Secret London by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash
People interested in checking out some of the lesser known parts of London.
In a nutshell:
Part of the Unusual Guide series, this book provides information on hidden away or unusual gems spread across London.
Nothing specific, though there is a slight undertone of snark within the book that made it less austere than the usual travel guide.
Why I chose it:
I believe I spotted this in a tiny bookshop in Camden Market well over a year ago, assuming I’d use it as a guide to little day trips. Then, you know, 2020 happened.
This is not a typical guidebook – it doesn’t feature hotels or restaurants or really even any pubs. It’s just about places and spaces that one should know about in London.
It is divided by neighborhood, so if one were so inclined, one could pick a few to explore on a specific day, all within some walking distance from a central starting point. Each sight takes up about two pages of the book – one with a photo, the rest with a description. And as necessary, each listing includes an address, closest transport, website, admission and general hours (though obviously those may have changed).
In looking through the nearly 400 pages (so probably around 175-ish sites), I’ve been to a few, and heard of a few more, but overall the majority are not the common items. They are at times, however, connected to things one may have heard of. For example, Tower Bridge (what people often think is London Bridge) is a popular tourist site. But what the guide suggests in getting access to the giant cavern below where the space for the cantilever bit of the drawbridge go when it’s open.
Of the sites, well over two dozen are ones that I’ve now marked down and will plan to visit once things settle down a bit. And a fair number are outdoors, so if I can get there on bike or foot, I could see visiting them even now.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: