Secrets of London: discovering new surprising places

Inspiration

A treasure town that hides many unusual corners like jewels between the busiest streets of the City or that can be experienced far from the chaotic city context, breathing in unique and exclusive deep emotions.
By Sara Chiarelli
FPJ Communication & PR Manager

Voted one of the most exciting cities in the world, London is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. During the period before Christmas, then, the English capital is from always one of the most popular destinations especially for the glittering and majestic decorations of which colors and enriches the city. Any tourist who gets on a plane or private jet to visit London for the first time is aware that there are some places whose visit is a must: Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Westminster, London Bridge and the most important ones London museums.

Yet, the capital of the other side of the Channel is not reduced only to this. London is a city extraordinary, always able to amaze not only with its iconic attractions ofindisputable beauty, but also with small hidden, secret, unpublished, out of the way places classic tourist circuits. The city holds some wonderful places, unfortunately not very well known, often overlooked by visitors but, for those who know how to look carefully, the city can offer much more varied and unexpected travel routes, perfect for those who don't they want to go with the flow.

To discover real jewels, it is sometimes necessary to move away from the center a little, while other times it is enough to sharpen your eyes while walking the streets more traffic of the City.

The English capital therefore offers many new but equally enchanting proposals.

1. Leighton House Museum

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Great Britain experienced one of the longest periods serene and productive in the history of the country. However, he was not the only one. Indeed, too the nineteenth century gave London, and all of England, priceless wonders from an artistic and architectural point of view. A little known place but one that gives amazement and admiration is certainly the house-museum where the artist Lord Frederic lived Leighton, located in the prestigious district of Kensington. It is a dwelling imposing and majestic, in which the English nobleman housed the intellectual personalities and cultural highlights of Victorian society, but even sometimes even opened the doors to ordinary people to show the world all its magnificence. Inside, the golden Arabic Hall stands out - inspired by the Arab-Norman palace della Zisa, in the province of Palermo, which was decorated with 600 different majolica from Damascus and with mosaics, gold and precious carpets, as well as hosting one at its center fountain. Exploring the house you can also admire works by Tintoretto, finely worked columns and sculptures of different features. The element perhaps more particular, and which arouses curiosity and deep interest, is the entire room dedicated to silk.

2. St. Dunstan in the East
The second stop is also of a historical nature and must be visited if you wish see a new London: St. Dunstan in the East, a hidden church, built in 1100, struck by a fire in 1666 and bombed during the Second World War World. In 1971 its ruins were transformed into a fascinating and magical public garden that still today with its magical and fairytale atmosphere enchants i lucky visitors who decide to include it in their itinerary.

3. Sherlock Holmes Museum

Another mysterious place that arouses curiosity to lovers of detective novels is the Museum of Sherlock Holmes, on three floors, of which the famous studio is located on the first of the investigator equipped with all the tools used to solve his cases. On the second, instead, are the rooms of Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Finally, on the third floor it is possible to see some of the most important scenes from novels, made with wax models.

4. Kyoto Garden

Another wonder to be discovered in the heart of London is The Kyoto Garden, the Japanese garden, in Holland Park. This enchanted garden, where peace and tranquility reigns, immediately refers to a fairytale way with its many inhabitants as in the best fairy tales for children: squirrels, peacocks, ducks, fish and foxes. The Kyoto Japanese Garden is in fact a real hidden gem in the elegant Kensington neighborhood. Between luxury shops and exclusive restaurants, you can find a small oasis of tranquility. This beautiful park has many secret corners, with winding paths, statues, an opera house and an orangery. Built on the occasion of the Japan Festival held in London in 1992, all the elements that compose it have been designed to best reflect traditional Japanese gardens.

5. Little Venice

Little Venice, as the name suggests, is London's answer to the famous Italian city: Venice. Surrounded by several riverside cafes, pubs and restaurants, the area comes to life especially in the summer months, when Londoners like to travel aboard barges or are used to stroll along the riverside to reach nearby Camden or Regent's Park.

This corner of London north of Paddington, although devoid of the famous Rialto Bridge or the historic Piazza di San Marco, is in some ways very similar to the much envied Italian city. Crossroads of canals crossed by colorful boats, this neighborhood is much loved by those who visit it; each boat in fact hides a pub or a restaurant inside, to drink in the company of friends while being gently rocked by the waters below.

