Camera Cafe

I don’t often travel to London; and when I do, I try to make the most of it.

It seemed that this time it would have to be different, however, as I was making a flying visit to sort out my US visa application – quite literally so, as I got in on Wednesday night and had my return flight at 5pm the next day. Surprisingly, despite the warnings from left, right and centre to prepare myself for hours at the Embassy, I was done and dusted by 8.30am – and had the rest of the day to myself.

My first-choice destination was my favourite one in London – the National Museum. I decided to walk there, hoping to find a coffee shop along the way to build my strength for expected hours of exhibition viewing. To my growing frustration there were none and eventually I ended up in a slightly run-down breakfast place with substandard coffee.

Rather disappointed, I made my way to the museum; the day was strange from the start – but it just got weirder as a fire alarm suddenly went off and chaos kicked in, with people not knowing whether to stay or to leave, and then the doors being blocked by the security who were “investigating the issue”.

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I figured that was a cue for me to have a one last go at finding a new cafe in London to review – but this time I made sure to do some research on my phone as I waited for the doors to reopen and I quickly learnt the museum is surrounded by cool-looking venues. Out of those I decided to go for Camera Cafe.

The coffee shop is also – as its name suggests – a camera shop, so the entrance might be somewhat deceiving to a casual passer-by; this time, however, probably due to the museum emergency, the place was heaving with tourists… with only one barista to take care of all chores. So, as I arrived, despite the usual protocol of ‘pay-first, sit-second’ the man said simply: “I won’t be able to serve you just now, so please take a seat and I’ll come over as soon as possible”. I was a bit weary of having to wait too long, or not finding a seat, but I followed suit and soon enough the man was taking my order for a soy mocha as I took in my surroundings: dark, cinema-style decor, with loads of old fashioned photos on the walls…

Soy Mocha at Camera Cafe
Soy Mocha at Camera Cafe

Despite the backlog the man must have been facing, judging by his apologies for delayed sandwiches and toasties, my coffee arrived in reasonable time; it had quite a lot of whipped cream when I only asked for a dash (I was on holiday, after all) but I dug through it to get to the brew underneath – which was lovely. The texture was smooth, the flavour pleasantly sweet, and it had a decent caffeine punch to it; it was gone in minutes.

Before heading off I visited the loos downstairs, to learn the seating area was even more atmospheric and cosy, and practically empty.

Taking the busyness into account, plus the unquestionable charm of the place – and that of the barista who must have been well run down, but kept his fascade calm and collected, I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who was struggling with the choice of where to go for their post- or pre-museum coffee (definitely not to the museum itself, I say!). Visits like this just add to this mysterious longing I feel for the English capital…

Mocha: £2.80

Verdict justification: Lovely coffee and lovely surroundings; the only minus is for the lack of manpower in busy times, that might make one feel like a bit of a nuisance… or simply keep you waiting

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