If you’re missing the Middle East and want to bring back memories from there with smells, tastes and sights, or you fancy seeing a completely different side of London to what you might have seen before on the usual London itineraries, you should head to the Arab areas of London and to the top Arab hangouts in London.
These Arab places in London vary a lot because some of them are very GCC heavy, think Saudi, Kuwait and the Emirates, and others are Lebanese, Iraqi and Moroccan and more!
In these areas, you get a strong Islamic and Muslim influence, which in my opinion, is mainly what makes it feel like an alternative side to London that many tourists, and even locals, haven’t seen before.
For example, I lived in London for 2.5 years before travelling more of the Middle East and I didn’t visit any of these Arab places in London but when I came back, I understood the menus, I understood hearing people say ‘Salam Alaykum’ to each other, I appreciated the Shisha lounges on offer and all of the smells took me right back to travelling the Middle East and Asia!
There are many many Arab areas of London and Arab places to go in London that I have not mentioned in this London blog post because I simply didn’t have time to visit them all but here are the places I managed to visit over a few days that I recommend you head to too see a brilliant alternative, and delicious, side of London to get a feeling of the Middle East and Beyond in London!
Arab Areas in London!
Let’s start with the most well known Arab hangout in London! The fancy neighbourhood of Knightsbridge is well known for its Arab residences and Arab tourists but what I didn’t know until I went recently is that this area is mainly popular with people from the Gulf Countries!
Arab Cafes in Knightsbridge
Chapati and Karak is a cafe I really recommend visiting in Knightsbridge for a few reasons. Knightsbridge is a very expensive area but prices in here are fairly reasonable for the location and the uniqueness.
Chapati and Karak is a Qatari brand with locations in Doha and London. They serve exactly what the name states. They offer a few different Chapatti pancakes with various flavours and Karak!
Karak is a chai so even if you have never had Karak in the Middle East before, if you’ve been to India or Pakistan and know what Masala Chai is, you’ll be happy to have this in your life in London as its pretty much the same! A milk tea made with black tea leaves, crushed cardamom, saffron and sugar. YUM!
The decor of this place is really amazing too, it’s very Middle Eastern and they have Arabic music playing!
Knightsbridge is also all about the fancy, Instagramable cafes that really entice Arabs in London into. Whether you are Arab or not, they are good places to go for a coffee (and you will get Arabic Coffee in many of them) and people watch to see what life in London is like for Arabs that live here and visit here.
Feya Cafe, L’eto Caffe and El&N London Cafe are popular cafes in Knightsbridge to visit that are cafes like this!
For the best Arabic food at really good prices and a big Arab area of London, you need to head to Edgeware Road! This is where you’ll find a huge amount of Lebanese restaurants but also Iraqi food, Kuwaiti food, Egyptian food and more. If you’re Muslim and visiting London, all of the meat in these restaurants will be Halal food in London so you can eat here with no worries!
Although there are shops in this area too, you will mainly visit here for the food only.
Middle Eastern Restaurants Edgeware Road
Some really great restaurants in Edgeware Road that I have been to and have been recommended by a friend are:
Al-Arez – Lebanese
Al-Balad – Lebanese
Maroush – Lebanese
Freej Swaileh – Kuwaiti
Nawras – Chocolate & Dates
There are sooo many more than this though so just walk up and down the street, see whats popular and what you fancy!
Taking of food, if you want to stock up on some Middle Eastern ingredients to cook with at home, Green Valley on Edgeware Road is a Middle Eastern Supermarket you can visit!
Middle Eastern Restaurants Mayfair
Mayfair is one of the fanciest and most expensive areas of London and has many many Middle Eastern Restaurants, unfortunately, there are not to my budget but popular Middle Eastern Restaurants in Mayfair are:
Al- Sultan – Lebanese
Noura Restaurant – Lebanese
Al Hamra – Lebanese
Mamounia Lounge – Lebanese and Moroccan
Arab Cafes in Soho
Good Arabic Coffee in Soho is more up my street and more to my budget, so if you want a taste of the Middle East in Soho with Arab cafes in Soho then some places you can visit are:
Bafarat Cafe – Soho
Algerian Coffee Stores – Soho
Jolt – Soho
%Arabic – Covent Garden
Muslim History Tour
If you’re on this post because you have an interest in Muslim places in London like I was on my visit to London, then I recommend taking a tour with Muslim History Tours!
I took the Central London Tour which was really interesting, we started at Westminster and ended in Soho. I learnt about how far back Islamic influences in the UK go, who in government was or might have been Muslim, what Arabic words are names for popular landmarks in London and a lot more!
London Central Mosque
Most of us as tourists will visit a grand mosque in the city we go to and although there is not a really grand mosque in London, there is the London Central Mosque which is next to Regents Park and is open for visitors to enter outside of prayer time. The inside of the mosque is very impressive and worth a visit if this interests you too and you are looking to see an alternative side of London!
Whitechapel in East London IS NOT ARAB, it is more South Indian however if you are keen on exploring even more places of London that offer amazing food with an Islamic influence in the food, shops and community then Whitechapel is a great place to visit.
Head out of Whitechapel station and on most days of the week you will be greeted to a market stall selling head scarfs, Abayas, dresses and modest clothing.
Alongside this there are many restaurants and take outs with South Asian food and dessert shops, hello Gulab Jamun!
For one of the best Indian restaurants in London head to Tayyabs Restaurant.
If you are Arab or Muslim and are looking for Halal Sweets, Islamic gifts, books etc then Blackstone is the shop to head into which is next to the East London Mosque which is open for prayers.
I hope you enjoy seeing these Arab areas of London as well as Muslim areas of London with influences from not only the Middle East but Asia too!