 

6. La stazione di Aldwych/Strand

Opened in 1907, and once known as the Strand, the ghost station of the Aldwych metro was closed in the 1990s. It is famous for having constituted part of the set of numerous films including 28 Weeks Later, Power Games and V for vengeance. For those who want to experience a truly metropolitan adventure, of discovery of the most secret London, visiting a fascinating and truly unusual place, the Aldwych station in Strand is certainly the place to be. Going underground, you can still admire the original ticket office, complete with booking offices and signs and, immediately opposite, one series of wooden telephone boxes from the 1930s. The lift cabins too are original, and feature a notched frame and Art-style ventilation grilles Nouveau. The station was also used as a hiding place for some treasures from the British Museum, including the Parthenon Marbles. It is also possible to see a train from 1972, well preserved and fully operational which still stands still on one of the tracks. A truly suggestive place where it seems to be projected back in time, in a past London and perhaps even more charming.

 

7. Vertical Chill

Another completely new activity that London offers without having to travel to the mountains far away, is ice climbing. Vertical Chill, in fact, allows you to live this experience without leaving the English capital. Once provided the clothing and equipment needed to climb ice walls, with help of qualified instructors, visitors to the place will experience a unique emotion and exclusive.

 

8. The Highgate Cemetery

Another very suggestive area, and perhaps at times gloomy and disturbing, is that of the cemetery by Highgate. Burial place of many famous people, including Karl Marx, is known as one of the most haunted places in London. Over time they occurred mysterious apparitions and disturbing facts and today the cemetery is famous above all for the story of the Highgate Vampire. In 1862 the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti buried here his wife Elizabeth Siddal together with a book of poems dedicated to her. Seven years later the body was exhumed and the body appeared perfectly intact, with his long and beautiful red hair. Thus was born the legend of the vampire. From that moment many witnesses speak of strange apparitions and attacks a damage of visitors. A real fun for lovers of the occult and the horror movie.

 

9. Dennis Severs' House

Another completely eccentric and unique attraction of its kind is that offered by Dennis Severs' House. Here visitors are welcome to explore the old house of the artist, who still appears fully lived today. Once inside, in fact, the interiors are set up as if they had just been left by an eighteenth-century family century: intact dishes and unmade beds are just some of the components that make it incredible this place. The Dennis Severs' House is certainly one of the experiences more original and engaging than the English capital.

 

10. Neasden Temple

London is also the city that is home to unique monuments and architectural wonders of their kind. Among these, one cannot fail to mention an extraordinary masterpiece: the Neasden temple, the largest Hindu temple outside India. Located in the Brent district, and inaugurated in 2010, this place of worship was built according to the dictates of Śilpa Śāstra, the complex of Hindu texts it dictates architectural rules, and is made of marble from Carrara and the Bulgaria, then worked in India and assembled in the British capital. From a point of structural view, the place of worship is majestic and vast, so much so that it is more appropriate to speak of a religious complex instead of a temple. Once you cross the thresholds of the Neasden, inside there are areas used for different activities that range from various types of shops, to large spaces to celebrate several holidays passing by a permanent exhibition on the history of Hinduism until to arrive at eleven actual temples. Supported by 210 pillars, all finely decorated with engravings showing the stories of the Hindu scriptures, it is open to anyone who wishes to visit it. Only rule: don't wear the shoes.

 

11. Neal’s Yard

Walking through the streets of Covent Garden you can find places with a soul vibrant in which you can breathe joy and serenity. Among these, the Neal's Yard is unmissable: one colorful square in the heart of London. This hidden place recedes completely from the common imagination of the gray days of the English capital. Also delightful are the various natural and health products shops located in this one square, in addition to the numerous vegan restaurants. A must see.

 

12. St Katharine’s Dock

In the area next to Tower Bridge there is a completely unique place where it seems to be a long way from the hustle and bustle of the busy city of London: St Katharine's Dock, a small port of the River Thames belonging to the 19th century. In this curious place of a completely new London you can relax in the sun in one of the many cafes or have fun shopping by choosing from the various luxury shops around the port. The Dickens Inn tavern is also located in this area, an old factory of beer dating back to the eighteenth century, already popular at that time by traders who they passed through the port.

 

13. Leadenhall Market

Gracechurch Street is home to a historic 14th century London market and that in ancient times it was a Roman market in the center of the city, until the great fire of 1666 occurred. Still today it is without doubt one of the the most important and oldest markets in London, not to mention this fascinating place some scenes of the Harry Potter movie were shot.

 

14. Richmond Park

Not far from the City, London counts among the numerous London boroughs, namely London boroughs, including Richmond which, although at first glance it may appear one quiet and charming town, it is in effect one of the many districts of the capital. It is here, a few steps from the main attractions of the city, that under the weeping willows, yes rediscover the serenity of a walk along the Thames, breathing deeply the fresh and clean air typically sought after on trips out of town.

 

Famous for Sunday brunch, there are the Petersham Nurseries, where in addition to be able to buy a wide selection of gardening items, plants and furnishings for interiors in Provencal style, it is possible to access both a restaurant and a Tea House, both set within real enchanting greenhouses.

