 

Let’s get arty…

Close to Brixton village on the corner of Somerleyton Road and Coldharbour Lane you will find public art sculptures in the shape of two giant eggs made out of different metals. One has a polished metal finish that reflects the sky and the surrounding buildings, the other has a non-reflective rich orange brown oxidised iron finish.

Brixton Design Trail will transform the walls of Stockwell Avenue into a large-scale canvas with original commissioned artwork by local street artists between 17-25 September.

The space will evolve over the duration of the festival, showcasing the creative talents of people living and working in the area.

This creative emporium is made out of cardboard pipes, specialising in vintage finds, treasures around the globe on sale at affordable prices – find a gift for everyone here!

Calling all foodies in search of good vibes…

This interesting place a stones throw away from the station has great vibes – lively but relaxed. It showcases the very best that the local community has to offer. Head on down for street food, DJ events, yoga, live music, outdoor screenings, cocktails and more.

  • Brixton Village  a covered yuppie area with and intimate and friendly feel

The village is an unmissable stop for foodies overflowing with independent shops, stalls and eateries. This inspiring quirky arcade space will tempt you with tastes from around the world.

This sourdough dynasty continues to grow across the capital but it’s worth making a pizza pilgrimage to its original site in Brixton Market. Queues snake past the fishmongers and out onto the street but a simple menu and shared bench seating ensures a speedy turnaround.
  •  Burnt toast café – pure joy on a plate

This Small and simple café with its quirky name serves extra tasty sour dough breads, breakfasts, coffee and cakes. There’s chunky toasters on the tables for some DIY toast and not forgetting mouthwatering pancakes and toasted to perfection sarnies on the menu.

We recommend you wash down the chicken with a sour, straight up or on the rocks. Admire the street art that covers the walls and perch yourself on the bright-yellow breakfast stools.

This Spanish-style market bar with mismatched tables and graffiti decor is perfect for unwinding. Upstairs there’s unique space for local artist, sit amongst the installations.

  •  Nanban  Japanese soul food and cocktails

Situated in an old renovated pie and mash shop there’s cosy booths inside and the head chef won masterchef!

This Brazilian barbecue situated in the historical Bon Marche building serving excellent food in a fun atmosphere.

  • The Courtesan intimate and arty

Check out this intimate Dim Sum restaurant and cocktail bar, located within a few minutes walk of the tube. Pop inside this opium den with dark wood furnishings and art. 69-73 Atlantic Rd.

Brixton Pubs, bars…

Good BBQ food and a great range of ales. The perfect spot for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Head outside this pub to the decked pleasure garden surrounded by fire pits, fairy lights and cosy Thai themed huts with their own private TVs. Pop along for happy hour 4-8pm daily 123 Acre Lane

With over 20 rum-based cocktails on offer were spoilt for choice, plus a large selection of Caribbean beers and home-brewed Jamaican Pale Ale. The venue has fantastic decor and ambience with music that will just make you want to dance.

Market House – foot shuffling fun

Enjoy some foot shuffling at this late night bar and music venue, a beautiful Victorian pub situated in the centre of bustling buzzing Brixton.  443 Coldharbour Lane

And finally….

We couldn’t leave this itinerary without mentioning the wonderful Brockwell Park and its Lido café. Brockwell Park is a large, historic park located between Brixton, Dulwich and Herne Hill. Brockwell Lido, nestled in the corner of Brockwell Park, is a much-loved local landmark the café is set in an Art Deco Grade II listed building.

Quirky shout outs…photo credit and suggestions: Bethan Way, Rob Horne

Quirky Marylebone Itinerary

Explore a quirky side to this elegant area of London bursting with cosy cafes, green spaces as well beautiful streets and wonderful architecture.

Make your way out of Baker St Station towards the colourful Wonderpass, the underpass crossing that connects Baker Street Station to South Marylebone Road. The Wonderpass features five cabinets of wonder, celebrating Baker Street’s cultural heritage including Madame Tussauds, the Sherlock Holmes Museum and The Wallace Collection.

Next stop a brunch at Fischers informal neighbourhood café. Select the mouth watering schnitzel or German sausage. The setting, décor, service and menu is delightfully charming.

Continue your journey down Marleybone High Street towards Daunt Books. Upon entry you’ll be taken back by the galleried main room beautiful stained glass arched window. Browse through the old wooden book shelves and climb the creaky stairs to the balcony, spend some time sifting through the interesting travel book collection.

Moxton Street is next on the itinerary at La fromagerie a must for cheese lovers, get inspired by the farmhouse cheeses, seasonal fruit, vegetables, fresh-baked breads, cakes, wine and oils. There’s a quirky wooden bench area and an impressive refrigerated cheese room full of treats to sample.

