Most visitors to London, whatever their budget, are united in the fact that they don’t leave home without a trusty guidebook tucked under their arm. Whether it’s Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, or the newly launched Frommer’s catering to all needs, Hg2 and Wallpaper* sniffing out the best exclusive finds, or Eurocheapo’s own e-guide “101 ways to save in Europe” helping to keep costs down, the guidebook still remains a popular travel companion.
But maps and accommodations aside, sometimes you just want to uncover a slice of city living and enjoy a cup of tea with the locals, something which Zena Alkayat’s new book, London Villages, does very well. This nicely produced almost pocket-sized book covers all corners of London, delving into a generous cross-section of neighborhoods or “villages”, where a sense of local community remains intact and you can really discover a different side to the city.
Some of the areas covered are more commonplace (but no less worthy) on the tourist agenda, such as Hampstead Village and Little Venice, whilst at other spots such as East Dulwich, Shoreditch Village and Crouch End, you’re most certainly more likely to be rubbing shoulders with the locals than armies of visitors brandishing their Lonely Planets. It’s brilliant to see these vibrant and often overlooked areas coming to the forefront.
Each of the 30 different neighborhoods feature a short but sweet introduction, evocative images by Kim Lightbody, a beautifully illustrated brightly colored map by Jenny Seddon and a handful of the best restaurants, pubs and shops in the area. The information isn’t extensive, but it’s more than enough to pique your interest, whet your appetite and point you in the right direction to go off and unearth your own hidden London treasures.
And it’s not just relevant for foreigners—we Londoners are often guiltier than most of sticking to our own well-trodden stomping grounds and rarely venturing across the river. This book fuses together both familiar and unfamiliar parts of the city, inspiring even the most territorial Londoner to try something new. No easy task!
To purchase a copy or find out more, visit Q Bookshop.
London Villages – $15.95
Author: Zena Alkayat
Photographs: Kim Lightbody
Illustrated Maps: Jenny Seddon