If you’re the sort of person who does everything by the (guide) book, then you’re going to be really thrown by what we’re about to say — but take it from us, the book isn’t always right…
1. Leicester Square
We’re struggling to think of a reason why anyone would actually want to go here. To spend £300 on a cinema ticket? To eat at a tacky and overpriced restaurant? To catch a glimpse of your favourite celeb at a movie premiere (never going to happen)? To visit M&M world? Or the Nickelodeon Store?
Go and buy your M&Ms from a supermarket like everybody else and take some time to consider whether you actually need a giant cuddly Spongebob Squarepants. Don’t you want to come back with some proper British souvenirs?
Where should you go instead? Literally anywhere. But if it’s the cinema you’re after then you should try out one of the indie ones, e.g. Regents Street Cinema (the first in the country to show moving pictures) or Electric Cinema in Notting Hill.
2. The London Eye
You’ll queue to buy a ticket, you’ll queue again to get on the wheel, and then you’ll be trapped in a pod with 24 other people for 30 minutes. It’s essentially a giant ferris wheel that costs 10x more than an ordinary fair ground ride.
Where should you go instead? There are plenty of free places to go for good views of the city. Why not climb a hill (we recommend Primrose or Parliament) or book a free visit to the Sky Garden?
3. Piccadilly Circus
Much like Times Square, you’ll arrive, realise it’s merely a giant Coca Cola advert, and then wonder what else there is to do besides take a few pictures and pose with the Tallest Man in The World at Ripley’s. You really don’t have to go. Anyway *spoiler alert* he’s 8 ft 11.1 inches…
Where should you go instead? Have a wander around Covent Garden, exploring the piazza is far more worth your while.
If you’re the type of tourist who likes to “do as the locals do” then you can cross this off your list. A trip to Harrods by no means represents a typical British shopping experience. We shop at Tesco for their £3 meal deals and TK Maxx for their cheap ass shoes. Seriously though, they might sell very British things, but it’s busy and expensive.
Where should I go instead? Go to Liberty or Fortnum & Mason — they’ve got the Britishness with far less bustle.
5. Oxford Street
Have you ever heard us moan about Oxford Street before? I don’t think we’ve ever moaned about Oxford Street before. Seriously though, it really is awful.
Where should you go instead? Basically anywhere is a better option than Oxford Street. Try Carnaby Street, whcih is just a short walk away, or Long Acre in Covent Garden for a far more pleasant shopping experience. And if it’s Primark that you want… umm, we actually don’t have any advice for you… guess you’ll just have to grin and bear it.
We’ve already established that there are a lot of free options for views across the city, and the Shard is certainly not one of them. Yes you get views from the 72nd floor, but you’ll be paying over £25.
Where should you go instead? Grab a drink at Oblix on the 32nd floor — even their most expensive cocktail is cheaper than the price you’d pay to get to the top. And hey, what’s an extra 40 floors when you can be sipping on “Death’s Door Vodka” as you peer out at the city? Honestly though, you’ll still get amazing panoramic views, just at a fraction of the price. You can also go to GŎNG on the 52nd floor, but just bear in mind that they insist on a £30 minimum spend per person.
Feature image: Jacob Surland
Also published on Medium.