London, England is one of the most popular tourist hubs in the world. Year round, people from all over come to this vibrant city to explore its rich history and modern vibe. London’s famous attractions are immediately recognizable… Big Ben, anyone? The vast number of museums, art galleries, shops, and restaurants are enough to keep anyone busy for months. Don’t get me wrong; I loved visiting these famous attractions during my time in London. But occasionally, I wanted to stray off the beaten path… to find something new and exciting that felt like a secret shared between the city and myself. Here are my top 5 places that you should find on your trip to London. Some I stumbled upon during my wanderings and others were shared with me by locals. Regardless, the time spent finding these hidden gems will be well worth it!
- Gordon’s Wine Bar
One of my favorite finds in London, Gordon’s is the best wine bar you never knew existed. It truly hides in plain sight. Tucked between two busy restaurants, the door to Gordon’s looks like it might lead to a custodial closet. But behind the creaky wooden door and down a few stairs is one of the most fascinating spaces I have ever seen. A 19th– century cellar has been transformed into candlelit, intimate space. Although it can get crowded in the evenings, its still one of the coolest spots in the city, and you’ll always have a “great little place” to take your friends.
2. The 7 Noses of Soho
Soho was one of my favorite areas to explore in London. No matter the time of day, there was always something to do or see. Well known for its eclectic culture, Soho was filled with small shops and restaurants, as well as something a bit stranger. Hidden in various places throughout the neighborhood are 7 small noses, each colored the same as the wall on which it sits. While many urban legends surround the noses and why they are there, it is a well- known fact that if one is able to find all 7 noses, they are soon to become famously wealthy. I was never able to complete the task… I hope you have better luck!
3. Wilton’s Music Hall
Said to be one of (if not the) oldest music halls in the world, Wilton’s was founded in 1743 as an ale house for sailors and sea captains. It became a music hall in the early 1800s and today, it is used as a concert hall and event venue. It is a Grade II* listed building, meaning it’s a particularly important building and every effort is being made to keep it preserved. In fact, the Hall recently underwent a massive renovation project. However, Wilton’s still holds its antique charm and history. It sits on the East End of London and is home to many different theatrical events throughout the year.
4. Secret Library Bar in the BFI
The British Film Institute (BFI) is located in the heart of London and is home to a variety of events throughout the year. Many awards shows and concerts are held at the venue. It has its own little secret, however, in Benugo Bar and Kitchen. Located conspicuously behind a library bookcase, the 1920s jazz feel will transport you to another time and place. This is another great place to take your friends- they’ll be so impressed!
5. John Snow’s Water Pump in Soho
Finally, a bit more history. The very water pump that was said to have caused the cholera outbreak in London in 1854 can still be found today in the Soho neighborhood. The source was discovered by John Snow, a leading English physician. After his discovery, the handle of the pump was removed, keeping any more water from flowing out of it. With that, the cholera epidemic slowly came to an end. Snow is now thought of as instrumental in the improvement of health and hygiene standards all over the world. If you find this one, maybe don’t get too close!
Natalie is a senior at the University of Kentucky double majoring in Secondary English Education and English with a minor in Psychology. She studied abroad during her junior year in the beautiful London, England at King’s College.