Visiting a new city can be daunting, especially one as charmingly chaotic as London. Thankfully centuries of writers and filmmakers have already fallen in love with the UK’s capital city and there is a wealth of books and films to help you familiarise yourself with the place.
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London is the first in a fantasy-crime series about contemporary London, written by Doctor Who writer – Ben Aaronovitch. The action centres around the Thames River and London’s folklore and history are interwoven with deftly-plotted detective work. Aaronovitch doesn’t just focus on the centre of London; his characters also pay many visits to the often overlooked Thames Valley. The Clerk & Well are down the road from the Rivers of London HQ.
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Ritzy in Brixton
World War II infamously rewrote swathes of London’s landscape and the aftermath inspired Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel: Small Island. The story follows the fortunes of a Jamaican couple who move into a tiny flat in South-West London and the claustrophobic-yet-hopeful atmosphere of post-war London is perfectly captured by Levy’s sparse prose and borough-hopping narrative. Half Moon is located in the heart of Levy's London.
An Equal Music by Vikram Seth
The Serpentine lake in Hyde Park
A love story that’s as much about loving London as it is about the two people involved, An Equal Music by Vikram Seth offers the reader an alternative view of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus is especially significant and a great deal of the plot focuses on the idyllic Serpentine and Hyde Park areas. Bayswater Apartment are a short walk from the Serpentine.
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
St Paul's Cathedral
Out of all Dickens’ novels, Barnaby Rudge has the most extensive and diverse selection of London locations. The majority of the plot happens outside, around the vividly depicted St Paul’s Cathedral, High Holborn, and Fleet Street. This is an area of Dickens’ London that remains largely intact and is a short walk from the Charles Dickens Museum. Kings Wardrobe Apartments are just two-minutes walk from St Paul's Cathedral.
Attack the Block
Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle
Watching the London landscape being dismantled might not seem like an obvious way to familiarise yourself with the city, however Attack the Block is a great insight into an overlooked side of inner city London. Mainly shot around the Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle, this film features real London and real Londoners as a group of local teenagers (led by Star Wars actor John Boyega) band together to battle aliens. Meanwhile, these luxurious apartments offer different outlook on Elephant & Castle.
Brick Lane in Shoreditch
Sarah Gavron’s adaptation of Monica Ali’s novel Brick Lane was shot on and around the famous London market street and features many of the local residents. Gavron takes the viewer on a visual journey through Brick Lane and Islington Chapel Market while telling a compelling story of how overwhelming yet invigorating the city can be. Crashpads Mini Lofts offer capsule accommodation next to Brick Lane.
The Harry Potter Films
Westminster tube station
The Harry Potter series may be all about magical London, but the Muggle side of life does pop up as well. Nothing typifies the tourist experience like Mr Weasley attempting to navigate Westminster tube station in Order of the Phoenix. And once you arrive the Tour for Muggles will take you all through Harry Potter’s London, including the twisting alleyways around Charing Cross (the inspiration for Diagon Alley) and, of course, Platform 9 ¾. The Georgian House Hotel has two Harry Potter themed rooms.
28 Days Later
Look past the gruesome subject matter and you’ll notice that 28 Days Later features a haunting, iconic shot of London. Cillian Murphy’s character wakes up from a coma to find the city almost completely deserted and wanders the streets in search of survivors. Which leads to much footage of the deserted streets and Murphy’s famous walk across the empty Westminster Bridge. The London Marriott Hotel County Hall overlooks Westminster Bridge.