There are great world cities, from classical capitals to modern metropolises, and then there’s London – the yardstick by which other cities are measured. It has the most astonishing ability to reinvent itself, always staying one step ahead of the pack, a magnet for creatives – be they writers or artists, designers or thinkers – and a melting pot of cultures from around the globe. New York may be hip, Paris may be chic, but London is surely the Capital of Cool.In creating this book we decided that the best way to illustrate London’s cool credentials was to illustrate the very best that the city has to offer across a wide range of interests. Some names are instantly recognisable – from the British Museum to the Shard – while others may surprise, and all are among the very best that London offers – and, by definition, among the very best in the world. We trust that you’ll enjoy exploring them and that you’ll agree that London – at its best – is truly unbeatable.
Whether you’re seeking a place to recharge your batteries, rest your head, revive your spirits, restock your larder or refuel your body; somewhere to inspire, soothe or uplift your mood; or you just wish to discover a part of London that’s a few steps further off the beaten track, London’s Secrets: Peaceful Places guide will steer you in the right direction.
London’s Secret Walks is a walking book with a difference. Take to illogical from a to b and experience London’s hidden streets and unknown foot-paths. Escape the rush and enjoy the walk through Englands’ capital.
Two Things To Do Every Day of the Year
A Year in London is an exhaustive guide to 365 days in the most exciting, inspiring, beguiling, engaging city in the world! London is a vast, sprawling collage of a city that’s like no other, with so much to thrill, fascinate, divert and intrigue you. What began as a Roman trading port 2,000 years ago has swallowed up a thousand villages, hamlets and settlements, and now covers an area of more than 600 square miles with a population of over 8 million. London wasn’t planned as a grand design but evolved piecemeal over many centuries to become what it is today: a chaotic and haphazard ever-changing metropolis with a wealth of attractions, both ancient and modern.
London is a world leader in many fields, including architecture, art, business, design, fashion, film, gastronomy, music, publishing, shopping, sport, theatre, television and much more. It’s also (officially) the world’s most cosmopolitan and racially diverse city, which adds immeasurably to its cultural and culinary wealth (in London you can literally eat your way around the world). Its social scene is a lot like the city itself – vibrant, diverse and in a constant state of flux – blending traditional and cutting-edge, world-class and run-of-the-mill, brilliant and bizarre, grimy and glorious. Above all, London is a cool city that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
London is also the world’s leading tourist destination – attracting over 30 million visitors a year – with more world-class attractions than any other city: fascinating museums and galleries; beautiful parks and gardens; majestic palaces and grand houses; superb restaurants and bars; innovative theatre, cinema and comedy; pioneering music and dance; and much more. While A Year in London doesn’t neglect the star attractions, it also takes you off the beaten track to many lesser-known but no less worthy places – the ‘secret’ hidden corners beloved by long-time Londoners.
Whether your idea of a good time is a stroll around an art gallery or a frenzied dance at a hip nightspot, an evening at the theatre or a night in a pub downing pints of real ale, you’ll find it in London. Whether you’re nine or 90, a drinker or a thinker, gay or straight, night owl or early bird – you’ll never lack things to do in this charismatic capital! From refined to hair-raising, laid-back to frantic, arty to artless, we’ve included activities that will add a bit of spice to anyone’s life.
The variety and number of leisure opportunities in London is boundless – conservative estimates put it at over 1,500 events every week! – and A Year in London can only provide a snapshot of the possibilities. Nevertheless, we’ve included something for everyone – singles and couples, families and kids, the young and young at heart, and everyone in between. There are two suggestions for every day of the year – contrasting or complementary – adding up to around 750 activities, so there’s no shortage of inspiration.
As the great man of letters Samuel Johnson famously said, ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford’, a sentiment that’s even more relevant today than when Johnson voiced it in 1777. In London there’s always something new, unexpected or unexplored to capture your imagination and fire your enthusiasm.
So when you’re seeking something to prise you off the sofa on a Sunday afternoon or a diversion to keep the kids amused, entertaining an out-of-town friend or trying to impress a special date, you’re bound to find something interesting to do in London. All you need is a sense of adventure, an open mind – and this book!
The inspiration for this book was the advice of the great Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), who was something of an expert on London, to his friend and biographer James Boswell on the occasion of his trip to London in the 18th century, to ‘survey its innumerable little lane and courts’. In the 21st century these are less numerous than in Dr Johnson’s time, so we’ve extended his brief to include alleys, squares and yards, along with a number of mews, roads, streets and gardens.
Entries range from ancient history-soaked alleys and lanes in the City – where you half expect to bump into one of Charles Dickens’s characters or even the author himself – to smart, pastel-painted mews in Chelsea originally built to house horses and carriages (now home to multi-millionaires); and from unexpected oases of Georgian elegance in traffi c-plagued central London to tranquil Kensington squares, where you can hear birdsong and almost smell the scent of money on the breeze.
This book is a celebration of London’s ever-increasing wealth of excellent independent cafés, coffee shops and tearooms – as well as places specialising in afternoon tea, breakfast and brunch ? all of which have enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade and done much to strengthen the city’s position as one of the world’s leading foodie destinations.
The number and variety of independent cafés in London has flourished in recent years, and if the city didn’t have a café culture a few decades ago, it certainly does now. The quality and variety of food and drink served in cafés has improved beyond recognition in the past ten years, and is now on a par with (or better) than that of many restaurants – and the bill is invariably much lower. In fact, if you want to have a good lunch (or, increasingly, dinner) in London and don’t want to pay a fortune, a café is often your best bet.
Coffee sales in Britain have grown rapidly in the last decade or so, as has the number of coffee shops.
London Best-Kept Secrets brings together the ‘greatest hits’ from our London’s Secrets series. We take you off the beaten tourist path to seek out the more unusual (‘hidden’) places that often fail to register on the radar of both visitors and residents alike. Nimbly sidestepping the chaos and queues of London’s tourist-clogged attractions, we visit its quirkier – but no less fascinating – side.
London Best-Kept Secrets takes in some of the city’s loveliest hidden gardens and parks, absorbing and poignant museums, great art and architecture, beautiful ancient buildings, magnificent Victorian cemeteries, historic pubs, fascinating markets and much more. Entries range from the enchanting Hill Garden to the magical canals of Little Venice, from the home of Britain’s greatest naturalist to atmospheric Dennis Severs House, from the moving Foundling Museum to the spiritual home of Big Ben, the splendour of some of Wren’s greatest churches.