I think one of the best parts about moving to a new city is slowly exploring your new surroundings, and starting to discover all the amazing places that will soon become your favourite haunts! Now that all of you spring students have been here for a couple of months, hopefully you have established a few of your own special places. It’s always good to have a list in case anyone asks you for a London recommendation – after all, when your friends come to visit, you’ll want to show off your knowledge of the city, right?
Since I’ve lived in London for a combined total of over a year by now, I thought I would show you a few of my own favourite places! (Don’t mind my bad quality iPhone photos) I tried to list as many varied locations as possible, but you can probably tell I’ve always lived south of the river – we Southies have got cool stuff too, I promise!
I’m not entirely sure how, but I always seem to end up at Jubilee Gardens. They’re located right behind the London Eye on the South Bank, and although I try to stay away from more of the tourist heavy areas, this little splotch of green is perfect for escaping the sweaty crowds while still enjoying a fantastic view of the Eye, Big Ben, and the river Thames! For only being about 10 feet away from the main drag, the Gardens are quite calm and uncrowded. They’re perfect for taking a break while sight-seeing, having a picnic, or reading a book amidst the hustle and bustle of central London!
Lower Marsh and the Cut
If you go further down past Waterloo station, to the right you’ll have Lower Marsh, and to the left you’ll have the Cut. These street names may sound a bit dodgy, but they’re actually both very quaint little areas, only a short distance away from all the commotion of Waterloo station. There’s tons of cute cafés to grab a coffee in, as well as the coolest hidden gems, like The Vaults, a giant underground tunnel covered in stunning graffiti, House of Vans, a skating arena that also shows art and films, and even a book store that has a theatre in the back! Definitely go and explore if you’re ever in the area, and eat at the Windmill, a pub that also serves really cheap and delicious Thai food!
Elephant and Castle Super Bowl
The Elephant and Castle Super Bowl is probably one of London’s greatest hidden gems, in my humble opinion. The bowling alley is located at the top of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, which many people consider a bit run down and grimy. Personally, I love it! The Super Bowl is ridiculously cheap, especially if you go on student nights, and a fun alternative night out with friends if you’re sick of clubbing. Because of its low prices, you’d be shocked by how packed the place gets! Plus, they don’t force you to wear bowling shoes so you can just rock up in your regular shoes for a great time.
Luckily for me, I live close enough to Brixton to walk over whenever I feel like it. It’s always refreshing to get out of Zone 1 every once and a while, and Brixton is such a vibrant neighbourhood to check out! The Brixton Market is a really cool half-indoor, half-outdoor arena with tons of diverse and delicious restaurants, as well as stands with everything you could ever wish to buy! If you’re craving jerk chicken, this is the place to be. And for a little bit of musical history, the David Bowie mural is right across the street!
Once I discovered sketch, I’ve taken every single friend that’s visited me there. It’s the best! sketch is a quirky tea room and restaurant located right off the main drag of Regent Street. It boasts differently themed rooms designed by British artist David Shrigley and interior designer India Mahdavi. My two favourites are the Glade and the Gallery. The Glade feels like you’ve walked into a fairy tale forest, and the Gallery is an entirely pink, Art-Deco styled masterpiece. It’s an Instagrammer’s paradise, especially when you get to the loos! Visitors get to do their business in individual pods under a rainbow coloured ceiling, all of which makes you feel as if you’ve walked onto the set of a Lady Gaga music video. Don’t take my word for it, go and see for yourself!