London’s Hidden Gems


If you’re only travelling to London for a short period of time, it’s natural to want to see all the most famous sites and attractions – The London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Wembley Stadium are all icons of British culture, after all.

However, if this isn’t your first trip to London, or if you have more time on your hands, here are some of the capital’s lesser known gems, which allow you to uncover something a little more unique:

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill is a creative’s dream, combining a kaleidoscope of Pepsi cans, biscuit tins and other consumer goods from a bygone age, demonstrating how branding has changed since the turn of the last century.

It’s a bric-a-brac of culture, consumerism, fashion and domestic life, with Spam cans and Head-and-Shoulders bottles decorating book shelves and ancient dolls resting on ledges. This will definitely evoke some British brand nostalgia.

Admission is £6.50 for adults, 2 Colville Mews, Notting Hill, London

Indian Cuisine at its best

London is arguably the world’s best location for curry outside of India. While Brick Lane is a never ending, saffron-infused mile of delicious spiced curries at reasonable prices, I recommend that you venture to Southall and try ‘The Brilliant’ – not your average name for an Indian, but an accurate description of the cuisine, all the same.

The Brilliant sits on a main street, surrounded by Halal butchers and fruit and veg shops, in this Asian enclave of Middlesex. The food is exceptional, so much so that Gordon Ramsey voted it runner up in Ramsey’s Best Restaurant 2010.

You must try their Brilliant Jeera Chicken, some of the most delicately spiced, succulent meat I have ever eaten. For the main dish, there is such a wide variety to choose from, but I went for the Masaladar Lamb, which was exquisite. Just don’t fill up on papadums – it would be a shame to miss out on all those beautiful side dishes!

The Brilliant, 72-76, Western Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB2 5DZ

The Experimental Cocktail Club

For a dimly lit, cooler-than-cool cocktail lounge, Soho’s Experimental Cocktail Club does just fine. Combining elegant, non-pretentious décor with exposed brick work, wooden bar stools and antique chandeliers, it brings a touch of class back to cocktails while providing some of the freshest and tastiest drinks in London.

Nestled in the heart of China Town, their best drink is the sophisticated ‘Havana’, which combines marsala wine, cigar-infused bourbon and a Bruichladdich Octomore single malt – at £12 it’s pretty steep, but what else would you expect from London’s finest lounge? The bar staff are polite, well-dressed and could probably perform on Mastermind; just don’t expect an answer on the formula for ‘Sex on the Beach’.

The Experimental Cocktail Club, 13A Gerrard Street, London, W1D 5PS

Little Venice

You can find Little Venice north of Paddington, a quiet little riverside retreat with canals, barges and quant cafes and pubs. The area is beautiful during the spring and summer, with sunshine reflecting off the water and flowers in full bloom. You can take a walk along the river or pop on a London Waterbus boat, heading downstream past Maida Vale and Regent’s Park.

A trip to Little Venice wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Puppet Theatre Barge, an intimate water-borne theatre where you can watch some beautiful old puppet productions – it’s delightfully authentic and great for children too.

Puppet Barge, Little Venice, Blomfield Road, London W9 2PF.

London is a maze of culture and hidden treasure, to really understand this city you have to dig deep and keep your ear to the ground; but the rewards are huge – I hope you enjoy your stay.

This post was written by Chris Jerome at Refresh Apartments – if you need somewhere to stay during your trip why not check out their huge range of high-quality short term apartments in London.

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