London is full of exciting things to do, but finding those can be a bit overwhelming. Through a series of trial and error, I think I found some of London’s hidden gems!
- Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Carnaby: I, for one, am a huge fan of the coffee culture here in the UK! Everywhere you turn, there is a café claiming they have the best coffee in London, but how true is that? The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is a quaint café that’s about a five minute walk from the Oxford Circus Tube stop. One of their most unique dishes is a lemon curd cruffin (croissant muffin) that was to die for! This paired with one of their iced lattes while reading a book at one of their outdoor tables really makes you feel like you’re living out your European dreams! Though it is in a pretty touristy area, it is hidden off of a cobblestone alleyway, so it keeps pretty quiet. In addition, they have free wifi and a nice ambiance that makes getting work done a whole lot easier.
- The Design Museum, Kensington: This pick is for those who are artists at heart! The Design Museum features iconic designs through recent history and covers all art-forms like writing and pottery. It even goes into how the London Underground logos were made. If you really want to feel like you’re the main character, go to the café inside and take a walk around the exhibits! The architecture of the museum is gorgeous and worth a few pictures in itself. Entrance is free for the permanent exhibits and it is open seven days a week. Escape the crowds at the British Museum and try the Design Museum, instead!
- Brick Lane Vintage Markets, London: Skip the crowds on Oxford Street and try out Brick Lane! This is one of the biggest vintage markets in London and has a bit of everything. While I was there, I saw a lot of American college shirts as well as old racing jackets. You could spend hours in this market! Brick Lane is also home to some of the best restaurants in London, with a variety of options. You could also take a visit to the financial district which is right nearby.
- St. Pancras, London: Almost everybody has heard of King’s Cross. You can see Harry Potter fans walking about and loads of tourists trying to navigate their way through the crowds of the Underground. But, if you walk just across the street, you’ll come across St. Pancras station. I suggest going to the front of the station, which is now a hotel, and admiring the architecture. It truly feels like something out of a movie! Once you go inside, you will see an area for high tea and a nice bar (plus it is one of the only places that has air conditioning). This is also home of the famous staircase, just take a left at the entrance and you’ll see it in all its glory! You can also enter the station where the Eurostar is. There are often people playing the piano and a row of cute boutiques and markets. Maybe, if you’re feeling adventurous, plan a trip to Paris at the station!
- The Blues Kitchen, Camden: If you are a fan of Jazz and American food, this is the place for you! This restaurant feels like you are stepping right into New Orleans with its charming ambiance and amazing food. They also host a series of live concerts with local artists and all you can eat wing nights on Wednesdays. They have multiple locations across the London area, but I particularly enjoyed the one in Camden. There’s space to sit and eat or a large area to dance to the music. Just be prepared to stay here for a while!
- Sketch, London: Well, this is not a hidden gem necessarily, but it is certainly worth the hype! Sketch offers a five-course meal in an art gallery, with about ten custom teas you can choose from. The menu is set, so you just sit down and they start bringing out food. Accompanying your meal is a string quartet playing classical versions of popular music and bottles of champagne being popped around the restaurant. The food was incredible and the tea was even better! The staff were very polite and helped us understand the menu as it was a little difficult to understand if you have never been to tea before. The whole meal took about two hours which allowed time to talk with friends and savor your time in the gallery! Sketch is the most expensive option on this list, so research the menu ahead of time! Reservations for afternoon tea at Sketch are a hot commodity, so be sure to plan ahead if you are interested.
While London is quite popular in the summertime, there are many areas that are less crowded and have the best local charm. If you plan on coming to London any time soon, try to shop local and explore places that aren’t typically visited because these are places that you can make the best memories!