When you think of London, it’s the major landmarks that first occur to you. Yet look a little closer and you’ll quickly find there are many hidden gems that ensure the capital’s an amazing place to visit, so although it’s great to visit the more iconic locations, here’s some of the lesser-known attractions you might want to give a go when you stay at centrally located accommodation like the Montcalm London City Suites.
Extending 35km underground, these caves were built as an ancient lime and flint mine, but throughout the years they’ve been put to varying uses; an arms store and air raid shelter during the two World Wars, for rock concerts in the 1960s and for the filming even of a Doctor Who episode in ’70s.
Situated between London Bridge and the Tower of London, this was centuries ago a Church of England parish church, before being decimated due to Second World War bombing – its ruins today stand as a commemoration to the devastation to irreplaceable culture caused by total war.
Holland Park’s an area that’s something of a hidden gem itself, but within this district you’ll discover a small Japanese garden that was ‘donated’ to the UK capital by the city of Kyoto. It comprises a koi carp pond, Japanese lanterns, fountains and even some resident peacocks. And it’s utterly blissful.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Another peaceful space in Central/ West London, this walled garden beside the Thames was established in 1673, making it the city’s oldest botanic garden. Believe it or not, it comprises around 5,000 plants that are edible, useful, medicinal or historic.
Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre
Built in the 19th Century, the Guildhall Art Gallery houses a fine collection of artworks in the heart of the City of London (and, thus, not far at all from London City Suites hotel), but it’s down in its basement where you’ll find its ‘hidden delight’ – the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, remarkably discovered only 30 years ago.
John Snow’s water pump
Just over 160 years ago, a cholera outbreak in the Soho area of the West End killed more than 120 people; terrible, but fascinatingly, local doc John Snow traced the outbreak to this very water pump in the centre of town. Up to that point, it was believed cholera was caused by bad air or even the immorality of society’s poorest, but due to Dr Snow’s investigating, this notion was heavily challenged and the disease slowly became much better understood. The (now noncontaminated) pump remains in place as a commemoration.
Post Office Railway
Once upon a time the UK railway was a critical source for the transportation of the nation’s mail; so much so that, in the capital, an underground train actually ran beneath the streets between Royal Mail’s Paddington and Whitechapel sorting offices. In fact, it ran for nearly 80 years, all the way up to 2003 – and from this year is running once more; for tourists only, though.