London is a city that has existed for almost 2 millennia. The English capital city has been ruled by Romans, Saxons, Normans and Tudors in its long and tumultuous history, making it one of the most fascinating places for tourists to visit. From accommodation on the city’s outskirts to its best hotels in London’s city centre, there’s always something to learn about amidst the alleys, waterways and green spaces.
The city has been built and rebuilt over the years, from Viking invasions to the Great Fire of London, so it’s no surprise to find that there are hidden streets, squares and waterways littered amidst its skyscrapers and cultural institutions. From areas lost to time but still remembered today to those side alleys that hint at a whole different side of the city, this blog will provide guests of the Montcalm spa and toher London hotels with a guide to hidden London.
London’s Hidden Streets
London’s many secrets may have been paved over or fallen victim to regeneration projects, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find traces of them, or indeed entire alleys, houses and landmarks from their past. Below are some of the best hidden streets where you’ll not only find out a little about London’s history, but present day shopping, dining and entertainment in the city as well.
St Christopher’s Place
Situated just off of Oxford Street, this one’s very easy to reach from Finsbury Square London Hotels. The beautiful street is home to cafes and independent shopping opportunities, but is very much blink and you’ll miss it. Look out for the purple clock on Oxford Street that marks the entrance to St Christopher’s Place.
Lambs Conduit Street
If you’re on a day trip to the British Museum then this nearby historic street might pass you by if you’re not looking for it. Lamb’s Conduit Street though, is a hidden wonder for alternative bookshops and vintage fashion, providing a deep dive into London’s intelligentsia culture. On top of this, the street itself was named after a conduit – or cistern – on the street that back in the 16th century, fed the now subterranean River Fleet. The Lamb in the name is after William Lambe, who in 1564, made a large charitable contribution to the rebuilding of the aforementioned conduit.
Marylebone High Street is an attraction in and of itself thanks to its many fashion and independent shopping opportunities. Guests of Montcalm hotels in the area are well placed to take a deep dive into the Baker Street area and should make sure to seek out Marylebone Lane, often overshadowed by the larger street. The lane offers more than just peace and quiet from the busy Marylebone High Street though, there are plenty of dining and boutique shopping experiences that will transport you back to early 20th century London in their style and atmosphere.
St Martin’s Courtyard
St Martin’s Courtyard is a hidden gem of the Covent Garden shopping scene. If you don;t know where to look, then you’ll undoubtedly miss it, much like the higher publicised Neal’s Yard nearby. St Martin’s Courtyard, though, stands out as a hangout spot for commuters and lifestyle shopping hub incorporating terraced cafe seating, eateries and more. A perfect respite from the hubbub of Covet Garden, this beautiful courtyard is a beautiful addition to the warrenous shopping scene of this stylish West End neighbourhood.
Kingly Court is a must-visit for foodies exploring the Soho area of the West End. located just off of Beak Street, Kingly Court has restaurants fitting its name, though you’ll have to plan accordingly due to the pop up nature of these temporary eateries. With programmes changing at least every month, this hidden gem in busy Soho will have something for all taste buds.
Known as the “Golden Mile of Vinyl ”, Berwick Street is a must for music loving guests of hotels near Chiswell Street London who have worn out Shoreditch’s many record and vinyl shops. Berwick Street is home to a wealth of options for music lovers, from the collectibles to new releases, but doesn’t stop there, visitors looking for a bite to eat will love the cafes here, whilst if fashion’s more your thing, the bespoke tailors of Berwick Street give Saville Row a run for its money.
Little Compton Street
Though it no longer exists, people visiting what is now Charing Cross Road can find traces of Little Compton Street between Old Compton Street and Charing Cross Road. A grille between the two streets can be found on the corner, underneath which is a sign for Little Compton Street. Unfortunately, this doesn’t act as evidence of a subterranean London hidden beneath the city streets, but an old collection of subterranean worker tunnels that were used to carry goods in the late 19th century. However, the sign still proved a purpose, that is to help workers navigate these tunnels, and at one point they ran beneath this street of London old.
Dating back to the 13th century, Brompton Cross is situated close to Hyde Park and is home to uniquely Italianate buildings known as the London Oratory. There’s a lot more history to this Chelsea area, and the street is teeming with beautiful echoes of London’s mediaeval past.
London’s Hidden Parks
London is home to a wealth of beautiful parks that you may not know about from a first foray into the city. These include the beautiful church ruins of St Dunstan’s-In-The-East, equidistant from both London Bridge and the Tower of London. On top of this, Postman’s Park in the city of London acts as a source of respite for busy commuters and even has a plaque commemorating the lives of normal, everyday Londoners who sacrificed their lives to save others.
Other parks that are well worth visiting include Kyoto Gardens and the Isabella Plantation in Hyde Park. Both offer different types of serene quiet amidst the busy parks. Other beautiful and often overlooked parks include the Magnificent Seven cemeteries, where you can walk amidst rewilded land and old, 19th century memorials.