Do you want to experience alternative subculture in another part of the world? Well, our new column, Spooky Travel, aims to help you do just that. Here we profile the coolest places to stay, things to do, sights to see, foods to eat, and mischief to indulge in all around the world.
This week we stop off in London, the home of the Gothic subculture. From the early days at The Bat Cave club, where Bauhaus and the Sisters of Mercy played the first ever goth shows, to the vibrant city of today, where England's alternative culture mixes with some of the most unusual museums and sights in the world.
Stay in the 40 Winks hotel
Image courtesy of The 40 Winks Hotel
Decadent, gothic and quintessentially English, the two rooms at acclaimed designer David Carter's boutique hotel offer the visiting goth a truly unique experience. The 40 Winks hotel regularly hosts fashion photo shoots and decadent parties, such as afternoon teas and glamorous pajama parties. Rooms start from £90 per night.
Shop Up a Storm in Camden Town
The Camden markets are the highlight of any gothic trip to London. Stock up on corsets, stompy books and underground CDs at the various shops (Fairy Goth Mother, Resurrection Records and Cyberdog being the crowd favorites), grab a bite at one of the many ethnic eateries, and spend the night partying hard at one of the many gothic hotspots – Electric Ballroom, Underworld, Dingwalls, and Slimelight. Finish the night with a drink at the Devonshire Arms, the most goth-friendly pub in town. Find out more on the Camden Markets website.
Visit the Old Operating Theatre, London Bridge
The Old Operating Theatre was part of the old St. Thomas' hospital, and was a space where doctors would perform operations while students watched. It's located in the Herb Garret (roof space) of St. Thomas' – a baroque church.
The location in the roof of the church offered some soundproofing between the theatre and the hospital ward – as there was no anesthetic available to the unfortunate patients! The museum is open every day, 10:30am-5pm, and costs £6.20 for an adult entry.
Dine at the Hard Luck Café
The Hard Luck Café has been resident on Old Park Lane since June 1971. Come and relive the good ole days with fine food and some of the best rock music. If you find the line rather daunting, then why not visit The Vault, the café's collection of rock memorabilia located in the vault of the old Coutts Bank. The collection contains the guitar Slash from Guns 'n' Roses used during "November Rain", Madonna's bustier from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour, and the silver suit Eric Clapton wore on the Goodbye Cream album cover.
The Café is open 7 days, 11:30am till late. The Vault is open 7 days a week, from noon-9pm, and it's free to enter.
Indulge in the Hot Tub Cinema, various locations
What could be better than relaxing in a Jacuzzi at your hotel room watching movies? Well, why not relax in a hot tub on a London rooftop with hundreds of other hot tubers while watching classic films like Top Gun? Yes, Hot Tub Cinema is a thing, and it's a great way to spend a warm summer's evening in London. Check the website for dates and locations.
Learn about Victorian London on a Highgate Cemetery Tour, Highgate
One of my favorite spots in London, Highgate Cemetery was one of the richest cemeteries of Victorian England – the who's who of society were buried here in opulent graves and mausoleums. Enjoy a guided tour of the cemetery and learn about Victorian burial customs, cemetery ghosts and the lives of some of London's most unusual characters. Tours of the West Cemetery begin every weekday at 1:45pm, and every hour on the weekend from 11am-4pm. Tickets cost £12 and includes entry to the East Cemetery.
These are some of my top picks for unusual, gothy things to do in London. Have you ever visited London? What did you enjoy? What other spooky sights can you recommend?