London's secret spots

London’s Secret Treasures: 5 Spots Only Insiders Know

We’re (obviously) partial to London. We love the city’s contrast between modern and medieval, and the fact that there is always something new to explore.

Discovering a new part of the city that has been right under our noses is one of our greatest thrills. 

For those who get as excited as we do by London’s little treasures, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite spots in London that don’t make it into the tour routes.

Here is our guide to the best secret treasures in London

The Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican Conservatory

While you may have made it to the Barbican, the arts centre that explores all major art forms, including dance, theatre and music, the conservatory doesn’t get the traffic it deserves.

A trip to the third floor will transport you to another world. 

Housing over 2,000 species of plants and trees, the conservatory is the second-largest in London.

The three separate pools house a variety of koi, ghost, and grass carp as well as terrapins.

The Arid House attached to the East side of the conservatory features cacti, succulents and cool house orchids. 

As an extra treat, visitors can book an exclusive afternoon tea featuring cakes and savouries inspired by the flowers, herbs and fruits grown in the conservatory.

The Mandir (Neasden Temple)

The Mandir (Neasden Temple)

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is more commonly known in London as the Neasden Temple.

Constructed from 5,000 tonnes of Italian Carrara and Indian Ambaji marble and the finest Bulgarian limestone, it was hand-carved in India before being assembled in London and still feels like it belongs on the other side of the world.

Serving as a traditional place of Hindu worship, the Neasden temple welcomes visitors of all faiths and backgrounds year-round.

Visitors can explore the grounds, take in their ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibitions, or even experience a traditional Hindu arti ceremony, offered daily at 11:45 am. 

If the weather allows, guests can (and should!) explore the award-winning gardens, and guest should plan their visit around a meal at the authentic Indian restaurant, Shayona.

The House of Dreams

The House of Dreams

Even some of the most dialed-in London insiders may have missed this secret treasure.

Artist Stephen Wright has transformed the ground floor of his semi-detached South London home into a shrine to his art. 

No surface has been untouched by Wright’s collection of oddities, many even donated by previous visitors.

While the home may seem chaotic, there is an order that reflects parts of Wright’s life.

Memory boards give the home’s art a diary-like quality, and guests will leave feeling a real connection to the work.

Tours of the House of Dreams are only offered one day a month, and tickets should be purchased in advance. 

18 Stafford Terrace

18 Stafford Terrace

Lovers of interiors and history won’t want to miss a visit to 18 Stafford Terrace, formerly known as the Linley Sambourne House.

The former home of the Punch cartoonist is a step back in time to the lives of the family in 1875.

Preserved by the descendants of the Sambourne family, the house showcases the rare ‘Aesthetic interior’ style of the late 19th century. 

A treasure trove of interior art, the home features stained-glass windows with sunflower motifs, William Morris wallpapers, and imported Chinese porcelain.

The home offers a unique glimpse into the homes and lives of the Victorian middle-class.

Previously only viewable via private tours, 18 Stafford Terrace now offers open access self-guided visits as well. 

The Naked Ladies of York House

The Naked Ladies of York House

The Naked Ladies are a collection of statues of eight sea nymphs carved from white Carrara marble atop a rock garden.

They are beautiful, Pre-Raphaelite style sculptures whose true name and arrangement have been lost to time.

Found in a public garden near York house, the statues were originally the property of infamous fraudster Whitaker Wright.

After his Wright’s conviction and suicide, the statues were sold at auction and moved to York House.

Having suffered neglect and vandalism in the last hundred years, they were restored to their current glory in the 1980s. 

The Naked Ladies are located in the York House Gardens in Twickenham. The garden can be accessed by the Embankment or Church Lane.

Where are your favourite secret spots in London?


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