A couple of months ago I wrote about my favorite spots in London, and every time I read up on what’s going on in the capital that has everything, I realize there are many more places to add to my list. So, here are some hidden gems to keep in mind for those of you currently searching for London hotels.
The Little Venice of London is one of the city’s most beautiful and underestimated spots, and offers different river views to its big sister Thames. Quiet and tourist-free, it is lined with colorful riverboats that double as homes, cafes, or even theaters.
My sister discovered this hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Soho and we’d go when strapped for cash but craving an authentic bowl of ramen. No fancy decor or exposed brick walls in this joint. Just good Japanese food, generous portions, and dinner + drinks for under £10.
Susie Bubble’s Vintage:
BangBang on Goodge Street is the vintage shop of choice for the queen of mix-and-match that is Susie Bubble. A carefully curated collection of designer and high-street pieces, displayed on vibrant color-coordinated racks. They don’t sell £1 t-shirts, but prices are reasonable for London. You can also sell unwanted clothes here for cash or store credit.
St. Dunstan’s church was bombed in WWII leaving an empty shell, now inhabited by climbing vines and hydrangeas. Hampstead Heath is well-known, but its beautiful Pergola & Hill Gardens are not. An old Kensington department store hides a secret roof garden of streams, goldfish and flamingos. And for the most authentic Japanese garden this side of the Pacific, Holland Park is home to one donated by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce in 1991.
There is no question that London is the city of art, but it is also the city with something for everyone. So you’re a doll collector? There’s Pollock’s Toy Museum for you. Fan of fans? London has the world’s only museum devoted to the fan. Keeping up with Sherlock? Head over to the Sherlock Holmes museum. A Charles Dickens fan? Explore his house and library in the heart of Bloomsbury. So your sister is an anthropologist who is skeptical about the documentation of women’s history in Europe? Take her to the Horniman Museum & Gardens and then the Women’s Library, to put her at ease.
Radical Books & Patios:
Known as “radical booksellers since 1945”, Housmans is a great little independent bookshop for anything anti-mainstream. Specialists in left politics, cult fiction, and the progressive, they also have a well-stocked basement of £1 secondhand books. For the more traditional at heart, I recommend the London Review bookshop, which has a quiet patio where you can sit and read on a sunny weekday.
Many a good thing happens underground in London. Literally. The Vault Arts Festival, which runs until March, offers six weeks of entertainment, ideas and chaos, all underground in the belly of London. Exhibits, shows and screenings for as little as £5 (and free), this is a hidden gem not to miss.
You could try to see one new thing every day, and still not discover everything London has to offer. Hopefully this list triggers your curiosity, if only enough so to book a trip. Happy exploring!
*This post is a part of the #HipmunkCityLove Project, in which I am a participating author. For suggestions of London hotels for your next trip, check out my article over at Hipmunk.