It goes without saying that taking photographs is a huge part of any trip – whether it’s to send to family and friends back home, to preserve the memories of your experiences, or simply as quality content for the ’gram. In this series, we spotlight the best places to get your shots in cities around the world – from vibrant street murals and fabled heritage buildings to panoramic lookouts and stunning interiors.
With Singapore now on England’s ‘quarantine-free’ list, you don’t need to self-isolate for 14 days if you have been in Singapore for at least 14 days before arriving in the UK. All you need to do is to complete a passenger locator form. However, bear in mind you’d have to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities when you return to Singapore.
If you are heading to London, below’s our guide on hidden gems to visit for that photo opportunity while you’re there.
London is home to some of the world’s most iconic sights, from the London Eye that soars high about the sprawling, historic cityscape to the colourful houses that dot Notting Hill to the green and gabled gardens of Hyde Park. But beyond the eye candy you’ll encounter at these tourist hotspots lie plenty more striking scenes – you just need to know where to find them.
While some may argue that millennial pink’s heyday (which peaked in 2017) is long over, that’s certainly not the case at Sketch. Located in a gorgeous 18th-century townhouse in the posh Mayfair neighbourhood, the brasserie features a room called the Gallery that’s decked out almost entirely in millennial pink – from the walls to the ceiling to the plush furniture. According to designer India Mahdavi, the choice of hue was made in order to give the room a feminine touch of “colour and gentleness”. Meanwhile, the walls are lined with 245 cheeky and colourful works of art by Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley, offering patrons a truly immersive art and dining experience that’s unlike any other in the city. For a quintessentially English experience, order some afternoon tea and strike your best pose.
2. Shoreditch Street Art
Street art and graffiti aficionados know to make a beeline for Shoreditch in London’s East End. Besides the bustling weekend markets, delicious dining options and large array of stores selling vintage and alternative merchandise, you’ll find plenty of vibrant creations by artists who have left their unique mark on the area’s brick walls. Take the tube and alight at Liverpool Street Station, or at Shoreditch High Street if you’re taking the Overground network, and begin your self-guided walking tour. You’ll find a high concentration of street art along Hanbury Street, Corbet Place, Brick Lane and Princelet Street, though Banksy fans can head to Rivington Street and check out his Guard Dog work at the outdoor section of the Cargo Bar.
Need to escape the hustle of the city and want to take a few quality shots while you’re at it? Take the tube to Hampstead in North London, followed by a roughly 15-minute uphill walk to the picturesque Hampstead Pergola & Hill Garden. Constructed in the early 20th century as a summer terrace for Lord Leverhulme, Hampstead Pergola’s weathered walkways and rugged columns are now enveloped in colourful flowers, vines and overgrowth from the surrounding plants. This romantic secret garden is also a popular venue for engagement shoots. After taking a few pictures, wander around the expansive Hill Garden at the base of the Pergola, which is particularly beautiful when filled with flowers during the spring and summer months.
One of the city’s most stunning buildings has got to be Somerset House, which was originally constructed in 1547 before a complete overhaul in 1775. The Neoclassical structure was designed by Sir William Chambers and features a large quadrangle surrounded by various wings. During the warm summer months, you’ll find plenty of families bringing their kids to frolic about in the quadrangle’s water fountains, which were installed in the 1990s, while enjoying a thirst quencher from one of the on-site cafés. And in the winter, the entire quadrangle is turned into an open-air ice rink. Popular movies that have been shot at Somerset House include Love Actually (2003), Shanghai Knights (2003) and two James Bond films – GoldenEye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
Located at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the district of Stratford, this striking public art structure and observation tower was built to commemorate London’s hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Standing at a height of 114 metres and constructed out of red tubular steel, Orbit is the largest work of public art found in Britain and was concepted by artist Sir Anish Kapoor, who won the Turner Prize in 1991, and structural engineer Cecil Balmond. Visitors are able to take an elevator to the top of the tower – which yields a panoramic view of the surrounding city – and can choose to descend down a series of 455 stairs or by taking a ride on the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide.
Each Sunday – from 8am to 3pm, come rain or shine – Bethnal Green’s Columbia Road comes alive in a riot of colours and bevy of sweet scents, as flower sellers take over the street to hawk their wares. You’ll find all manner of flowers and plants here, from multicoloured tulips and bright yellow daffodils to 10-foot-tall banana trees and easy-to-care-for succulents. Take a few photographs among the blooms along the main road before popping into one of the quaint cafés, antique stores, art galleries and vintage shops that line the narrow alleys. It gets rather busy around midday, so head over as early as possible if you want to avoid the crowds.
*For more information on whether the locations are open, please check their individual websites.
This piece was first published on 24 August 2020.