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12 Aug 2019

A Guide To St Albans City

A Guide To St Albans City

Compiled after three years of 'research'... 

It says a lot about me that when asked what I will miss the most about St Albans, I quite openly say ‘the food’. But I swear this post isn’t just about food… probably… Anyway yes, after 3 years, 3 months and 19 days of living here, here’s my guide to St Albans City. 

Where to stay & how to get here 

It feels like this section needs to be included but obviously I haven’t had much need to be booking hotels whilst I’ve lived here although a lot of our friends and family did when they came to stay for our wedding and no one had any complaints about the following. The Clarion, White Hart Hotel & Premier Inn are all very central but there are also several v nice options on Airbnb – just make sure they are based in the centre. If you fancy treating yourself, St Michael's Manor is a fancy hotel in town and Sopwell House is a spa hotel about a mile out. If you want to drive in, be aware that it can get very busy in the centre. You can’t park on the streets unless you have a permit (and the traffic wardens are not chilled out folk) so stick to the central car parks. St Albans is only 20 mins outside of London St Pancras so you can get here via train from most places if you change at London. The train station is a 10-minute walk from the centre.

A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City A Guide To St Albans City


Where to explore 

With its cobbled streets and ye olde vibe, St Albans is a great place for a wander. Wandering around the cathedral grounds is an absolute must; it’s a spectacular building with one of the longest naves in the country. I would also highly recommend the cathedral tower tour should you have the time. In town, you can head up the old clock tower for a quid which is an interesting spot of history and has great views of the cathedral and market from the rooftop. 

The traditional street market is on every Wednesday and Saturday and it’s one of the best around; it could easily keep you entertained for a couple of hours with the huge array of shopping and food stalls. There’s also a farmer’s market every second Sunday of the month and a French market also pops up every now and again. 

If you’re in the mood for nature, head to Verulamium Park. Whilst it can get busy, the lake is beautiful and the various roman ruins make it just that bit different. Also, make sure you go check out the Roman mosaic in the park which was built around 200 AD and is v impressive. 

If you fancy a bit of a country walk, head out to Redbournbury mill, a fully working watermill in the countryside. It’s a great bit of history and you can stock up on fresh bread from the bakery afterwards. 

If in doubt, St Albans is a great place for a good old shopping – Flower Box and Raindrops on Roses are gorgeous independent shops and the Jo Malone and Oliver Bonas stores great for some window shopping (or not if you’re feeling flush). 

Mostly though, eating should be high on your agenda…

A Guide To St Albans City A Guide To St Albans City A Guide To St Albans City


Where to eat 

It is no exaggeration when I say I could write a dissertation on eating in St Albans so I have tried to refine this and keep it to the crème de la crème of St Albans foodie spots. Let’s talk breakfast first: our grab-and-go staples are the cinnamon buns from Gail’s or the almond croissants from the Brown Bread market stall which is in St Albans daily. To this day, I maintain these are the best almond croissants I have ever had and I am beyond thrilled that Brown Bread also frequent our new town of Ely. If we’re fancying more of a brunch, we tend to go for the dreamy pancakes-and-bacon set-up at The Pudding Stop or head to Bill’s which has never let me down (the garden plate is a fave). You won’t struggle for brunch in St A – check out Street Café, Hatch and George Street Canteen as well. 

For lunch, if you’re not hanging out in the many cafes of St Albans, my absolute favourite is Peddling Pizza which can be found at the market every Wednesday. Voted the best market stall in St Albans, and set-up by a St Albans local, I have yet to find a pizza that tops these. The Waffle House has been a favourite of mine since I was a kid and I will always maintain you should get a savoury one, and then a sweet one. Some people have disagreed with me when they’ve seen the size of them but you can’t break me. 

And for dinner, if you love cheese and wine as much as I do, then you have to go to The Bishop’s Cave; an absolute corker of a cheese and wine bar. Can’t recommend enough. There’s Lussmans which does upmarket food for incredibly reasonable prices. They are sustainable, pay all their staff proper wages and were in the Sunday Times’ list of the 100 best places to eat in the UK. We also really like Little Marrakech; a lovely little Moroccan restaurant which crackin’ food and décor.

A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City

Cafes have been frequent haunts of mine whilst we’ve lived in St Albans; at least once a week I can be found sat in one of them typing away. I’m currently typing this in Nkora which is relatively new to St Albans – their other two branches are in Shoreditch I believe. Think Scandi décor, sourdough sandwiches and a solid range of un-typical baked goods. Probably my favourite café around these parts. St Albans Museum + Gallery courtroom café does great food but is also worth visiting for the setting. The building used to be the old town hall and they have restored the old courtroom for the café area. It’s a spectacular room complete with the dock, witness box, & judge chair. Plus you can go downstairs to the original cells and come up into the dock like you actually are about to stand trial. Certainly a unique setting for your sandwiches. Also worth having a nosy around the museum & gallery afterwards - yours truly got married in the gorgeous Assembly room upstairs. I’d also shout out to The Exquisite Peacock Emporium by Love Koffee which do epic muffins and the upstairs of Café Nero – yes, I know it’s a chain, but it’s a really peaceful spot full of solid oak tables/floors should you fancy a cosy place to get some work done. If you’re happy to head a bit further out of town, Aymi café has highly instagrammable décor and really great food.

A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City

As for pubs, we are regulars at the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, so much so that we had our wedding reception there. It’s got low beams and open fires on the inside, has a gorgeous garden with cute fairy lights and views over the lake, crackin’ live music every now and again and does great food. The Boot is my favourite during the winter as it’s always really cosy with candles on the tables and steamed windows. During the summer, The Blacksmith Arms has a great beer garden and a walk to the The Prae Wood Arms a little out of town is always worth it for the country-house vibes. The recently opened Gin Cave is also worth a visit should you be a fan of gin. 

And for the sweet stuff – The Pudding Stop obviously has to be right at the top. I’ve mentioned it like 54325 times before so I won’t bang on about it again – it’s a dream. The Shaken Cow does crackin’ milkshakes with hundreds of flavours and Darlish ice cream does Persian ice cream which is so good. Oh and afternoon tea at The Ivy is definitely worth a trip. 

Yes, okay, we have strayed into dissertation territory. I’ll stop now…

A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City
A Guide To St Albans City


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