Explore London’s Top 10 Hidden Gems

  1. Home
  2. London
  3. Leisure
  4. Explore London’s Top 10 Hidden Gems
Sky Garden via Facebook

Unveiling the unseen: Embark on a journey through London's best kept secrets, revealing hidden gems beyond the tourist trail...

Delve into the concealed wonders of London, where historic corners, hidden artworks, and captivating architecture lie off the typical tourist radar. These hidden gems, often free to explore and a great way to discover something new within our beloved capital. From ancient Roman temples nestled in The City to tranquil high viewpoints in South London, these treasures are a stones throw away from your typical attractions, and often a fraction of the price. Amidst the city's celebrated landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, these lesser-known wonders demand attention, offering a realm of eccentricity that remains steadfast against the tide of mass attention.

Embrace a city beyond the ordinary checklist, where secluded bars within public restrooms and enchanting alleyway houses hold captivating secrets. Read on to discover more!

Isabella Plantation

Royal Parks via Facebook

Richmond Park, Richmond TW10 5HS

Whilst Richmond Park (one of the biggest in London) may not be so much of a 'hidden gem', what lies within it is. Discreetly nestled within the confines of Richmond Park is the stunning Isabella Plantation; a 40-acre woodland garden with roots in a Victorian plantation established in the 1830's. The true magic here emerges in late April and early May, when the landscape is bedecked with the vibrant blossoms of evergreen azaleas, painting the ponds and streams in a riot of colors. Beyond its picturesque charm, Isabella Plantation stands as a biodiversity haven, with its diverse flora and fauna, from fungi and butterflies to over 70 bird species and even six types of bats. Streams and ponds have been thoughtfully nurtured to serve as vital corridors for wildlife, and the heather garden pays homage to natural heathland, attracting butterflies and other insects.

This garden isn't just a visual delight; it's a vibrant ecosystem that fosters life in its myriad forms. As you traverse the paths, you'll encounter the rhythmic beats of woodpeckers and the graceful flights of sparrowhawks. Amidst the captivating scenery, remember that Isabella Plantation isn't just a hidden sanctuary; it's a testament to London's innate connection with nature, an enchanting realm thriving with secrets waiting to be discovered. Best yet, entry is free.

<> 'Roman' Bath House Off Strand

5 Strand Ln, Aldwych, London WC2R 1AP

Unearthed beneath the bustling Strand in Westminster lies the Strand Lane Baths with their cryptic charm – London's ambiguous Roman Baths, or perhaps not. Shrouded in debate due to their location a mile from Roman London's walls, these enigmatic relics remain a conundrum. Victorian writers like Walter Thornbury fueled the myth, describing them as ancient remnants dating back to Roman times, although conclusive evidence remains elusive.

Regardless of their true origins, these baths boast a fascinating history. Once renowned for releasing 10 tonnes of spring water daily, they became a byword for cleanliness. Transitioning into a water source by the 19th century, the baths continue to intrigue visitors today. Found just off the Strand's eastern end, their modest window and by-appointment access offer a whimsical dive into history, leaving curious minds to ponder their mysterious past – Roman, Tudor, or somewhere in between.

Little Venice

Little Venice © Will Rodrigues / Shutterstock.com

Little Venice might lack masquerade balls and gilded basilicas, but it brings a Venetian touch to the city's waterways. With its meandering canals, leisurely boats, and charming waterside eateries, it's a miniature escape to Italy's floating marvel. Stroll along the canalside paths for a picturesque amble or indulge in a leisurely lunch cruise aboard the London Shell Co. – a slice of Venice with a British twist that's sure to enchant even the most discerning explorer.

Sky Garden

Sky Garden Via Facebook

1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF

Fancy a twist on your garden escapade? Why not check out Sky Garden? Perched atop the concrete jungle otherwise known as London, is this spectacular garden offering not only greenery but sensational views too- all for free! While it might not have Venetian canals or ornate basilicas, it compensates with unparalleled 360-degree vistas of London's iconic skyline. Marvel at exquisitely landscaped gardens, observation decks, and an open-air terrace that lets you savor the city from a spectacular viewpoint. It's a refreshing escape with lush greenery and captivating architecture. Just remember reservations must be secured in advance through their website. Whether you're enjoying London's skyline in all its grandeur or finding solace amid Mediterranean flora, the Sky Garden promises a unique escape that defies the ordinary urban landscape.

