It’s no secret how much I love London and after living there for nearly four years there are some secret things that I hold oh so dear. The advantage of living an expat life is that you actually have the time to go and seek the offbeat, weird and downright awesome. Obviously, in London, such a list can be unending so here is my pick of the crop.
Kensington Roof Gardens: These stunning gardens located in the busy borough of Kensington are owned by Richard Branson and are free to visit. As soon as you step out onto the gardens, the world you’ve just left a couple of floors below seems far away. I’ve spent many a beautiful albeit rare summer’s day here with a picnic and a book for company. And get this, the rooftop is even home to some jazzy pink flamingos.
The rooftops are made up of three different gardens and from the Spanish Garden, you can see the top of a cathedral in the distance and it really does feel like you’re in Seville, not London. This is one of my favourite locations in London and it’s a romantic (not to mention cheap) place to bring and impress a date.
|Ideal for a summer picnic or a cosy winter stroll: Kensington Roof Gardens|
Love, Leluu – Supper Club: Supper Clubs are a foodie’s paradise and London is home to some fabulous ones. Basically, a Supper Club is a dinner hosted by anyone who is passionate about cooking and feeding people. They’re not always chefs… in fact, most Supper Club hosts are amateur chefs who just love food a lot. Like me. Sometimes they’re in secret locations like church halls, rooftops and more often than not in private homes.
Over dinner, you may not get your own table and be seated around a big table while getting to know your new dinner buddies is part of the supper club experience. They’re not that hard to find, a thorough Google search will serve you well and you’ll have more hits than misses. The exact location is confirmed to you by email closer to the date of the dinner. My fave supper club is an 8-course Vietnamese one hosted by Uyen Luu. The food is cooked by her and her mother and is hosted in her home in East London. All your dietary requirements are catered to and if you have time for only one Supper Club then let this be the one. Check out her website for more details.
|A supper club with friendly new faces and 7 courses of pure delight. Photo Credit: Uyen Luu|
Brunel Museum: Brunel Museum sitting directly above the Thames Tunnel (the first ever underwater tunnel in the world) came my way only in my third year in London. That’s how long it managed to stay hidden from me. Recently for the first time in years, the Museum opened up the underground Grand Entrance Hall to the public. Every now and then they also host concerts in these well hidden secret chambers. I’ve been to one of them and because of the way the Hall is constructed the acoustics are beautiful.
Another reason why Brunel Museum tanks up on the cool points is because every Saturday night/ Sunday Afternoon they’re home to one of the best Pop Up Bars in London: Midnight Apothecary. Think candlelight mason jars, toasty fires, sweet smelling herbs, deck chairs and river views. Basically, the space above the Thames Tunnel has been converted into a beautiful flower and herb garden which Midnight Apothecary then uses in their cocktails. There is a token system to buy your drinks which can be quite a pain when the crowds come in. Get there early so you can buy your tokens without the queues and then just relax and make the most of Brunel’s delights. For the low down here’s a link to the museum website .
|Brunel Museum, London. The Garden space plus the entrance to the Grand Hall is on the left.|
London Operating Theatre: This quaint museum is really tiny and is only a short walk from the London Bridge station. Even if you’re not a science buff this museum is creepy and weird enough for it to be memorable. And seriously, I mean that in a good way. The Operating Theater is the oldest surviving Operating Theatre in all of Europe and there is a lot of information available if you’re a curious monkey like me. The OT is actually like a Theatre and in the good ol’ days, medical students would stand around watching and taking notes while the Operation (which involved a lot of sawing and slicing) took place. It seems like no one really cared about the germs. Yes, the patient could get infected but hey, if he could survive the operation what’s a few bacteria.
The Herb Garret in the same space is still maintained as it would’ve been years ago and has been recreated authentically and realistically. I spent a fair amount of time going through all the herbs they would’ve used in the heydays and the prescriptions they might’ve handed out. The entire attic space feels quite cosy and also houses some seriously strange gadgets. To see how you can get there or what events are going on, click here
|The Herb Garret & Apothecary at the London Operating Theatre. You wouldn’t want to be locked in here at night.|
Secret Cinema: How can THE Secret Cinema not make this list? Secret Cinema which is a part of Future Cinema is all about a live cinema experience and most Londoners are now in on the secret. If you’re planning on being in London, check their website and if you’re lucky they might have an event coming up. Tickets sell out pretty quick so if you know your dates already. book them in advance. They are a very experimental company and you really don’t have to be a theatre enthusiast like me to enjoy their spectacular shows. Previous movies they’ve recreated include Casablanca, Prometheus, Shaw-shank Redemption, Brazil and Dirty Dancing. The locations are just as varied as the movies from Victorian Schools to Old Railway Tunnels to Alexander Palace. The company goes out of their way to recreate a whole new world.
They are all about an immersive experience and when I say immersive, I mean the whole schbang: larger than life sets, actors, costumes, food, music..everything. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s pretty tough to explain exactly what they do and how they do. You sign up for an event, you don’t know what it is, you get an email “hinting” at things and asking you to dress up a certain way, you get there and you’re left gobsmacked. Oh, and you also watch a movie. Almost forgot that bit.
|Secret Cinema and their elaborate performances are part of the complete London experience.|
Do you have any Secret London spots/ experiences? Let me in on them!