 

In particular, for those wishing a fleeting lunch, it is the latter to offer a rich brunch based on soups, quiches and sweet and savory dishes from the ingredients of typically English season but with multiethnic flavors, accompanying everything with a large choice of English teas. Inside these windows, heated by the sun and immersed in the plants and flowers, you can breathe a fairytale atmosphere. Crossing, then, huge expanses of grass, between dogs that chase each other and families in bicycle, you enter one of the most magical places in London. In fact, if you are in Richmond, a snack in the hills is a must, at Pembroke Lodge, villa Georgiana which also hosted Garibaldi and Charles Dickens and located in the heart of Richmond Park. In addition to being a perfect location for weddings, Pembroke Lodge offers the chance to relax with hot tea and scones, Scottish delicatessen, served with clotted cream and honey jam or Lemon Curd. The real wealth of this place, however, is the opportunity to be able to savor these culinary traditions on the Belvedere terrace, which in addition to guarantee a breathtaking view over the Thames Valley, offers one of the most spectacular sunsets in London.

 

You can return to the residential area of Richmond by crossing one of the areas more suggestive than Richmond Park, where it is possible among shrubs and bushes dyed red see squirrels and majestic deer, which, wandering freely around the park, can even approach a few meters away from the man, arousing an emotion unique and unforgettable for all nature lovers. The fauna and flora of the area, moreover, are decidedly varied, so much so that include some rare species. Part of the British Royal Parks, with its 9.55 square kilometers, Richmond is the largest urban park fenced in Europe.

Away from traffic and the chaotic city context, which not far away offers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, in a context enchanting and exciting in one of its most evocative villages.

15. St Pancras station

Can a place created for the movement of citizens by rail become a jewel architectural? This is what happened at St Pancras station. A dream become reality. In fact, if until the early 2000s St Pancras was a refuge for homeless, today his identity is very different. The turning point of the station took place in 2007, when St Pancras, an international stopover, saw the the realization of an important restoration of the hotel built inside: the Renaissance. In addition to counting 5 stars, the property boasts an interior design enchanting thanks to the work already carried out in the nineteenth century by the architect George Gilbert Scott. Specializing in ecclesiastical structures, in fact, Scott designed the whole structure, idealizing it as a sort of secular cathedral: it is not surprising hence the majesty of this kind of stronghold with the typical architectural elements of the Gothic style.


 

Reaching the tracks, moreover, to camp on the many trains arriving and departing, is located the fascinating monument The Meeting Place, better known as the "Statue of lovers", created by Paul Day, while a little further on you can appreciate it a bronze tribute to Sir John Betjeman, the man who saved the station over the years Sixty. Moreover, in the nearby King's Cross airport, for those who love the cinema and fantasy literature, there is a completely new corner that pays homage to Harry Potter; here you can look for platform 9 and three quarters and queue up a bit to get there own photo while imitating the famous wizard and trying to leave for Hogwarts crossing the station wall.

16. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

London is a multi-faceted city and someone who has been there at least once in their life he knows that the English capital is not only identified with hard work and pubs. There are many green corners that give the city a breath of fresh air. Between these include the Kew Botanical Gardens. Founded by Princess Augusta of Saxony- Gotha-Altenburg in the eighteenth century - now a UNESCO World Heritage Site - are a real own oasis for nature lovers. Once inside it is easy to get lost among the rare plants kept inside.

 

The gardens currently house some forty buildings, including many greenhouses (7 in all) with plants from all over the world: Africa, islands of the Indian Ocean, America and Asia. In addition to the beauty of the flora, visitors have the opportunity to even contemplate a Japanese pagoda up close or take a stroll in empty at 18 meters high, the so-called Treetop Walkway, to admire the picture gallery "Marianne North Gallery" with more than 800 paintings and finally to relax while admiring an innumerable series of statues and fountains, which make Kew Gardens a kind of heaven on earth.

 

17. Eel Pie Island 

In the lush London borough of Richmond, there is a place on the bank of the Thames in which the most famous rock stars in history have performed, such as the Rolling Stones or David Bowie: Eel Pie Island. It is certainly a must among the unusual things to do at London. Although the historic hotel that hosted them is now closed, it is still possible visit the "Eel Pie Island Museum" to experience the atmosphere of those years at 360 °.

 

18.  The Thames Path

The Thames is home to many London treasures, many of which are not hidden; however the Thames Path, 64 km long, has many new and peaceful spots to be discovered. The best way to explore it is by renting a bike and cycling along the path to be able to see the surrounding environment in all its beauty. Passing through some public beaches make a stop in one of Charles's favorite pubs Dickens, The Prospect of Whitby, and at the small village of Rotherhithe, among the places more beautiful to discover.

