For guests of the Montcalm Spa, it can be very easy to spend an entire London holiday ticking off those major tourist attractions in the city centre. It might even be the case that you never actually get a chance to leave the London Square Mile! This could be a real shame in hindsight, London’s 1500 square kilometre size carries many hidden secrets that could prove to be the real highlights of your trip to the London capital, if you have the time to dive into them.
For guests of the Montcalm Hotel Chiswell Street looking to broaden the horizons of their London trip, this selection of off the beaten track landmarks and attractions could help you scale up your map of the city and learn something new about it.
Customers of Montcalm afternoon tea and hotel will probably be well acquainted with Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, but there are many other beautiful parks across the city that have contributed to creating the designated “green city” that London is today. From royal parks outside of the city centre to forgotten garden gems, London is teeming with historic and beautiful green spaces.
Originally built by Charles I as a deer hunting park, Richmond Park is now a 2500 acre royal park that still houses semi-wild deer, scientific research reserves and plenty of woodland for you to explore. As one of the outer London royal parks, it may take an hour or so to travel to from the centre of the city, but the journey is well worth the Thamesside natural beauty emanating from Richmond’s crowning jewel.
Considered the little sister of Richmond Park, Bushy Park is situated close to Hampton Court Palace, on the border of Teddington and Kingston Bridge. Spanning 1100 acres, it is the second largest of the Royal Parks and the furthest out of the city centre. Mostly consisting of rugged grasslands and heaths – similar to Richmond Park – Bushy Park has signs of habitation as far back as the Bronze Age but is home to a range of well renowned man made monuments including the Arethusa Diana Fountain, designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
A green stretch of the lower Lea Valley, overground users travelling from Liverpool Street into Walthamstow may pass over the fertile belt of nature reserve but not actually visit it. Canalside trails and green fields abound, Hackney Marshes makes for beautiful respite from the surrounding east end busyness. Your best route to the marshes is via Clapton Station or Hackney Wick Station on the overground.
You can actually loop through Walthamstow Wetlands on your way to or from the aforementioned Hackney Marshes as they are connected through the Lea River and Regent’s Canal systems. The Walthamstow Wetlands were originally part of the Lea Valley Waterworks reservoir chain but after the Victorian era, fell into disrepair. It has now been renovated into a nature reserve, accommodating a wide variety of migrating birds and woodland habitats.
From Kensington Row to the British Museum, London’s most famous museums are within Westminster and the City of London. But travel a little further out and you’ll be surprised at the quaint and quirky educational institutions across the city.
Built by tea magnate heir Frederick Horniman, the lively architecture of this Arts & Crafts styled museum is just the beginning of the magical journey awaiting visitors inside. Free to visit, the Horniman’s permanent collection was spawned from the trinkets and artefacts Horniman himself collected on his worldwide travels. Exhibits include a live bee colony, ancient musical instruments and many taxidermy animals from the Victorian era, a must visit for guests of the Montcalm luxury hotel with smaller children.
Royal Maritime Museum
The Royal Maritime Museum is situated in Greenwich Park, mentioned above, and charts the history of England’s seafaring heritage. Once a major trading port, the Royal Maritime museum is home to a wealth of artefacts and a reconstruction of famous merchant ship The Cutty Sark.
Cultural centres and parks are well worth a wander if you have the time but every now and then, you’ll be strapped for it. These landmarks are easy to reach from the city centre and are quick drop ins, meaning you can get back to your agenda in no time at all.
The London Stone
Having been a visitors attraction as far back as the Elizabethan era, the London Stone’s origins are unclear but it is thought to date back as far as the Roman occupation of England. The stone itself is now housed in a display on Cannon Street in the City of London and could easily be overlooked.
The Waterloo Vaults
If you can’t visit the atmospheric performing arts venue housed in this underpass beneath Waterloo Station, then at least walk through the tunnel in which it’s built. The Waterloo Vaults is a designated street art zone, the origins of which date back to the Cans Festival in 2008, organised by street artist Banksy. Nowadays, the 300 metre tunnel is an ever changing kaleidoscope of graffiti, making it a transportative experience that may be different every time you pass.
St Dunstans-In-The-East is a beautiful example of how a Mediaeval church has evolved and endured into the modern day. An oasis of calm in the busy London Bridge and Tower Bridge area, St Dunstan’s-In-The-East was mostly destroyed in the Blitz, but its ruins were redeveloped into a quiet garden full of flower beds and creeping ivy. The manicured green, benches and atmospheric church ruins makes it a beautiful lunch spot for office workers and tourists alike.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Most people will have heard of Brick Lane and Portobello Road markets, but Columbia Road Flower Market is a local secret. Taking place every Sunday morning in the Haggerston area, Columbia Road’s colourful terraced houses are brightened up even more by the houseplant and flower market every weekend. The tradition of flower markets on this road date back to the 1860s, and the truly local feel still remains today. Though travellers staying at hotels and accommodation in London may have a tricky time transporting any plants or flowers bought here back to their home, the market itself is definitely worth a visit if for nothing more than its atmosphere.