Independent London: a micro guide to the best of the capital
London is a cultural melting pot of vivacity: abuzz with life, the UK's capital city is the place to be.
If you're lucky enough to be studying in London town, this comes with a desperation to soak up as much of the buzzing and vibrant city as possible, yet also, the city has a habit of soaking up your bank account. Drowning in opportunities, it can often seem impossible to decide on exactly what to do in the city in the three years you're in the capital- and the years will fly by. There's the famous tourist attractions, the populated shopping areas and chain upon chain of exquisite restaurants, but are you ever getting the full London experience this way? There's more to the capital than first meets the eye. And if you go through the years visiting where everyone's been before, you'll be missing out on a whole lot of hidden gems. Therefore, here's our micro guide to independent London.
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View of the city! Love the contrast of the green and the city behind. • • • • • #theprettycities #prettycitylondon #thisislondon #photosofengland #caputuringbritain #prettylittlelondon #explore_britain #icu_britain #visitlondon #travel_london #londonforyou #seemylondon #mydarlinglondon #unlimited_london #canon #panoramic #cityscape
The original tipple: top 3 independent bars in the capital
This little-known bar requires you to be 'in the know' just to be within a chance to enter the building. Located in the City of London, The Breakfast Club is a quirky cafe-restaurant that offers luscious cocktails and bar snacks behind a secret door. Once inside, the room is lit by a flickering sign that reads, 'thrills'. Entry to this secret, darkened room is forbidden unless the customer knows to say the words, 'mayor of scaredy cat town'. Anyone understand why this is a thing? We don't either, but it sounds incredible.
Wondering what the name stands for? This crazy cocktail joint stands for Bring Your Own Cocktail. You pop along with your own spirit of choice to the top secret venue, and the skilled bartenders create you your own unique cocktail. With an array of homemade syrups, juices and bitters, BYOC's team of professional mixologists will create a masterpiece for your taste buds.
Fancy a drink, whilst taking your pick of a range of retro arcade games? Four Quarters in Peckham allows you to Pacman and tipple, as it were. Challenge your friends to an evening of retro gaming—it's guaranteed to be better than sitting on the couch playing Fifa.
Secret London: top 3 quirky things to do
Every September, Open House London throws open the doors to some of London's most iconic buildings and you're able to gain entry to buildings that would usually have restricted access to the public. A city of mind-blowing architecture, previously Open House London has allowed the public into buildings such as the BT Tower, the Gherkin, the Royal Albert Hall and private homes of the rich and famous.
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'There have to be things that are unexpected and unknown. Creating experiences, keeping them secret, allowing people to live without their phones for five or six hours, while they interact with the world, it helps us tap into that'. - @fabienriggall New article from @brightlightsfilm. Link in bio.
Fusing film, music, art, theatre and dance, Secret Cinema breaks the boundaries of film, by screening films in real-world locations, such as abandoned London buildings and large-scale performance spaces. Taking your favourite films and literally bringing them to life, this is an immersive experience where the audience is placed right in the middle of the action, in 360-degree participatory worlds. An experience like no other, this is a must-see if you're wanting to experience something a little different in the capital.
And no, this isn't by boat, because that wouldn't be independent enough. An exclusive kayaking experience, you're able to float down the River Thames by kayak, a sustainable and hugely exciting form of transport through one of the world's most buzzing cities.
Dine in style: top 3 independent restaurants in the capital
French perfumer, Diptyque, creates lush candles. And what's better than a Diptyque candle? A Diptyque Afternoon Tea. Sitting down at the Oscar Wilde Bar at the Hotel Cafe Royal, the afternoon tea is infused with ingredients found in the fragrances, such as violet and lemon verbena and Tahitian vanilla.
Based in Clerkenwell, this restaurant allows their customers to dine in pitch black. Due to the lack of light, your senses are heightened, allowing you to enjoy the fresh, natural and organic dishes even more. A one of a kind dining experience, Dans Le Noir? is a definite must.
Is there anything more adorable than this? Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium serves as a home for rescued cats and also provides customers with London's first cat cafe. Stroke a cat and have a cuppa- that'll be the perfect relaxation from the stress of being in the big city.
Get on the top of your fashion game: top 3 independent clothing brands in London
A menswear clothing brand with an eclectic mix of international and local brands, the collections are curated by Simon Spiteri, who also launched the Liberty menswear department. They stock a variety of brands, including; Folk, Kapital, 45rpm, Our Legacy and Dries van Noten. The place to go to become an extremely well-dressed man.
More like a museum housing exquisite clothing, Other is a shop like, hilariously, no other. The walls and windows have become a gallery for showcasing photography, sculptures, paintings and illustrations. As for the clothes themselves, Matthew and Kirk, the founders of the brand, support only local and unknown designers. Many labels are exclusive to Other and are incredibly hard to find elsewhere, so head to Other for some one-off pieces.
A feast for the eyes, The Shop at Bluebird offers, in the words of the team behind the shop, 'a journey of discovery through the ever-changing worlds of fashion, interiors and beauty'. They want to show the best design the fashion world has to offer, but in a casual, cool way.
Hit the indie scene: top 3 independent music venues
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Down at @wiltonsmusichall for the @thestoryboxcollective private view “Tales Of Absence, ‘What Ifs’ and Salvation” a collection of work inspired by the archives of the music hall. What a place! History literally oozing out of the walls! #wiltonsmusichall #eastlondon #storyboxcollective #musichall
Tipped as the world's oldest and last surviving grand music hall, a five minute's walk from the Tower of London can bring you to Wilton's Music Hall. Guided tours are led by heritage experts, who offer incredible insight into the history of Wilton's and London's music hall scene. Architecturally, the building leaves you open-mouthed with awe, with faded yet striking interior throughout the music hall. A must-see, for sure.
Jive the night away at one of the world's last remaining 1950's style ballrooms, which has been used in music videos, films and massive competitions such as Strictly Come Dancing. Decadent and glistening, the original interior makes this a night to remember.
The only place in London that offers non-stop music, the rotating cast of musicians hop on and off stage throughout the night and only have a set to play if the audience get interacting. A request-only show, the audience creates the set list for an evening of all things music.
So get exploring in London- there's so much to see and do, and all off the beaten track.