An A-Z of London

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The UK capital is not only a vibrant ocean of cultural influence, it boasts greater diversity and more to do than any other European capital. To help you to orient yourself, we’ve put together a highly subjective alphanumeric guide to London.

A - ArcelorMittal Orbit
 
Most Londoners don't know that the weird red structure that twists through the horizon in Stratford is actually a massive slide; a playground in the sky for adults. For £16.50 per person you can whizz through the UK’s tallest sculpture. Definitely a must for those seeking an adrenalin rush and an unparalleled view of London’s skyline.


Art of the ride: the orbit is also an adrenalin-stoking slide
 

B - Boxpark Shoreditch

Boxpark Shoreditch has become a curious haven for authenticity in an area which is constantly changing. As well as being home to one of the best vegan food outlets in the whole of London, CookDaily, the sea container pop-up retail and restaurant venue holds live music events and creative workshops. Independent outlets like Wavey Garms take residence alongside the likes of Nike, the upstairs Caribbean bar has a decent 5-7pm happy hour, and if you’re feeling boujee you could stumble across a chocolate or candle-making workshop.

 
The on-trend consumers of Shoreditch flock to boxpark
 

C - Camden Town Brewery

King of of the craft beer industry, Camden Town Brewery is known for its Hells, Pils and Pale Ale brands. Brewed in Camden since 2010, visit for a tour of the city’s largest independent brewery, and get merry in their newly refurbished bar (re-opening soon). Their crisp, fragrant, tropical pale ale is one of the best beers in London.
 

D - Deptford Market

Head to Deptford Market for a taste of a traditional, multicultural London fast disappearing from the high street. It has a range of knock-off clothing stalls interspersed with fresh fruit and veg vendors, burger vans and a whole separate street dedicated to second hand, bric-a-brac items. Open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9am–5.30pm.


E - Electric Cinema

Open for more than 100 years, Electric Cinema on Notting Hill’s Portobello Road is a London mainstay. The screens carry the memory of their silent film cousins, old-fashioned fire buckets still hang on the walls and legend has it that during WW1 the German-born manager was found to be signalling at Zeppelins. Now modernised and rebranded as a luxury cinema with plush red seats and sofas, the Grade II listed building screens both retro classics and the latest blockbusters.


F - Frank’s Café

Peckham was recently named the most desirable area of London to live in and there's no doubting that Frank’s has played its part in changing the area's reputation. A vast rooftop bar on top of a once-abandoned car park, visit during the summer months when it's open for cocktails and beautiful views over southeast London.


G - Graffiti

Graffiti can be found dotted all over London, but the street art along the Southbank shouldn’t be missed. Navigate past the skaters on the river and you could find work from from ROA, Phelgm, Dan Kitchener, the Lost Souls Crew and Stik – the world-famous artist and activist known for his stickman figures that ultimately helped pull him out of homelessness. His mural has been at the Southbank since 2013.

Street art became street art in London — probably before anywhere else
 

H - House of Vans

A skate park hidden under the arches near Waterloo, House of Vans is a well-maintained spot with a range of skating structures suitable for all levels. Reopening in May after some new renovations, House of Vans London is a must-go for any skaters visiting the UK's capital – and it's free!
 

I - Imperial War Museum

Learning about war makes for a surprisingly fun day out at the Imperial War Museum in south London. The UK has a dark history of both creating and resolving conflicts, and exhibits from Secret War, which looks at the undercover world of spying and Britain’s Special Forces will put James Bond into perspective.
 

J - St John Bakery

Stop in at St John bakery in Southwark for some of the best doughnuts, pastries and sourdough bread in town. Especial favourites are the delicious (and huge) salted caramel doughnut, and their crispy bacon sandwiches.
 

K - Kentish Town City Farm

Dubbing themselves a "community charity that helps people connect with animals, nature and the environment", at Kentish Town City Farm you can make friends with over 50 animals, including goats, sheep, horses, ducks, chickens, geese, a pig and a cow.
 

L - London Rollergirl's Derby

If you've ever see Drew Barrymore's Whip It, you'll know that roller derby is one of the coolest contact sports out there. An all-female roller derby league (and the first ever established in the UK), London Rollergirl's Derby take themselves seriously and have a huge fanbase. Try and catch one of their games while in town.

