The city of London has one of the world’s most famous skylines. The Gherkin, Shard, and Canary Wharf stand tall over the capital, whilst the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral have defined London’s cityscape for well over 100 years.
But whilst they are undoubtedly stunning designs, camera lenses can be pointed at so much more in the city that is home to 13 million Londoners.
The truth is that if you walk down alleyways or along the banks of the Thames, or even look up on the bustling high streets, you’re likely to see something special.
Here, we take a look at our five favourite buildings in the heart of the nation.
Battersea Power Station
Formally a coal-fired power station, Battersea Power Station is one of the finest and most recognisable art deco buildings in the world, with much of its fame coming from the many film, TV, and music videos it has been featured in.
And whilst it has appeared in the likes of Help! today you’re likely to see it hosting movies, with the Everyman cinema hosting special events, whilst National Burger Day 2014 will also be enjoyed overlooking the incredible structure.
In the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square, it’s unlikely you’ve ever really noticed London’s Hippodrome, but if you take a step back and look up, you may just see your favourite building in the city.
A chariot stands on top of the red bricked building designed by Frank Matcham, whilst the likes of Noel Coward, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra, and Dusty Springfield have all performed inside. Peter Stringfellow owned a nightclub in the building before it got a little classier in 2009, becoming a casino and perhaps the best poker room in London’s West End – a fitting tribute to the likes of the Rat Pack who spent much of their lives on the green felt of Nevada’s Las Vegas strip.
St Pancras Station
You can’t help but get off the train at St Pancras and look up at what a truly magnificent building it really is. The Grade I listed building was opened in 1868 and at the time the Barlow train shed was the largest in the world.
In front of that and you have the Renaissance Hotel. Opened in 1873 as the Midland Grand, it’s one of the most iconic buildings in London despite beginning life as a competition entry. That winner was George Gilbert Scott – a key figure in the Gothic revival – who intended to build the grandest and most spectacular railway station in the country, a tag that still holds.
The Old Curiosity Shop
Tucked away just a stone’s throw from The Strand, the Old Curiosity Shop dates back to 1567 and of course was immortalised by Charles Dickens in his book of the same name in 1840.
Just a dot in a sea of skyscrapers, it’s the oldest shop in central London and has managed to survive both the Great Fire and the Second World War which devastated the heart of the city.
You can still visit the small winding staircases and low ceilings on Portsmouth St, although now it’s not odds and ends you can pick up, but rather some unique shoes and clothing to serve as your own memento from one of the capital’s hidden gems.
Wilton’s Music Hall
Although speaking of hidden gems, it’s unlikely you’ll be walking past Wilton’s Music Hall without knowing it’s there. It’s the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall dating back to 1859 and is in the heart of the historic East End – although you have to find it first.
Situated down Graces Alley, just a short walk from St Katharine Docks, you can still visit the hall and enjoy a drink at The Mahogany Bar (which first started pouring drinks in 1725) before you take in some excellent music, art, and theatre.