Proceed down the winding Marleybone Lane in the direction of Paul Rothe and Son delicatessen, a delightful old-fashioned deli that is over 100 years old. Enjoy looking at the wide selection of jams, chutney and other sauces we came across some quirky London named jars! This warm and friendly cafe is overflowing with homemade and freshly prepared food. The deli is situated on an intriguing road with violin and button shops to explore.

Stroll up Chiltern St past Chiltern Firehouse London’s most talked about hotel, restaurant, bar and playground. The Firehouse was built back in 1890 to accommodate fire engines, admire the architecture whilst celebrity spotting!

It’s now time to grab a boris bike and head toward Regents Park with its boating lake and wonderful flower gardens. Check out the Open Air Theatre set in the heart of the park for an extraordinary and thrilling visit.

On the edge of the park stop off for a well earned drink at the York and Albany, during the summer months step inside the Summer Cabin cool shoreline scene. Pull up a deckchair or chill with a cocktail on the sand surrounding the candy-coloured striped hut.

Complete this quirky itinerary visiting the Monopoly board Toilets at the wonderful Marylebone station.


Picturehouse Central a quirky alternative to your regular cinema

Picturehouse Central is much more than just a cinema nestled in the heart of the West End, it’s a quirky alternative to your regular cinema.

Picturehouse (part of the group of independent art-house cinemas) looks nothing special from the outside on the corner of Shaftesbury avenue, but inside a grand staircase leads to a welcoming and modern first floor bar and restaurant. Members also have access to a separate bar and roof terrace. There are seven cinema screens but even if you don’t have time to take in a film why not enjoy a refreshing English Fizz cocktail while looking out over the tourist bustle of Piccadilly Circus.

This stylish 1000 seat cinema has each screen named after a cinematic hero. There’s an impressive-looking pick and mix stand and illustrations decorating the walls documenting the history of cinema.

The Picturehouse hosts a wide variety of quirky events and a key venue on the film festival circuit. Last week the cinema hosted a dog-friendly screening of documentary ‘Heart of a Dog’ The venue will be organising its first ever Eurovision Party, where they’ll broadcast the show live from Stockholm and straight onto the big screen. Keep an eye on the website for a whole host of quirky events.


Highgate to Hampstead Village Quirky Itinerary


This itinerary will have you strolling through grand picturesque streets, capturing the serene beauty of London. This quirky adventure is perfect for a romantic date or a catch up with an old mate on a clear day.

Enter the tranquil Parkland Walk  via Holmesdale Road. This route is known as the ghost railway with its abandoned platforms. Follow the course of the old railway that once ran between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. There are many surprises along the route including intriguing arches, eerie sculptures, crumbling old stations and graffiti art.


Continue towards Hornsey Lane Bridge where you will stumble across a fantastic viewpoint of London over the A1 on Archway Rd.

Time for a pit stop at The Flask pub with a history dating back centuries; sit in the seats where famous authors, playwrights and rock stars once sat. Check out the two 17th century horseboxes in place and the original shutter-window bar with the bull’s eye glass panels. Be careful on the way to the loo you might bump into the Spanish barmaid ghost or the man in Cavalier uniform vanishing into a pillar.


The Flask ghost stories set the scene for our next stop, Highgate Cemetery with its quirky and anecdotal approach to history. You’ll find a vast array of magnificent funerary architecture monuments. Explore the famous graves but also the less well known with interesting stories behind them. Seek out the famous residents Karl Marx, Michael Faraday and George Elliot, with their impressive tombs.

Time to loose yourself in the beautiful Hampstead Heath  discover its 790 acres of woods, meadow and heath land with an Italian pergola, bathing ponds and a legendary view of London. You’ll get the best panoramic viewpoint at Parliament Hill, what a sight!… spot the towers and structures amongst the kites, joggers, dog walkers, pond swimmers, families, first dates, artists and poets. North of the Heath is Kenwood House stately home surrounded by tranquil landscaped gardens. At the edge of the heath is Golders Hill Park with its small  zoo with wallabies and deer, a water garden, butterfly house and playground.

Nestled among the trees is one of London’s most unexpected and serene discoveries. The Italian Pergola and Hill Garden covered with luscious overgrown climbing exotic flowers and vines, and is set amidst some spectacular gardens.

Open-air swimming is internationally famous on Hampstead Heath with the Ladies’ Pond, the Men’s Pond, the Mixed Pond and the Parliament Hill Lido. Make your way down the Heath crossing through Whitestone Pond past Jack Straws Castle towards the calm Judges walk, the place where justices came to take the air after they had fled London during the Great Plague of 1665.

The Holly Bush  is our next stop, a charming old pub tucked away on Hollymount, a pretty street with cobbled alleyways in the heart of historic Hampstead. Discover a wealth of cosy corners, hidden booths and enjoy fabulous food, traditional ales and wine.

