The London Grill: Laura Porter

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.


[L]aura Porter writes the London Travel site and also Laura’s London for She has lived in the London area all her life and can’t imagine ever wanting to live elsewhere. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s. Laura is @AboutLondon on twitter and @AboutLondon Laura on Facebook. You can find out more about her at and see Laura’s other articles on the Visit Britain Super Blog.

What’s your secret London tip?
Walk as much as possible. You can find a new street/alley that you’ve never walked down on every day of your life. You won’t get lost as London is such a densely populated city and you’ll find a main road or tube station within a few minutes. But one day turn left instead of right and see where it takes you.

What’s your secret London place?
I like to take friends to see the ‘Roman Baths’ on Strand Lane as it’s such a hidden away attraction although I think the journey is more fun than getting there. It’s probably not Roman but it has a Dickens connection (David Copperfield was said to use the plunge bath regularly). I also like the Ceramics Department in the V&A where you can watch workshops and use the terminals to design your own teapot.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Unnecessary crime. It’s a city thing, I guess, but I have no idea why anything would think it OK to scratch someone’s car, break someone’s window, steal someone’s phone, etc. Maybe it’s a jealousy issue but it seems many do it just because they’re bored and don’t care about the hurt they inflict.

What’s your favourite building?
Can a bridge be a building? If so, today I’ll choose the Rolling Bridge in Paddington Basin which unfurls on Fridays at midday. Why, because it can. I love our traditions; even the relatively new ones.

What’s your most hated building?
The City has some real shockers but let’s go with no.1 Poultry. The old Mappin & Webb building was much more attractive but you can still see the M&W clock just inside.

What’s the best view in London?
Big Ben seen through the London Eye from Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank. Also, standing on the National Gallery steps and looking down Whitehall, seeing past Nelson’s Column to Big Ben.

What’s your personal London landmark?
I love our iconic buildings. They make a lovely skyline when pulled out of geographical accuracy into a horizontal line. I can’t choose one but love to see Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and yes, Big Ben.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
I constantly read London books and one I enjoyed relatively recently was Walk The Lines by Mark Mason. He walked the length of all the tube lines and wrote about what he saw. Reading it feels like you’re doing the walk with him without the physical exertion.

I love spotting London film locations so I’d choose places in films, such as the entrance to the Ministry of Magic, near the Nigeria High Commission, for the Harry Potter movies, or Westminster Bridge in 28 Days Later. Seeing any London rooftops makes me think of Mary Poppins and dancing chimney sweeps.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I’ll go with cafe. I find myself in Yumchaa Soho a lot these days as 1. The tea is great, 2. I live the rustic style and 3. It’s a great location near Oxford Circus. I have no idea why I put up with the chipped cups and teapots that generally spill tea across the table, and the wifi rarely works. But I still like it there.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
To get a mix of the hectic city and the peace I’d go to Camden Market and have liquid nitrogen ice-cream at Chin Chin Labs before strolling down the canal to Little Venice. I’d turn off to visit teanamu Chaya Teahouse in Notting Hill and meet my tea-drinking friends. The evening would end with a trip to the pub with more good company.

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

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