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Off the Tourist Trail: Four Quirky Alternatives to London’s Busiest Attractions

Want to escape the crowds in London, get off the tourist trail and discover something a little different? Guest travel blogger and resident Londoner Isabel Clift from AnyTrip.com has some quirky alternatives to four typical London tourist traps…

1. Swap the V&A for Sir John Soane’s Museum

See inside the life and collections of 1800s architect Sir John Soane in Central London

You could spend a whole day wandering around the Victoria & Albert museum in South Kensington – and a very rewarding experience it is too, with art and design collections showing off everything from medieval furniture to 1990s Sony Walkmans. But for a more distilled, personalised take on period design, go to Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn. The converted house of a 19th century art and antiques collector, you’re able to explore the beautifully-decorated rooms in a more intimate atmosphere than a typical museum.

2. Swap Soho Square for Postman’s Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of Soho Square for the peaceful and poignant Postman’s Park

Found just off Oxford Street, Soho Square is a rare green space in the knot of streets that make up the West End. Besides having a bit of grass in a busy location, though, there’s not much of interest inside the square itself – and lots of lunching office workers and tourists make it a bit of a pigeon-magnet during the summer. Instead, head east to Postman’s Park in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Sandwiched between two tall buildings, this pretty strip of green is home to the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, an unusual monument dedicated to those who’ve lost their lives in the process of saving others. You might remember the memorial from the film Closer.

3. Swap the Royal Albert Hall for Wilton’s Music Hall

One of the few music halls that survived WWII, Wilton’s is truly a wonder to behold (inside mostly!)

Bursting with character, the oldest surviving Music Hall in the world, is now home to original theatre

As grand a concert venue as you can get in London, the Royal Albert Hall is a marvel of Victorian architecture and venue of choice for the Proms, classical concerts and stadium-touring groups (think Coldplay, U2 etc). For something a bit less traditional but with as much cultural history, check out Wilton’s Music Hall near Tower Bridge. London’s only surviving revue hall and the oldest music hall in the world, Wilton’s puts on a range of quirky events, from Gilbert & Sullivan concerts to comedy and magic shows.  Design fans will love its shabby-chic exterior matched with elegant vintage décor inside.

4. Swap the London Eye for The Monument

The Monument, it is the tallest isolated stone column in the world and has 311 steps (sorry, no elevator) to the top

The London Eye on London’s south bank is majestic to look at, granted, and has the highest-reaching views in the capital – but people often complain it feels slow once you’re on it. After all, standing in the same place for 30 minutes while the wheel inches round one rotation can give some folks itchy feet. The Monument in the City, London’s financial hub, is a little different. A Doric column built to mark the great fire of 1665; it has a 311-step staircase inside, which you climb up yourself. After that epic journey, the panoramic views of the Thames, City skyscrapers and West End monuments you see from the top feel all the more worth it.

About the guest author: Isabel Clift is a travel writer for the AnyTrip blog. She’s a born and bred Londoner who loves to explore the quirkier side of the city – no off-beat museum, market or coffee shop is safe.

Photo Credits:  stusmith_ukkfcatlesPhil Gyfordthtstudiosmrlerone

2 Responses to Off the Tourist Trail: Four Quirky Alternatives to London’s Busiest Attractions

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    May 15, 2011 at 4:29 am

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