Now that there are no doubt thousands of tourists stumbling up from the underground and wondering where to go apart from Westfield and Macca’s, I thought I’d publish the ten places in London I am feeling particularly fond of today. If you like the sound of them you can buy my e-book, where you’ll find many more (details below).
1. The Grapes
There’s a row of pubs in Limehouse, which you can reach by ambling along the canal from Hackney. My top choice would be The Grapes, a creaky old place with a tiny balcony out the back perched over the Thames; when the tide is high it’s a bit like drinking beer on a Victorian barge. Dickens used to drink here, and you can catch something of that time in the rich atmosphere (it was established in 1583).
76 Narrow Street, Limehouse, London, E14 8BP
020 7987 4396
Open: Mon-Wed 12pm-3pm & 5.30pm-11pm; Thur-Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-10.30pm.
2. Whitechapel Gallery
This is the kind of gallery you’d see in a Woody Allen film. All soaring white walls and contemporary photography and elegant people having witty conversations in the restaurant or exchanging loaded glances in the bookshop. Just fabulous. Good exhibitions too…
77-82 Whitechapel High Street E1 7QX
Telephone: 020 7522 7888
Open: Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun 11am-6pm; Thur 11am-9pm
3. Victoria Park
Bestowed on the people of the East End by Queen Victoria – a green lung in that smoky era – it is still one of the most beautiful parks in all of London. Fantastic playgrounds, beautiful avenues to walk along and a canal running along one side towards the Thames.
Open daily, 6am until dusk.
Tube: Mile End, or local buses.
4. The Royal Inn on the Park
Two meals are sacrosanct in England – the Sunday Roast and the Hungover Fry-up. Royal Inn on the Park, a beautiful old pub right on Victoria Park, does a very good Sunday roast, and you can walk it off with a stroll through the park. The roast beef is very good: two huge slices of rare sirloin beef, spuds, carrots, dark gravy, red cabbage and horseradish. And they have real ales and pear cider on tap. There’s a huge beer garden (read: stay away on hot weekends) and it’s kid and dog friendly so a good one for families.
111 Lauriston Rd, London, E9 7HJ
Telephone: 020 898 5332
Open: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-10.30pm. Kitchen open: Monday – bar menu only; Tues-Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm; Sun 12.30-4pm
Tube: Mile End, or get the 277 bus from Highbury & Islington
5. Viktor Wynd Fine Art
Quirky, creepy and sometimes shocking, the exhibitions at Viktor Wynd Fine Art aim to promote an eclectic range of artists; in this it succeeds. Viktor Wynd himself is an artist who helps run The Last Tuesday Society, which holds spectacular balls and parties, as well as lectures delving into all kinds of weird and wonderful subjects. Upstairs is a changing exhibition space and shop, downstairs a showcase of garish specimens – deformed skeletons, old dolls, even a child’s white coffin. Not a gallery for the delicate, or easily spooked, but bold and fascinating.
11 Mare Street E8 4RP
Telephone: 020 7998 3617
Open: Sat 11- 8pm.
Tube: Bethnal Green