The capitol of the UK is one of the hottest and most visited cities in the world, attracting some 15.3 million tourists each year. And it’s no wonder, really. There’s is no shortage of tourists attractions: Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch, Big Ben, the iconic red double-decker bus and these are the obvious ones. There are plenty more famous places to visit in London, and frankly were you to try to experience each of these, you’d need a whole more time than a one-off weekend.
What about Londoners, though? Where do they love to spend their weekends, what are their hidden gems? Of course, any Londoner will tell you how they cherish and appreciate London Bridge or the Big Ben, but at the same time they’ll tell you there’s nothing new for them, and moreover these places are absolutely too packed with tourists, making them feel uncomfortable. This holds true for any local that lives in a highly popular tourist attracting city. If you’ve been to London before and would now like to try something truly different, or just as well if this is your first trip to the kingdom’s seat of power and take little interest in the popular/hip places everyone flocks to, here are five places you can meet Londoners in their natural habitat.
White terraced Georgian and Edwardian townhouses can be seen all through out this marvelous residential district, which many Londoners love to visit. It’s no secret why either. This lovely district is simply a pleasure to take a stroll through, be it through the affluent streets which still preserve some of the most charming architecture London has to offer, or through the neatly kept gardens and green open spaces available at every corner. Marylebone (pronounced mar-le-bone) is also where you can go for some fine quality shopping right on Marylebone High Street, a place packed with charming boutiques and fine dinning restaurants.
Inns of Court
Step inside the real-life Hogwarts, located right in the heart of London. It’s really easy for first time visitors to miss the Middle Temple, one of the four remaining Inns of Court, a place where since the 14th century all of Britain’s barristers have had their training. Today, judges and barristers still work, study and sometimes live in these enchanted precincts. Once you step through the small, and well hidden for that matter, arched entrance of the Middle Temple, you might get the chance to explore a time capsule: the Elizabethan banqueting house, Middle Temple Hall. This is for the connoisseurs, not to be missed!
Elderly Londoners will tell you that the vestiges of the last world that touched their city at the hand of Germany shaped London as it today a great dell. What they might not tell you is that German influence on the city was well rooted before that time. In 1728, Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach, the German-born wife of King George II, commissioned works to the southern swath of Hyde Park — later redesignated Kensington Gardens — creating the Serpentine, an artificial lake, and landscaping the surrounding lawns and walkways. This has always been a favored place by those of royalty, and its most famous fan is Princess Diana. As a matter of fact, the Kensington Gardens are studded with shrines to the late princess.
Smithfield Pub Crawl
Londoners, like most UK citizens, are known all over the world for their affinity for barley brews. It’s surprising however that London isn’t a 24-hour pubbing city, far from it actually. If you find yourself strolling along at 2 AM looking for a fine place to have a pint, you might find yourself in misfortune. Alcohol licensing were relaxed sometime in 2003, but finding late-night drinking places in London is still a challenge. Now in Smithfield, however. Here many of the pubs and cafes in the neighborhood open early, starting from 4 AM. Smithfield is home to a historic meat market which has been operating from 4 AM to noon since victorian times, and as such pubs and venues in the area had to accommodate to this time frame.
There are many charming and extraordinary pubs in the area, like the 18th century Ye Olde Mitre or the Cellar Gascon bar and Comptoir Gascon restaurant, where you can sample some of the best wines southwestern France has to offer. If you’d like to rest and eat well, right nearby is the Club Gascon, which has bagged a Michelin star for its exceptional cooking.
Barfly and Roundhouse
After all this site seeing, pubbing and culture, it’s time for a bit of genuine fun, right? Music and dancing might fit your bill if this sounds like your idea of fun and the Barfly is a definite to try. Located above a pub in Camden, don’t let the fact that it’s tiny fool you. Yes, some of you who might be claustrophobic might not find themselves at ease, seeing how the venue caters to moshing regularly, but even so you won’t be disappointed in quality. The stage inside the club is usually reserved to up and coming bands; the bands you’ve never really heard about ,but will so in soon enough. This is the place where bands like Oasis, Coldplay, Blur or the Young Knives launch themselves atop the world podium. Across the road, the Roundhouse shows it knows the meaning of eclectic, with a program that includes big-name musicians, left-field comedians and even circus acts, in a converted 19th-century steam-engine repair shed.
These are just a few locations Londoners love to visit regularly and where you won’t get to hear more than 10 languages spoken. If you’re in London this weekend, try hitting one or as many for that matter of these recommendations and maybe return with some feedback on this post. By the way, if you’re still having finding low cost hotels in London if your weekend stay, visit the link for some insight. Cheers!