The People’s Guide To London: Part 1 (A-J)

by Sophie Hollis

Welcome to the A-Z of London: for you, me and the newbies. Whether you’re playing the tourist or being the tour guide, here’s a little bit of lovely inside knowledge about London, from us to you. Use it today, tomorrow, on the long weekend and when you’re craving a burger bigger than your face. Who knows, it may give you all the information you need to help sway your decision about whether you want to live here on a permanent basis or not. If you like what you read (you definitely will), looking at these rent prices should be your next port of call, as you will be able to plan your move accordingly. But you won’t know if this is something you want to happen unless you read this guide first. So what are you waiting for?


The Tate Modern, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery, the Saatchi Gallery, the Serpentine Gallery – the long list of astounding art galleries in the capital is endless. If you’re a life-long Londoner, first time visitor or getting the train down for a business trip, there’s always a new piece of art to see and fall in love with. Best of all, entry is absolutely free. What’s there not to like? If you’re feeling a bit more R rated, A can also be for ‘asian escort agency‘ of which there is a VIP one right in the heart of London.


I must confess that I thank my lucky stars at least twice a week that I don’t have to cross the Atlantic to get a juicy, succulent and frankly groundbreaking bit of beef. The big smoke’s burger game is on point right now, perhaps more than ever before. You want in? Check out Meat Liquor in Oxford Circus, Bleecker Street in Spitalfields Market and Lucky Chip, Dirty Burger and Patty & Bun all across the capital for the best burgers of the bunch.


What’s cuter than a woman riding a bicycle with a picnic in the front basket? Nothing. With around 580,000 daily cycling journeys and over 700 spots for cycling hire stations it has never been easier to ‘get on your bike’ in London. Check out Transport for London’s website to find out cool cycling routes and stuff.


Dalston, a district in the London Borough of Hackney, offers so much more than classic East End boozers. Once the hub of pub rock venues in the 1970s and 1980s, Dalston is now the hub of great night life, cheap and cheerful food from all over the world and colourful markets full of bargain-buys. If that doesn’t convince you to go, Britney Spears might. Her music video for Criminal was also shot in Dalston in 2011 and apparently she loves it. Take the tube to Dalston Junction on the overground line. Like, now.


There is a very distinctive East end look – chunky Dr. Martens, tapered tartan trousers, slouchy grey turtlenecks, wacky and wild shirts and camel boyfriend coats so big it would make Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses jealous. East London is full of vintage thrift shops like Blitz in Spitalfields, Beyond Retro in Dalston, Soho and Brick Lane, Rokit, also in Brick Lane, and my personal favourite East End Thrift Store in Stepney Green. Why not take your friends and spend your day/evening recreating the vintage shop scene in Wild Child?

F is for FUN

Ever heard of Notting Hill Carnival? I thought you might. London’s funfairs and carnivals are some of the most famous in the world and they happen pretty much all year round. The Harry Potter Studio Tour, the London Dungeons, and Go Ape at Trent Park are all super fun activities to do with family and friends all year round. Check out Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland from late November to early January too, where the festive cheer is in full swing (along with the beer).


When browsing the window of an estate agent’s, I would consider a house with 30 acres of land as ‘crazy green’. Yet, with masses of lush green spaces like Hampstead Heath, Regents Park, Primrose Hill, St. James Park, Victoria Park, Richmond Park, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, London has over 5,000 acres of pure, stunning greenery, a feat which is not altogether common for one of the world’s leading cities. Despite there being a high demand for housing in the city, innovative real estate developers, like the property block, have been able to meet this demand while preserving these little pockets of nature. Join the Londoners and tourists alike who flock to pull out their deckchairs in the summer and wriggle on their wellington boots in the autumn. Don’t forget the picnic blanket!


The happiest time of day. We know that finding cheap wine, beer or cocktails in the capital isn’t the easiest of tasks, so we’ve done the work for you. Try out super chill Café Kick in Farringdon for 4.58 cocktails and 2 bottles of house beer, or Hackney’s Adam & Eve bar for house wines, beers and weekend bloody mary’s for 3. If all else fails, our most favourite of friends J.D Wetherspoon will always be there waiting for you in the good times and the bad with 2 for 12 cocktail pitchers. We love you Spoons.

I is for ICE, ICE BABY

There’s no better way to embrace the cold weather than to grab your skates and go for a spin. Canary Wharf, the Natural History Museum and Tower of London all have outdoor ice rinks, offering you amazing views while you whoosh (or stumble) around with the wind in your hair for 15 or less. For a real festive treat, visit the outdoor ice rink at Hampton Court, King Henry VIII’s dramatically grand 500-year-old Tudor palace, and watch as the exquisite night lights illuminate the palace’s royal history. Tickets are available now (Henry approves).


The residents of London still haven’t forgotten about the haunting serial-killings in Whitechapel in the late nineteenth century. The mysterious killer, known as ‘the Whitechapel Murderer’, ‘Leather Apron’, and most famously ‘Jack the Ripper’ slipped through police DNA records and has not been identified to this day. So, if you’re into scary stories after the night falls, look no further than the Jack the Ripper walking tour, London’s longest and most chilling walk yet. Take the plunge and step upon the same cobbled streets where the crimes all happened over 125 years ago… I dare you.

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