Fifteen Excellent London Websites

Christopher Fowler
I'm often asked which London websites would I most recommend. So, in no particular order, here's where I think you can best go without going anywhere. There are plenty more sites I'd like to feature, so there will probably be a follow-up post to this at some point. 1. Don't Panic is a clever little site based on design, music and art that can be switched to a number of different British cities. The attempt to use nepotism to get into the Olympic area is particularly silly, here. 2. Shortlist is based on the magazine that gets thrust into your hands at tube stations on Thursday mornings, but who doesn't love a list? Okay, it's obsessed with grooming products, but can still throw up some excellent links, here. 3. Diamond Geezer goes into the kind of detail other sites (including mine) don't have the time or energy to do. Admittedly, Diamond Geezer does have a loose nut in his wheel arch when it comes to the subject of transport, but this is the stuff you don't see anywhere else because the guy does his own legwork and does it damn well. I hope the spiv who is about to run London's absurd 'Water Chariot' service (95 quid for a two-mile ride around the arse-end of Tower Hamlets) is starting to think twice after Diamond Geezer ripped through the logistics behind this Olympics rip-off. Lots of gripping stuff on this addictive and lovely London site. 4. Feeling a bit posh? Tired of reading about graffiti artists and indie bands? Try The Arbuturian, a distinctly upmarket look at what's happening in town, but fun nevertheless. Not too many other sites have described the show 'Mathilda' as 'soul-wrangling', here. 5. The Londonist is more than a site - always fresh and surprising, it's an old friend who'll tell you what you're missing and what's good to look forward to in the city. It's what Time Out would have been now if it had retained its integrity, and it's here. 6. I miss Smoke - I think I once had an article in their print version. This is the online incarnation, but the mags were highly desirable little objects, with columns for London's campest statues, jokes about pigeons and oddly moving prose from Jude Rogers and Matt Haynes on the unlikely nooks and forgotten corners of London. The site appeared after the creators realised that more than half the 90-odd shops that had once stocked the printed Smoke were no longer there. They've a lot of catching up to do, reloading their old issues, but it all starts here. 7. Tired Of London, Tired Of Life operates on one simple, excellent idea; it gives you one thing to do every day, and often the choices are inspired. Of course it's impossible to keep up with even this challenge, but as many of the choices are not time-specific, you can file them for later use here. 8. Having dissed Time Out, who have really been the victim of market forces, I must now commend them for an excellent separate blog, which doesn't feel like Time Out at all. It's not so sniffy, freer from advertorial interference and certainly worth a look, here. 9. There are zillions of foodie sites about London but the London Review Of Breakfasts stays on top with personal, silly and honest recommendations about where to eat the capital's favourite meal here.You know you'll trust a review by Grease Witherspoon! 10. What to see at the theatre? Don't trust the online adverts? Try Phil and Andrew, AKA the West End Whingers, who've seen everything so that you don't have to here. The overwrought theatre critic Michael Coveney hates them, apparently, which is good news for anyone looking for unbiased opinions from paying punters. 11. The Great Wen is by Peter Watts, and is another site offering the kind of balanced, well-researched and intelligent articles about London you won't find in the press anymore. His piece on the Shard is typically thoughtful and thorough - here's here. 12. Nickel In The Machine is an odd name for a site that investigates particular London stories from the past, from the council attempts to destroy Covent Garden to the Burgess/Maclean affair. It offers in-depth explorations with plenty of photographic evidence, and is very readable, here. 13. Where did Mick Jagger live in London? Where are Americans most welcome in the city? The Shady Old Lady has the answers - one of the first and best London sites is still going strong here. 14. Jane's London has long been a favourite of mine. She's certainly mastered the art of the montage, and features collections of things you'll find around the city. This week, with the Olympics in mind, she's found lots of examples of torches, here. 15. What if you're a London newbie and don't necessarily want to throw yourself into mad details about fringe plays and statues? You could do a lot worse than visit London Town here for a comprehensive overview of what's happening this week, neatly arranged and easily navigable. Finally, from Shortlist, here's what the book Jurassic Park would have looked like if it had been issued back in the fifties and had become a beloved paperback...
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Jez Winship (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 08:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks ever so much - this is a really interesting and useful gathering of sites, several of which I have promptly bookmarked.

Rick D (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 14:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Damn you, Chris Fowler and all those who sail upon you! Do you really want me to spend the entire day in the vortex of your virtual London? How am I to get any work done at all!

Sigh... :}

agatha hamilton (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 15:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Re Radio 4 programme: what a very nice voice you have got. I think we ought to hear more of it. Why not a series on neglected authors, like the Independent series?

Jane (not verified) Mon, 21/05/2012 - 22:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for the mention...
Great to be in such good company

Christopher Fowler Tue, 22/05/2012 - 08:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Agatha - I agree entirely, a good face for radio, as they say!

Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 22/05/2012 - 22:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We were watching "Coast last night (Newcastle to Hull) and at last I understand how those great gas tanks were used. We never had that form of gas here so it was always a mystery.

Gretta (not verified) Wed, 23/05/2012 - 18:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Finally listened to this last night, and I have to agree with Agatha. Lovely voice you've got there, admin. Also impressed by the fact that, although you were only on for a couple of minutes, you managed to squeeze in several London history lessons!