Six Secret Places In London
- The Camden Town plant nursery is where many Londoners go for their plants around about now. But most of them don’t notice that it has a hidden vegetarian cafe above it, right at the back – and they’re very nice people.
2. Foyles is arguably the best bookshop in the world – but did you know it’s also great for really obscure movies? They’re at the back of the 3rd floor, and the selection is very eclectic, but un-ordered. Fopp at Cambridge Circus is also great for obscurities, so long as you don’t mind fighting your way through muttering old dudes with carrier bags. Nothing quite replaces the wonderful and much-missed Cinema Store though.
3. The Cally Road is now the home of gourmet pies, how apt. A legendary football/piemaking team is opening ‘Piebury Corner’ near ‘this end’ of the Cally Road for all your urgent fancy pie-based needs. Pies go well with beer and anarchy, because it’s opposite the terrific Scottish Stores and near the weird and wonderful Housmans, the peace bookshop.
4. There are nine wooden cabins tucked in a corner of the London Zoo which replicate the Air National Park in Gujarat, NW India. You can sleep overnight in them, then get up very early and see the Asiatic lions (now very rare), just as you would on safari – but with a sweater on.
5. The Regent Street Cinema is the oldest in Britain and does double bills of romantic old movies on Sunday, for a ridiculously low cost. The Elephant & Castle’s Cinema Museum hosts movie memorabilia auctions. And there’s a fabulous, tiny Everyman cinema in King’s Cross (seating just 36) that has huge lounge seats for two and a wine bar.
6. The Other Palace isn’t a palace, it’s a tryout theatre for new musicals in the backstreets of Victoria, in a grand building with a very grand staircase and a restaurant. They also do lectures, workshops and events for wannabe impresarios. It reminds me of the late lamented Mermaid and the Shaw, both tryout venues – but I hope it doesn’t suffer the same fate they did, being turned over to business seminars.