The dilemma for visitors to London is that by the time they’ve enjoyed the ‘must see’ attractions, they’re left with little time to experience the hidden gems that the city has to offer.
Beyond the historical buildings, markets and West End theatre, there is a vast number of lesser known sites of interest that can easily be missed if you don’t seek the council of a local. Luckily for you, dear reader, your author is a born and bred Londoner – 30 years to be precise – and spend much of my time exploring the city’s nooks and crannies, both for work and leisure.
Gathering all of my London knowledge, I’ve come up with a list of six of the city’s best lesser-known attractions.
Coronet Cinema – For most tourists, going to the cinema is not necessarily on their list of things to do. But London is home to some truly unique picture houses. One of the finest is the Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill, west London. A major part of the London arts scene, this cinema dates back to the late 19th century and specializes in non-mainstream movies.
Hoxton Square – Tucked away in east London is one of London’s most vibrant squares (on mainland Europe it would be known by the more exotic sounding description of a ‘piazza’). Indeed, Hoxton Square brings a European flavour to this thriving neighbourhood. Hidden from main roads and with plenty of out- door seating, there are numerous bars serving up cocktails and food from around the globe. This area is also home to the new Courtyard Theatre as well as London’s only female-oriented sex shop, for those of a liberal and curious mind.
The King’s Head – This north London pub may have a traditional English name, but it is far from an every-day venue. Located on the bustling thoroughfare of Upper Street in Angel, the King’s Head is an institution on the London theatre scene, and has been the spring board for some of Britain’s best known talents. It is quite simply a great place to soak up some culture and witness some of the stars of the future.
Borough Market – When you think of London’s markets, the first that spring to mind are Covent Garden and Camden Town. But venture a little beyond these two mainstays of London’s market scene and you will find several others that are worth a visit. One of the best is Borough Market in south east London. Best experienced on a Saturday mornings, this market is a treat for the senses. Wander from stall to stall and taste the varied offerings of fresh food, and enjoy the atmosphere which evokes over a century of inimitable London market culture. There are also several prized pubs and restaurants around the market itself, as well as the Menier Chocolate Factory theatre – a fringe theatre set in an old chocolate factory.
Bank of England Museum – Most culture vultures will head straight for the Tate Modern or the V&A, but for a unique museum experience in London, then you may want to consider a visit to the Bank of England Museum. Located in Bartholomew Lane in the City of London, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to explore centuries of financial history, as well as the weighty task of lifting a 13kg gold bar through a hole in a cabinet. But before you get any ideas – it’s impossible to steal.
Inner Space – After all of that off-the-beaten- track exploration, you may well be in need of some rest and recuperation. In which case, an excellent choice would be to sample the Inner Space, located in Covent Garden. This oasis of calm boasts a Quiet Room where you can relax and unwind, as well as other attractions including a book shop, where silence is golden. Once you’re done here, it could well be time to retire for the day, and as a happy coincidence, there is a vast number of Covent Garden hotels to choose from.
Author Bio Paul Joseph is a London-based author and writer. He has written for national magazines and newspapers, and also works for TubeHotels.com, a London hotel website to find, compare and book London hotels near tube and train stations.