Strawberry Hill House


35 Hidden Gems In London

35 Hidden Gems Across London | Discover the (mostly) undiscovered

Bold statement: There are loads of absolutely amazing hidden gems in London.

Unbold that statement, and it still rings true.

London is rife with attractions that lure in millions of tourists each year – The London Eye, the Tower of London, all the panoramic viewpoints where you can soak up the iconic London skyline – but there are plenty of pockets in the capital less travelled, and equally worth exploring. Although the digital age, social media and big round-ups (like this one) have made it harder to keep these spots secluded from mass attention, it’s too early to start speaking of a hidden gem decline just yet.

Most of the entrants on the list below have earned their rightful place here due to their far-flung locations (neighbourhoods like Chiswick and Richmond…), nondescript entrances (bars in public toilets, shops down dark alleyways) and off-beat concepts that offer something different to the usual (floating bookshops).

Time to give these hidden gems the recognition they deserve – just don’t tell anyone else about them.



Go Cheese Shopping in Neal’s Yard | Covent Garden

Best Things To Do in Covent Garden: Neal's Yard

Duck down the right side street in Seven Dials, and you’ll emerge into a colourful pocket of revamped warehouses right in the thick of Covent Garden. These historic buildings now house some of the best bars and restaurants in Covent Garden (26 Grains, The Barbary, St John and Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels to name a few), as well as independent shops (including the original Neal’s Yard Dairy and Neal’s Yard Remedies). In the warmer months, a table in the sun-splashed courtyard here is one of London’s loveliest spots for al fresco dining.

Details: Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP | More of the best things to do in Covent Garden

Uncover London’s Secret Gardens

Secret Gardens - London date ideas

London’s major parks are abuzz in the summer, with groups sprawled out across the lawns reading and picnicking, playing football and sinking a few tins in the sun. But as the greenest major city in Europe (with over 3,000 green spaces), there’s a lot more to explore beyond Hyde Park – like an ancient walled apothecaries’ garden; a bombed-out church reclaimed by nature; a pocket park devoted to Victorian everyday heroes; and a perfect recreation of a Japanese garden (complete with peacocks). Discover London’s secret gardens here.

Eat Fresh Pasta in a Church | Mayfair

mercato mayfair hidden gem

The wub/Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve been yearning for a gourmet street food market inside a historic church, then you’ll be pleased to know the team behind Mercato Metropolitano have answered your prayers. St Mark’s is a grade-I listed 18th-century church in Mayfair, that’s been revived as a bustling food hall with dozens of street food traders. And as a bonus hidden gem within this hidden gem, these two floors of food and drink are topped by a little-known roof terrace shaped around the bell tower. 

Details: 13a North Audley Street, W1K 6ZA | More the best food markets in London

Drink Moonshine (or Cocktails) in London’s Secret Bars

hidden bars in London

Back in Prohibition-era New York, hidden cocktail bars that took around ten minutes (and a password) to find were all the rage. And a century later, London’s finally caught on… Track down London’s hidden bars here.


Pick Up A Book at Word on the Water | King’s Cross

Best Second-hand bookshops in London: Words on the Water

Word on the street is that Word on the Water is one of the most unusual things to do in London: a floating bookshop moored on the canal in King’s Cross that also holds occasional readings, plays, poetry sessions and live jazz.

Details: Regent’s Canal Towpath, London N1C 4LW

Explore Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola | Hampstead

While we assume most Londoners are very aware of Hampstead Heath’s existence, less known is the Heath’s pergola. Well… a few people might know about it. A low number. A small minority. But semantics aside, it’s considerably lesser known and therefore a hidden gem among the Heath’s 800 acres, where you can wander along an enchanting stone walkway overgrown with wisteria and roses that was once the site for a very wealthy lord’s garden parties. 

Details: The Pergola, Inverforth Close, London NW3 7EX | More info

Brush Up on Italian Futurism at the Estorick Collection | Islington

Estorick Collection

At first glance this building in Islington looks like a beautiful Georgian townhouse, and while your first glance would be correct – it is a beautiful Georgian townhouse – your first glance wouldn’t tell the whole story. Step inside, and you’ll find yourself in an art gallery dedicated to futurism, which has possibly the city’s finest collection of modern Italian art on display across its three floors. 

