The KushKush guide to shopping, eating and drinking CBD in the big smoke of London.
Words: Justine Stafford
London… The sheer scale of it is overwhelming. Giant monoliths rise into the sky,
casting dark shadows over centuries-old cathedrals that bow down in awe before
these intimidating concrete gods. Troops of impatient, suit-clad clones swarm the
pavements; dodging bewildered tourists blinking uncertainly in the cold light of
Areas like Shoreditch in the east of the city – previously notorious for housing
‘dissolute, loose and insolent people’ – has morphed into the heartbeat of commerce and creative cool; at once home to many corporate headquarters as well as the hippest boutiques, prohibition speakeasy bars, foodie markets and street art.
An immersive, edgy experience? Absolutely. But quite frankly, after four days of non-stop go-go-go, I needed a break so I fled to the genteel suburbs of the west to
reward my frazzled nerves with a well-deserved dose of CBD recovery.
The challenge posed to me by KushKush? Experience what’s potting (ha ha) in London and report back, in detail. Although I’m not a weed smoker, I’ve watched with interest at the metamorphosis of cannabis from gateway drug to modern-day
superfood; and have personally benefitted from its calming and anti-inflammatory
effect on my skin and nervous system, so was excited to offer myself up as a
voluntary guinea pig. I mean, someone had to take one for the team, right?
As I stepped inside the courtyard of The Farm Girl Café, tucked behind an almost-
anonymous entrance off Portobello Road, time seemed to slow. My shoulders
relaxed, my tension headache subsided.
It’s easy to miss, but look again because this laid-back – yet carefully curated –
health-conscious eatery, designed by Swedish-born, London-based interior designer, Beata Heuman, exudes an off-beat, irreverent energy that made me happy to collapse into a cosy seat and be treated like an old friend.
I was even happier to sample their signature Happy Hot Chocolate (£6): a rich
concoction containing cacao, date syrup, peppermint, matcha, hazelnut milk and that telltale swirl of CBD oil.
‘I hope I don’t drool into my hot choccie!,’ I texted my girlfriend back in SA… a tad
nervous to lose my CBD beverage virginity all alone in a big city. But no, there was
nothing scary about this earthy mug of a dark chocolate hug. In fact, the minty
aftertaste disguised the CBD kick, which felt more like a gentle tummy tickle that
turned my legs a little jelly, my brain a little zingy and overall, my heart a lot happy.
Now feeling fairly floaty, I swept into the well-heeled retail zone of Westbourne
Grove. First stop: Young LDN: a trendy beauty salon where GenZ and Millennial
clients can get their nails or make-up done while plugged in to an iPad, or treat their skin concerns in a non-judgey, gender-neutral therapy space.
Noting my Gen X anxiety of feeling old and out of place, the cute young Millennial on front desk gently explained that “Young is a state of mind, we don’t define it by age”. Well, since my breakout-prone skin behaves like a delinquent teenager on any given day, I figured I had come to the right place, and signed up for a bespoke CBD Facial (£75 for 45 minutes).
Although I declined the welcoming CBD coffee, the CBD oil facial and accompanying lymphatic drainage facial massage was indulgently relaxing. Thanks to the rich dose of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, vitamins A, D & E and essential fatty acids like Omega 3 that the oil delivers, my city-stressed skin looked calmer and less congested afterwards, and I walked out feeling glowy and even a bit young(er)!
14 Hinde St, Marylebone
+44 20 8012 8337
A short Uber ride away in the gentrified ‘village’ of Marylebone, known for its peaceful parks, elegant Georgian mansions, arthouse cinema and celebrity hangouts, TheDrug.Store recently opened their flagship CBD store.
The minimalist, all-white retail space – crafted by Danish designer Lars Hartmann –showcases a tightly curated collection of high-end CBD products, categorised by
health benefit. Can’t sleep? Stressed? At the mercy of raging hormones or a flagging libido? A helpful sales assistant, dressed in a white lab coat, naturally, is on hand to match the relevant CBD remedy to your lifestyle; be it a tincture, oil isolate, soft gel capsule or topical cream.
I investigated a sleep tincture for my sleepless husband and anxiety-relieving oil for myself and overall was impressed with their depth of knowledge and care. Flying
internationally with CBD products is still a little controversial, so I didn’t buy anything but I liked that TheDrug.Store team only stock trusted, certified brands that they have investigated and personally endorse - that stamp of approval goes a long way, to my mind, to taking the overwhelm out of the minefield that shopping for CBD has become.
4 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden
+44 20 7240 9781
My energy fading, I almost called it a day but the anticipation of a gourmet kebab
and CBD-infused Gin&Chronic cocktail (£13) proved too tempting, and I soon found myself firmly ensconced behind the chic, buzzy bar at Maison Bab in Covent
Started by three chefs from Michelin-starred La Gavroche, this trendy new eatery
pays playful homage to the humble kebab: the much-loved munchy of choice for
late-night revelers, now made-over into the dinner dish du jour. Rustic flavours,
ethically-sourced meat and organic, seasonal ingredients tick all my culinary request boxes so I ordered the 15-hour slow-roasted pork Shawarma with pickled cucumber and Chermoula mayo (£10.50) and got to grips with the lemony-twist of my G&T.
For the purists, mixing CBD with alcohol must seem counter-intuitive – most stoners I know are not big drinkers – but in London, it’s all the rage, with a number of bars offering it as shots to add to any cocktail. The Gin&Chronic is a sour-style number that mixes a dash of CBD oil with gin, lemon and egg white froth. It’s yummy but I couldn’t tell if it was the gin or the oil kicking in so I had another, just to make sure… The subtle fizz left me feeling better, not baked, and after literally inhaling my kebab, I was more than ready for a slow amble home to the comfort of my nest of a hotel bed.
Book your trip to London, direct from Jo'burg or Cape Town, with TravelStart