England

Hidden Gems to Discover in London 

Guest post by Dakota Murphey

London is a city that never ceases to amaze with its iconic landmarks, world-class museums and a vibrant cultural scene. Although thousands visit the capital to see its world-famous sights or locations they have seen on TV, there are many hidden gems to discover in London if you know where to look. 

London has a wealth of unique experiences, attractions, eateries and entertainment for those willing to venture off the beaten track. This article uncovers some of this city’s lesser-known gems to make your next trip even more exciting.

Shop for a Timeless Classic or at a Vintage Market

The English capital is a shopper’s paradise but the best retail therapy comes from knowing where to shop if you’re after something special. With shops for every fashion and budget, you can find luxury designer shops along High Street Kensington and high-end department stores (namely Harrods and Harvey Nichols) in Knightsbridge. However, for a timeless piece you can wear throughout the year like an exquisite silk scarf, or something bespoke and equally fabulous for an evening out, there are numerous boutique shops to be found. 


Liberty London’s iconic storefront

Head to Bond Street and Carnaby Street and explore all the little streets off the main high streets around Oxford Street. Nearby, you’ll find London’s iconic Liberty store on Regent Street, which is famous for its well-known fabrics, designer brands, perfumes and accessories housed in an impressive Tudor building. For markets and vintage, Portobello Road Market, meanwhile, sells everything from clothes and antiques to handcrafted jewellery and vinyl records. Borough Market has incredible artisan shops and a lively atmosphere to boot. 

If shopping local and sustainably is your vibe, the Lone Design Club’s pop-up boutiques and events take place in cool physical locations across London. From St John’s Wood to Stonecutter’s Lane, their ethical shopping experience brilliantly fuses independent brands with eco-conscious shoppers. Alternatively, for an authentic taste of East London’s creative spirit, visit the Shoreditch Boxpark, a pop-up mall built from repurposed shipping containers is worth seeing, as is the eclectic covered Old Spitalfields Market for vintage clothing to handmade crafts.

Experience London’s Buzzing Culture


‘Cabaret’ immersive dining experience

London’s cultural scene is brimming with immersive theatrical shows and museum experiences that go beyond your typical visit. While some of the most famous are free and busy, such as The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the British Museum, some lesser-known ones in central London deserve a mention. The Hunterian Museum, near the Royal Academy of Arts, was founded in 1799 and named after the pioneering surgeon, John Hunter. Once here, you can expect to see anatomical specimens, medical instruments and other curiosities. 


Sir John Soane’s Museum and Highgate Cemetery

For budding architects, Sir John Soane’s Museum has a vast collection of architectural models, antiquities and paintings. Meanwhile, in Bloomsbury, the Foundling Museum tells the story of its original Hospital that was established in 1739 as a home for abandoned children. It was here that they were cared for and the museum offers a poignant glimpse into the capital’s 18th-century history. London’s rich history is woven into every corner of the city and many lesser-known places offer other fascinating stories from the past. For unmarked graves and the country’s most celebrated lost legends, a guided tour of Highgate Cemetery is a formidable tour back to London’s Victorian era and gothic past.

If you’re a theatre buff, London’s theatre district in the West End centred around Shaftesbury Avenue, is a must. You can easily catch a well-known musical, classic play or cutting-edge show. While many of the West End’s theatres have a long and illustrious history, some do stand out for their unique and unusual features. The Fortune Theatre, for example, near Covent Garden is one of the smallest in London. It lacks a proper backstage which means actors have to enter and exit through the auditorium itself. The Noël Coward Theatre was originally a brewery before being converted into a theatre in the late 19th century. It therefore boasts some great original industrial features, exposed brick walls and steel beams. 

Take a Tour with a Difference 


Regent’s Canal with narrowboats in London’s Little Venice area

Whether you’re in London for a few days or weeks, it’s always good to seek insider knowledge and explore London’s quirkier sights. You might enjoy the city’s various guided walks or group tours, from a food one through neighbourhoods like Brick Lane or Brixton to a silent disco. For a charming waterside walk, follow the Regent’s Canal towpath, a tranquil route that winds through upmarket neighbourhoods (like Primrose Hill and St John’s Wood) or explore the vibrant Mural Mile in Hackney Wick, a colourful outdoor gallery showcasing street art and urban murals. In addition, the Parkland Walk is a beautiful nature trail that follows an abandoned railway line.


The famous MI5 Headquarters on the banks of the River Thames

While themed tours are all the rage, you might want to plan your itinerary around seeing some famous film sets in London. There are lots of unusual tours to join that are fun, entertaining and suitable for families, solo travellers, history lovers and couples on their first date! If you are in London for a tour, there are some interesting modes of transport to choose from, from River cruises to London’s bike hires and pedibus party bikes. Or, book an Uber river boat from Vauxhall Bridge and check out some of the sights along the River Thames, from MI5’s famous headquarters (‘Thames House’) to the distinct London Eye. 

If you enjoy stepping back in time and finding a secret garden somewhere special, you can soon escape the bustling streets and find some peace in London’s hidden parks. Tucked away in the heart of Bloomsbury, for instance, is the pretty Phoenix Garden. Likewise, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a historic botanical garden dating back to 1673. Here, you’ll discover an amazing collection of medicinal plants amid stunning landscaped gardens. For another unexpected gem, visit the Hill Garden and Pergola on Hampstead Heath and enjoy some stunning panoramic views of London’s skyline. 

Enjoy Diverse Eateries

London’s diverse cultural fabric is reflected in its vibrant food scene. Explore the bustling Brick Lane neighbourhood for a taste of authentic Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, or venture to Chinatown for a dizzying array of regional Chinese eateries. For a truly local experience, join the queue at Beigel Bake, a 24-hour Brick Lane institution that has been serving up delicious salt beef bagels since the 1970s.

If you prefer looking for the more unusual and interesting places to stay on your travels, you will probably want to eat out and tick off one of the newest or coolest eateries that Londoners are raving about. Whether you’re after a fancy restaurant or a local ‘greasy spoon cafe’ for a traditional British fry-up, the Regency cafe in Westminster gets a few mentions as does Heap’s Sausages in Greenwich and The Breakfast Club in Wandsworth, south of the River.


Caribbean jerk chicken for sale during Notting Hill Carnival

If you’re after a thriving street food scene, time your trip to London with the Notting Hill Carnival or head to the iconic Borough Market and sample an array of tasty treats from far and wide. London has loads of amazing street food markets, pop-ups and stalls in a number of neighbourhoods across the capital. Finding something you love won’t be hard, from Persian cuisine in the East End to dirty burgers and Colombian fusion tacos in Covent Garden. Street Feast, meanwhile, is a tasty rotating lineup of food stalls hosted in various locations across the capital.

For a truly unique dining experience, London has incredible secret dinner clubs, too that operate out of private homes for intimate dining experiences. In any way, whether you’re seeking Michelin-starred fare or local surprises, London’s culinary landscape offers a tantalising assortment of flavours and experiences to suit every taste and budget.

 

London offers a wealth of unique experiences and attractions for an unforgettable trip. With a glimpse at some of the best hidden gems to discover in London, there are many other magical spots to discover all over England so why not extend your trip and make it a staycation? Make sure to get in touch with our concierge team for advice and help booking any special extras!

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