What Do You Truly Love About London?

By M@ Last edited 17 months ago
What Do You Truly Love About London?
A classic red car drives to the right. In the background, a simple black and white message is painted on a wall "May you be happy"
Image: Matt Brown

Yes, London can suck. And we should always fight against the many miseries and injustices that plague city — from poverty to air pollution. But we can also sing its praises, for there is still much to love in London.

We asked — in the middle of a widespread strike by tube and rail workers — what Londoners truly adore about their city. Here are some of the responses.

We all love London's culture and diversity

A blackboard asking why London's diversity is important. Various chalk colours have been used in the replies
We stumbled across someone else's question, in Spitalfields. Image: Matt Brown

Many responses shouted about how culturally diverse our city can be. "It is the most multicultural/cosmopolitan city in the world," reckons Miguel. "The ability to converse with people from all over the planet… and eat their food!," adds Martin. (Steven agrees, but quips that it's about time Martin bought his own food.)

Lorena provides an abundance of examples: "The variety of food, music, buildings, people, languages, things to do. One can never ever be bored. One never ever has to have a repeat experience as there is just so much to do - one could eat in a different restaurant every day of the year for 49 years, enough pubs and bars for a different one every day for 10 years, 139 museums, 94 music venues... And the fact that it's a city that's so old it runs like clockwork." Well, we're not quite sure about that last bit, but otherwise, YES!

Clarissa gives a personal example of just how culturally diverse the city can be: "On Saturday I went to a gut wrenching Russian language play based on Sophocles, near Baker Street. On Sunday I went to a documentary about Lithuanian independence and watched a Q&A with the director. On Monday I went to see Jacob Collier perform at Brixton Academy. London, as ever, has me spoiled with this level of culture. 17 years here and not tired of it."

"It's the most entertaining place to be anonymous, yet surrounded by generally very friendly people," sums up Stijn. "Also the endless variety in architecture. London IS my happy place. Bit it's not my wallet's happy place."

We love London's immense history

A long, dark alley with a very thin though tall opening in the distance
Brydge's Place in the West End. Image: Matt Brown

London's historical side is a big winner for many. Michael (and separately Christina) nominates the back alleys and courtyards in the old City of London as his true love — shared with Dr Johnson, whose second most-famous quote about London runs thus: "Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists."

For Fran it's the City churches: "...such medieval gems, places of history, tradition, peace… and only feet away from the bustling modern streets. St Bartholomew the Great is my favourite so far."

"You are always walking among ghosts," sums up Alexandra — presumably alluding to all the people who've walked these streets before, and not genuine phantoms.

London's much-loved transport

A clock with tube roundels replacing numbers with a train in a platform behind
A roundel clock. Image: Matt Brown

Despite asking the question on a strike day, many people replied to sing the praises of London's transport network. The Elizabeth line naturally came in for praise, but also the older parts of the system. "I still love getting the bus in London," says Tamsin, "You can see amazing things."

"And then there's the Underground," adds Stijn. "It's such a well thought-out thing that it just makes my brain happy."

Your favourite London places

A large pond reflects a brick viaduct on a sunny day
The Viaduct Pond on Hampstead Heath. Image Matt Brown

We've all got a favourite spot or two in London — a subject that might have been an article in its own right. "The Heath," nominates Susana,"One of my favourite happy places. A walk along the Southbank is lovely too".

Jean opts for a West End stroll: "Walking from Oxford Street down Regent Street to the Duke of York steps to the Mall and Green Park."

Many others noted the parks and open spaces (Kensington Gardens was nominated several times). Matthew champions the "Rus in Urbes: the genuinely pastoral/medieval ambience you occasionally find in the middle of the huge modern city." Stefan, meanwhile, prefers the industrial heritage: "Just lounging on the Regent's Canal, it's lovely".

Jim opts for one of London's famous view points: "Standing on Waterloo Bridge on a glorious day like today, looking on either side and feeling a swelling of joy and pride that many of the capital's finest buildings are on show. It's always a sense of re-realisation that "shit, I actually live in London."

And the charmingly specific

Some people got joyously specific. Clive sings the praises of taking the path least known: "I walked back home this evening along a street I don’t usually use — and there was a charming new Nepalese café staring me in the face. Result!"

Monica advocates al fresco bookishness: "Eating lunch on the terrace of the café at the British Library (in between sessions working at that magnificent library)!"

Esha loves the city for its music scene... though not necessarily the one you're thinking of: "British/European early music, meaning medieval, Renaissance, Baroque — there's a fair amount of it going on [in London]".

Jeane nominates "Jubilee the raven from the Tower of London, who gave me a stick this morning."

A raven with a stick in its beak
Image: Jeane Mary

See how these answers compare to last time we asked the question, back in 2015.

Last Updated 28 June 2022

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