The Handbook
The Handbook

Being in London has both its perks and sadly, sometimes downfalls. The perks come with the fact that there are never-ending opportunities and places to explore scattered across all parts of the city. The downside? These places can be crammed full with tourist after tourist which is why we’ve handpicked a selection of our favourite hidden gems which you might not have known about – and the tourists certainly won’t, or so we hope. What are you waiting for? You heard it here first!

Crossness Pumping Station

Ever wondered what London’s sewage system looks like? No, I hadn’t either until I saw how colourful it was inside. Although it might sound odd, Crossness Pumping Station features some of the most mesmerising ornamental Victorian cast ironwork still found today. Although closing in 2017 due to asbestos being found, it’s reopened in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Sir Joseph Bazalgettes’ birthday, who built the building. It was originally built because the Thames were getting too polluted but today, you can visit the beautiful design work from the Victorian age.  

Where: Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, SE2 9AQ

St Dunstan-In-The-East

After being dreadfully damaged by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and again, during the Blitiz in 1941, this listed building is still as stunning as it once was. Now, it’s seen as a highlight of the city when visiting, for some peace and downtime. It’s nestled amidst stereotypical high-rises and flats and yet, nature has truly taken over with a whole host of wild plants interweaving in and around the ruins, including Drimys Winteri, said to be prevent scurvy. If you’re seeking a new relaxing spot for your lunchbreak, or a picnic escape from the city streets, in this magical spot you’ll feel transported into a world of your own.  

Where: St Dunstan's Hill, London, EC3R 5DD

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Although the area may not draw in many tourists but the beauty of this temple is otherworldly, and unlike anything you’d typically see wandering the streets of the city. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a traditional Hindu temple and is respected as one of the largest and most active Hindu organisations with the Indian diaspora. Constructed out of 5,000 tonnes of both Indian and Italian marble and Bulgarian limestone, it was beautifully carved in Indian before being moved to London. It’s part of history most of us didn’t even know existed in the city and is a true beauty worth visiting – what’s more is it’s free of charge – just check the visitor guidelines for respectable dress code.   

Where: 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD

Sky Garden

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of spots to head to for a panoramic view of the city and those lucky enough to have them in their own home, we envy you. However, if you’re in search of a new take on the views of this spectacular city, head to Sky Garden. It spans across three storeys, designed to create an open space for joy and leisure, allowing you to see London from a different perspective. It’s free to enter with booking needed, with an award-winning landscape paradise, Gillespies, with all plants chosen to work in harmony with the light given for that specific quality of light under the roof canopy.  

Where: 20 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 8AF

Hampstead Pergola

Without meaning to, you may have stumbled across this delightful spot in Hampstead Heath. The white stone pillars of Pergola are draped with unruly trellises with vines and exotic flowers, providing the perfect spot for a new Instagram pic which will be guaranteed to have your followers in awe of the Game of Thrones vibes you’ll be giving off. It’s beautiful regardless of the season, filled with blossoms in the spring, long-lasting greenery in the summer and of course, the picturesque autumnal yellows, oranges and reds in the later months. A perfect spot for a wedding too.

Where: The Pergola, Inverforth Close, NW3 7EX

Chislehurst Caves

Just a short escape from central London, miles and miles beneath your feet, filled with over 20 miles of mysterious and dark passages, at Chislehurst Caves you will be guided on a ‘candle-lit’ tour, being told stories of the past. Discover the unknown minds from past Druids, Romans and Saxons, and see the tunnels which were famous as a shelter during WW2, the Caves Church, Druid altar and the haunted pool. You’ll find yourself in a labyrinth of manmade tunnels, are you brave enough?  

Where: Caveside Close, Old Hill, Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 5NL

Looking for more places off the beaten track? Find 19 Secret Underground Venues here