There really is no place like London! The big capital of our tiny Island, full of fun experiences and adventurous days out. Of course there are plenty of tourist attractions within London; you have Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Big Ben…even the Houses of Parliament. If there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that London has no shortage of hot-spots!
But what about the hidden gems? Places that are a little less obvious, less crowded and completely unique. If you’re looking to get away from the traditional touristy sights, here’s a little rundown of the top 6 hidden gems you must visit in the big city.
1. Leadenhall Market -
This ornate Victorian marketplace was the setting for Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter films.
Located in the historic centre of London’s financial district is the Victorian market known as one of the oldest markets in London. With an ornate 19th-Century painted roof and cobbled floors, this market is a rather magical place as it played a starring role in the Harry Potter films.
The marketplace was featured a few times in the Harry Potter series as it was the film location for some of the original exterior shots of Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students can stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands.
Transport yourself to the wizarding world by wandering down this beautiful marketplace…just be sure to conceal your magical abilities from any surrounding Muggles!
2. The Ruins of St. Dunstan-in-the-East -
One of the few remaining casualties of the London Blitz, this destroyed church has become an enchanting public garden.
Hidden away on a secluded side street, you’ll find the Church of St. Dunstan-in-the-East, which has survived a lot within its 900-year long history, including the Great Fire of London and the devastating Blitz of WW2.
Though its history has caused great damage to the church, you’ll find an amazing beauty within its ruins. Overgrown with trees, ivy, and wall climbing flowers growing amongst the ruined arches, it’s a poignant living memorial to the horrors of the Blitz and a testament to the resilience of the City of London which survived it.
3. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History -
This shop and gallery is a modern-day cabinet of curiosities.
Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors, or the Last Tuesday Society Shop as it’s more commonly known, is a 21st century take on the classic Victorian cabinet of curiosities. Located in East London, this shop is dedicated to exploring and furthering the obscure, literary and artistic aspects of life in London and beyond.
Full of taxidermied specimens, skeletons, erotics, modern art and books, you’ll get a glimpse of everything! The shop’s manager, Vadim Kosmos, says: “Curiosity shops provide a sense of wonder. You can look anything up on the internet these days, but you can’t touch it.”
So if you’re looking for something a little different, and perhaps even eerie, you might want to pop in.
In West London’s Holland Park, you’ll find a beautiful Japanese garden which was gifted to the British by the city of Kyoto in 1991 to celebrate the longstanding friendship between England and Japan.
Designed by renowned Japanese landscape architects, this stunning green space is marked by a large pond featuring a tiered waterfall. Surrounded by colourful plants and shrubs, with a small bridge that crosses over the water, this is the perfect place to release any unwanted anxieties.
It’s difficult not to get lost in the beauty of the cherry blossom trees, particularly in the Spring/Autumn months when there is a rich golden red colour casting over the garden. Let’s just say, it would be the perfect place for some stunning photography!
5. The Attendant, Fitzrovia -
Drink your espresso at a Victorian-era urinal in this underground-restroom-turned-coffee-bar.
When choosing a quirky place to eat, it doesn’t get better than this! These ornate, underground urinals once served the Vistorian gentlemen of London…yes, urinals. Walk down the stairs to take your seat at one of the full size, porcelain urinals and sip your coffee among the most elite, historical toilets in Fitzrovia.
Originally built in the 1890s, these public toilets were closed in the 1960s. They sat boarded up for over 50 years before being reimagined as an upscale coffee bar. They serve diners espresso, flat whites, and amazing breakfast!
6. Barbican Conservatory -
This hidden green space is the city's second largest conservatory.
Image Source: My daughter Jess (she certainly enjoyed her visit to the conservatory!)
If lush greenery is your thing, skip Kew Gardens and take a trip to the Barbican Conservatory. Above the Barbican’s main theatre, sits a secret two-story conservatory which is home to over 1,500 species of plants.
Opened in 1982 and was expected to be a major visitor attraction for Londoners, though due to some mismanagement, it’s not turned into a somewhat hidden gem as it’s only open on selected dates and times.
There are two main houses within the conservatory; the larger is the tropical house, containing palms, exotic shrubs, fruit trees, and an impressive collection of chilli plants in one corner. The other is a desert-like house filled with cacti and succulents.
End your visit by popping by the cafe, which serves a luxurious afternoon tea. There are also two fish ponds, filled with colourful koi carp and a terrapin pool perched on a ledge by the arid house. All in all, a lovely way to spend a day in London.
And there we have it, six of our favourite hidden gems you’ll find in London, UK. Let us know if you end up hitting any of these spots!
While you’re here, why not browse our collections and gift yourself or a loved one a British souvenir. We have a range of collections depicting the beautiful cities of England from London, York, Durham, Newcastle and more, we’ve got it covered!
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