London is a pretty magical city.
It is home to nearly 9 million people and has developed a unique and wonderful culture during its 2,000 year existence.
There are incredible structures that are iconic all around the world, cultural institutions that are imitated but never replicated, and historic sites that tell an incredible story, scattered throughout the city.
It’s a truly incredible place to spend a holiday, so take full advantage of the amazing London hotel packages currently available and book a room at the The Montcalm Royal London House; not only is it one of the best spa hotels London has to offer, it’s also home to one of the best Finsbury Square restaurants and puts you in the perfect position to explore this glorious city.
Many people who have lived in London for many years still find themselves discovering new delights, so how on earth can a tourist be expected to enjoy everything the city has to offer?
Hopefully this quick guide to some of the most amazing hidden gems, and unmissable Icons in the West End will help you to plan your trip to the city and make the most of your time here!
We’ve all seen London’s icons countless times- let’s check out something a new.
Something off the beaten track, or even on the beaten track, but simply passed over by most who visit!
Cecil Court | Covent Garden
Cecil Court is a true hidden gem in this well trodden area of the city- although a certain bespectacled wizard is doing his best to make it better known.
Cecil Court is essentially a small alleyway between Covent Garden and Leicester Square, and it is jam packed with independent bookshops, boutique stores and antiques dealers.
It has kept its Victorian aesthetic right down to the gorgeous street lamps that illuminate the street.
It poses a striking resemblance to J.K Rowling's description of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books, and as she lived in the area for a while it would be fair to assume it was a source of inspiration to her.
Kingly Court | Soho
This is one of the very best spots in Soho to grab some food- and it’s incredibly beautiful as an added bonus.
Kingly Court is a 3 storey, open air courtyard that is home to many incredible little cafes, restaurants and pop-ups serving some of the best food in the city.
This series of alleys is packed with colour and hidden from the view of many exploring Soho- there are three small entrances that are easily missed, so keep your eyes peeled!
Mayfair Shopping Arcade | Mayfair
This incredible series of shopping arcades were originally built for the wives of Victorian society’s elite.
The sheltered walkways and incredibly fancy shops kept them separated from the commoners on the street, away from the dirt of London and sheltered from the notorious weather by the beautiful iron and glass ceilings.
They were lavishly decorated and housed some of the finest stores in the country- which has not changed at all.
The Burlington Arcade, The Royal Arcade and The Piccadilly Arcade are all worth a visit, and each is as unique and sophisticated as the last.
Daunt Books | Marylebone
Daunt Books is thought to be the very first purpose built bookshop in the world.
It is home to a wide and varied collection of books from all over the world, and actually organises its books by country rather than genre, making browsing for your next read a treat in itself.
The shop itself is an old Edwardian building packed with English oak shelves and a stunning oaken stairway. There are gorgeous traditional skylights in the ceiling making it a beautifully bright space, and the arched window at the end of the room is a thing of true beauty.
Now that we’ve been off the beaten track a little, it’s time to talk about the key attractions in the area- you can’t visit London without ticking at least a couple of these off your list.
But we’d recommend all of them!
Covent garden | Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of the most visited places in the city.
The area started off as a garden belonging to a convent (you see where the name came from!), and was later turned into an upscale area for the wealthy and respectable- the only thing that ruined these plans was the amazing market that quickly became one of the most popular in the city.
Fast forward to modern times the gorgeous old Victorian Market building has been turned into one of the most beautiful and unique shopping areas in the city, packed with boutique stores, great food and international fashion icons.
Just outside is the stunning Piazza which makes you feel like you’ve stepped directly into northern Italy.
Enjoy the amazing street performers, beautiful architechture and a lovely coffee in the great outdoors.
National gallery | Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery was actually the first government owned collection of art work made available for public viewing.
It is home to some of the greatest masterpieces ever created and is still one of the world’s preeminent galleries to this day.
You’ll see the likes of da Vinci, Vermeer, Boticelli and many more- but best of all is that the gallery is free for all to enter and enjoy.
Chinatown | City of Westminster
If you’re looking for a break in western culture, or simply looking for a stunning meal, then Chinatown is the place to head.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of London and straight into the far east as you see amazing architecture, Asian grocery stores and a staggering amount of fantastic Asian restaurants.
If you’re after dumplings then Chinatown is the place for you; or maybe you’re more into Thai food- you’ll find it here too!
Get stuck in and explore one of the most exciting and culturally colourful neighbourhoods in the city.
Explore London’s West End
The West End district has a lot to offer aside from the obvious theatres and world class plays.
Fill your day exploring this wonderful area then finish it off with a show in one of the city’s historic theatres.
Sounds like a pretty perfect day to me.