Uncover London Hour-By-Hour

London Night and Day: The Insider's Guide to London in 24 hours by Matt Brown ★★★★★

By Zoe Craig Last edited 31 months ago
Uncover London Hour-By-Hour London Night and Day: The Insider's Guide to London in 24 hours by Matt Brown 5

London Night and Day: The Insider's Guide to London in 24 hours is the slightly unwieldy title of Londonist's editor-at-large Matt Brown's first solo-penned book.

The titular mouthful is a nod to an earlier guidebook, London Night and Day, illustrated by Osbert Lancaster, a product of the Festival of Britain.

Matt takes this 1951 volume as his inspiration and framework, dividing the  150-page book into 24 chapters — one for each hour of the day — and suggesting which bits of London might be best explored during the given hour.

You'll find 7am dedicated to breakfasts, while 7pm gives you evening entertainment options; 4pm recommends top places for a relaxing cuppa, and 4am offers an insight into London's night markets.

Not only are you guided through the city by time, but each hour is geographically divided into north, south, east and west. The text generally offers short, dippable snippets, each crammed full of simple, useful tips mixed with the depth of knowledge Londonist readers have come to expect from Matt's writing.

Browse any page, and you're likely to either find something you didn't already know about London, or be offered a fresh perspective you hadn't considered. Hampton Court Palace is judged to be 'the best all-round attraction in the capital'. Obscure gem Antrim Park contains a balustrade from Old Waterloo Bridge and 'a fragment of the blitzed House of Commons' — who knew? The multifaceted Proud Camden is described as 'the Stephen Fry of nightclubs'.

Any readers who aren't lucky enough to have joined Matt on a late night jaunt through the city can now get a taste of what it's like to wander alongside him. Turn to the 1am section for an archetypal opening:

In the early hours of the morning, everything is different. The silence can startle. These roads are the oldest in London, where remnants of the Roman city rub shoulders with the medieval, Georgian, Victorian and modern. An ancient church may parley with a skyscraper. In both senses of the superlative, the City holds the richest concentration of architecture in London. At night, it looks its best.

Importantly, Night and Day's exhaustive trawl through the highlights of our city doesn't make the reader feel like an outsider, unable to ever experience the same cornucopia of Londony delights as its tireless and insomniac author. Instead, Matt emerges as a kind of benevolent addict determined to get you, the reader, hooked on the same stuff. Matt's aim, set out in an early introduction is to 'instil a sense of wonder about... this great city' and he certainly succeeds.

Our one criticism is that Night and Day's illustrations are rather unlovely, compared to the author's elegant prose.

Matt Brown's London Night And Day, The Insider's Guide To London in 24 Hours is out now, available from Pavilion Books.

Looking for other recent London books? Browse our archive of reviews and author interviews.

Last Updated 13 October 2015