The off-beat cobblestone paths suggest another way of traveling.
From getting your foot examined by a Chiropodist to haggling for a medieval helm, London is bursting with eccentric but unforgettable experiences. Some might take pictures atop the London Eye, or visit the Big Ben for a proper London trip. Yet, the off-beat cobblestone paths suggest another way of traveling. Here are the top four quirkiest things to do in London.
1. Classical Concerts at the Shoreditch Treehouse
It may not be an actual treehouse, but it’s as magical and cozy as your childhood’s makeshift fort. The fairy-lit venue is located in the heart of Shoreditch, a town full of eclectic and vintage shops. Hidden behind the Italian restaurant Gloria is the treehouse, where you have to walk up a few flights of stairs and greet the inviting hosts with their puppy, Waffle. Walking through the entrance, one is struck by the casual ambience of the room. The wooden interior is covered in strings of fairy lights and floor cushions. The audience is a mixture of locals and tourists, arriving to the small venue not only for the intimate, social interactions, but to feel as though they are having a classical concert in their own living room. The venue doesn’t fail to hold up their end of the bargain. Six performers grace the stage behind or in front of the gleaming Steinway piano: two sopranos, three pianists, and one guitarist. Each musician plays their pieces with such authenticity and grace, even Maria Callas herself would be clapping for an encore. There are also breaks between performances, allowing the audience to talk with the performers and hosts, or play the piano. Dip your head into the Steinway piano to see the inner workings of the instrument while it’s played. Grab a bubbly drink at the small bar if dipping heads and talking makes you thirsty.
Tickets cost 28 pounds per person (USD $35.56), and the concert lasts for three hours. Book an unforgettable night at the Shoreditch Treehouse.
2. Novelty Automation
From riding a magic carpet to playing cycle pong, Novelty Automation is the stuff made of fantastical dreams. Located in West London, the arcade is a hidden gem that’s often overlooked by neighboring British Museum. Tim Hunkin, the owner of the quirky venue, has built fifteen machines along with three creations designed by guests. The arcade exudes an eccentric and lively atmosphere with machines such as the “Autofrisk” and the “Chiropodist.” Play cycle pong, or work with a friend to tear house apart at a machine called “Divorce.” Test your nerves by putting your hand in a dog’s cage, or take photos in a booth that will evoke a range of emotions from you. Each machine displays its peculiar character through the subtle features Hunkin has placed into them. Noises of children playing in the background shift into crickets chirping in the Instant Eclipse machine. Long dramatic pauses take hold of your love guru as you listen to him on Barry’s Love Line. A bag of tokens will cost 21 pounds (USD $26.65), and the arcade is open on Wednesday to Saturday, running from 11 AM to 6 PM .
3. Portobello Road Market
Notting Hill is just a neighborhood, located in West London, asking locals and tourists to love it. You don’t need Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts to see its beauty. Portobello stands as the heart of the area. Pastel houses line the streets while antique shops, fruit stalls, and novel bookstores come alive. Visit the neighborhood on Saturday to the its lively and bustling character. Stroll through the antique arcades and inspect old telescopes, or weathered books. Most fashion shops offer shelter from the crowds and wool hats that look like they’re used for Peaky Blinders. Visit the Portobello Road between Elgin Crescent and the Westway for fruits and vegetable stalls. Walk further down the road to greet vendors and their Roman coins or 1960’s radios. It’s recommended to visit in the morning to beat the crowds. Tired from haggling for a medieval helm? Take a break at Gail’s Bakery, which bakes the best scones in London.
4. Cecil Court
“Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”-P.J. O’Rourke
Cecil Court. A place that shows the truth of this seldom-practiced proverb. Located near Covent Garden and West End, the small strip of antique bookshops is a hidden alleyway stuck in time. The area’s shops have remained untouched by modern influences for more than a hundred years. It was once the home of a young Mozart, and later film companies in the late 1800s. Now, antique novelties such as out-of-print books and old records cramp the shelves on both sides of the street. Bins line the street outside brimming with books, vinyls, and art prints. Read through a yellow-paged copy of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ or browse through prints of vintage Vogue covers. Browse through antiquated maps at Storey’s, or read about psychic phenomenons at Watkin’s. Discover rare printings of the classics at the Peter Ellis, or marvel at costume jewellry in the Christopher St. James shop. Visit this small strip of the Victorian times to escape the bustling nature of the rest of West London.