Think you’ve seen all there is to see in London? Think again. Beyond the touristy guidebooks is another side of London laden with more hidden gems that even a genie might struggle to conjure up that many. So hidden, in fact, that even many Londoners won’t have heard some of them.
There are hundreds of them. Some quirky, some unique. But all amazing and all waiting to be discovered by you. I’ve been lucky to have stumbled across many and as someone who enjoys sharing awesome stuff with you all as much as Donald Trump likes to spit out complete and utter rubbish, here are my top hidden gems in London which you must absolutely see and explore. I’ll be revealing five at a time!
1) 2 Temple Place in Temple/Embankment
A tour around London’s legal establishment is a surprisingly fascinating trip in its own right with all the traditions and historical buildings. Perhaps I am bit biased in saying so given my legal background 😂 But did you know that right next door to the right honourable society of Middle Temple Inns of Court lies a hidden architectural gem that is 2 Temple Place?
A bastion for culture and philanthropy, 2 Temple Place showcases publicly owned galleries and collection from around the UK, as well as hosting numerous events and exhibitions. Mere minutes walk away from Temple/Embankment station, this amazing neo-gothic mansion has all the grandeur of a state house but has the feel and intimacy of a private house party. The interior decor is just as amazing as the exhibition they hold with dark wood everywhere, intricate carvings and a fireplace. I was extremely lucky to be invited to an after-hours Egyptian event to back in 2015. It’s basically a mini British Museum without the massive crowds. Sadly, it’s only open to the public for only 4 months of the year between January – April. But it is free.
2) Severndroog Castle in Eltham
Way back in the early days of my blog, I said Severndroog Castle as one of London’s best-kept secret. More of a tower than a castle if truth be told, the best part is the top of the castle which offers an incredible 360-degree view of London. I am told that you can see as many as seven counties from this viewpoint. SEVEN?! Landmarks such as the majestic arches of Wembley Stadium 16 miles away are also visible. You can explore the rest of the castle which is spread over three floors where you’ll learn all there is know about the castle and how it got its strange name. It may not free but it’s a measly £3 entrance to see inside. There’s also a nice little coffee area with outdoor seating to freshen up.
3) The Masonic Room in the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street station, City of London
Perhaps one of London’s best-kept secrets, The Masonic Temple in the depths of the Andaz Hotel is an opulent room of Italian marbles. It’s like you’ve stumbled into an Illuminati hideout. The temple is mere seconds away from Liverpool Street station in the City of London. How I’ve not known about this till now is incredible! Nowadays, The Masonic Temple plays the perfect host to all kinds of events from cinema screening to weddings. I discovered it for the very first time after I was invited along to watch a screening of ‘Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy film ‘Pan’s Labrinth’. To see this hidden gem yourself, check their website to see what events are being held and book a ticket. It’s unlike any venue you’ve visited before.
4) Point Hill in Greenwich
By now everyone will have heard of and seen the incredible views from the top of Greenwich Park. But not many will have heard of little known Point Hill nearby.
The tranquillity and lack of human presence is a clue as to how well the locals has kept this gem away from the crowd! In fact, it’s so secret that there is still a sign that shows you how London’s skyline looked from that viewpoint in 1983! The journey to the top may feel steeper than Everest, but for those who succeed, the view you’ll be greeted with and the calm of it all makes it worthwhile. I had the entire place t myself from which I can admire the view without muscling around people for the best spot.
Alas, I can’t find my images from my visit but if you are ever in Greenwich and have time to kill, I suggest you visit this peaceful (and hidden!) gem to discover a new vantage point of London. It’s not far from Greenwich Park at all.
5) BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple in Neasden
Also known as Neasden Temple, BAPS was built entirely using traditional methods and material as prescribed from the ancient Vedic manuscript. Take a moment to admire the intricate carvings and gleaming marble walls and stairs when you’re inside. Neasden Temple is said to be first Hindu temple in Britain and one of the largest Hindu temples in the world outside of India. As a place of religious worship, photography is not permitted inside, sadly. Also expect to pass through airport security style checks before you enter. Bags are not allowed inside either but luckily there is a storage room nearby guarded by the temple’s keepers. Neasden may not be the most attractive side of London, but this temple is worth visiting. General admission is free. However, if you wish to find out more about the Hinduism, there is an exhibition with an entrance fee inside. It’s cheap, though 🙂
Have you visited any of these hidden gems? Which is your favourite? Which would you like to visit the most if you’ve not been? I’d love to see your pictures too! Where would you recommend next?
Next week, I’ll reveal five more hidden gems to see in London 🙂