Some places just have that certain something. The French have a phrase for it: ‘zat certain sumsing!’ Quirky spots you stumble upon and tell stories about. Lesser known marvels like bonkers bars, rickety restaurants or curious museums where the curator’s cats run wild. It’s not about price or prestige, no, no. It’s all charm and character. Places with personality. That’s a GLP, my friend. Come in and explore, then go out and explore.
Oldest Bookshop established 1797: Hatchards, 187 Piccadilly, W1J 9LE
Booksellers since 1797. Much like the restricted section in Hogwarts' Library, the glorious Hatchards looks like it might just have a copy of Tom Riddle's diary. One thing is for sure: no Kindle shall you find here. Read more...
Oldest Patisserie established 1871: Maison Bertaux, 28 Greek Street, Soho
We love Maison Bertaux like fat kids love cake.
Oldest Cinema established 1910: Electric Cinema, 191 Portobello Road, W11 2ED
The Electric Cinema opened on February 27th 1910, pipping the Phoenix Cinema to the post which opened shortly after in 1912. It's still one of the finest cinematic corners in London. Plus they had the cracking idea of installing a bar in the cinema hall itself; the original Genius Bar. Read more...
Oldest Restaurant established 1798: Rules Restaurant, 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB
Rules Restaurant stills rules the roost in our eyes. When you've been serving up traditional British food and classic game cookery for this long, you're most definitely on top of your game.
Oldest (surviving) Pub established in 1602: The Seven Stars, 53-54 Carey Street, WC2A 2JB
This is perhaps the most controversial of crowns. We've dug deep in our history books and the answer isn't 100% clear. The Great Fire of 1666 (the Devil's digits - coincidence we think not) put paid to a lot of the originals. Many have been rebuilt despite their great claims to antiquity. Ye Old Mitre is a mighty fine pub claiming to date back to 1546 but the present building wasn’t built until 1772. And Ye Old Cheshire Cheese was rebuilt in 1667, despite related ancestry dating back to 1538. It seemed to be a toss up then between The Seven Stars and The Olde Wine Shades, both of which survived the fire. The Seven Stars was supposedly built in 1602 whilst The Olde Wine Shades was built in 1663, so our fruit machine money is on The Seven Stars (despite the fact that there is no solid proof it's operated as a pub over all its 400 years). Other contenders were the Lamb and Flag, Covent Garden, The George Inn, Southwark, The Anchor, Bankside, The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead and The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping. But the truth be told, no one will ever know for certain. Plus there's not a pub still standing, claiming to be the oldest that hasn't been altered at least a dozen times.
Oldest Theatre established in 1663: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Catherine Street, WC2B 5JF
The current building, which was built in 1812 is the fourth theatre to built on its present site, the first was in 1663. Big claim to fame: The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane has been visited by every monarch since the Restoration. We're wondering if Shrek The Musical will be enough, however, to tempt the Queen away from watching Downton Abbey back at Buckingham Palace.
Oldest Hotel established in in 1837: Brown's Hotel, Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4BP
Brown's opened as London’s first ever hotel in 1837 and has no less than 5 stars in its eyes. And you can just as easily sneak in 40 drinks as well as 40 winks at this venerable establishment. Check out The Donovan Bar for a real treat. They also do a mean line in afternoon tea.
Oldest Winebar established in 1890, Gordon's Wine Bar, 47 Villiers Street, WC2N 6NE
From your Beaujolais to your Bordeaux, this underground den has seen it all. Nose clamps at the ready though folks because when you enter through Gordon's doorway, a musty aroma of cheese and damp will hit your nostrils. It'll soon subside, as will you. It's pretty much the worst kept secret in London... but for good reason.
Oldest Music Hall established in 1858: Wilton's, Graces Alley, E1 8JB
Wilton's is not just London's but the world's oldest Grand Music Hall. Age has taken its toll on Wilton's though. But it's precisely this weary and worn demeanour that gives this Grand Music Hall its charm; it truly is an incredible space and if you make it your goal to go to one new/old place in London, we'd recommend here. Check out the Mahogany Bar while you're there. Built around 1725, the bar actually predates the music hall itself but has changed name many times along the way. Read more...
Oldest Botanic Garden established in 1673: Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS
This river front oasis was founded in 1673, as the Apothecaries' Garden, with the purpose of training apprentices in identifying the medical quality of plants. Within this little garden of Eden, you'll find such delights as the pond rock garden, completed in 1773 and developed from a variety of rock types, namely stones from the Tower of London and Icelandic lava amongst others. It's so old it's even been listed Grade II and is the oldest rock garden in England on view to the public. Fact. Read more...
Oldest Museum established between 1414 - 1423, Royal Armouries Museum, HM Tower Of London, EC3N 4AB
We thought we'd leave the oldest 'til last. And of course it had to be a museum. Its founding date is unclear here but its antiquated status will never be in doubt. The Royal Armouries is an institution well worth a visit. That's it folks.
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