Best Of London 2022: It's The Annual Londonist Awards!

By Londonist Last edited 14 months ago
Best Of London 2022: It's The Annual Londonist Awards!

As we cast our memory back over the past 12 months, we start a new tradition of dishing out awards for the best, the worst and the WTF-iest of London in 2022. It's far too dull having things like "Best New Restaurant" — but we are awarding (virtual) trophies for"Best Roundel", "Finest Pub Crisp Selection" and "WTF Moment of the Year".

And the award for Most Unfortunate Place Name goes to...

A big red arrow points to the location of Truss Island in the Thames.

There was only one nominee for out first award — Truss's Island. Soon after we discovered this wretchedly-monikered piece of land near Staines, we published an article about it. And not a moment too soon, either. A few HOURS later, Liz Truss resigned in disgrace. (If you don't remember Liz Truss, she was one of Britain's 14 prime minsters this year.)

And the award for WTF? Moment of the Year goes to...

The O2 ripped to shreds
The O2 had strips torn off it — quite literally. Image: Paige Kahn/Londonist

There were plenty of WTF moments, as usual, in London in 2022 — from the Old Operating Theatre performing "live 19th-century style amputations", to discovering Charles Dickens had a hipster 'tache, to Daleks advancing down the Mall for the Queen's jubilee, to... well, the Queen dying. But really, the award this year has to go to that moment back in February when the whole of London uttered a collective WTF, as Storm Eunice tore strips off The O2 like they were sheets of oversized Andrex.

And the award for Best Exhibition About London Not in London Goes to...

Learn about the unbuilt Northern line. Image: M@/Londonist

You may've noticed that Londonist has been piercing the Greater London/metropolitan elite snowflake bubble this year, with trips to everywhere from Leeds to Prague in our Beyond London section. But this particular award belongs somewhere closer to home. Elstree & Borehamwood Museum lies just beyond the tippety-top of London, yet the Northern line was once supposed to reach this neck of the woods — as a superb exhibition showed us in 2022. Off the Rails: the Line That Never Was proved so popular it was, ironically, extended. Unlike the Northern line itself.

And the award for Roundel of the Year goes to...

An Elizabeth line roundel glowing purple
Couldn't not be. Image: M@/Londonist

Variations on the classic red, white and blue tube roundels are very much a "thing" these days — and we're often being tipped off to new ones appearing across London (and beyond). Our award could have gone to Larry Achiampong's Pan African reinterpretation at Westminster, or to London's only dual-language roundel, in Southall. But obviously, this award has to be shared with every single new roundel unveiled on the brand new Elizabeth line. The future is bright. The future is purple.

And the award for Tube Map of the Year goes to...

A close up of the map
The alternative tube map switches out the 272 tube stations we know, for the names of well-known (and should-be-well-known) women and non-binary people.

Another "thing" is alternative tube maps, some of which we are guilty of bringing into the world ourselves (hello aromatic tube map). Deserving runners-up in the category this year were the tube map of cheapest pints, and the tube map of libraries. But the tube map that really caught our attention was one which flies in the face of place names and tube stations overwhelmingly named after male landed gentry and aristocrats — replacing them with the names of pioneering women. Come up, and get your award, City of Women London map.

And the award for Sculpture of the Year goes to...

A table of food surrounded by large mammals (bronze ones)
Image courtesy Paternoster Square

Plenty of new statues and sculptures to choose from in 2022, including Thomas Heatherwick's much-panned Tree of Trees outside Buckingham Palace, the frankly disturbing human snails of Aldgate, a life-sized Lego Suffragette, and a new — and much-delayed — piece for the prime art real estate that is the Fourth Plinth. But Londonist readers have spoken, and the sculpture you most enjoyed reading about this year was the uncanny sight of a zebra dining with a lion and and giraffe in Paternoster Square's Wild Table of Love. The bad news is this incredible feast for the eyes is a temporary installation — the better news is that it's hanging around till May 2023.

And the award for Seriously Though, Is That Actually Going to Happen? goes to...

A huge purple globe rises above Stratford
The MSG Sphere London would be nearly identical to the MSG Sphere Las Vegas. Image: MSG Sphere London

Anything can happen in London. Just look at Great British Bakeoff the Musical. Our runners-up in this coveted category are Greenwich Park turning into a giant grassy staircase, and a skyscraper named Gotham City looming above the City (this one is in fact nearing completion). But it's another cartoonish building that scoops our Seriously Though, Is That Actually Going to Happen? award — the 'Stratford Sphere', which looks like a giant fortune teller's dropped their f**k-off massive crystal ball next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We would say look out for this, but if they actually build it, you'll know about it.

And the award for Comeback of the Year goes to...

Ribbons and fireworks over Battersea Power Station
The moment Battersea Power Station (re)opened

Now for something that certainly DID happen. Among the nominees for London's comeback kid in 2022 was Scootercaffe, which closed down "permanently", then reopened three months later. But there was only comeback that could really win this year — and that was Battersea Power Station, which at the end of October, regenerated into a super spenny shopping mall — complete with explosive fireworks and ticker tape unboxing. You can certainly pick faults with the development, and the way it's been done — but we dare you to step inside this remarkable building and not be awed by its bricky majesty.

And the award for Wonderfully Niche Book of the Year goes to...

A book called bollardology by Cathy Ross is held in a hand. Its cover shows a close-up of the top of a red-and white bollard.

A smart coffee table tome picturing London's council houses was in the running for this award, as was a pamphlet about a spaceport in Croydon that never existed. But these was frankly blown out of the water by Cathy Ross' Bollardology, a book which not only hones in on a particular genre of street furniture, but focuses solely on those positioned within the Square Mile.

And the award for I Didn't Know That Museum Existed goes to...

A catalogue of biscuits
Crumbs! Image: Paige Kahn/Londonist

A handful of new museums showed up in the capital this year — including Queer Britain, the UK's first LGBTQ museum, and an online museum about insurance. 2022 was also the year we learned that there's a museum dedicated to BISCUITS in Bermondsey — and soon after this came to light, we were there, er, digesting the tasty archives.

And the award for Flagrant Misuse of "Hidden Gem" goes to...

The phrase "hidden gem" is often bandied around willy nilly, and we'll be the first to admit we've used the hackneyed phrase once or twice before. But there's a time and a place for it, and one PR this year clearly didn't get the memo, flagrantly describing Wimbledon Common as a "hidden gem". Not only is Wimbledon Common a massive swath of land, perambulated by thousands of Londoners daily... there's a famous song about it — and it's bloody catchy too.

And the award for Finest Pub Crisp Selection goes to...

A wall of crisps
A-maize-ing choice of snacks. Image: Londonist

We're not doing a pub of the year — there have been too many belting new boozers we've tried out — but we WILL hand out a Londonist award to the best selection of crisps in a pub — and that has to go to The Shirker's Rest in New Cross, for its ever-evolving wall of savoury snacks. One constant on the lineup, though, are thick those potatoey discuses of joy, Slabs. And with that, we're off to the award ceremony afterparty. Shirker's, anyone?

Original feature image: iStock/adventtr

Last Updated 20 December 2022