With over a millennia of history behind it, the vast capital of London has plenty of hidden and surprising gems, quirky neighbourhoods and some fascinating facts to discover. When you’re visiting this magnificent city, it’s worth taking the path less travelled, to discover some of the lesser known treasures that can be found with a little extra effort. Read on to find out more about some of the more unusual parts of London, and start adding to your planning list of things to do on your next trip to the city that’ll add an extra layer of wonder to your stay.
Step into London’s Historic Markets
Having been an important trading city for centuries, London naturally has a long history of having all kinds of markets across the capital. You once would have found a marketplace for everything you could ever imagine, from meat and produce, colourful flowers, industrial materials, fabrics, and plenty more. Today, you can still find an amazing selection of things to find in a proper London market, and there are plenty of them to choose from.
A great advantage of staying at the Montcalm Royal London House is that you’ll be close by to many of the city’s traditional trading neighbourhoods, where many contemporary markets remain, often on the grounds of the original ones that once stood there. From one of the most stylish quirky London hotels, the Montcalm Royal London House, you can easily make your way across to Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, where you can find the famous Brick Lane market, held every Sunday, as well as the Columbia Road Flower Market, another Sunday regular occurrence in the city. Both of these are often full of rare treasures, and keen market hunters can be found getting to them early in the morning, in order to pick out the best treasures. Brick Lane’s market is ideal for finding all sorts of rare and unusual items, from vintage clothing and accessories, to vinyl records and furniture, while Columbia Road’s flower market is an excellent place to find beautiful bouquets of flowers, plants and more.
Explore London’s History
London is packed with museums and galleries covering everything from the city’s many different forms of transport over the years, to design, science, fashion and much more. Having played such an important role in the development and evolution of many industries, London’s museums are often a great place to discover some of the more surprising and quirkier facts about the capital. For instance, just a short distance from some of the city’s 5 star London city hotels, you can step back in time to the age of the Romans, with excavated remains of ancient temples and the ruins of the old city walls, coexisting side by side with the gleaming, ultra-modern facades of the modern capital.
If you’re keen to learn more about the history of the city and how it’s changed over thousands of years, then the Museum of London is a great place to start. Not only can you learn more about the role played by different civilisations across human history, including the Vikings, Romans and others, but you can also get an insight into what the place we now know as London once looked like during the pre-historic era, when dinosaurs, mammoths and other fascinating beasts roamed the ground.
Taste London’s Diverse Cultures
London is undoubtedly a melting pot of countless cultures, and has always been a welcome place for people from all walks of life, hailing from all over the world. Throughout its long history, the many different people that have come to the capital have brought their individual cultures, adding to London’s unique and unforgettable atmosphere. One of the most powerful ways we can experience this rich diversity of different cultures in the city is through the wealth of different kinds of food and drink available to try, and there really is plenty of it.
While many other towns and cities across the UK are often shaped by the presence of well-known food chains and brands, London stands out for being home to countless independent eateries, bars, restaurants and food markets, where you can find distinctive treats that you’d be hard pressed to uncover anywhere else. Check out Borough Market, for instance, a bustling and vibrant indoor market located under and around the arches by the South Bank, where you can follow your nose to discover all kinds of cuisine. An international array of street food stalls, ranging from rich Ethiopian curries to mouthwatering Raclette cheese are all ready to tempt you, while restaurant-grade ingredients can be found from the many artisan food and drink traders nearby. Elsewhere, such as in the bustling Soho neighbourhood, you’ll be spoilt for choice with an amazing selection of Asian restaurants in London’s colourful Chinatown district, as well as grocery stores and cafes where you can find delicious and surprising treats.
Hidden Gems in Popular Spots
Not all of London’s quirkier secrets are tucked away in side streets and obscure places; in fact, with a little effort, you’ll find some incredible treasures hidden in plain sight, amongst some of the most popular and commonly frequented parts of the city. Many of the capital’s popular attractions will often have surprising facts that are worth delving into - the majestic and enthralling St Paul’s Cathedral is world renowned for its magnificent architecture, but it also has a secret whispering gallery built into its curved walls, a hidden spot where two people can subtly communicate across the huge space, without being overheard by anyone else.
One of the most famous landmarks of all in London, the spectacular Buckingham Palace, is a treasure trove of quirky facts all on its own - for example, ancient fossils are part of the walls of the building itself that are up to 200 million years old. While not all of London’s quirky facts are obvious at first glance, it’s definitely worth looking a little closer to learn more about this special city.