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Top Holidays

Hidden gems of London

  • Inspiration
  • By William Jarvis
  • Published 06 January 2018
  • Revised

Hidden gems of London

  • Inspiration
  • By William Jarvis
  • Published 06 January 2018
  • Revised

Hidden gems of London

  • Inspiration
  • By William Jarvis
  • Published 06 January 2018
  • Revised

With so many far-flung exotic locations to choose from around the world, it’s often easy to forget that we have one of the world’s top holiday destinations right on our doorstep. London is a treasure trove of the meek and the mild to the bold and the brash, with internationally acclaimed monuments and countless unique streets packed with life. Maybe you think London’s old news, that it’s all been done before, but Winged Boots is delving deep into the historic streets of our nation’s capital to find you the sights and sounds, smells and tastes of London that will show you a whole new side to the greatest city on Earth.

LeadenHall Market, City EC3

One of the oldest markets in London, Leadenhall has been touting its wares since at least the fourteenth century. With ornate Victorian neo-gothic architecture and a plethora of independent fresh food and flower stalls, this is certainly one for those who love their period dramas – entering Leadenhall feels like stepping back in time. As you browse the boutiques or relax in a café, be sure to take in the elegant glass and ironwork and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of this oasis of refinement in the heart of the city’s hubbub.

Nearest Tube Stop: Monument


Once a key component of the flourishing British Empire, St Katharine Docks are now a peaceful postscript of its former glory, providing leisure to tourists and locals alike. With plenty of restaurants and bars backing right onto the calm waters, St Katharine is the ideal spot to head for a light lunch or afternoon tea. The Dickens Inn is a truly atmospheric venture, located within a seventeenth-century brewery, while Bravas Tapas is a sublime independent Basque restaurant ideal for after-work drinks or a quick bite with your best mate. If you’re lucky, while you’re admiring the picturesque warehouses and yachts in central London’s only marina, you might even see the royal barge Gloriana, star of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and the Henley Regatta, which regularly moors up here.

Nearest Tube Stop: Tower Hill

St Katharine Docks, Wapping E1W

Once a key component of the flourishing British Empire, St Katharine Docks are now a peaceful postscript of its former glory, providing leisure to tourists and locals alike. With plenty of restaurants and bars backing right onto the calm waters, St Katharine is the ideal spot to head for a light lunch or afternoon tea. The Dickens Inn is a truly atmospheric venture, located within a seventeenth-century brewery, while Bravas Tapas is a sublime independent Basque restaurant ideal for after-work drinks or a quick bite with your best mate. If you’re lucky, while you’re admiring the picturesque warehouses and yachts in central London’s only marina, you might even see the royal barge Gloriana, star of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and the Henley Regatta, which regularly moors up here.

Nearest Tube Stop: Tower Hill

Dukes Bar, St James' SW1A

In the world of cocktails, Dukes Bar is legendary as the bar that made the martini famous. Simple elegance imbues the bar’s two rooms, and a cosy atmosphere and expert staff make it obvious why this was Ian Fleming’s bar of choice, where he was inspired to create Bond’s signature Vesper Martini and coined the phrase ‘shaken, not stirred’. Literary heritage notwithstanding, Dukes boasts such an intimate and refined atmosphere that even those who aren’t fans of 007 will enjoy a trip here. Choose from the extensive cocktail menu and engage in some good-old fashioned conversation as you take in your historic surroundings. Bliss.

Nearest Tube Stop: Green Park


A totally unique experience can be had at Hay’s Galleria, on the south side of the Thames not far from the Shard. Originating as a wharf through which 80 percent of the British empire’s tea trade passed, Hay’s is now a bright and welcoming shopping arcade, packed with independent shops and restaurants, including eight permanent ‘barrows’ – market cart stalls – selling all manner of trinkets and treasures. At the Galleria’s heart is a towering bronze kinetic statue titled ‘The Navigators’, commemorating the shipping heritage of the area, which periodically grinds to life, with turning gears and spraying jets of water providing an entertaining spectacle.

Nearest Tube Stop: London Bridge

Hay's Galleria, London Bridge City SE1

A totally unique experience can be had at Hay’s Galleria, on the south side of the Thames not far from the Shard. Originating as a wharf through which 80 percent of the British empire’s tea trade passed, Hay’s is now a bright and welcoming shopping arcade, packed with independent shops and restaurants, including eight permanent ‘barrows’ – market cart stalls – selling all manner of trinkets and treasures. At the Galleria’s heart is a towering bronze kinetic statue titled ‘The Navigators’, commemorating the shipping heritage of the area, which periodically grinds to life, with turning gears and spraying jets of water providing an entertaining spectacle.

