Hello! I'm a native Londoner, a journalist and editor, and a restaurant critic. I'm massively proud of my hometown and it's a thrill to be able to share my favourite London places with you.
I've authored travel guides for Lonely Planet and Time Out, and write for the magazines of Google, United Airlines, EasyJet and Eurostar, among others. I'm also an editor at the Slow Journalism magazine, Delayed Gratification.
For me, Vayable is an extension of my journalism. It's a chance to tell stories, about me, my city and the people I share it with. And it's a chance to hear your stories about your travels and your home.
I made a speech about social travel at a conference in Denmark, which you can read here:
My tours have been blogged about here:
This outstanding guide is a member of our Ambassador program!
Vayable Ambassadors make your travel experience extra special.
Cyrus loves cycling and he loves tacos, and when he combines these two passions he creates this - a personal, unique, off-the-beaten-track food tour including the best Mexican grub in the Bay Area. And bikes. Actually, I was only visiting town so I didn't have a bike, but that wasn't a problem; we walked around Fruitvale and devoured tacos (pollo, carnitas, carne asada, lengua...) seafood tostadas and Salvadorian pupusas. Fruitvale rocks. Cyrus is a super-nice, enthusiastic guy; a well-travelled tech journalist with tons of diverse interests (and a healthy appreciation of British satire), and a great person to spend a couple of hours with.
When it comes to food in Flushing, Joe's the man. His knowledge of Chinese food is encyclopedic, and Flushing boasts the best Chinese restaurants I've ever seen outside of Asia. While all the food was excellent, the Muslim lamb chops were an earlier candidate for best dish of 2013.
I loved Heidi's busking tour of the NYC subway. It was fascinating hearing about her experiences of performing underground, her thoughts on the structure and regulation of busking, and about the feeling of community and comradery amongst Manhattan's regular performers. Unfortunately I left too early to see Heidi perform, but it was a joy to see her fellow buskers sing - there's so much talent underground. It's a fascinating insight into a completely different part of the entertainment business.
I went on an early version of this experience which I have blogged about at http://blog.vayable.com/2012/12/08/the-worlds-first-toilet-tour/ It's a really unusual and informative experience. Rachel is friendly, fun, reliable and armed with plenty of loo-related tales from London history. And there's so much more to the tour than just toilets - there's history, politics, architecture, theatre and a cocktail at the end too. Of course, you'll get most out of the tour if you use the facilities along the way, so carry a bottle of water...
Any evening that begins with Papalote chips + salsa and ends with Humphry Slocombe breakfast ice cream is going to be a great evening. And with Samir as your guide, a man who knows the Mission, knows his food, and knows the people making the food - you're guaranteed to get the best stuff around. This was such a fun evening - great company and great food on one of the best eating streets in North America.
I've been visiting San Francisco for years and I've long been intrigued by the Tenderloin, an area right next to Union Square where the poverty is very visible and often discomforting. It was so interesting to get Milton's take on why the Tenderloin is this way; it's a product of containment, he says, a long-term policy of keeping poverty controlled and limited to one area rather than trying to solve the problem. This is a tour about homelessness, drug abuse, charity and mental illness - and it's also very much a tour about Milton, a charismatic and mysterious guide who will answer all your questions, while also generating lots of new ones.
I was lucky enough to be on Alexandra's inaugural tour and it was such a fun experience. This is a beautiful part of the city boasting stunning views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, incredible artwork (Andy Goldsworthy's tree art is amazing), fascinating history, humongous millionaires' houses, and great trails for easy hiking. Alexandra is a fantastic guide - she's not only passionate and knowledgeable, but she's great company and it's a pleasure spending time with her.
Let me confirm that when Ryan promises dives, he really means dives. And this, of course, guarantees a wonderful evening full of the unexpected. These bars are rock 'n' roll in the truest sense: barmen with stories you'll hardly believe, Nashville's finest (and least finest) voices on the karaoke, cheap-as-chips beers, smoke-filled rooms (hey, it adds to the atmosphere), classic bar burgers even the East Nashville hipsters haven't yet discovered, and the chance to spend an evening talking to one of the nicest and most interesting people you'll meet in America's friendliest and most interesting city. Book it!
Amanda crams a huge amount of information, trivia, surprises and humour into her tour. She really knows her stuff - she'll take you to places most Chicagoans don't know, and she'll be able to answer all your questions. There are some beautiful spots on the tour (the Holy Trinity church is a real treat) and a few unexpected surprises. The inclusion of iPads full of photos and video (nice to see Studs Terkel having his say) is a neat interactive touch. Note: the tour is operated by Chicago Detours, Amanda's company, so it's a bit different to most other Vayable offerings.
There's nowhere in North America quite like Quebec City, the only city with fortified walls in North America, and the only city where almost everybody speaks French. The best thing about my trip was meeting Paule and going on her custom-made tour. She showed me the old city, the charming small streets and some of Quebec City's best views - and she introduced me to some of the local cuisine, a super-sweet pancake, a tremendously tasty meat pie, and one of the best poutines I've ever tried. Paule is great company and so much fun to be with - a highly recommended tour.
My time in Iceland would have been so much less enjoyable if I hadn't booked Sam's coffee tour. He's an excellent guide - funny, generous, intelligent, and an unapologetic history nerd who knows a huge amount about Iceland's culture, society and history. The coffee was fantastic, of course - we drank lattes, espressos and filter coffees until we were shaking with caffeine. But the tour was just the start, and this is why Sam is such a credit to Vayable. I drank beer, ate food, bathed in thermal pools, explored art galleries and toured southern Iceland with Sam, his girlfriend, or people I met through them. Great guy, great tour.
Took Matthew's street food tour last week. We covered a few miles of London streets visiting street food markets that we absolutely would never have found on our own. These are places the locals visit. Great food, lots of sights, and Matt was an awesome guide, it was more like walking around with a friend. Would definitely recommend!
Matthew's Street Food Tour of London was super fun. I had been to London several times before, visiting friends, but never quite understood where I was. This time, after visiting four different neighborhoods in the East End everything became more clear to me. As for food, every single thing that Matthew introduced us to was delicious. He really is a Street Food connoisseur, he has traveled so much and has such a passion for food, that it reflects in his excellent selection of world foods. We tried ten different foods from ten different countries! We visited two food markets, tried all levels of street food, talked to the vendors, it was great! I definitely recommend taking this tour, just be prepared for a lot of walking. Our tour extended to almost five hours, but we really didn't care because we were there for that.
I had a fantastic day with Matthew and was pleased to be pushed out of my eating comfort zone and sample such a broad range of street food. While I am a massive fan of Kerb and other new markets, it was good to be reminded of the trend’s roots. It is clearly a labour of love for Matthew and he was a great guide. At £35 and almost 5 hours of walking and talking, it is incredibly good value, and I would happily recommend to both visitors and Londoners alike. And I definitely did not leave hungry! Full review and photos here: http://theveryhungrylondoner.com/2014/05/06/a-street-food-tour-of-east-london/
We had a wonderful tour with Matthew. We tasted some incredible street foods, learned some history, and saw parts of London we might never have otherwise seen or noticed. Matthew was friendly and knowledgable, and a lot of fun. Overall, it was a great way to spend an afternoon in London.
I very much enjoyed the tour through East London with Matthew. It was a small group, which gave us flexibility to decide on different things to try. We sampled food from Bangladesh, South Africa, Persia, Israel, Italy. It was a great way to see an area of London I wouldn't have seen on my "tourist" oriented trip to the city. Matthew is a personable, engaging tour guide (although he insists he isn't a tour guide) with a good knowledge of the area's history. Thoroughly enjoyable tour!
I highly enjoyed my tour with Matthew. It was a relaxed and laid back as we strolled through the different food markets of the East End. Matthew shared lots of insider information about the area and we sampled some delicious treats from all over the world. I felt like I saw another side of London than would have been possible on my own. Thanks, Matthew!
Matthew's street food tour is a great introduction to the vibrant food culture, geography & heart of London's hip East End. From Turkey to Trinidad, South Africa to Scotland, we basically ate our way through world cuisine over the course of a Saturday tour.Matthew is a knowledgable & personable guide & is easy company, which is important for this kind of tour. We'd now feel confident about where to eat/shop/hang out/hipster watch on a return trip. London can feel so vast to a visitor, but tours like this really give you a real insight into what makes the city special. We'd highly recommend the tour with Matthew: do it at the start of your trip & you won't go hungry! Maria & Danny, Ireland
Great tour! I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We had a great time touring with Matthew through the East End. The small group (the two people in my party, one other group member, and Matthew) really created a laid back, casual feel that made the afternoon very pleasant. Matthew really knows the food scene in London, and was on top of his game in leading us through some of the most interesting parts of the city. As people who have been to London multiple times over the years, I am pleased to say this was a definite highlight, and showed us a side of the city that we wouldn't have discovered otherwise. Come ready to walk and eat and you will be sure to have a great time.
We had the East London Street Food Tour with Matthew today. Matthew was educated, social, fun to be with, welcoming. The tour was on the one hand professional and organized yet on the other hand, Matthew was flexible and adjustable to our needs and wishes. It was fun being led by Matthew around East London markets with out the need to navigate and at the same time experience best markets' food & collecting tips for good food and jurneys in london. We are looking forward to our next travel to London to book another tour with mathew. Yael & Eli barel
The East London Street Tour provided by Matt is definitely one of the best experiences I've ever had in London. On a beautiful spring day Matt took me and my friends to the best hidden foodie spots in East London. We got a chance to explore a broad variety of foods and drinks: from Turkish Menemen for breakfast to Quebecois Poutine for lunch, and many many others during the day! Not only will this food tour provide you with delicious food, you'll also learn a lot on the history of the foods related to the area and you'll get a chance to meet the people who actually supply the food. I can most definitely recommend this tour to locals and tourists who want to learn more about the history of Food and East London! What we really liked on the tour was that Matt is not only a very knowledgeable and funny guide, he's also very flexible in his approach and tries to customize the tour to everyones needs! Highly recommended!
