LondonThings To DoUnited Kingdom

Seven unmissable hidden gems in London

Our picks of secret spots span graffiti, philanthropy, astrology, and even a quirky art installation that promises great fortune.

The tapestry of London never ceases to amaze. As one of the oldest and most multicultural cities in the world, it bears countless secrets that echo its ambitious population, rich literary heritage, two-millennia history, and unparalleled culture scene. Here, we share seven such secrets, delving into hidden gems that will appeal to first-time tourists and longstanding residents alike.

Attendant

Start your quest for the alternative in the heart of Fitzrovia, where speciality roaster Attendant has ingeniously converted a tiny men’s toilet from the Victorian era into a full-fledged cafe that pairs espresso and single-origin coffee with toasties and house-made granola — and it’s underground, too. Incidentally, it took two years’ worth of planning and restoration (as well as a thorough round or two of sanitisation), but the porcelain urinals now take centre stage on the long, wooden tabletop where Attendant loyalists caffeinate.

GO: Visit www.the-attendant.com for more information.

hidden gems in London

The Clink Restaurant

Between depictions in OzPrison Break, and Orange Is the New Black, the words’ jail food’ rightfully evoke visuals of canned vegetables and mystery meat, but The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton is changing the narrative. At this fine-dining restaurant located within a Category-C prison, the food is lovingly prepared and served by inmates undergoing hospitality training, thereby changing attitudes and bringing down reoffending rates in the process.

GO: Visit https://theclinkcharity.org for more information.

hidden gems in London

The Astrology Shop

Don’t let the compact size of this ‘metaphysical supply store’ deceive you — The Astrology Shop in Seven Dials is a veritable treasure trove of books, tarot cards, healing crystals, feng shui chimes, incense sticks, and essential oils. The personal readings conducted by onsite astrologers come highly recommended; simply walk in and ask for an Equinox Character Portrait, a comprehensive report that interprets your birth chart, uncovers hidden talents, and unravels the nuances of your personality.

GO: Visit www.londonastrology.com for more information.

The Astrology Shop

Dennis Severs’ House

Painstakingly reconfigured by the late artist Dennis Severs to tell the story of an imaginary Huguenot family occupying the house since its construction in 1724, this fantastical property on Folgate Street is described as a “still-life drama”, and for good reason. Part immersive theatre, part time capsule, it invites visitors to tour in absolute silence, with the likes of ticking clocks, crackling fires, creaky floorboards, day-old bread, and even a full chamber pot lending to sensory overload.

GO: Visit https://dennissevershouse.co.uk for more information.

Dennis Devers House

Leake Street Arches

A dive bar, modern-day board games, live performances, hearty Polish cuisine, and perpetually changing murals collectively occupying eight former railway arches beneath Waterloo Station — Leake Street Arches is no ordinary hangout. Famed for the 300-metre-long Leake Street Tunnel (the walls of which were once graffitied by Banksy), this hub of urban culture is particularly appealing as no two visits are ever the same; the sheer number of artists who showcase their work here means that there’s always something new to discover.

GO: Visit www.leakestreetarches.london for more information.

hidden gems in London

St Dunstan in the East Garden

There’s no shortage of secret gardens in London, but St Dunstan in the East stands out for its majestic ruins of a medieval church first built in 1100, the result of turbulent events such as the Blitz, the Great Fire of London, and World War II. Today, they’re dramatically enveloped in foliage, creating a green space that’s surprisingly tranquil — despite its proximity to major landmarks like Borough Market and the Tower of London.

GO: Visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk for more information.

St Dunstan in the East Garden

Seven Noses of Soho

What started out as Rick Buckley’s way of protesting rising surveillance back in 1997 is now a scavenger hunt of sorts dubbed the ‘Seven Noses of Soho’ — the artist reportedly affixed 35 plaster of Paris noses to walls across London, seven of which now remain in the West End vicinity. To reveal their exact locations would ruin the fun, especially as one urban myth claims that great fortune is promised to those who find them all.

GO: Visit http://rickbuckley.net for more information.

hidden gems in London

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Samia Qaiyum
A textbook third culture kid with a perpetual thirst for adventure, Samia Qaiyum specialises in travel and culture, having lived in five countries and travelled to 34 others – just don't ask her to define the word 'home'.

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