Neatly packaged as “half anti-guidebook and half urban manual” the Not For Tourists Guide to London is ironically, probably pretty good for a certain kind of tourist. If you shun the double decker bus tour and Blue Badge guides or are newly resident and have no friends then this “little black book” could give you shortcuts to some cool bits of the city.
The guide is arranged by broad areas, starting with Central London, and by sub-districts therein. Each has their own map and a list of useful and interesting places including banks, libraries, post offices and supermarkets as well as cinemas, coffee shops, landmarks, places to eat, drink and shop. These listings are highly selective. The NFT team have cherry picked and name checked their take on non-touristy, hip and quirky places. The only editorial to enhance their selection is a bite sized summary of the area that majors on local stereotypes and doesn’t shy from insults or caustic commentary encouraging the suicidal to head for the top of Trellick Tower and tipping off where to find “prozzers” and “poppers”. You’ll find there’s nowhere to eat or drink in Maida Hill and, infamously, nothing at all in Hornsey.
Whilst the summaries are reductive, they’re based in truth and ring with a certain hep knowingness that doubtless appeals to those in search of London’s grubby undersheets. If only the text wasn’t shot through with an unmistakeable US accent. The spelling might be UK English but the delivery is transatlantic which prevents the guide feeling totally authentic. It’s unsurprising, however, when you realise this is the first international edition of a project that covers 9 US cities already.
There are snippets at the back about parks, transport, educational establishments, arts, entertainment and sports in London and a double sided fold out map with tube on one side and a new-to-us bus map that looks dead helpful for a stranger in this bemusing town. Of course, we’re hugely biased, as we write about London every day but whilst we recommend you Londoners stick with Londonist, we’d consider giving this guidebook to visiting friends if we weren’t around to show them what’s what.
“Not For Tourists Guide to London” costs £9.99 but they’re having a party this Friday from 5pm at Bar Kick, Shoreditch High Street if you want to pick up a free copy and have a drink on them. We’ll be throwing a few free copies your way via our @londonist twitter soon.