Okay, so they’re not all exactly hidden, but I didn’t know about these places until the last year or so. The more I spend my weekends aimlessly wandering around London, the more I realise how much aimless wandering there is left to do. I’ve never lived outside of zone 4, but I still find new places all the time. My favourite way to find them is to just stumble upon them on walks, but if I want to head off with a plan, I always turn to Instagram. It’s my favourite travel tool for looking up hidden gems, even in my home city. If you find yourself with a day spare to spend out on the streets of London town, I highly recommend these little gems.
1) Shooters Hill
In all fairness, this place is quite out of the way, and until I went there recently I’d never even been to this part of London. It’s out past Woolwich, and if you’re into views, then it’s worth the trip. There’s also a little builders tea cafe looking out on acres of green a couple of minutes walk from the hill where you can get coffee, ice cream and toasties. We were visiting a friend’s new flat by Woolwich station, so we went here first (it’s a very short bus ride from the town centre), and then I decided I kind of wanted to live there because there were loads of lovely whitewashed houses with flowers everywhere, and this view just casually hanging out in the background. Hiya London.
2) St Dunstan In The East
This is one of my favourite little corners of the whole of London. Secretly nestled inside the city, not far from Monument Station, are the ruins of a bombed out church. It’s SO cool. There’s nothing to do here but look and take photos, but we went on a Saturday mid-morning and it was so peaceful. It’s been planted with vines and lots of greenery so it looks like something totally lost in time, and pretty amazing when sun shines on it. So worth taking ten minutes to pass by, especially on a really sunny day.
3) More London
Good for lunch, very central, and quiet enough on a weekend when the surrounding offices are empty to hang out without feeling trapped by thousands of tourists. It’s also a good cut through between London Bridge and Tower Bridge and has a weird little urban stream running through it. Oh and there’s a Leon’s.
4) Hay’s Galleria
My Friday night haunt last summer for post-work night drinks. This place is like a little square, under cover, with a giant fountain, bars, places to eat, cafes and market stalls in the day. It also looks out across the river directly on the city and has lots of twinkly lights at night. Balls Brothers is worth a visit, plus they do a really good cocktail happy hour AND you can play petanque- seriously, look it up.
5) Bermondsey Street
If money were no object and I could just casually drop a mil on a nice little studio flat like a Kardashian or something, this is where I would do it. I love it so much. As far as streets go, it’s got everything. Quirky little cafes, bottomless brunches, independent book shops, restaurants, flower stalls and it’s not manic, despite being so connected to so many big tourist hot spots, like Tower Bridge. I need to get super rich and live here.
6) Shad Thames
Another place I wouldn’t mind living if I happened to find a fortune on the floor one day. Around the Tower Bridge area, this is like a little series of alleys containing the coolest looking flats, connected by walkways in the air. I went here not long ago with my friend for tea and cake (important business) and then went back about four times just to walk around and look at all the little wine and produce shops and peek-a-boo views of Tower Bridge.