Do you live in London and want a great cycling café you can ride to?
Look no further!
In this article, South West London local John Maskell, shares the cycling coffee stops he loves to go to when he's after a short ride down to the Hampton Court area.
Written by John Maskell
Want to know more about the criteria used to make into this rarified list of just four cycling cafés? Take a look at this article, which also links to our other cycling café guides to the Surrey Hills, Windsor and Woking areas. You can find our pick of London cycling cafés here.
A bit about the area
The 15th Century Hampton Court is around 15 km south-west of London with Esher a further 5km and Cobham another 5km from there.
Hampton Court, Esher and Cobham are all good destinations for those wanting a shorter out and back ride from London.
Due to the population density in this area, the roads tend to be very busy with traffic, but commensurately there are more cycle lanes and the condition of the roads is often better than usual.
This area is very affluent, and so the competition amongst the cafés tends to be high. As a result, there are some really great places; picking our top choices here was not easy!
The 4 best cycling cafés in the area
The map below gives a rough idea of where each of our four favourite cycling cafés are located. If it looks like there are only three markers below, note there are two blobs at Molesey! You can zoom in on the map and click on each coffee cup for the name of the café.
You'll find detailed information on each when you scroll on down.
3 Bridge Street, Hampton Court, KT8 9EU
Opening hours: 6am to 6pm seven days a week
Dish is located on the green on the opposite side of the Thames to Hampton Court.
On arrival there are two bike racks at the front of the café and a further ten racks on the green itself; Dish is very popular with cyclists.
There is a reasonable amount of outside seating to the front and there's a rear terrace behind the café that has plenty of tables and chairs. There's also lots of comfortable seating inside. The décor is extremely good inside and Dish is generally very clean and swish.
Dish specialises in having very good looking staff, very good service and very good food. These things help differentiate it from the plethora of other cafés and restaurants on the Bridge Street strip. It's also a plastic free café.
There is an enormous range of extremely good cakes and a full menu for more substantial hot meals. Once you have ordered at the counter, food is brought to your table. The food itself is well made and well presented.
The café has free internet and there are loyalty cards, but it is not particularly cheap: for example a slice of cake is £3.50. However, given the location and the quality, we think it is worth it.
A very well presented and relaxed café which should put you in a great mood. Either one to ride to for a shortish ride from London or one to stop off at on the way back from Surrey or Windsor.
2 High Street, Esher, KT10 9RT
Opening hours: 7am-5pm every day (bank holidays 8am-4:30pm)
Giro is located towards the bottom end of Esher High Street and is difficult to miss as it has bike racks for around twenty bikes at the front on the café.
To put it simply, Giro is the benchmark for cycling cafés in the UK. Giro is dedicated to cyclists; it has bikes on the wall, cycling related articles in the toilets and a shop for cycling apparel in the back of the café.
Unlike a few other cafés, water jugs with mint and cucumber infusions are automatically placed on the tables for the thirsty road warriors coming back from the Surrey Hills.
Bike parking is easy and safe (locks and a pump are provided but rarely used) and there will almost always be a more expensive bike than yours on the rack.
The décor inside is extremely “designer cool” with an array of arm chairs accompanied by low tables and stools parked at high tables.
The food itself is somewhat limited, but definitely dedicated to “athletes” with such delights as porridge fully topped with bananas, raspberries and blue berries or peanut butter and banana on toast. Another favourite is the breakfast burrito. There is also a range of sandwiches, a good range of cakes and very good coffee.
Food is ordered at the counter and then delivered to your table on trendy slate boards.
The staff are generally young and good looking and the service is very good.
Giro has internet, a shop and also has loyalty cards.
Understandably, prices are a little on the high side.
A very cool mecca for cyclists and one to either ride to for a long natter, or stop off at on the way home from the Surrey Hills (on which note, check our Surrey Hills destination guide if you want some new ride inspiration!).
3. The Medicine Garden Café
Downside Road, Cobham, KT11 3LU
Opening hours: 9am-5 pm (10am-4pm weekends)
The entrance to the Medicine Garden is from Downside Road and is shared with a timber merchants called Challenge Fencing – don’t let this entrance put you off. Bear right, through the car park and you'll see the faded red Victorian brick wall that surrounds the Medicine Garden.
The café inside the walled garden is called the Garden Pod Café and you find it by walking through the middle of the beautiful garden and then through the archway at the end. The Garden Pod Café is on the right hand side in the old potting sheds. There are also a myriad of small craft shops as well as an abundance of outside seating in the courtyard.
The courtyard location lends itself naturally to extremely safe bike parking. There are also enough bike racks for about twenty bikes. There is ample inside and outside seating in both the walled garden and the courtyard.
The gardens themselves are a nice setting and the walls/buildings tend to make the outside area something of a sun trap with lovely lavender, olive trees and verbenas in raised flower beds enhancing the relaxed tone.
The café itself is all about coffee and good cakes, though there are also some small hot items - for example we really enjoyed the delicious pumpkin soup.
Water and glasses are provided free at a central location in the café.
The Garden Pod Café has a wonderful setting. It seems to be a favourite with sophisticated Surrey yummy mummies, but cyclists also appear welcome (remember those bike racks?!). The food is good, the service is good and the prices are reasonable.
4. Eight on the River
Molesey Boat Club, Barge Walk, East Molesey, KT8 9AJ
Opening hours: 8:30am to 4pm every day
Access to the café by bike is along Graburn Way or along the tow path from Hampton Court.
Eight on the River was born out of the extremely popular Cafe Tyme on the River so naturally has good pedigree. It is located upstairs on the first floor overlooking the River Thames above the Molesey Boat Club. It is now run by Cavan Bakery who changed the name to Eight on the River.
The setting is wonderful - the terrace overlooks the Thames and the tow path and is both picturesque and relaxing.
Ample bike racks are provided in front of the boat house on the right hand side, but bringing a lock is advised as it would take some time to dash down the steps if someone did decide to pilfer your pride and joy.
Food and coffee is ordered from the bar within the boat club on the first floor and then brought to your table.
There is extensive indoor and outdoor seating with a large outside terrace as well a balcony seating area. There are two free water stations and two blanket stations if it is cold.
There is a selection of cakes from Cavan Bakeries and the menu has a reasonable amount of hot food, including large items such as a rower’s breakfast. Generally the menu is geared towards healthy eating with items such as smoothies, granola, porridge and omelettes. A lunch menu is offered from midday.
The target audience is generally rowers and people walking along the river.
Prices are reasonable for the area and there are both internet and loyalty cards.
Eight on the River is off the beaten track and has great views. Go if you want to relax, unwind and watch the boats from an elevated position.
What's your favourite cycling café in this area?
Tell us in the comments below.
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