Details: 39A Canonbury Square, Islington, N1 2AN | See what’s on


Little Venice | Paddington

Little Venice

Little Venice might not have masquerade balls, ducal palaces or a gold-ceilinged basilica, but it does bear more than a passing resemblance with its floating namesake in Italy: quaint waterways, boats that slowly drift by, enticing waterside restaurants and paths on either side of the canal that make for one of the most picturesque walks in London. Don’t fancy stretching your legs? Take it all in on a lunch cruise at London Shell Co.

Biscuiteers | Notting Hill, Belgravia

biscuiteers London hidden gem

Biscuiteers craft painstakingly hand-iced luxury biscuits that come in cute shapes like Peter Rabbit and Paddington Bear, which you’ll then demolish in about two seconds. If you’ve got time to linger, come for their great-value afternoon tea or join an evening icing workshop, where you’ll flex your creative muscles while drinking prosecco (obviously).

Details: 194 Kensington Park Road, London W11 2ES | More info

Isabella Plantation | Richmond

Isabella Plantation - hidden gems

David Robinson/iStock

Richmond Park isn’t exactly a hidden gem (after all, it’s the biggest royal park in London), but this park within Richmond Park certainly is. The Isabella Plantation is a secret garden filled with reflective lakes, winding footpaths, exotic trees and in spring, a breathtaking bloom of bright pink Japanese azaleas.

Details: Richmond Park, Richmond TW10 5HS

Mosaic House | Chiswick

Mosaic House Chiswick - hidden gems

Carrie Reichardt’s trade-off for turning the front of her Chiswick property into an unofficial public art gallery following a 20-year mosaic tiling process, is that she now has strangers taking photos outside of her house everyday…

Details: 4-6 Fairlawn Grove, London W4 5EL

Pitzhanger Manor House and Gardens | Ealing

pitzhanher manor - hidden gems london

If you were impressed by Sir John Soane’s Museum – the 18th century architect’s time-warped central London abode –  you should see where he stayed when he was looking to escape the hustle and bustle. His country home out in Ealing has been earnestly restored back to its former Georgian glory, and is now attached to a sharply-curated contemporary art gallery. 

Detail: Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Ealing Green, London W5 5EQ

Portobello Schoolyard | Notting Hill

portobello schoolyard market

Yes, everyone knows about the sprawling Saturday market on Notting Hill’s Portobello Road. Which is why you should make a beeline for this lesser-known market, tucked away in a school yard at the southern end, which slings fresh produce, boutique homeware and street food.

Details: Vicente Cañada Blanch School, 317-318 Portobello Road, London W10 5SZ | Saturdays, 10am-4pm

Kynance Mews | South Kensington

kynance mews hidden gem

Kynance Mews’s status as a ‘hidden gem’ might be waning due to its prominence on Instagram, but nevertheless this cobbled West London street, with its wisteria-clad walls and balconied houses, makes for a lovely country village-esque stroll. Go on a mews crawl through West London

Osterley House & Park | Isleworth

osterley park

If we were randomly handed all the money in the world and told we could live anywhere in London, this well-preserved neo-classical mansion would be high on the list. Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet, but you can still mosey around its ornate period rooms, check out its a grade-II listed park (with a lake) and then sit for a while in the courtyard of its Stables Cafe. Osterley House was also used as Bruce Wayne’s manor in the Dark Knight Rises. No word on if there’s still a bat cave underneath…

Details: Osterley Park, Isleworth, TW7 4RB

Strand on the Green | Chiswick

strand on the green - hidden gems london

It’s an old-school river village sitting on the north bank of the Thames, lined with 18th century houses and a dozen or so charming cafes and pubs. In saying that, you probably wouldn’t mind being stranded here…

Details: Strand-on-the-Green, London W4 3NS

Strawberry Hill House | St Margaret’s

strawberry hill house

Those that expect fruit may be disappointed, but otherwise a grand tour of Strawberry Hill House – an architectural wonder designed by Horace Walpole in the 1700s – is well worth it if you’re up for spending the day mooching around a sprawling gothic castle.

Details: 268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham TW1 4ST

Foster Books | Chiswick

Best second-hand bookshops in London: Foster Books

Bookshops selling first-edition, hard-to-come-by books are, well, hard to come by… but this hidden gem in Chiswick (look out for the emerald-green facade) has been stockpiling rare finds for over 50 years now. Prices aren’t cheap, but you can always come for a sniff and a browse.   