 

19. Chelsea Physic Garden

This quiet green area, often forgotten by both Londoners and tourists alike, represents a place of incredible charm. A walled space next to the Thames, the Chelsea Physic Garden, created in 1673, is the oldest botanical garden in London, with about 5,000 edible, medicinal and historical plants.

 

20. The Rolling Bridge

The Rolling Bridge, letteralmente “il ponte che si arrotola”, si trova a Westminster. Si tratta di uno dei ponti più originali del mondo, disegnato da Thomas Heatherwick. Per poterlo osservare nel momento più sorprendente lo si deve visitare il venerdì a mezzogiorno, quando inizia ad arrotolarsi automaticamente.

 

21. I nasi e le orecchie di Soho

There is a legend that in the prosperous neighborhood of Soho, in different corners hidden, 7 noses are hidden that once identified would be a good omen for what concerns the money. These noses were created by the sculptor Rick Buckley as a protest at the proliferation of surveillance cameras in London. Together with these peculiar sculptures can be found on the streets of London even the ears created by artist Tim Fishlock.

 

In London, the cosmopolitan European capital par excellence, there are also completely new clubs and unusual places where you can devote yourself to fun and relaxation are not lacking. Among the most unusual can be mentioned:

22. Evans & Peel Detective Agency

At Earl's Court, this charming bar with a full 1920s atmosphere is presented like a detective agency, where adrenaline is guaranteed.

 

23. Alcotraz

Another spectacular place is the Alcotraz, the first prison bar in London. One time upon entering you can wear the famous orange prisoners' uniforms and become for one evening real inmates for a few hours. It certainly remains one of the more bizarre activities that can be experienced in the English capital.

 

24. Sky Garden

Much more moderate and sophisticated is the Sky Garden, located in the attic of one of the most famous skyscrapers of the London skyline, which with its large windows and the its panoramic terrace offers an exciting view of the entire city.

 

25. Ladies and Gentlemen

Another of the unusual things to do in London is enjoying a cocktail in the Ladies and Gentlemen bar. Being in the old public bath of the city sipping a good cocktail is certainly a unique experience of its kind.

 

26. Lokal Sketch

Born from the inspiration of Mourad Momo Marzouz, Sketch in London represents one stop not only for lovers of 2-star Michelin food, but also for those wants to live a 360-degree artistic and sensory experience. There are indeed millions of bars in London where you can be surprised by eccentric services and concepts amazing, however, this place hides a real art gallery to yours interior, including the bathrooms, one of the most instagrammable places in the metropolis since Golden Heart. This bar offers the opportunity to experience a journey dedicated to food, art, design, music and mixology. Inside, in one of the rooms you can admire 245 works by David Shrigley, a Scottish artist who has covered entire walls with his creations. He also designed plates, cups and teapots in collaboration with a well-known English ceramic brand. In this bar you can taste exquisite dishes and at the same time enjoy this surprising design that gives the place a unique atmosphere. Recently included by Culture Trip in the list of must-see places from photographing in London boasts a very long series of illustrious appreciations and reviews by notable exponents of the design publishing world e of fashion. Already in 2002, a few days after the opening, the Telegraph had it called the most controversial venue in London.

 

There are five environments in Sketch, each conceived as a piece with one a very specific purpose within the puzzle that has food, art, music. Among these rooms the most surprising by far is The East Bar & Pods -Space Bar / Eggloos. It is a bathroom, but properly also the larger area photographed by Sketch. You are literally immersed in a pop environment, almost psychedelic, where the sanitary ware are encapsulated in gigantic eggs, with the birds chirping in the background and a ceiling studded with colorful rectangles in Plexiglas. It is located in the prestigious and luxurious Mayfair district of London.

 

27. Ballie Ballerson

For the eternal Peter Pan there is a unique place where the only goal is fun. The Ballie Ballerson, in fact, is a very unusual cocktail bar, a kind of playground for adults. Here you can be submerged by the colored balls while listening to house music and sipping delicious cocktails. On the other hand, it is located in Shoreditch, the neighborhood of London more eccentric and avant-garde by definition.

 

28. Leake Street Tunnel

Another secret gem kept in underground London is the Leake Street Tunnel. Self you are lucky enough to be able to find the entrance, once inside you can admire one street-art with a thousand kaleidoscopic shades, completely unique and spectacular. In the London underground the walls of this tunnel are completely submerged in graffiti. You can admire these masterpieces near the famous Waterloo station.

 

The English capital, in constant evolution, where progress and innovation are some of the fundamental elements of the British economy, it also hides secret corners, come on unpublished implications and from distant origins of ancient times. A city of a thousand facets, which always surprises. An unusual and hidden London, which is not boring never, and indeed that, always reserving new wonders and amazement, it is worth seeing at least once in a lifetime.


 

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