The Travel Cafe
By their nature, areas around major train stations tend to be transient places with all kinds of stragglers and the residues of society present. Cheap, poor quality establishments take residence and take advantage of hungry and thirsty people arriving and departing. It often feels like a warning not to enter into the city where you find yourself, a joke on the part of the people who live in the wider environs. This was the case for Waterloo up until fairly recently. Lower Marsh has always had potential -- a cosy little community, like an undiscovered lane filled with small, local businesses and very few chains, that defies the norms of high streets up and down the country. Thankfully, for us and for travellers alighting here, the area has experienced rejuvenation in the past few years with vibrant cafés, restaurants and bars popping up and a regular street food market taking place. In fact there seems to be a particular focus on welcoming travellers with Four Corners café, Travelling Through bookshop and café, and now The Travel Café (which actually spills out onto Westminster Bridge Road next door to Sista Barista). A Korean enterprise which also organises tours in Korean and Japanese, the café is a breath of fresh air -- the perfect spot for a hit of caffeine whether you're on your laptop, reading a book or meeting a friend. In fact, I have no doubt that this is the kind of place where like-minded people will make new friends. As I left, I was asked to pick out one of the tiny potted succulents on the counter to take home, because, "People who live in London usually don't have something to look after." It was such a lovely sentiment and I am indeed looking after my new little friend.