Details: 183 Chiswick High Road, London W4 2DR | More of the best second hand bookshops in London

Ham House | Richmond

Ham House - best hidden gems in London

Less of a house, more of a mansion, this massive red-brick ‘house’ in Richmond, which has been in the possession of The National Trust since 1948, isn’t too far changed from its 17th century upbringing, and may give you a new-found design taste for 17th century cabinets, rococo mirrors and Dutch art. 

Details: Ham Street, Ham, Richmond TW10 7RS

Eel Pie Island | Twickenham

Eel Pie Island - hidden gems london

Maggie Jones/flickr

To absolutely nobody’s dismay, Eel Pie Island no longer sells eel pies. The days of reeling in eels from the Thames are over, and now this tiny islet in the river is more known for the quirky community of 120 or so artists that reside there. Twice a year, these residents very kindly let the public into their private home, to peruse and possibly buy their work, and it’s a great opportunity to get a rare glimpse of one of London’s true hidden gems.

Details: Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, TW1 3DY | See open dates here

Orleans House Gallery | Twickenham

Orleans House Gallery hidden gem in west London

For anyone who’s exhausted London’s art galleries, who can name every painting at the Tate Britain, who has a photographic memory of what’s on the walls at the National Gallery, then Orleans House Gallery is a hidden gem. An essential stop on any Twickenham itinerary, the place boasts rolling gardens, a Grade-I listed Octagon Room (with dazzling baroque interiors) and displays work from Richmond’s art collection, including pieces by explorer Richard Francis Burton.

Details: Orleans Road, Twickenham, London, TW1 3BL


The Painted Hall | Greenwich

the painted hall

Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel lies within the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich (which you’ll probably recognise from, oh, just about every period film ever made). The exterior was designed by arguably London’s most famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren, and the Painted Hall inside took artist Sir James Thornhill a mere 19 years to complete. Bonus points if you can find where he painted himself in.

Details: Old Royal Navy College, Romney Road, Greenwich, SE10 9NN

House of Dreams | Dulwich

house of dreams hidden gem

The definition of a ‘hidden gem’, being, as it is, actually inside someone’s house. That someone is artist Steven Wright, who has covered every spare inch of his Dulwich home in bric-a-brac, collages and found objects. Something between a souk, a 90s bedroom and a kind of modern-day shell grotto, it’s an absolutely jaw-dropping feast for the eyes. Scratch below the surface, though, and you’ll realise its the artist’s unique way of commemorating the love, and moving on from the loss and trauma, that life has thrown at him.

Details: 45 Melbourne Grove, London, SE22 8RG | Open once a month – book here

Crossbones Graveyard | London Bridge

crossbones graveyard

Garry Knight/Flickr

The big cemetery boom of the Victorian era means that London’s filled with dramatic final resting grounds – the ‘Magnificent Seven’ (including Highgate Cemetery, Brompton Cemetery and Kensal Green Cemetery) are, weirdly, hidden gems in themselves. But Crossbones in Southwark has the most unusual backstory of them all. For over 300 years it was the unholy burial site for prostitutes and paupers, and has now been reclaimed as a memorial garden for ‘The Outcast Dead’. A shrine of ribbons, messages and random paraphernalia has been growing since the 90s, and a vigil takes place here at 7pm on the 23rd of each month.

Details: Union St, London SE1 1TA

Horniman Butterfly House | Forest Hill

Butterfly House - hidden gems london

The Horniman Museum & Gardens is one of the most unusual museums in London, counting two galleries of stuffed animals and handicrafts from across the globe; a small farm; a musical garden; a conservatory; a Dutch barn and one giant overstuffed walrus amongst its attractions. So it’s understandable that the butterfly house often flies under the radar…

Details: 100 London Road, SE23 3PQ

The Midnight Apothecary | Rotherhithe

Midnight Apothecary

All those years wondering if London has a secret garden on a museum rooftop where you can drink botanical cocktails and toast free marshmallows while huddled up around an open fire? Over

Details: Brunel Museum Rooftop Garden, Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF

Shad Thames | London Bridge

shad thames hidden gem in london

Nirmal Rajendharkumar/Unsplash

This riverside backstreet gives an atmospheric peek into the city’s dockyard past. Only these days, the warehouses store Michelin-approved restaurants like Legare, rather than tea and spices…

Details: Shad Thames, Southwark, London, SE1 2YT

Crossness Pumping Station | Abbey Wood

Crossness pumping station

One of the better days out you’ll have at a sewage pumping station. Crossness Pumping Station has a striking Victorian interior wrought with ironwork, arches and columns where you can admire the infrastructure used to sort out the great stink of 1858 – plus a toilet museum, which gives you the chance to brush up on your bogs.

