The 33 London boroughs are home to some hidden gems just waiting to be discovered, whether they be underground bars, ice cream parlours or even an inner-city farm. Make sure get off that beaten track and start exploring.
Barking and Dagenham
Hiking Trail, Sports Center
Go-karting | Courtesy of Capital Karts
Capital Karts – Rippleside Adrenaline junkies need not leave the city to get their fix. Instead, visit the UK’s longest indoor race track and channel your inner Lewis Hamilton.
A hedgehog at Belmont Children's Farm | Courtesy of Belmont Children's Farm
Belmont Children’s Farm – Mill Hill Find some respite from busy city life on Mill Hill – from ferrets to alpacas you’ll be able to cuddle over 30 types of animal at this animal oasis, and feel your stress simply melt away. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s also an on-site waffle cafe.
Cocoa & Heart – Bexleyheath It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and Cocoa & Heart lets you do just that. From baking bread and making chocolate, to sewing and candle crafting, this hidden gem will inspire your creative side and leave you with a new skill, ready to impress your friends.
The front of the Lexi Cinema | Courtesy of Lexi Cinema
Lexi Cinema – Kensal Rise This is a cinema that makes a difference – donating 100% of their profits to a charity in rural South Africa. The cinema is mainly run by passionate volunteers,so visit to watch a film and gobble down popcorn knowing you have done some good.
Afternoon tea | Courtesy of The Lavender House Cafe
The Lavender House Cafe – Sundridge Park Whether you are looking for a weekend brunch or afternoon tea, this cosy little cafe provides a calm ambience and high-quality food and drink, with a great outdoor seating area to make the most of the summer sun.
Futuristic, scientific desserts with a variety of delicious flavours served by Europe’s first ever liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour. You had better hurry as this will not be a hidden gem for long – they’ve already opened a second location.
Matthews Yard decorated for a wedding | Courtesy of Matthews Yard
Matthews Yard – Surrey Street Nestled between Croydon’s east and west train stations, Matthews Yard is an exciting 10,000 square foot hub of creative activity, containing a crowd-funded theatre, an art gallery featuring local artists, two high-quality restaurants, as well as coworking spaces and artists’ studios. Why would you ever need to leave!
WA Cafe – Ealing Broadway Transport your taste buds to Japan at this independent Japanese patisserie in Ealing Broadway. The freshly-baked pastries look (almost) too good to eat and are served in beautiful Japanese crockery to really give you the authentic Japanese experience.
Chickenshed – Southgate This vibrant young theatre started out exactly as their name suggests – in a chicken shed. The company has grown considerably but their values have remained the same – they seek to bring together people of all backgrounds to produce outstanding theatre productions and educational experiences.
Greenwich Market – Greenwich Set within a World Heritage site, this historic, vibrant market makes for a great day out in Greenwich. Whittle away the hours looking at products from designer-makers, original artworks and eating mouth-watering street food, all under one roof.
An interior shot of Rio Cinema | Courtesy of Rio Cinema
Rio Cinema – DalstonThis gem comes in the form of a Grade II listed independent Art Deco cinema with a comprehensive programme of films and events throughout the year. The plush velvet seats, atmospheric music and red curtains also help create the great ambience.
Lyric– Hammersmith One of the UK’s leading producing theatres, the Lyric is known for its critically acclaimed theatrical work. As if this wasn’t reason enough to pay a visit, the Lyric is also home to a beautiful rooftop garden – a green oasis in the heart of Hammersmith.
Jam in a Jar – Green Lanes Whether in search of your Monday morning coffee or your Friday night cocktail, this simple, versatile bar is worth a visit at any time of day. The menu caters to all tastes, no matter if you are on a diet or in the mood to indulge, and the evening live music only adds to the chilled out atmosphere.
The Harrow’s, beer, pie and chips | Courtesy of The Harrow
The Harrow in Harrow – Harrow on the Hill For good food and some funky dance music, head to this pub in Harrow to liven up your Saturday night. With no shortage of large screens to cheer your team on over a beer, it’s also an ideal place for sports fans to catch the game.
Upminster TapRoom – Upminster A firm local favourite due to its cosy setting and friendly staff, this micropub offers an incredible array of constantly changing real ale and ciders sourced from micro-breweries, the first of its kind in Havering.
View from the garden | Courtesy of The Old Orchard
The Old Orchard – Harefield It is hard to believe you are still in London when admiring the panoramic view from this restaurant’s beer garden. When it is too cold to sit inside, the open fires, home-made food and around 120 types of whisky will keep you warm at this hidden gem.
Fuller’s Brewery – Chiswick Curious about how your beer is made? Pay a visit to London’s last family brewery and take a tour behind the scenes to have an insight into ale-making. Make sure you stay until the end, when you will have the opportunity to sample a full range of ales and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge.
Spanish Garden | Courtesy of Kensington Roof Gardens
The Roof Gardens–Kensington High Street A hundred feet above High Street Kensington, you’ll find one of the most glorious, glamorous and leafy spaces in London, offering amazing views of the city skyline complete with a swanky bar and restaurant. The best part? This garden is also home to a friendly flock of flamingos!
The Windmill–Brixton For an unforgettable live music experience, look no further than this independent venue. With a warm atmosphere and hosting excellent acts (bands such as The Vaccines, Noah & The Whale and Jamie T have played here), this hidden gem makes for a great night out in Lambeth.
Summer garden party | Courtesy of the Horniman Museum and Gardens
Horniman Museum and Gardens – Forest Hill Open since the Victorian times, this free museum offers visitors the unusual opportunity to get up close and personal with its artefacts, allowing you to pick them up and play with them as you please. The gardens also make for a beautiful outdoor spot in the summer.
River view of Olympic Park | Courtesy of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – Stratford Ever wondered what happened to the great Olympic facilities after 2012? They turned into a dynamic metropolitan centre featuring an urban park, playgrounds, an aquatic centre, and even the world’s longest tunnel slide!
Lizard Lounge – South Woodford For a range of delectable cocktails, head over to Lizard Lounge in South Woodford, an independent craft cocktail bar that also puts on a great show. Their experimental cocktail makes the most of fresh ingredients and will have you coming back for more – handy, then, that they are open every day of the week!
Rock & Rose Restaurant – Richmond For a glamorous and vibrant atmosphere, Rock & Rose has the recipe for success, serving beautifully presented cocktails alongside international cuisine. The bold decor is the cherry on top at this hidden gem.
Frank’s Cafe – Peckham As soon as summer comes along, this Peckham pop-up appears on the top of a multi-storey car park, serving its legendary Campari alongside cooling cocktails, whilst also playing host to a number of art installations – a hipster’s paradise!
The Old Bank – Sutton High Street Recently refurbished, this pub serves the classics, with all of the trimmings, for prices that will make you forget you are in London. What’s more, this is the only Sutton pub with a TV screen outside, allowing you to really soak in the summer sun.
Wilton’s Music Hall – Tower HillWilton’s Music Hall is the oldest grand music hall in the world, with over 300 years of history behind it. Today, it retains its natural charm and is a beautiful location where theatre, opera, dance, music, cinema, circus acts and other art forms find their natural home.
Live music | Courtesy of Luna - The home of live music
Luna Lounge – LeytonstoneLuna Lounge is proud of its reputation as the independent home of live music for the last 13 years. Having started out as a basement bar before extending into two whole floors of entertainment and live music, this funky bar offers an eclectic mix of music to suit all tastes, from open mic to psychedelic jazz funk.
The Ship – Wandsworth Located right on the water’s edge, this is the perfect location if you are craving good food and an even better atmosphere. The beer garden and conservatory are worth the visit alone, and perfect for watching the sun set over the Thames.
Cahoots – Soho Although tricky to find, the search is worth it for this tube-themed cocktail bar, complete with vintage, ’40s-style decor and an actor portraying a train guide to welcome you inside. The menus, in the form of broadsheet newspapers, reveal an endless choice of cocktails. All aboard for a night to remember!