Unexpected London

(5 customer reviews)

Temple underground station, London

Guided by Alison

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
5 April 2024 Tour du Jour 10.45 am 12.45 pm Winter
19 April 2024 Tour du Jour 10.45 am 12.45 pm Winter Reserve Online
17 May 2024 Tour du Jour 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer Reserve Online

Short read: Secret places and hidden interiors…

Long read: “If you want to know London better, if you want to learn some things about the world’s most cosmopolitan city that most people who spend their lives there never learn, I can think of no better investment than London Walks.” The New York Times could have been describing this walk. It teems with quirkiness, odd places and passing strange things and people. We start with the verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways of a mini-Eden that doubles as the largest civil engineering project to ever come London’s way.

We meet the lady the early twentieth-century public would have plumped for as the first woman Prime Minister. She might be our hostess. And meeting her, well, the parade – the extravaganza – is well underway. There’s the Santa Maria, Columbus all eagle-eyed. There’s the neo-Gothic mansion built by William Waldorf Astor as a home and an office to impress. And it does. There’s a putto putzing about with a 1920s candlestick design phone.

The Astor mansion – there’s nothing else remotely like it in London – will be open after the walk because it’s hosting the exhibition; “The Glass Heart Art.” It’s a rare opening for one of the most extraordinary interiors in London. So – nudge, nudge – catch it while you can. Thinking ahead to après walk, well, you’re spoiled for choice because when we part company with the Astor abode (and the Santa Maria, ships passing in a dreamscape) some fancy footwork waltzes us by a gem of an 18th-century pub, the Edgar Wallace. Yes, that Edgar Wallace, the prolific writer of crime novels. Inside, wave upon wave of… well, you’ll see.

Famed for its traditional fayre, the Wallace is well worth visiting for a pint after the walk. On your way back to the Astor palazzo! Ok, that’s how the walk starts. No end of razzmatazz. And that’s how it continues. Lives up to its name – Unexpected London – every step of the way.

Coda read: hidden palaces, the hotel where George Orwell worked, an abandoned Tube Station, a flying guinea pig, two island churches, the Great Cham, oranges and lemons, bomb damage, “the first street in Europe,” the apotheosis of black cats, an arrow shower of great history.  Well, you get the idea. What’s not to like? And come cold weather– hey, all those sheltering, hidden interiors – say hello to the parfait
London Walk!  Guided by Alison


“If this were a golf tournament every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide”


The meeting point is just outside the exit of TempleTube. N.B. the Unexpected London walk ends in Embankment Gardens, right next to Embankment Tube.


“The implications of this are as disturbing as Einstein’s second law of relativity. The _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ is a quiet little late Gothic building, almost as black as it would be in Newcastle. Rearing above it is the glazed white backside of the _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _. Neither part is memorable but the tension between them is. And the tension not only comes by accident but depends on it. Only a sadist would design this kind of affront, yet the affront is the essence of the place: and the final effect is not disgust but compassion for the tired old animal down below.”  Ian Nairn


If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Unexpected London it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Unexpected London walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.


A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.


Don’t just take it from us.


5 reviews for Unexpected London

  1. Paul Tickner

    A friend recommended London Walks, this was our first. From the initial email the day before to the end Alison was clear, thoughtful and helpful.
    Lots of amusing and pointed interest which you wouldn’t bother with in a guide book. We will definitely book another walk next time we are in London.

  2. Jenny Davies

    Really enjoyable walk. It is amazing in such a compact area how many interesting things there are that you normally just walk past. Alison brings it all to life in a very informative way. She gave us lots of ideas of what and where to visit after the walk. Definitely recommend

  3. Marnie Peacock

    We’ve been on a few London Walks and this was of the same high standard. Alison was fantastic from her initial welcome e-mail through to her follow up. She showed us some wonderful hidden corners we’d never have found and her knowledge was immense. We also went back to Two Temple Place and have shouted out to friends how interesting the entire walk is. Thanks for sharing and look forward to another walk in the future.

  4. Alison

    Really fascinating walk. Alison was an excellent guide and we went back to two of her recommendations, including the Astor mansion. So much better than wandering around with one’s eyes stuck in the guide book. Also learned a sneaky cut-through! Definitely recommended.

  5. David

    This was a delightful walk covering different and sometimes surprising finds to other London walks I’ve been on. Alison was a really fun guide and gave us such an enjoyable time. Highly recommended.

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