Nearest Tube Stop: London Bridge

Temple and Sons, City EC2N

The most recent venture of renowned restauranteur Jason Atherton, the small and intimate venue of Temple and Sons sits at the base of Tower 42 in the very heart of the city. Offering a sublime variety of cocktails and liqueurs, including a whole second menu of gin and tonics, this bar is the ideal place to wile away the evening with a few close mates as you watch the brokers and bankers go about their business. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for a taste of the 1992 Chivas Regal, pegged at £46 a pop – there’s nothing quite like it. If you can feel your stomach growling, you’ll be in good hands, with a 66-cover grill ready to cook up a range of delicious meals from the traditional to the thoroughly contemporary – the roast potatoes are particularly exquisite.

Nearest Tube Stop: Liverpool Street


At the centre of the iconic Barbican Estate, atop the brutalist masterpiece of a culture hub that is the Barbican Centre, there’s a secret haven of nature and tranquillity. Like Kew Gardens except not on the fringes of the city and significantly less expensive, the Barbican Conservatory is one of the most serene places in London, totally apart from the throbbing hubbub of the EU’s largest metropolis. Only open on Sundays, but with free entry to all, the Barbican Conservatory is always an oasis of peace and quiet – the ideal place for an afternoon tea and cake with a loved one as you relax under the lush greenery. As you peruse the conservatory’s substantial floral collection, keep a look out for the terrapins and tropical fish that also call the place their home.

Nearest Tube Stop: Barbican

Barbican Conservatory, Barbican EC2Y

At the centre of the iconic Barbican Estate, atop the brutalist masterpiece of a culture hub that is the Barbican Centre, there’s a secret haven of nature and tranquillity. Like Kew Gardens except not on the fringes of the city and significantly less expensive, the Barbican Conservatory is one of the most serene places in London, totally apart from the throbbing hubbub of the EU’s largest metropolis. Only open on Sundays, but with free entry to all, the Barbican Conservatory is always an oasis of peace and quiet – the ideal place for an afternoon tea and cake with a loved one as you relax under the lush greenery. As you peruse the conservatory’s substantial floral collection, keep a look out for the terrapins and tropical fish that also call the place their home.

Nearest Tube Stop: Barbican

Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair W1J

Based in Burlington House off Piccadilly, the Royal Academy of Arts is a centre of all things cultural, with a range of exhibits and exhibitions showcasing art, photography, sculpture and architecture from acclaimed artists from J M W Turner to Tracey Emin. The most prized item in the academy’s collection is the Taddei Tondo – the only work by Michelangelo in the UK, and only one of three outside Italy – but plenty of other works of all styles and formats are available to view, guaranteeing a captivating and memorable visit no matter your interests.

Nearest Tube Stop: Piccadilly Circus


When it comes to refinement and relaxation, St Pancras International Station might not be the first place that springs to mind, but nestled on the station’s Grand Concourse not far from the Eurostar platforms is Searcys – a testament to the esteemed Victorian past of this historic terminal. The restaurant itself is a very fancy affair, with a delicious menu offset by a vibrant cocktail selection as well as plenty of exquisite wines – the battered haddock with minted peas and triple-cooked chips is particularly tasty. It’s the champagne bar however that really sets this establishment apart. Cosy, heated booths in 1920s art deco style come with complimentary blankets during the winter, and the unique collection of champagne-based cocktails is simply to die for. A particular treat is ‘The Grand’ –Peach Schnapps, Grand Marnier and Champagne blended together and finished off with a demerara sugar cube and gold leaf – a true taste of luxury.

Nearest Tube Stop: King’s Cross St Pancras

Searcys Restaurant and Champagne Bar, St Pancras N1C

When it comes to refinement and relaxation, St Pancras International Station might not be the first place that springs to mind, but nestled on the station’s Grand Concourse not far from the Eurostar platforms is Searcys – a testament to the esteemed Victorian past of this historic terminal. The restaurant itself is a very fancy affair, with a delicious menu offset by a vibrant cocktail selection as well as plenty of exquisite wines – the battered haddock with minted peas and triple-cooked chips is particularly tasty. It’s the champagne bar however that really sets this establishment apart. Cosy, heated booths in 1920s art deco style come with complimentary blankets during the winter, and the unique collection of champagne-based cocktails is simply to die for. A particular treat is ‘The Grand’ –Peach Schnapps, Grand Marnier and Champagne blended together and finished off with a demerara sugar cube and gold leaf – a true taste of luxury.

