As an American academic and aficionado of British literature, I first came to London with the same traditional image in mind that most people picture when they think of London.
I imagined rain soaked passages that lead to the Thames and of course the iconic silhouettes of Big Ben and Tower Bridge. And though those are entirely accurate imageries that I’ve witnessed living in this breathtaking city for the last five years, I want to reveal a different side of the city.
In the northern borough of Islington lies a bustling community with more restaurants than days of the year, networks of winding canals once reigning as main arteries delivering goods and merchandise from the Thames dockyards—now disused commercially and dotted with café barges, pedestrians strolling leisurely, and wide open balconies brimming with the merry after-work crowds, enjoying their Pimms or cold draughts.
This is my favourite part of London: I think it is hard to top a Saturday walk from Highbury to Angel—making sure to stop in for the free concert that will undoubtedly take place under the Gothic Revival arches of Union Chapel. When I need a caffeine boost I know I can rely on any of the antipodean cafes, with their Melbourne-style espressos brewed to perfection or I can stop in at local celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s unbelievably good restaurant for a brunch of cinnamon French toast with fresh made brioche, orange yoghurt and Muscat compote.
For me, the best part of continuously rediscovering London is this is what I do for work at CityUnscripted, an innovative travel startup that’s aim is to create completely personalised and authentic small group tours for different London neighbourhoods. The tours are led 100% by local insiders, like me, who take customers to special spots often missed by the big name guidebooks.
Whether you want to explore hidden walkways or specialist exhibits, London is your oyster at CityUnscripted. In concept, you tell a local insider what your personal interests are and the hopes you have for your trip and just like any friend would do if you were visiting them—we come up with a personalised itinerary to show you a London tailored just for you. So if you want to explore London’s best underground vaulted wine bars, the ultra hip and urban jungle of East London or just get off the well-trodden trail, we will take you there. We’ll dare to go beyond zone 1 on the tube map, to see the majestic running stags in Richmond Park or swim in one of London’s three outdoor swimming ponds on the sprawling Hampstead Heath.
Test the Sipsmith Gin distillery in Chiswick, observe the famed emerald green tennis courts of Wimbledon or walk amongst the ruins of lion statues and lonely terraces that made up the massive Crystal Palace before it burned down in the 1930s. No matter where you choose to go, at CityUnscripted we are committed to showing you the very best of one of the most spectacular and surprising cities in the world.
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