London for the Hip and Now
The city of London is arguably the greatest city on the planet. It has the grandeur of the centuries before combined with marvels of the 21st Century. London is both new and old but all the while brilliant. With a land mass of 1,572 km2 there is a lot of it to see so preparation is absolutely imperative.
by TJ Morris Caption: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is a must-see destination in London
It is well documented what is in London. Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament (pictured) are all just a few of the cultural landmarks that preside in the city. Naturally, when people visit the city they want to visit all these iconic landmarks. Now there is nothing wrong with that at all but there is more to London than the sights. Like any city, the best way to experience everything that London has to offer is not by seeing it, but by living it.
Below is a slightly more alternative guide to London. The impetus will not be on the landmarks with which we are already familiar. Rather, we will be looking at the London that doesn’t feature in guidebooks and usually gets missed out. We will look at what London has to offer us youngsters. Those of us that like to think of ourselves as hip and now.
Camden Town is one of the coolest places on the planet. There can be little disputing that. It is a place where genuine punks convene. With its alternative nature, anyone can be anyone in Camden. The look of amazement is usually transfixed on every newcomers face. Never before will have you seen so many piercings.
The market is what attracts most people to the borough. With more than 1,000 stores offering unique, different and special items it is almost impossible not to fall in love with something. Whether you are a fan of bespoke jewellery or edgy tees you will be saturated by Camden.
by tombream07 Caption: The coolest of the cool visit Camden Town’s market
Away from the markets the music scene flourishes. The late Amy Winehouse lived in the area whilst it was also a famous hangout for the notorious Pete Doherty. For those unfamiliar with Doherty, he is the hell-raising front man from The Libertines, and he can quite often be spotted in one of the many bars that prosper in this part of the world.
If you were hoping to see some live entertainment then a trip to The Roundhouse is well advised. What was once a railway engine shed is now one of the most historic music venues in the world, let alone the country. The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Clash, the Ramones, Oasis and Lady Gaga are all but a few that have graced its stage, while next year Interpol, Black Label Society, The Stranglers and Papa Roach will all be performing.
Music is not confined to the Roundhouse. Every bar in Camden has some sort of entertainment at any given time. While the bars themselves are some of the most hipster you could ever encounter.
London is flush with sporting prowess yet its sporting institutions are often amiss in guides. Currently, London is classed as the sporting capital of the world so it makes little to no sense not to experience the sports on offer.
Football is the sport of choice for Brits and it seemingly looks like that the Premier League title will be returning to London after a four-year absence in Manchester. Chelsea, who are owned by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, look likely to be champions of England. Their stadium, Stamford Bridge, is an intimate venue while the vociferous crowd make for boisterous atmosphere. Away from Chelsea, you have perennial under-performers Arsenal, who play at the fantastic Emirates Stadium, their rivals, Tottenham, and the rumbustious West Ham; watching them play at Upton Park will leave lasting memories. These are just a few of the teams that are from London.
by EEPaul Caption: Watching a game at Upton Park is an unforgettable experience
Due to London being the capital it is the home of all national stadia. There is Wembley for the football side, it also serves as a venue for NFL matches and may soon be treated to its very own team. Twickenham is the home of the national rugby side while Lords is the spiritual home of English cricket.
Betting has always been part of London’s make-up. Greyhound racing has always been a popular excursion for the people of London. Whilst the city is also in near proximity to two of Britain’s most premier horse racing destinations. Ascot Racecourse is less than half-an-hour away and attracts royalty as well as endless A-List celebrities. With the summer sun shining bright behind you and a glass of Pimms in your hand there really is no better way to spend the afternoon and if you have a bet that pays off then it is made all the better. Epsom Downs, the home of the Derby, is also on the outer cusps of the city.
London is a gastronomic delight. It is one of the best places in the world for haute cuisine. However, too much is written about these establishments. Now this isn’t to say that they don’t deserve the praise and the write ups, but simply, they are just restaurants. The food served is good but it can also border on pretentious. So instead of talking about Gordon Ramsay’s latest eatery or the latest flavour combination that Heston Blumenthal has managed to create let us look at some of the more quirky restaurants that have set up shop in London.
Dans le Noir, Clerkenwell, is a novel idea. The restaurant is in complete darkness, meaning that you have to rely on your other senses to compensate for your lack of sight. Instead of ordering what you want to eat you tell them what you can’t, from there you get treated to a culinary delight. Not only is the food delicious but it also serves an educational purpose to your palate as you eat food that you may never think of ordering.
