The Londoner: Don’t Do That, Do This!
London, city of fabulous fun, city of really duff nights out – what’s the difference between the two? Simple – planning. So many friends come over asking where to meet and what to do that I feel like publishing a book about it. If you’re new to the city, it can be a daunting place. The biggest problem is that the once-wonderful Time Out magazine used to list almost everything that was going on in London and was read religiously from cover to cover every week. Now Time Out is a paid-content freesheet full of ads and press releases that no-one reads anymore. So it’s easy to miss what’s good. When time is short you have to make fast decisions. There are choices seasoned Londoners make that can also apply to visitors. A quick rough guide, then.
For a wander about; Do the South Bank and Piccadilly, not Leicester Square and Oxford Street
For shopping; Do the delightful Broadway Market and Columbia Road Market, not crap-filled Camden Market
For architecture; Do beautiful Chelsea streets, not vulgarised Knightsbridge ones.
For theatre: Do the brilliant Young Vic and funky Southwark Playhouse, not the stuffy Haymarket and overpriced Drury Lane
For trips out: Do the stunning Queen’s House Greenwich, not the emptied out Maritime Museum
For parks: Do Regent’s Park and Green Park, not Hyde Park
For gardens: Do the astonishing, vast Wisley and Kew Gardens, not Sky Garden
For kids: Do the Science Museum, the grisly Wellcome Collection or Museum of Childhood, not M&M World or incredibly boring and overpriced Madame Tussauds
For walking tours try the London Transport Museum’s ‘Hidden London’ walks.
For rainy day movies: Do the luxe Everyman chain, not the Vue screens
For pubs, get out of the West End and try this one.
For hipster hangouts: Do Shoreditch, not Covent Garden
For music/ dance events: Do the Barbican, not the O2
For restaurants: Do the newly foodie East End, not the dreary West End
For getting around: Get an Oyster Card and go everywhere by tube, not by taxi
And remember – just because it’s raining (and it will be) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep walking.
That will give you a head start!
All useful or merely prejudiced preferences here please.