Continue down the hill towards The Everyman boutique cinema, a cinematic treat with unique comfy armchairs and sofas. Opposite the cinema on Heath Street stumble across a wonderful shop at number 36 called ‘Artichoke’ a traditional greengrocers with a difference selling cold pressed juices, microherbs, edible flowers and a wonderful selection of fresh exotic fruit and veg. Further along Heath St there are quirky coloured houses each with their own unique stamp. Wander down Perrin’s Court, an ideal spot for a delicious cake and coffee is Ginger and White. Carry on through to Hampsted High St past the popular La Creperie de Hampstead and Hampstead Community Centre towards Gails bread bakery where you can pick up a beautiful loaf. The final stop of the itinerary is a hidden Hampstead alley known as Flask Walk boasting an array of independent stores a short stroll back to Hampstead tube for your journey home.


London breakfast venues with a quirky twist

The QLI team have been away for some well deserved rest…you thought we’d given up on you didn’t you? Fear not we are back and raring to go with our favourite venues for breakfast with a Quirky London twist. You’re in for a treat with these beauties…

  •  Hoi PolloiBreakfast with an Orchestra’  100 Shoreditch High St

Ever wondered what its like to eat breakfast with a string quartet playing in the middle of the room adding their own spin on classic pop songs? Look no further than Hoi Polloi situated within the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. The menus are displayed on newspapers, once your breakfast is served its difficult not to want to take a picture of everything you eat with beautiful presentation. The venue is decorated like an American Diner, enjoy this classic Sunday brunch with a modern twist.

  •  The Barge House ‘Breakfast in Bread’  46a De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5RY

Weekend Brunch Breakfast in bread, need we say more? The taste is incredible with your favourite ingredients packed inside the freshest sourdough bread and we can’t go without mentioning the epic Bloody Marys. The venue has a lovely view of the canal where you can watch the cyclists, runners and dog walkers go by. Why not pay Columbia rd flower market a visit on a Sunday whilst you’re in the area?

  • Bibendum ‘Breakfast in an iconic Art Deco building’  81 Fulham Rd SW3 6RD

Take your seat in this fascinating Michelin building whilst you watch over the chefs preparing the delicious breakfasts. Bibendum is situated in a terrific spot amongst the designer stores. First opened in 1911 the History of the building is everywhere to see with imprints of Bibendum, the Michelin Man symbol of the Michelin tyre company on the plates and teapots. Take in the quirky detail of the Michelin Man tiles on the walls and the magnificent windows in this stunning Art Deco building.

  • Berners Tavern ‘Breakfast in a finely decorated room’  10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP

We just love the quirky eye catching frames on the wall in this breathtaking room. Sit for hours watching how the other half live in this buzzing restaurant with comfy booths. Following your breakfast pit stop we recommend a visit to the music shops nearby on Denmark St.

  • The Wolseley ‘Breakfast with a touch of class’  160 PiccadilyW1J 9EB

A former car showroom turned restaurant in 2003. You cannot go wrong with ‘The English’ washed down with a glass of fresh grapefruit juice. Always bustling, a popular spot for breakfast meetings during the week, reserving a table is recommended. Soak up the grand interior of this landmark building with its high ceilings, marble floor, towering pillars, arches and impressive stairways.

  •  Fischers ‘Breakfast in a classic European café’   50 Marylebone High St, W1U 5HN

Enjoy a brunch at this classic European café style restaurant, a perfect mix of elegance and quirky charm in the wonderful location of Marleybone. The décor allows you to step back into the 1930s make sure you pay the loo’s a visit, they are reminiscent of an old train carriages with quirky old photos. Before you head home explore the charming Daunt Books store situated on the same road.

  •  Pellicci’s, ‘Breakfast with a family feel’    332 Bethnal Green Road, London E2

This vintage Art Deco workers’ cafe is Grade-II listed, offering the full English breakfast and Italian classics on Bethnal Green Road.since 1900. Plates heaped with food stream out of the little hatch, the family who run this place are so efficient and friendly, you will feel part of the family.


  • The Lido Cafe ‘Breakfast in a tucked away Oasis’   Brockwell Lido Dulwich Road SE24 0PA

The Lido Café is a little oasis tucked away in Brockwell Park with a fantastic view of the lido. Book in advance and you will experience Eggs Benedict heaven, the food here is such good quality you will not hesitate to come back for more. Watch the brave swimmers in the lido while you eat, the venue is perfect on a warm summers day.

  • Trade ‘Breakfast with wooden seats and tasty treats’   47 Commercial Street E1 6BD

Trade close to Spitalfields market, has hipster brunch nailed. Opt for the pancakes with the blueberries and maple syrup or choose from the numerous sourdough combos. A cute patio provides a welcome haven away from busy Commercial St.

  • Regency Café ‘Breakfast in a good old fashioned greasy spoon’   17-19 Regency St, London SW1P 4BY

The Regency is a good old-fashioned greasy spoon where the menu has probably stayed the same for the last 50 years. Huge portions will set you up for the day. Orders ready for collection are shouted across the café in a no frills style but there’s a real charm to this Pimlico institution.