The best London guides for alternative sides of the city

Hoxton Mini Press are your go-to for hand-picked, alternatively selected, tried and tested hot spots of the city. Not just guides for the tourist, these books are for the average Londoner looking to become more acquainted with the gems that are a short tube ride away. Here’s our top three:

East London: An Opinionated Guide (£9.95, 9781910566220, p/b)

This pocket-sized guide offers suggestions on the shops, hotels, coffee, food, outdoors, culture, and night life in East London, with each page categorising it into one of these. Food suggestions are aplenty – you’ll never be lost for a spot to eat with this handy guide, just spoilt for choice on where to try next (my next stop will be Sodo, a cosy pizzeria). I recently visited The Geffrye (see below image) after seeing the museum recommended in this guide. It was a wonderful afternoon away, a quiet spot tucked in the business of Old Street and Hoxton, and I wouldn’t have otherwise known about it. The book opens with a note, explaining that “these are the places we’d take you to if you were to stay with us”; this concept makes the highlighted spots seem all the more special. With 57 places on the menu showcasing a smattering of East London, you’ll have something to do every week for over a year.

London Coffee (£20.00, 9781910566251, h/b)

Earlier today I said to my colleague that even though I’m a tea drinker over coffee, I’ve become a bit obsessed by this book, cooing over it on my desk. Rather than be a pocket guide to chuck in your bag on the go, this is part guide, part coffee-table book (obviously), and part beautiful photography book. This is one to browse at home and pin point your next coffeehouse choice before heading into the city for work. Unlike East London: An Opinionated Guide, this covers London more widely, and so is a huge catalogue of independent coffee destinations. A life of only the corporate giants that are Starbucks and Costa, is a life of wasted opportunity to explore and see the wide variety of drinks and settings available across London! A personal highlight of this authentic book is the map it comes with that numbers areas of London so that you can find the coffee shops by number in the book. Also, the map is the part of the book (see image below) that can sit in your rucksack, ready for when you need that caffeine fix. Become acquainted with the city cup by cup.

Unseen London (£28.00, 9781910566244, h/b)

The latest addition to Hoxton Mini Press’s aesthetically cool titles is Unseen London, a book inviting you to explore beyond the capital’s obvious stops. Like London Coffee, it’s an incredibly luxurious book in its printing and production. The opening introduction begins,

“There’s a feeling you get when you’ve been away from London. Maybe you’ve just nipped to the seaside for a few nights or maybe you’ve spent months on another continent, but when you step out onto those familiarly scuzzy pavements, you get this thrill. You’re back.”

It’s completely true. Reading this very passage took me back to a memory in June: I had just landed in London City Airport and was on the way home; the sight of London buses, streets, and underground signs filled me with something akin to contentment. This is what Unseen London is: a collection of photographs and commentary, some taking you back to memories, others feeding a desire to go and make memories at the featured places. Columbia Road is a Hoxton Mini Press favourite, featuring a few of their books – I really must go… Hoxton Mini Press’ latest offering is a snapshot of people, places, and things in the lesser known parts of London, featuring work from a variety of photographers that represent different cultures, areas, and lifestyles that make London the metropolis it is.

You’re sure to find some weekend inspiration here.

All of these titles are published by Hoxton Mini Press.

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