There are very few places that have an interior that can compare to that of Beach Blanket Babylon (pictured). BBB, as it lovingly referred to, is found in an old Georgian Mansion in the middle of Notting Hill. Decadence is very much the word of the day. BBB with its fine art, ornate tables, Georgian furniture which harks back to the grandiose days of British colonial rule. Despite the size of the place it is impossible not to feel intimate. The menu is everything that you would expect from a setting like this… fantastic. Besides the food, the cocktails are also well noted, the Porn Star is one of the more popular choices. Imagine Baroque mixed with Boho Chic, Rococo and French Country style Chateau and you have BBB. Unique is an understatement.
by Ewan-M Caption: BBB has one of the hippest menus around
Archipelago goes to great lengths to introduce different types of meat to the public. Often we are too cautious when it comes to our food, many palettes border on the mundane. A trip to Archipelago quickly changes people’s misconceptions. The restaurant serves meals that have their origins from the far reaches of the world. Whether you want some crocodile stuffed vine leaves, crispy zebra jerky, sweet-chilli smoked python, marinated kangaroo or some alpaca then Archipelago is definitely the place for you.
You should check Inamo out for its ordering system alone. This Asian fusion restaurant has the world’s first interactive ordering system, which is beamed onto your table. Not only can you order your meal, you can choose your virtual tablecloth, watch the chefs cook your grub on the “Chef Cam” and much more. In essence, you control the ambiance of your evening. In tandem with the unique ordering system is high end haute cuisine. The idea of being able to summon Korean Glazed Pig Cheeks with just one click of a finger is quite frankly superb, whilst the taste is equal to its lofty surroundings. If you are going for a party you can personalise your table with your own images in advance.
If you are hoping to rub shoulders with the rich and famous then the Chiltern Firehouse is the place to start. This former fire station not only serves up gourmet food it is a magnet for celebrities. David Beckham, Lindsay Lohan, Rita Ora, Kate Moss, Orlando Bloom, Bradley Cooper, Kylie Minogue and just about anyone who is anyone visits the place.
When it comes to clubs you will be hard pressed to find better ones than those found in London. The 2,500 capacity Fabric nightclub is a mainstay in DJ Magazine’s top-10 best clubs. For fans of house music then Fabric is your calling. The DJs, the lighting, the ambiance and the exposed walls really give Fabric a feel like no other. As for the sound, well that is top-notch. The beauty of having a club underground means that you can absolutely blast the music, something that Fabric does with much aplomb. Considering that closing time is 6AM you should definitely be danced out by the time the doors open. The only downside to Fabric is leaving and going back to normality.
by Nick Melhert Caption: Fabric is an underground contrast to normality
At the other side of the nightclub spectrum is the exclusive Chinawhite. This luxury nightclub in the heart of Fitzrovia is stunning. With magnums of champagne flowing freely and Grey Goose seemingly appearing out of nowhere it is certainly a high-brow knees up. If you have the dollar, you will need a lot of it, then Chinawhite will be able to satisfy all of your clubbing demands.
Weird has also been able to flourish in London. Some clubs there border on lunacy, but who cares when you are having fun. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities certainly falls into this bracket. Wynd is an art collector with no limits, all of his curations are on show inside this truly unique club. Having a drink surrounded by truly grotesque and freaky things is certainly a fresh approach to Saturday nights. Some of the pieces include a tray of bat skulls, mummified cats, a two-headed lamb, skeletons and even jarred celebrity excrement. Crazy is somewhat of an understatement.
Then there is the cool, the really cool. The Studio@London Cocktail Club is a secret drinking den, and undeniably the coolest karaoke bar you could ever fathom going to. Get you and your mates together and chip in for a bottle of Ketel One Vodka which you can then use to make your own concoctions or you can call on the private mixologist to conjure something up for you. Either way they will be have the same end result. Once you have had a few jars head over to the studio, where DJ decks and a ridiculous karaoke set-up await. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think they are a DJ after some units?
To conclude, you can just about go anywhere in London and have a wicked time. It is a wicked city that seemingly never sleeps. If you have the cheese and the time then you will have some serious fun in Europe’s finest city.
Source: Wiki Image