Details: The Old Works, Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, SE2 9AQ

Eltham Palace | Eltham

Eltham Palace - entrance hall

A medieval palace rebooted as a millionaire’s 1930s country pile, complete with stunning art deco interiors, a bedroom for a pet lemur, and its very own moat.

Details: Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE Book tickets

Buzz Bingo | Tooting

Yes, bingo. Because this bingo hall was once the Granada Cinema flagship (a sibling to the picturehouse currently getting a glow-up at Soho Theatre Walthamstow). Inside, theatre architect Cecil A. Masey unleashed his wildest gothic fantasies to create a ‘cathedral of cinema’ – and it now has a Grade I listing, just like Buckingham Palace.

Details: 50 Mitcham Rd, London SW17 9NA

Brixton Windmill | Brixton

brixton windmill

Lukas Juhas/Unsplash

It’s a thing! And you can book a tour to explore inside, mill your own flour, or practice tai chi in the gardens.

Details: Windmill Gardens, Blenheim Gardens, Brixton, SW2 5DABook a visit

Bermondsey Street | London Bridge

How much can you cram into one street? Bermondsey’s attempt at the challenge includes a glass-blowing workshop, the Fashion & Textile Museum, The White Cube (a very avant-garde contemporary art gallery), exceptional restaurants (Donnelly’s, José, Flour & Grape), pubs galore, a spot that’s landed on our list of best cafes in London and the charmingly-named coffee shop, Fuckoffee

Details: Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TX


Red House | Bexleyheath

Red House - hidden gems 

After being wowed by the William Morris Gallery, the next logical step would be to check out the family home of the Victorian designer, activist, innovator, translator, poet, and fantasy writer (the man was prolific at many things). And it all started at this steep-rooved red brick house in Bexley, equipped with gardens and an apple orchard. 

Details: Red House Lane, Canterbury Crescent DA6 8JF

Wilton’s Music Hall | Wapping

wilton's music hall hidden gem

Peter Dazeley

London’s only remaining Victorian music hall, tucked down a back alley off the Thames. Nowadays it stages offbeat theatre shows, gigs, and quirky events like One Track Minds. And at the interval, you can enjoy a pint at the Mahogany Bar, which has been serving thirsty punters since 1725.

Details: 1 Grace’s Alley, E1 8JB See what’s on

Smithfield Market | Farringdon

Smithfield market

Perhaps best to ignore this one if you’re a vegetarian… but if you’re not a vegetarian, get up at the sociable hour of 2am to see London’s oldest meat trading market in action – running for over 800 years – before it relocates to Dagenham Dock in four or so years.

Details: Grand Avenue, Farringdon, EC1A 9PS | Open weekdays, midnight-10am

Close-Up Cinema | Shoreditch

close-up cinema - hidden gems in London

This arthouse cinema in Brick Lane actually specialises in showcasing hidden gems: films spanning from early cinema to world cinema and rare movies, as well as some classics. Arrive early and enjoy a pre-screening drink in the film library bar up front.

Details: 97 Sclater Street, London E1 6HR | See what’s on | More of the best cinemas in London

Ciné Real | Hackney

Cine Real

What you have here is a regular movie night held in Homerton’s restored Castle Cinema, which solely shows films in 16mm. And for some film buffs, this is the only real way of taking in the silver screen. Looking for something more intimate? Ask to hire out Ciné Real’s own cosy 15 seater cinema for a private screening…

Details: 35 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NS | See what’s on


So there you have it… some hidden gems that are no longer anything of the sort. And frankly, there’s a lot more out there to be discovered. You can make a good start by checking out the most unusual things to do in London, and all these excellent free things to do in London – and don’t forget the annual Open House weekend in September, when hundreds of buildings usually closed off to the public open their doors…