We had a great time on our Saturday tour -- it's the less-touristy one and it was well-suited for us Londoners! Even though we live in East London, Matthew opened our eyes to so many hidden food treasures in the neighborhood -- it was a great balance of tasty and cultural. The best thing about the tour was Matthew's enthusiasm and his willingness to explore and talk to people. Highly recommendable!
The tour with Matthew was part of a birthday present for my girlfriend Tatjana - it was an amazing experience! Matthew is a very funny and interesting guy who knows London, especially its street food scene, like the back of his hand. With him you have authentic insights in this scene. The tour is a bit like Matthew: Spontanous, lovely, funny a little bit crazy (in a positive way!)... It was a pleasure to see people preparing and offering their national dishes and above all it was a pleasure to eat it. We could list all the delicious things but a tour will never be the same twice :-) Towards the end of the tour we stopped by a very nice pub that serves very good London beers. Thanks for this wonderful day!
Matthew was a perfect Vayable Busking Tour participant. e was here for just a few days from the UK & was honoured to have his spirit & curiosity along for the tour. As a global traveler, he was interesting, interested, super friendly & upbeat. Everyone loved having him along & getting to know him. I loved the questions he asked & loved that he won the raffle for a Subway Diaries T shirt - perfect! I'd love to have him on any future tours as he's a hugely positive addition to the experience.
If you're looking to break out of London's tourist rut, I definitely recommend taking a tour with Matthew. We took what he now may be calling The Javelin Tour, which combines lots of street food with a trek through more of East London, ending at a hip "pub" on a canal near the Olympic Village. The food vendors he picked were amazing - from Thai to American bbq (beware the Holy Mother of God sauce) to the good old British Scotch Egg (tasty!). Our 6-hour walk took us through Clerkenwell, along the East London canals and into Hackney Wick - very cool all. This is a great tour for all ages, but college students or travelers in their 20s and 30s may find it a helpful overview for places to hit later on their own, during the day or in the evening. I know our kids (ages 18 & 20) wish we had taken the tour first thing in the week; it was a great introduction to the city and hit so many insider spots. Plus, Matthew is a relaxed, knowledgable guy to spend the day with. A top highlight of our trip.
I LOVED my tour with Matthew. He took me to a street food event I would have never found on my own. And it was dripping with interesting culture and food to take in. First of all, we were in a neighborhood that Matthew calls a hipster epicenter. The people-watching was seriously amusing. And I would describe the food as being inspired. Pork belly buns, Jamaican fare, pizza out of a wood-burning oven, whole fish grilled Caribbean-style, gourmet cupcakes, bbq sandwiches with intense hot sauce that gets everywhere - it was a delicious, trendy and globe-trotting experience right in London. I am pretty sure I was the only non-Londoner there, and the place was packed. On top of that, Matthew’s encyclopedic knowledge of the city makes his tours quite rounded, giving an exciting local experience along with lots of context. Overall, Matthew gives a really great tour – it feels like you are just hanging with a friend who wants to show you a great time. I am not sure what could be better when traveling!! I highly recommend his tours!
Matt led a wonderful tour of street markets outside of the tube's zone 1 that my husband and I recently took. We left from Kings Crossing and went to Eat Street, where I had a phenomenal hamburger made of 50% beef and 50% ox heart--something I would ordinarily never try on my own, but felt emboldened to do by Matt. From there we went on to four other street markets, sampling Scotch eggs, a spicy stew from Ghana, Hungarian pastries and a great espresso. The whole time we were walking through interesting neighborhoods enlivened by Matt's commentary and knowledge and appreciation for the eclectic variety of high quality foods that are available in London. This guy knows his stuff, and I would recommend this tour to anyone wanting to experience a little bit of a Londoner's London--far from the tourist fray. One caveat--come hungry, and be prepared to walk a lot!
My wife and I (early 60's) went on this tour with the positively engaging Matt Lee and loved it. It's a lot of walking, so don't expect cab service from stop to stop. But there's a lot of tasty food to be had (and Matt tailors this to those on the tour so everyone's happy with the choices). Our tour included a perfectly cooked beef/ox-heart burger, tacos, Ghanian fish and meat dishes, stunningly good coffee, Hungarian desserts (cheese and cherry), and Scotch eggs. But even better than the food was the time with Matt. He's so passionate and knowledgeable about the London street scene and the neighborhoods outside central London that you get a great tour of areas you would never otherwise have visited. And his interests span a wide range of subjects--the arts, restaurants (he's a critic for Time Out), politics, etc.--so he's an absolute delight to spend time with. It was a real London trip enhancer for us. And it was an excellent value.
Matthew led us around a wide area of East London, and we got to sample almost a dozen different street foods. He is obscenely knowledgeable about E London and food. We saw neighborhoods we never otherwise would have found, and after driving past it a dozen times, I finally ate at Tubby Isaac's for the first time. Great way to spend a Sunday!
Matthew is a great guy and I certainly enjoyed the East London tour. Walking along the canal, visiting galleries, a book fair, the best coffee in the whole city. A fantastic experience. I definitively recommend it!