If you have your wanderlust squarely directed at London, you may well have such perennial favourites as Big Ben, Covent Garden, Buckingham Palace and the London eye in your crosshairs. These are all iconic images of England’s capital and staples of the tourist industry to be sure but for the traveller who yearns to get a genuine feel for their destination, they may leave some cold (much like the famously grey and drizzly British weather).
Cheap flights to London are easy to come by and the dollar to pound exchange rate is particularly favourable to overseas tourists looking for a slice of quintessentially English charm served with a pot of tea and a smile.
So having saved some money on flights, you can spend a little longer scratching the surface and seeking out some of the less obvious gems that make this city one of the most celebrated destinations in the world.
Hyde park will no doubt be on your guidebook, but Holland Park offers a far more diverse and idiosyncratic brush with nature. Nestled in the Mary Poppins-esque borough of Kensington, Holland Park is a wonderland of winding paths and stately woodland where you’re more likely to encounter strutting peacocks than other tourists.
It boasts a wonderful array of birds, insects and animals and even contains its own Japanese garden, orangery and opera house.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street
Famously there was no 221b Baker Street at the time of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing, but fortunately for devotees to The Great Detective, but the street was later extended and up until 1990 was actually an Abbey National Building Society. In 1990 the building was lovingly converted to match the descriptions of the famous flat as written by Conan Doyle.
The tour typically lasts around 45 minutes and the museum boasts an extensive gift shop where Holmes fans can pick up an enormous range of books, DVDs and merchandise based on the iconic sleuth.
If there’s one thing Londoners appreciate, it’s a sense of theatricality. And that extends way beyond what you’ll see in The West End.
The city also boasts legitimate speakeasies, such as the Evans and Peel detective agency; a 1920s themed private investigator who may decide to take your case and let you through the hidden door in his bookshelf to his rumpus room for some contraband liquor.
Just… Don’t tell them we sent you.
Pie and Mash shops
Most Brits love their fish and chips but pie and mash is an inveterately cockney combo!
The humble pie and mash shop is a quintessential part of London’s history and culture and they range from the cheap ’n’ cheerful to the dauntingly high concept. If you’re feeling particularly brave, try some of the infamous London delicacy, jellied eels.
Close to the famous Camden lock lies a bustling canalside hub akin to that of the famous Italian city. Here you’ll find a diverse range of waterside restaurants and bars along with a friendly, jovial atmosphere that really comes alive in the summer.