Flying around the world, eating at fabulous restaurants, staying in beautiful hotels and discovering hidden gems in every city – it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it. That “someone” in this instance would be Italian-born influencers Andrea Di Filippo and Sara Santini, who established their Pretty Little London Instagram account in late 2015 after moving to the British capital. Since then, the account has racked up over 700,000 followers, with their signature bright and colourful posts and videos amassing thousands of likes and comments. It may seem like a dream job, but creating content is a full-time gig, and navigating a work-life balance – especially as a couple who work together – can be a bit of a minefield.
Earlier this summer, Pretty Little London paid a visit to London City Island and were instantly taken with the contemporary architecture and sense of community, as well as the concept of living on a tranquil island in the bustling city. Here, we talked to the duo about their experience on the Island, as well as the art of capturing the “small details” and how to switch off when your job is far from 9-5.
You’re both from Italy. What do you like most about living and working in London?
We love the diversity and how accepting this city is, and how there are opportunities for everyone, whatever your interests may be. London has a unique atmosphere and it’s really hard to get bored with so many things going on. We love meeting new people every day and experiencing new things. Work-wise, our days and schedules are so different from one another, so you do learn something each day. It is thanks to this city that we are able to do what we do and love, so we are so grateful for that. Also, we are big foodies and the restaurant scene in London is just incredible, with cuisines from all over the world prepared by some of the best chefs out there.
What are your top tips for taking great photos for social?
You need to really capture a moment rather than just a location. As they say, the devil is often in the detail. If you are shooting in an elegant neighbourhood, for instance, try to capture a beautiful corner with someone matching the vibe passing by. Try not to leave empty spaces in your photo, such as an empty street or an empty spot or plate on the table if you are taking pictures of food. Always look at the small details, as when you later come to edit you will regret not paying attention to that bin bag or that orange cone that is now ruining your photo. Don’t be afraid to crop your pictures while editing and posting, as it can really give an interesting spin to your photo.
You recently spent a day at London City Island. What did you like about the development?
We loved the beautiful modern flats, the great atmosphere and that it’s only 20 minutes from the West End. Also, who wouldn’t want to live on an island? We loved the facilities, and the red swimming pool is the coolest!
Did anything about the Island surprise you?
We were pleasantly surprised to see how strong the sense of community was. There were people chatting to each other while walking their dogs, enjoying a pint in the square and even on the red bridge that links the station to LCI. It gave us the idea that everyone knew each other, definitely not a given in a busy city like London.
Seeing as you don’t have a regular 9-5 job, how do you switch off and what do you do in your free time?
It can be challenging at times to switch off and having a clear work-life balance has definitely been difficult. It has become really important for us to keep our weekends free, where we either see our friends or travel within the UK or in Europe. We also love to cook, go for long walks in London and try new bars and restaurants.
“We loved the facilities at London City Island and the red swimming pool is the coolest! Also, who wouldn’t want to live on an island?”
What are the best (and worst) things about working together?
The best thing is definitely having a second opinion and a second pair of eyes for everything. It is so important when working in a creative field. We each have our strengths while one is very organised and efficient, the other is creative and up to speed with current trends, new openings and possible things to do. Of course, working together is not always easy as we differ on many things. We had to learn how to compromise on certain aspects, such as working hours, each other’s free time and even personal tastes.
You must feel like you know London inside out at this stage. But what “hidden gems” would you recommend to someone who doesn’t know the city well?
Of course, Noci in Angel is definitely a hidden gem and one of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants. In terms of museums, definitely check out the Horniman Museum and Gardens, Spencer House, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and Strawberry Hill House. Gunnersbury Park near Chiswick is also gorgeous and not very well known by tourists.
What are your top east London recommendations?
Nightjar and Callooh Callay are great bars on Old Street, while our favourite restaurants in the area are Pachamama East, Gloria, Lantana, Morito, Mare Street Market, Maya Restaurant at the Hoxton hotel, Campania, The Aviary Rooftop, Boundary and Mama Shelter.