London's Hidden Gems
If you’ve just moved to London, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the sights. Big Ben, The Tower of London and the like are great for tourists, but seeing as this is your home for the next couple of years, why not explore off the beaten track a bit?
These seven beauties are well worth taking that extra tube stop or navigating a few side streets for.
Wilton’s Music Hall (E1 8JB)
Nestled in the heart of East End is Wilton’s Music Hall, the oldest surviving Grand Music Hall in the world.
The 300 year old site was terrace housing, then an alehouse serving Scandinavian sea captains, before being converted into a music hall by John Wilton in the 1850s. In its heyday it was kitted out with the finest mirrors, chandeliers and paintwork, and audiences were thrilled with top circus acts, music and comedy.
Tastes changed, and the music hall eventually closed its doors in 1881. After periods as a Methodist community hall and rag warehouse it fell into a tragic decline.
After 50 years of extensive restoration, Wilton’s is now back to its former glory. You can watch film screenings, plays and concerts, or soak up the history in its two excellent bars.
The Mayflower Pub (SE1 4NF)
Set on the bustling banks of the Thames in the Rotherhithe area, this 16th century pub is the place to go for that traditional English pub experience.
Its ancient wooden beams, quirky bric-a-brac and excellent selection of real ales make it a cosy haven from modern life. In the winter you can snuggle next to a roaring fire, whilst in summer the outside jetty offers one of the best waterside views in the area.
The pub’s namesake is the famous ship that took the first Protestant pilgrims over to America in 1620. Legend has it that the captain picked up passengers at this very pub (then The Shippe Inn) to avoid taxes.
Little Venice (W2 6NE)
Continuing the nautical theme, Little Venice just north of Paddington Station is another idyllic getaway in the heart of the city. Fondly named by the poet Robert Browning, this pretty area is where the Regent’s Canal and the Grand Union Canal meet.
Take a stroll along leafy tow paths, watch the colourfully painted narrow boats that coast up and down the canal, or sip a drink in one of the charming cafes. You can ride on a narrow boat yourself, with regular trips running to Regent’s Park, London Zoo and Camden Lock.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens (SE23 3PQ)
If you like your museums old-school, then the Horniman is definitely for you. Packed with curios in traditional glass cases, it’s an impressive and somewhat eccentric old place to while away an afternoon.
There’s bound to be something to interest you here. Skeletons, fossils and the famous overstuffed walrus await you in the natural history display, and tropical fish fill the aquarium. Art lovers will want to see the impressive African Worlds collection, whilst musicians can explore over 1,300 musical instruments in the interactive Music Gallery.
Don’t forget to take a look outside either. The museum is surrounded by 16 acres of landscaped gardens, with nature walks and activities aplenty.
St Dunstan in the East (EC3R 5DD)
If you’re ever in the area near London Bridge known as The City, you must seek out this beautiful oddity.
St Dunstan was built in 1100, with numerous changes and additions over the years. However, its recent history is what makes it so special. The church was damaged beyond repair during the Second World War, but new life was breathed into the ruins when it was transformed into a public park in 1971.
Today trees wind in and out of the windows, ivy tumbles down the walls, and benches circle the old font. It’s the perfect place for those seeking a moment of peace or contemplation.
The Princess Louise Pub (WC1V 7EP)
Named after the Queen’s fashionable auntie, The Princess Louise in Holborn is probably the most splendid place you can drink a pint in the whole of London.
From the outside it looks fairly unassuming, but step inside and you’ll find lashings of carved woodwork, elaborate tiles and gleaming mirrors. Dating back to 1891, this interior is unashamed Victorian whimsy.
Even the men’s toilets, featuring marble urinals and yet more fancy tile work, are officially protected for their historical interest! (Bad luck ladies- the women’s are modern and nothing to write home about).
The Princess Louise is run by the Samuel Smiths brewery, so you’ll find cheaper drinks here than in your average London pub. They also serve hearty traditional pub food.
Screen on the Green (N1 0NP)
With so many faceless multiplexes around, going to the cinema just isn’t as special as it once was. The magic lives on, however, at Screen of the Green in Islington.
This single screen venue has been open since 1913, making it one of the oldest cinemas in the country. Inside and out it’s soaked in retro charm, with Edwardian plaster work, plush seats and atmospheric lighting.
And the luxury doesn’t end there. Screen on the Green also offers waiter service, allowing you to order food and drinks from your seat, and premier sofas with footrests.
Unsurprisingly, tickets will cost you a couple of pounds more than in the Vue Cinema down the road, but it’s well worth it to experience a slice of silver screen glamour.
The Ideal Base for Exploring
If you want to really get to know the real London, Depot Point is the perfect accommodation for you. Close to three major railway stations and countless tube and bus stops, it provides a great base for exploring every nook and cranny of the city.
Keep an eye on our blog for more insider tips about the places to see London.