 

M - Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

London's worst kept secret, the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a "secret" bar just off Liverpool Street which can only be accessed through what appears to be a fridge. OPerated by The Breakfast Club, who, as you might guess, are best known for their American-style breakfasts, pop in for one of their equally good cocktails and a menu of deep-fried treats.

 

N - Nightjar

A hidden bar tucked away next to a kebab shop, this ambient jazz and blues speakeasy which opened in 2010 is one of Shoreditch’s best little secrets. With a no-standing policy, it’s best to make a reservation online (and bring a mate who’s good with directions to help you find it when you have).

 

O - Observatory at Greenwich

With its cobbled alleyways, old-fashioned pie shops and little outdoor markets, Greenwich is easily one of the more picturesque areas of London. In the magnificent Greenwich park at the Royal Observatory, you can spend time getting to know the home of Greenwich Mean Time and also check out the trippy planetarium.

The world synchronises its watches from this very spot up the hill in Greenwich

P - Persepolis

Rich, smoked aubergine dips, fresh hummus and crispy falafels: a platter at Persepolis is always a party for your tastebuds. An Iranian café and corner shop in Peckham headed up by the effervescent Sally Butcher (who has produced a variety of successful cookbooks), reasonable prices and friendly service will leave you wanting more. Oh, and make sure to grab a sticky-sweet piece of baklava from their sweet counter to go.
 

Q - Quinto Bookshop

This well-loved second hand bookshop on Charing Cross road is also a place to visit for antiquarian, collectible and rare books that cannot be found elsewhere. Specialisations include Greek and Roman history and literature.
 

R - Rowans Bowling Alley

Open 'til late every night, Rowans in Finsbury Park is a contained evening-out for those who fancy a bit of clubbing, karaoke and pool alongside their bowling needs. It's cheesy, fun and you can order pizza while having one of their very cheap, very sweet cocktails – all while beating your mates with a well aimed strike.
 

S - Sky Garden

If you're in the mood to impress someone special the Sky Garden, a bar and restaurant brimming with decorative plants on the top of the “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper on Fenchurch Street, is the place to go. A bit on the pricey side but with unforgettable views.

The Sky Garden delivers a new and unique perspective on the capital


T - The London Gin Club

The former hangout of left-field film director Mike Leigh, The London Gin Club used to be a café and socialist haven but is now Soho's foremost gin palace. Their tasting menus range offer juniper-based spirits made with all sorts of additions such as lemon balm, rosemary, bay leaf, macadamia and almond.
 

U - Underground tours

London's underground network was built more than 100 years ago and hides many secrets. It acted as a bunker for many Londoners trying to escape bombings during WW2, and was also the location for some of Winston Churchill's cabinet war meetings. There are a few underground tours to choose from, but the London Transport Museum's come well-reviewed.

  
V - V&A Lates

The V&A is undoubtedly one of London's finest museums but its free late night events allow you to experience the space in a whole new way. Taking place on the last Friday of each month, artists, designers and collectives come together to curate events within the V&A space through live performance, film, installation, debate, DJs and exhibitions.


W - Wardour Street

One of the remnants of real Soho, Wardour Street is a fun mismatch of record stores and Chinese restaurants that shouldn't be missed when in central London.

 
X - XOYO

Just off Old Street is a London clubbing institution. More chilled than Fabric and with better nights than Ministry of Sound, XOYO  (see image at top of page) constantly has a diverse lineup of DJs and performers. Check out their XOYO Loves nights for top end house, disco and techno music.
 

Y - Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Head to one of London's oldest pubs to get happy with the ghosts of such luminaries as Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens (both former punters). It's sprawling, low-ceilinged and has super cheap pints.
 

Z - Ziferblat

Ziferblat is the first ever pay-as-you-stay café in London. A comfy, cosy hidden room on a road just off the bustling Shoreditch High Street, it functions as a home away from home for many of London's creatives who pop in for a few hours to have a tinkle on the piano, play a few board games, or even have a snooze. At five pence a minute with free teas, coffees and plenty of snacks available, it's much nicer than your average coffee shop.

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