Alternative things to do in London
London has been a haven for alternative thinkers for hundreds of years. From writers and musicians to philosophers and artists, the city attracts creative people from all walks of life. To this day, their presence fosters a quirky scene that weaves in-between the city’s more opulent quarters. Discover a new side to the capital with this alternative two-day itinerary, which will take you from the bustling city centre to trendy neighbourhoods like Shoreditch and Notting Hill.
Start your first alternative day in London with a 12-minute walk or a five-minute taxi ride from The Dorchester or 45 Park Lane to Dover Street Market.
Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market isn’t a market in the conventional sense; it’s more of an art gallery that exhibits clothes instead of paintings. An innovative, multi-brand store located in a historic five-storey building in Haymarket, it’s popular with fashionable locals who flock here to browse the collections of designers like Molly Goddard, Loewe and Erdem.
Hail a taxi for a 20-minute drive to Shoreditch Grind.
Something of a hipster landmark, Shoreditch Grind is the place to go for a bite to eat post-shopping. The all-day menu offers everything from roast squash to buttermilk fried chicken, with cocktails and house-roasted coffee to wash it down. Upstairs is the Grind recording studio, which has hosted a long list of famous musicians.
Take a seven-minute taxi, or enjoy a 20-minute stroll through Shoreditch, to reach Columbia Road Flower Market.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday, the Columbia Road Flower Market fills the street with beautiful blooms. With a huge selection of seasonal bouquets, perennial plants and bedding flowers on offer, green-fingered shoppers are spoilt for choice. The street is lined with numerous independent art galleries, cafes, vintage stores and perfumeries for weekday visitors.
From Columbia Road Flower Market, head west again with a 12-minute drive to 69 Colebrooke Row.
69 Colebrooke Row
This intimate speakeasy is also known as “The Bar with No Name”. Identifiable only by a lantern outside, 69 Colebrooke Row is worth seeking out for its 1950s ambience and innovative menu of seasonal cocktails. On Saturday nights, the venue holds cocktail-making masterclasses, where budding mixologists can try their hand at creating an Old Fashioned, a Daiquiri, and other classics.
From 69 Colebrooke Row, The Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell is just 12 minutes away by taxi.
The Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell
Craft beer has become big business in London, with countless breweries opening up across the city each year. The Craft Beer Co.’s original Clerkenwell pub continues to be one of the city’s best-loved bars, not just for its huge collections of local and international craft beers, but also for its historic location. From Monday to Saturday, enjoy a pint or two of the best alongside tempting sharing platters and bar snacks.
The hotel is either a 20-minute taxi ride away or a seven-minute walk to Chancery Lane station, followed by a seven-minute tube journey on the central line to Marble Arch, and a 10-minute walk along Hyde Park.
Start your final alternative day in London with a visit to Pankhurst, which is a 15-minute walk via Hill Street or 12-minute taxi ride from the hotel.
Located just off London’s famous Carnaby Street, Pankhurst is one of the city’s most original barbershops. As well as offering all the services one would expect from a top quality traditional barber, the salon moonlights as a speakeasy where well-heeled gentlemen meet and socialise over drinks in the Johnnie Walker whisky lounge.
From Pankhurst to the iconic Portobello Road, it’s a 25-minute taxi ride or a seven-minute journey on the central line from Oxford Circus to Notting Hill Gate, followed by a 15-minute walk.
One of a Kind London
Luxury vintage boutique One of a Kind London might be frequented by celebrities and trendsetters, but its discreet location on Portobello Road means that it remains one of the city’s best kept secrets. While the space may be intimate, the rails are a careful curation of rare fashion pieces from the likes of Chanel, Dior and British designers like Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney.
From One of a Kind, walk back along Portobello Road for four minutes until you reach The Electric Cinema.
The Electric Cinema
Catch a film at one of London’s most charming cinemas. Over a century old and still going strong, The Electric is something of an icon, showing everything from re-runs of classics to art house and popular new releases in its ornate space. Grab a bite to eat at The Electric Diner next door, then settle into your leather armchair with a glass of wine to enjoy the film. For a truly unique experience, book a front row double bed, complete with cashmere blankets.
Walk for one minute along Portobello Road to reach The Ginstitute.
Gin is the spirit of the moment and The Ginstitute is one of the best places in the city to sample it. The distillery’s expert mixologists lead masterclasses during which enthusiasts can learn about the long history of gin and how it is crafted. There are plenty of tasters on offer, complimentary cocktails and the chance for visitors to mix up their own bespoke blend to take home.
Next, hail a taxi for the 25-minute drive to Pharmacy 2 for dinner.
Pharmacy 2 is a concept restaurant based on Damien Hirst’s 1992 Pharmacy art installation. Created by the artist alongside leading chef and restaurateur, Mark Hix, the restaurant in Newport Street Gallery is a work of art in itself. A place to see and be seen, Pharmacy 2 has quickly become a cult eatery. Visit for fresh, seasonal dishes and quirky décor.
The hotel is a 15-minute taxi ride from Pharmacy 2.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.