London is one of the most landmark-laden cities in Europe, almost every statue, monument and building in the city centre has a story behind it that is primed for walking tours. But whether you’re staying at the Montcalm Royal London House for a night or a week, it can be difficult to stray from the obvious tourist draws. Prominent landmarks like the London Eye and Big Ben catch the eye and mean that your focus is drawn away from the lesser known and the more subtle tourist attractions.
So if you want to stray from the beaten track and see a different side of London, these one of a kind landmarks and tourist attractions offer side streets, quiet oases of calm and unique stories that will no doubt elevate your visit to the city.
The Barbican Conservatory
The Barbican Conservatory is the second largest of its kind in London, and inundates visitors with a jaw-dropping 1500 plant species, all of which were planted in the early 80s. As a one of a kind green space, the Barbican Conservatory is often overlooked due to the immensity of its accompanying complex’s programming. If you get a moment though, this tranquil oasis of calm is open on selected days of the week from 12 pm, but is subject to advanced booking. Easy to reach from hotels near Old Street London, the conservatory is well worth that extra few minutes of organization.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
The Sir John Soane's Museum is situated close to the banks of the Thames beside Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is easy to reach from hotels near Old Street London. Much like the better known Wallace Collection, is a house museum comprising the artworks of an esteemed former Londoner. As you’d expect from the home of a Victorian neo-Classical architect, the Sir John Soane's Museum incorporates models of his past work alongside his collection of decorative and master artworks.
The Painted Hall
Part of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the Painted Hall has recently been restored to its beautiful former grandness. Located within what is now the Royal Maritime Museum, the Painted Hall was designed by baroque painter James Thornhill between 1707 and 1726. Used as a dining hall, the Painted Hall was painted by hand in painstaking detail, and its restoration makes for a truly magical hidden gem in London.
Though Richmond Park is well known as one of the biggest and most serene royal parks in the city, its botanic garden nestled roughly in its centre is less spoken about. The beautiful rhododendrons, though technically a weed, add dashes of colour to this rewilded marshland that dates back hundreds of years.
Built in the 70s, one could easily miss the turnoff for Neal’s Yard, the result of an eco-activist and businessman Nicholas Saunders launching a wholefood warehouse in the area. The square is bordered by brightly coloured houses and shops, ranging from hairdressers to cafes, all of which maintain the eco-ethos of its founder. What makes Neal’s Yard such an amazing secret is that it is nestled right in the heart of Covent Garden, one of London’s busiest shopping districts.