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town


12-16 Artillery Ln, London E1 7LS

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a speakeasy that's not just about hidden doors, but hidden quirk. Tucked behind the facade of The Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane, this clandestine cocktail haven takes secrecy to a new level – accessed by whispering a covert code and slipping through a Smeg fridge door. Once inside, vintage charm and lodge-like vibes greet you, a stark contrast to the bustling diner above. Embrace your inner speakeasy spirit and adhere to the Mayor's humorous rules, including the art of "self-deprecation," as you savor a unique range of inventive cocktails and delectable bites. Plus, if you time it right, their weekend brunch with bottomless bubbles is the perfect way to indulge in Scaredy Cat Town's tantalizing delights. So remember the passphrase, head through the fridge door, and dive into this offbeat urban escapade.

Check out their menu here.

Leadenhall Market

Leadanhall Market via Facebook

Gracechurch St, London EC3V 1LT

Leadenhall Market, a hidden gem that's gradually making its way onto the discerning traveler's map, beckons with a touch of magic reminiscent of its Harry Potter film cameo. Beyond its charm, the market's history is a tale dating back to the 14th century when it hummed with butchers and fishmongers. Today, the enchantment of its Victorian gold and red arches shelters a high-end shopping haven, vintage boutiques, and cozy pubs, all framed against its breathtaking architecture. As the morning sun casts a warm glow, wander through the heart of Roman-era London, where Leadenhall stands, a testament to time, trade, and tenacity. And for those craving more tales of antiquity, the neighboring Temple of Mithras, recently unearthed and restored, promises an immersive journey into the city's hidden past. 

Horniman Museum's Butterfly House


Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ

Step into the enchanting world of the Butterfly House at the Horniman Museum, London's hidden gem that has fluttered back to life. This tropical indoor haven invites you to witness the delicate dance of hundreds of exquisite butterflies. But beware, their charm is so captivating that you might just find them landing on you! Book your timed ticket in advance to secure your spot where you can observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. As you stroll through the lush foliage, adorned with over 500 exotic and tropical plants, prepare for a magical experience that offers insights into the captivating life cycle and behaviors of these ethereal insects. It's not just a chance to observe, but to connect with the delicate intricacies of nature. 

Word On The Water


Regent's Canal Towpath, London N1C 4LW

Ahoy, literary adventurers! Set sail for a one-of-a-kind reading escapade aboard the Word on the Water Bookshop Barge, London's charming floating treasure trove. Found on the serene Regent's Canal near King's Cross, this quirky gem is a bibliophile's paradise. Inside, the barge magically transforms into a labyrinth of literary wonders, with books stacked from bow to stern, inviting you to explore every nook and cranny. The boat's buoyant nature gives it an extra dose of whimsy, reminding you not to rock the literary boat too much. With events ranging from lively talks to poetry slams, the Word on the Water isn't just a bookshop; it's a vibrant community of book lovers. Whether you're a seasoned sailor of stories or a literary landlubber, this unique barge promises an enchanting voyage through the pages of imagination. So hop aboard, fellow readers, and set sail for a literary adventure like no other! The barge is open every day from 12 pm to 8 pm, offering ample time to get lost in the sea of stories and maybe even catch the magical ambiance by twilight.

The Silver Vaults


53-64 Chancery Ln, London WC2A 1QS

Delve into the secret depths of Chancery Lane, and you might just stumble upon London's most glittering treasure trove: The Silver Vaults. Hidden beneath the city's bustling surface, this underground wonderland boasts a dazzling array of silver that's sure to leave you reaching for your shades. With over 25 specialist shops showcasing antique and contemporary silver dating back to the 1600s, you're bound to find a piece that speaks to your heart. Whether you're seeking a unique gift, exquisite jewelry, or a statement decor item, the Vaults have it all, making it the ultimate shopping destination for aficionados of all things silver. Who knows, you might just uncover a shining piece of history that captures the essence of London's silver legacy. The Vaults are open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5:30 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm, so don't miss your chance to explore this hidden gem that has enchanted royalty, film stars, and discerning shoppers alike.

British Library Reading Rooms


 96 Euston Rd., London NW1 2DB

The British Library Reading Rooms are like a secret society for the studious, accessible only to those bearing the coveted Reader Pass. Armed with this passport to knowledge, you'll step into a realm of quiet concentration, where empty desks beckon you to get down to business without the distractions of the outside world. These rooms are your gateway to a trove of literature on subjects ranging from the mundane to the mystical. But that's not all – the Reader Pass also grants you access to the library's archives, where treasures are tucked away, waiting for your inquisitive mind. Once you've secured your Reader Pass, you're a member of an exclusive club where pages whisper history and imagination knows no bounds. So, next time you're seeking solace from the urban clamor, join the ranks of scholars and seekers who have unlocked the door to the British Library's hidden gem. The Reading Rooms are open Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm and Friday from 10 am to 7 pm, with some adjusted hours during holidays and special events.