5 things to do in Bankside, London, that aren’t the London Eye

By Leila Najafi

London is a sprawling city with tons of charm embedded in each borough and while Bankside may not be the first neighborhood you think of when visiting London, the up-and-coming district is filled with tons of treasures from warehouse spaces turned bars to one of London’s most exciting outdoor markets. Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure, Bankside offers a range of affordable attractions and activities for all types of travelers. Book a room at the swanky Hilton Bankside (use your Hilton Honors points for the lowest rate), and you’ll be situated just steps away from a few of the hidden gems in London’s Southwark borough.

Spend a day at Tate Modern museum

Art enthusiasts can revel in one of the city’s finest art museums and the best part is, it’s free! In 1994, the former Bankside Power Station was converted into the art gallery that stands today and remains one of London’s most visited tourist attractions. The art collections on display range from modern to contemporary and span decades of world-class artists including Picasso, Dali, Matisse and more. Aside from select exhibits that cost a few extra bucks, you can work your way through the abstract art installations, Bruce Nauman’s audio sculpture, and the room dedicated to artist Louise Bourgeois. Oh, and did we mention there’s a chocolate shop? Yes, it’s true. Stop by the chocolate bar on Level 1 where you can find a range of handmade Cacao Barry chocolates that make sweet souvenirs but be careful, you’ll be fighting your sweet tooth to leave.

Sip on 70 year old gin at The Distillery Bankside

Sip on 70 year old gin at The Distillery Bankside

Gin drinkers, rejoice! The Distillery Bankside tucked inside the Hilton Bankside offers an impressive selection of gin as old as your nana that will throw you back £55 a shot (yes, per shot)! Appropriately named, The Distillery Bankside, pays tribute to its distillery roots with a floor-to-ceiling penny wall (16,000 to be exact) and a seasonal craft cocktail menu made using a variety of bitters and syrups all made in-house to keep the traditions of the old Stevenson & Howell fragrance factory that existed in the 1800s. Stop by on a Thursday or Friday evening to catch a live jazz band or a soulful voice singing a rendition of your favorite hits like “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. The Bankside bar thankfully maintained its nostalgic charm throughout the bar design with accents like Edison bulb light fixtures, tufted leather seats, and a drink menu with prices listed in pennies not pounds. You’d be remiss not to order a gin libation considering they offer over 50 handpicked bottles including a few rare ones like Taplows Old London Special Dry Gin from 1960 so order your drink neat (and watch your chest hairs grow), or try one of their beautiful concoctions infused with hibiscus that smells just as delicious as it tastes.

Awaken your senses at Borough Market

Borough Market is truly a foodie paradise. It is not only London’s oldest market but it celebrates the multicultural metropolis by joining farmers, fisherman and local artisans alike to showcase their best produce and gourmet goods under one roof. Sample specialty bites from all corners of the world including sausages from The German Deli, pies from Pieminister, imported Spanish cured meats from Brindisa and learn about cuisine from near and far. The outdoor market occasionally organizes educational talks, food demos and cooking classes with local chefs and food experts for the curious minds (and bellies)! You can easily spend half a day admiring the fresh florals, drooling over the pastries and homemade tarts, or picking out the perfect plump tomatoes. If you weren’t hungry when you entered the market, you will surely work up an appetite as you tantalize your taste buds while browsing the aisles.

Flat Iron Square Flea

Grab a beer at Flat Iron Square

Is it a restaurant or a bar? Maybe it’s a music venue? The massive brick walled warehouse spanning seven railway arches is actually all the above. It’s your one stop shop for all things food and culture in Bankside. You can watch a live jazz band one week, or nosh on Turkish dumplings from Manti the next. Make sure to check out the weekly flea market, conveniently located near London Bridge, which is a highly curated vintage and artisanal market that runs from 10am-5pm on Sunday where you can hunt for treasures like antiques, retro furniture, fashion, books, vinyl and more! With three restaurants, seven food vendors, five bars, and a calendar filled with live performances, Flat Iron Square has no shortage of fun activities lined up on any given week.

Catch a Shakespearian play at Shakespeare’s Globe

Founded by actor and director, Sam Wanamaker, the Globe Theatre is an open-air playhouse located just a few hundred yards from the original Globe. The largest Shakespeare exhibits lives underneath the Globe Theatre in Bankside where guests are invited to explore the history behind one of the greatest writers in literature. The indoor theatre is an ode to some of Shakespeare’s finest work with an upcoming 2017 Summer Season lineup dedicated to five popular romantic plays like Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and Twelfth Night. This is the summer of love, right?

Pro tip: You can also redeem your Hilton Honors reward points for exclusive experiences in London such as premium admission tickets to London’s famous outdoor movie venue, Luna Cinema.

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