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What The Butler Wore Vintage Boutique

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by Dominic Simpson (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in East London. Check out more of my writing at
Published August 27th 2012
This bizarre clothes shop and café double-act is well worth visiting. Located on Lower Marsh, a slightly odd market strip near the London Eye with strange second-hand book and record shops (just down the road from the Old Vic), What The Butler Wore / What The Butler Saw are, respectively, a spooky 60s-style boutique vintage clothes shop establishment similar to Pop Boutique in Covent Garden and an extraordinary looking coffee shop which feels transplanted straight out of Paris in the early 1920s.

What The Butler Saw view from street
View of What The Butler Saw from street

View of shop and cafe
View of shop and cafe

What The Butler Saw coffee and cake
Coffee and cake at WTBS
Serving some nice looking cakes alongside their delicious lattes and various other coffees (see picture), the café is a visual treat, with character in spades.

There's no menu on the wall or printed on the tables, so you simply have to ask. The latte and cappuccinos are delicious and reasonably priced, at £2.20, while the lovely cakes and cookies are £1.80; tea is £1.50, and a
What The Butler Saw view of bar
WTBS view of bar
basic espresso £2.00.

There's no other food, however there is an extremely impressive range of liquors (pictured). This place opens until 11pm, so is effectively a bar in the evenings.

What The Butler Saw view of cafe
View of WTBS

Unfortunately the one downer is that there can be a frustrating wait when other customers are ordering. The 'baristas', as they're come to be known in this profession, most of whom seem to be actors or musicians, are not the most professional, and seem oblivious to annoyed looks in the queue. Then again, when a place looks as amazing as this, who cares? You get the feeling it's all part of the ambience. Go to Starbucks if you want impeccable service.

View of What The Butler Saw stairs to next level
View of WTBS stairs to next level

View of What The Butler Saw wall
WTBS wall

The place has accumulated a vast amount of memorabilia. Everything on the walls looks like an advert from the 1950s, from cigar ads to adverts for live performances by Bing Crosby to bits of old machinery. The windows, meanwhile, are graced by motorcycles, one Italian and the other seemingly from the former Soviet Union (pictured).

What The Butler Saw Soviet motorbike
WTBS Soviet motorbike

Every retro accoutrement, in fact, is here somewhere, and the whole place feels like a big fingers up to anodyne coffee shops chains. There's a small patio at the back, and it carries in with a basement floor too, where a red curtain separates you from the toilet. They've even got their own in-house cat (below) who purrs at you.

What The Butler Saw cat
WTBS cat

What The Butler Saw cat feed sign
WTBS feeding cat sign
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Why? One of London's most popular vintage fashion boutiques
Where: 131 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, SE1
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