Hidden gems in London
London is one of the most historic and cultural capitals in the world, with a plethora of sights to explore. But with popularity comes crowds. Steer clear of the usual tourist traps and discover another side to the city though its lesser-known sights and attractions. From museums dedicated to orphans and homes through the ages to hidden parks and gardens, these are some of the most intriguing secret locations in London.
Begin the day with a 30-minute drive to Postman’s Park near St Paul’s Cathedral.
A secret escape close to St Paul’s Cathedral, Postman’s Park is one of the city’s most unusual green spaces. As well as being a leafy spot for a stroll or a picnic, it’s also home to an important memorial, the Grade II-listed Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. The sobering yet soulful structure displays 54 tablets, each of which tells the story of a courageous local hero who lost his or her life while saving others.
The next location is a 20-minute drive away.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities
Proudly rejecting classification of its captivating curios, anything goes at this intriguing museum, located in a Hackney basement. Bursting with the bizarre, fascinating and occasionally morbid, you’ll find esoteric oddities sitting alongside unusual artworks. Upstairs is a decadent cocktail bar; be sure to sample a house special before you leave.
Take a short five-minute taxi ride or 20-minute stroll to the Geffrye Museum.
The Geffrye Museum of the Home
The Geffrye Museum of the Home is one of the most curious institutions in London. Dedicated to British homes throughout the ages, visitors can walk through a timeline of 11 replica ‘period rooms’, designed to resemble those of the early 17th century through to the late 20th century. There are also temporary exhibits (previous examples have included Teenage Bedrooms and Christmas Past).
Then, take a 20-minute taxi ride to The Foundling Museum.
The Foundling Museum
Many brilliant literary works, such as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, have captured life as an orphan in London, but reality was often far from a fairy tale. Discover what it was really like to be an orphan through insightful exhibitions and displays at The Foundling Museum, an 18th century children’s hospital and orphanage that cared for children until the last was fostered in 1954.
Reach the final destination with a 20-minute walk or a 15-minute drive.
Tucked away at the back of Bubbledogs is Kitchen Table, a tiny 19-seat restaurant where diners eat in an intimate arc around an open kitchen. Spearheaded by Head Chef James Knappett, the eatery and its daily changing menu of contemporary European and British fare is so good that it’s been awarded a Michelin star. Just make sure to prepare your stomach for the 12-course feast.
To get back to the hotel, it’s an easy 15–minute drive from the restaurant.
Start day two of the itinerary with a 15-minute walk to Handel & Hendrix.
Handel & Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel are two of the most important names in musical history. Unbeknown to many, the guitarist and composer lived in neighbouring houses, although in different centuries. The Handel & Hendrix museum occupies both houses and features reconstructed living spaces and exhibitions dedicated to each musician.
Take a 20-minute drive or travel five stops on the Central line from Bond Street to Holland Park, with a five-minute walk at either end.
While tourists flock to Hyde Park, locals relax in the secret Kyoto Garden. Located within Holland Park, the garden is one of the most picturesque green spaces in the city, and while it doesn’t have Hyde Park’s horses, it is home to a muster of colourful peacocks. Enjoy a tranquil walk through lush plantations, over quaint bridges and past tiered waterfalls, and you’ll quickly forget you’re in London.
Leave Holland Park and take a five-minute walk to nearby Leighton House Museum.
Leighton House Museum
Leighton House is a secret haven of Victorian architecture and art. Formerly the home of Victorian painter and sculptor Lord Frederic Leighton, the house museum showcases many of his best works, alongside pieces by his contemporaries. Extraordinary interiors transport visitors back to a time when art was paramount and artistic success came with great wealth.
To reach the next destination, drive for 15 minutes.
Occupying an old Victorian pub and spanning three storeys, Southam Street is one of West London’s most exciting gastronomic spots. Launched by the team behind the nearby critically acclaimed 108 Garage, the venue combines a grill, raw bar, expertly stocked Tequila and Mezcal bar and even a private members club. Whet your appetite with some delicious morsels from the Nikkei inspired raw bar before feasting on meat, fish and vegetable dishes deftly cooked on the Robata grill.
Hail a taxi for the 20-minute drive to Barts.
As the 1920s drew to a close, the rest of the world moved on. But Barts remained trapped in time. At least that’s what it feels like at this late-night speakeasy on Sloane Avenue. Encouraging punters to ‘party like it’s 1929’, the intimate venue exudes ‘old school’ eccentricity, from its comic book-style menu to its elaborate Prohibition-themed cocktails.
Bring the day to a close with a 15-minute drive back to the hotel.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.