20 unexpected places to find in London

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There are lots of places in London that are clear-cut markers of both historical and modern Britain: these include the likes of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – and many more.

However, there are lots of unexpected surprises that you’d never expect to find in the middle of a city, nevermind the capital of England.

We’ve pulled together a list of 21 places that wouldn’t expect to find in London and hope you enjoy visiting every one of them.

1. Little Venice

Blissfully tranquil in a city that is known for being constantly abuzz, Little Venice has all the charm of the original Italian floating city. We recommend that you treat yourself to a cruise up the river in summer or just enjoy some fun watching a show on the Puppet Theatre Barge.

2. Richmond Park

You might be forgiven that you’d stumbled into the Scottish Highlands when you come here – although nothing is as beautiful as the real thing in this instance, trust us – but really, you’re just in Richmond Park.

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Go spotting for red and fallow deer, which roam freely around the grounds and look particularly stunning during the winter months.

3. Brixton Windmill

Head to zone two now to check out some classic Dutch architecture and engineering in the form of Brixton Windmill in the area of Lambeth.

This mill used to supply wholemeal flour to West End hotels and restaurants from before the Victorian Age right up to the 1930s. These days, you can go inside the restored mill and enjoy one of its many tours and there’s even talks of it reopening as a working mill once more.

4. Kew Gardens

In Kew Gardens, you’ll be transported to the East thanks to a perfectly created Japanese Landscape.

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Bonsais and shrubs adorn a stunning ornamental Japanese gateway, which is a replica of Karamon gateway at Kyoto’s Nishi-ji temple.

5. Vertical Chill

At Vertical Chill, you can enjoy an extreme ice mountaineering experience in the heart of Covent Garden.

A trained instructor will give you ice axes, crampons and the know-how you need to climb the ice walls of this Everest-like climb without leaving the city.

6. Ruislip Lido

Summer is a wonderful time to be in London thanks to the amount of pools, lakes and of course, the Ruislip Lido, which has Mediterranean-style beaches and sandy coves.

7. Crystal Palace Park Dinosaur Sculptures

Here, you’ll find 30 different and full-scale statues of dinosaurs that might not exactly be accurate depictions of these prehistoric animals, they certainly are fun and are Grade I listed.

8. Banya No. 1

This is where you want to go if you fancy a Russian massage, complete with being covered with hot wet leaves and bashed by a leafy bundle of herbs.

These massages will reduce muscle tension and stress and the only place in the city you can find it is at Banya No 1.

9. Chislehurst Caves

Travel 30 metres below ground to Chislehurst’s man-made caves, which were carved out of chalk by Druids, Saxons and Romans.

10. Porchester Spa

If you don’t like the idea of Russian Baths, try the Porchester Spa, which is a picture of 1920s art deco architecture and accurately depicts thermal spas you’ll find in Hungary.

11. Lee Valley White Water Centre

Lee Valley’s White Water Centre has all the markers of the Zambezi River and you can raft down its different drops and rapids. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s definitely the closest you’ll get when you’re in London.

12. Japan Centre

You’ll find the Japan Centre on Shaftesbury Avenue where you can enjoy some high-quality sushi, imported specialty drinks and Japanese language and Manga books.

13. Russian Orthodox Church

You’ll spot this easily thanks to its bright blue dome and golden cross that is set against the backdrop of Chiswick. The interior is as ornate as the exterior due to the wood carvings and religious iconography.

14. Leighton House Museum

We’re off to Holland Park now and to Leighton House Museum, which used to be the home of Pre-Raphaelite painter Frederic Leighton. Make sure you take a look at the Arab Hall: it’s a domed room covered in tiles and mosaics.

15. Rivoli Ballroom

Welcome to the 1950s! Courtesy of the Rivoli Ballroom near Crofton Park that is the definition of plush. Enjoy the retro nights out that are studded with Austrian chandeliers, Chinese lanterns and glitterballs.

16. Finnish Church

It turns out that Finnish people love saunas, so to enjoy an authentic experience without going to Scandinavia look no further than the Finnish Church at Rotherhithe.

17. Terrace Catacombs

This may be where people like Karl Marx and George Eliot are buried but the Terrace Catacombs are also beautiful thanks to snaking paths and looming trees – it’s a great alternative places to visit.

18. Barbican Conservatory

A perfect example of Brutalism, the Barbican Centre is an oasis that houses 2,000 different species of plants – you wouldn’t believe that London could be so tropical.

19. Behesht Restaurant

Head along to Harrow Road and into a tiny part of Iran at Behesht Restaurant, which not only promises the best Iranian food in the city but also musical instruments, art and even a pond.

20. St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East is a short walk from the Tower of London and is a ruin that has turned into one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city.

For information on rooms and rates to suit all budgets, contact M by Montcalm Shoreditch now.