Nearest Tube Stop: King’s Cross St Pancras

The Sky Garden, City ECM3

Rafael Viñoly’s ‘Walkie Talkie’ building at 20 Fenchurch Street has garnered mixed reviews, but there’s no doubt that its top three floors are a unique treat for anyone lucky enough to visit. Tiers of swaying palms, verdant grasses and brilliant flowers sit 34-storeys above the city, creating a sophisticated and tranquil oasis that makes a welcome treat from the noise of London. With the accompanying Fenchurch Restaurant and Sky Pod Bar, providing a delicious range of dishes with unbeatable views over the city, 20 Fenchurch Street is an unbeatable day out. Tickets for the sky garden are free of charge, but are only released one week at a time each Monday, so you’ll need to be quick to snatch up this utter treat.

Nearest Tube Stop: Monument


Located on Kensington High Street in a building once occupied by the Commonwealth institute, the Design Museum is the centre for all things contemporary, with a huge range of industrial art, fashion, sculpture and graphic and architectural design. With free entry to its permanent collection, as well as a series of temporary exhibitions, the Design Museum offers the chance to delve into the world of modern style and culture in ways you’ve never done before. Not only is the museum’s collection fascinating, the building itself is stunning, featuring a 25-tonne hyperbolic paraboloid copper roof which sets it apart as one of the most important modernist buildings in the UK.

Nearest Tube Stop: High Street Kensington

The Design Museum, Kensington W8

Located on Kensington High Street in a building once occupied by the Commonwealth institute, the Design Museum is the centre for all things contemporary, with a huge range of industrial art, fashion, sculpture and graphic and architectural design. With free entry to its permanent collection, as well as a series of temporary exhibitions, the Design Museum offers the chance to delve into the world of modern style and culture in ways you’ve never done before. Not only is the museum’s collection fascinating, the building itself is stunning, featuring a 25-tonne hyperbolic paraboloid copper roof which sets it apart as one of the most important modernist buildings in the UK.

Nearest Tube Stop: High Street Kensington

Shad Thames, Bermondsey SE1

A former industrial hub for the British Empire, the wharfs and warehouses around Shad Thames have recently been transformed into a swanky neighbourhood of cafés, bistros and apartments, with stunning views over the river and Tower Bridge. The key feature of this area is the series of steel gantries and bridges that cross the streets which originally served as access between warehouse and now act as balconies and terraces for the local residents. Like something out of Dickens, the atmospheric streets are packed with character and charm, as well as making a stunning addition to any Instagram feed. Many of the area’s buildings are named after the spices that they used to store, and it is said that on warm days when the wind blows just right, you can still smell them permeating the air.

Nearest Tube Stop: Bermondsey


Sitting at the heart of an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Greenwich Market is a fascinating and enchanting destination for all those who love the market-place spirit. Open six days a week (closed on Mondays) all year round, the market offers a variety of arts and crafts, antiques, homewares and fashion, with a strong emphasis on hand-made and vintage styles. One shop specialises in old maps, while another offers tailor-made leather goods. With the Royal Observatory and Old Naval College just minutes away, Greenwich Market is the icing on the cake of Southeast London and is an absolute must for anyone who wants a taste of what everyday London life is like.

Nearest Tube Stop: Cutty Sark (DLR)

Greenwich Market, Greenwich SE10

Sitting at the heart of an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Greenwich Market is a fascinating and enchanting destination for all those who love the market-place spirit. Open six days a week (closed on Mondays) all year round, the market offers a variety of arts and crafts, antiques, homewares and fashion, with a strong emphasis on hand-made and vintage styles. One shop specialises in old maps, while another offers tailor-made leather goods. With the Royal Observatory and Old Naval College just minutes away, Greenwich Market is the icing on the cake of Southeast London and is an absolute must for anyone who wants a taste of what everyday London life is like.

Nearest Tube Stop: Cutty Sark (DLR)

Tagged: , Afternoon Tea at Aqua Shard, a brew with a view, Tuck into 24-hour dining at Duck & Waffle
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