The London Grill: Fierce City

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.


[S]ATU & PJ write and produce the first podcast dedicated to the lesser known history of London. Fierce City – a London History Podcast – is a monthly podcast which covers a diverse range of topics all focused on the greatest capital city in the world.

The stories told in the podcast range from ones about the kings and queens at the top of the pile to the ordinary people of all backgrounds who make up the majority of Londoners across its history.

Satu & PJ are best friends and occasional sworn enemies who enjoy an outrageous soundbite from a person wearing a ruff and absolutely love stories of petty backstabbing.

What’s your secret London tip?
PJ: Queue up for day seats at the theatres for even the sold-out London shows. If you arrive early, you can bag great seats for a bargain! Satu: Good tip. For about £10, you can sometimes see a performance and also enjoy the environment of the Royal Opera House and its gorgeous bar, and see how the other half live (they do ballet as well if you find opera a bit much).

Fierce CityWhat’s your secret London place?
PJ: Milk & Honey on Poland Street. Behind an unmarked door, you can step into Cocktail Haven. You don’t need to be a member, just book a seat and while away the hours. Even when most of the bars and clubs in Soho are shut, you can still get served an old-fashioned. Satu: Surrey Docks Farm. You can walk a lot of the way along the river from London Bridge and if you make it far enough around the bend in the river you’ll find a farm with animals and gardens not far from Surrey Quays Overground.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
PJ: That we do not have any kind of Highline – like in New York. I would love to be able to stroll through the city above the traffic. Satu: If I were mayor, I would rip out all ticket barriers at smaller stations.

What’s your favourite building?
We both love the British Library. It’s not quite as spectacular as the St Pancras Hotel next door but its blocky red exterior hides the fact that it is a magical portal to a library that offers every book published in the UK.

What’s your most hated building?
PJ: The Tower Hotel by Tower Bridge – a brutalist monstrosity. Satu: It’s the best place to stay by Tower Bridge because you can’t see the Tower Hotel if you’re actually inside it.

What’s the best view in London?
PJ: From Hays Galleria looking to the City – the vista looks like newer buildings sprouting out of buildings, all on top of one another. Satu: From the top of the hill in Greenwich by the observatory, down towards the river and old Naval college. Spectacular.

What’s your personal London landmark?
Satu: The Southbank Centre. Fantastic concrete mid-20th-century design given a human facelift with colour, light, and a great programme of events. I love its warren of staircases and the way it feels cosy and personal despite always being packed. You can always ask if someone wants to meet at the Southbank Centre. PJ: The Southbank Centre also has all you possibly need when it comes to food, drink, film, theatre (and a great Southbank shop).

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Satu: My favourite film scene set in London is in The Bourne Ultimatum, where Jason Bourne tries to get a Guardian journalist safely through Waterloo station while under sniper fire. Usually, films portray London as posh scenery, but this actually used the station for a reason and it was really fun to recognize it. Plus it’s always nice to see shabby bits of London instead of just the nice part of Notting Hill. PJ: On the other end of the spectrum, Charles Dicken’s London in a Christmas Carol is so delightful and whimsical, even the poor Tiny Tim’s abode in Camden Town oozes charm.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Mayflower in Rotherhithe is our favourite pub. The beer garden is a patio that sits right over the river, which means you risk getting splashed when a big boat goes past, but it’s lovely on a summer’s day.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Satu: I’ve never been to the Barbican conservatory so I’d book in for one of their tours. Then an Eton Mess and a glass of champagne at the Liberty tearoom. The day would end in the nearest Sam Smith’s. PJ: I would probably join Satu exploring the many wonders of the Barbican Centre. Then hopefully somebody will gift me their flat there and I can have a lovely night in.

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