The London Grill: Diane Burstein

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

Diane Burstein[D]iane is a registered London Blue Badge Guide, her contributions to LBC radio’s Steve Allen Show and BBC Radio London’s Saturday Breakfast Show have helped to make her one of London’s best known tour guides. She is the author of London Then and Now and teaches Discovering London courses for the City Lit and Bishopsgate Institute. Diane enjoys showing Londoners and visitors the hidden courtyards, alleyways and back streets of the capital away from the tourist trail. To find out more about Diane’s tours for groups go to Secret London Walks to find out about tours and visits that individuals can join email

What’s your secret London tip?
As an alternative to the more touristy Thames, explore the towpaths by the Regents Canal. It will take you through affluent areas, edgy areas, former industrial areas, arty areas and green parkland areas.

What’s your secret London place?
King’s College Chapel, King’s College in the Strand. Lovely Victorian chapel designed by George Gilbert Scott, the architect of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Albert Memorial. Is open to the visitors in term time during the week.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
That there are too many chain shops and greedy landlords are putting up the rents for the small businesses which are finding it difficult to survive.

Then and NowWhat’s your favourite building?
RIBA Headquarters in Portland Place (I love Art Deco).

What’s your most hated building?
The Robin Hood Estate in Poplar.

What’s the best view in London?
The view of the City skyline from 1 New Change, the new shopping centre in Cheapside.

What’s your personal London landmark?
Shakesepeare’s Globe Theatre where I worked as a guide for many years and where my late mother worked as a volunteer on the donations desk.

What’s your favourite London film, book or documentary?
“Every Day Except Christmas” – a documentary made by Lindsay Anderson about Covent Garden Market in the 1950s.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
Favourite pub: The Princess Louise in Holborn with lots of original Victorian features.

How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London?
Exploring the small art galleries of Mayfair with my partner who loves art followed by a show at one of my favourite Fringe Theatres – The Union at Southwark, The Finborough at Earls Court and the Landor at Clapham usually put on a good show.

This ‘Grill’ was first posted on the Radio Taxis blog.

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