To really get a feel for a city that’s not home, discovering hidden gems and unique areas is a must. London is one of those cities that you could spend months exploring and not also scrape the surface, so if you have only a few days to give, you’ll have to do your research. Get away from the tourist crowds by checking out these incredible hidden secrets of London, from where to drink, where to find some fantastic photo opportunities and where to eat your traditional, British pub grub. Here are ten unique things to do in London that you have to go and visit.
Maltby Street Market
Maltby Street Market is without a doubt one of London’s best street food markets, yet most people have still yet to even hear about it. The hidden gem is under railway arches, a 15-minute walk from London Bridge station and houses some of the city’s tastiest gourmet street eats. 31 traders set up camp beneath the arches each weekend, including five guest traders to keep ensuring there’s something to hit the spot for every visitor.
Food from all over the world, as well as sweet treats and delicious drinks, are all on the menu at Maltby Street. Expect the best value beef in London at The Beefsteaks stall, perfect Asian dumplings at Gyoza Guys, plant-based heaven at Devi’s, gooey cheese toasties at The Cheese Truck, chocolatey goodness at Bad Brownie…the list goes on. It all looks and tastes like a foodie’s dream. Find out more, here.
The Old Bank of England Pub
The former Law Courts branch of the Bank of England turned British pub, The Old Bank of England, is perhaps one of the most impressive pubs in London. The building is steeped in history having been standing since the 1880s. It retains some of its stunning 19th-century features from when it was first transformed.
Above the bar, dangling from the high, decorated ceiling are two giant chandeliers, making the entire pub look so grand and luxurious when really, it serves up precisely what any good pub usually does, and for a similar price! Grab a pint, order a pie and sit up in the viewing gallery overlooking the bar to indulge. It is a bit off the beaten track for tourists. Locals have been heading here for their pub fix for years, so still be prepared to wait for a table. Find out more, here.
The Bletchley Bar
For a bar that ticks the box for being fun, offbeat and definitely different, The Bletchley should for sure be on your London bucket list. Hidden behind a gastropub in Chelsea, The Bletchley is half cocktail bar and half escape room, taking on a World War Two Bletchley Park theme, i.e. crack codes for cocktails. Put on your special agent jacket, pick an agent code name and you’re ready to get cracking on with your mission to cocktail heaven.
Choose the difficulty of your escape from more relaxed (and more drinking or talking time) to hard where you’ll have to get into bomb defusal mode. On your way to the end of your mission, you’ll get asked questions which determine what cocktail will be brought over to you, but let me tell you they hit the nail on the head every time! The Bletchley is, without doubt, a hidden secret in London. Booking your slot in advance is essential. Find out more, here.
Up the road from Ladbroke Grove station, 282 Portobello is an absolute treat for vintage lovers. The store itself isn’t huge, but it is jam-packed full of classic and quintessentially British vintage pieces that you could spend hours sifting through and trying on. Find many leather boots, tweed jackets, fur, tailcoats, ball gowns and hats upon hats. When the weather is clear, clothes are often found spilling out of the shop on rails. There’s just that much stock to look through!
Hidden down a lovely little street in Kensington, Kynance Mews is by far the prettiest of all of London’s mews’. Ivy drapes over the arching entrance and covers the bricks of each and every townhouse. These change colors according to the season. Visit in autumn when burgundy leaves take over, or in the spring when bright, purple wisteria create an idyllic photo backdrop. This part of London is any photographer’s idea of heaven! Check out St Christopher’s Inns 13 prettiest streets in Europe.
If you’re looking for traditional British pub grub away from the tourist hotspots, Maggie Jones’s in West London’s Kensington is a great shout. It’s not just the heartwarming food that makes this one of our favorite spots, as the rustic interior gives it an even warmer, British feel. Long wooden tables, hanging flower baskets on the ceilings, old pictures of the British monarchy and old-school British music flowing throughout the restaurant. It’s all perfect for a casual lunch or a cozy evening.
The menu is a mix of hearty British classics such as creamy fish pie, roasted pork belly with apple sauce or guinea fowl with seasonal vegetables and a white wine sauce. Followed by a comforting British pud like bread and butter pudding or apple crumble and custard, you’ll leave with all the cozy feels. Find out more, here.
Little Compton Street
If you find yourself wandering around the Charing Cross area of central London, keep an eye out for a grate in the middle of a traffic island at the junction between Charing Cross Road and Old Compton Street. If you take time to look closely between the slats, you’ll be able to make out a faded Victorian sign for ‘Little Compton Street’ on a Brick Wall beneath your feet. Maps from the 1790s, the pre-Victorian era, show this street as an intersection between Old and New Compton Streets, showing that at that time, the street level was far lower than it is today. Now, the street is completely unused and all that remains is an old-faded secret, walked over by thousands a day, totally unaware.
The old school cinema vibe at Brixton Ritzy is probably as cool as you can get in London. Off the tourist track and definitely a hidden gem of south London, it’s one of the city’s oldest movie theatres having opened back in 1911, and now it still holds that vintage feel of going to the cinema being a real treat. Decked out with plush seating, a grand lobby, and five intimate screens, Brixton Ritzy is the ideal spot for a cinema date. Watch your film with a tasty cocktail or craft beer, a box of popcorn or gourmet cinema snacks that you won’t be able to get at any mainstream cinema chain in London where you’ll find most people go. The movies on offer range from being major blockbusters to classics and independent films, giving options to suit any cinema-lovers film taste. Find out more, here.
God’s Own Junkyard
Tucked away in an old warehouse in Northeast London’s Walthamstow, God’s Own Junkyard could be one of the wackiest attractions in London. The place is covered from top to bottom with epic neon signs. Each one has been saved from potentially being thrown away. From reclaimed retro pieces to bright quotes and eye-popping old movie or fairground props, this place is a feast for the eyes! Wander around, take photos and marvel at the cheeky slogans and old-school circus signs. Sounds random, but we reckon you won’t want to leave. Find out more, here.
Free Views at the Tate Modern
Want dreamy London city views but don’t want to pay the price of the Shard? Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the Tate Modern every year. Not that many people realize that the views at the top are jaw-dropping, however. Once you’ve finished touring around the famous artwork, meander on up to the tenth floor. It is here you’ll find the Tate Modern Viewing Platform and 360-degree views of London. See the Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and Canary Wharf all in one look. Get there soon before the rest of the crowds find out!
Are you looking for a hostel in London? Check out St Christopher’s Inns eight locations around the city.
More Information About Unique Things to do in London
Did you love this article about unique things to see and do in London? Do you want even more information about the top things to attractions to visit in this remarkable city? Then be sure to check out these articles we have rounded up for your reading pleasure! Happy traveling.
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