The London Grill: Rob Hinchcliffe

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.

Rob Hinchcliffe is a writer and editor who can’t stop writing about London. In the early 2000s he started a blog called The Big Smoker in his spare time and that eventually became the award-winning site, Londonist. These days Rob edits London in Bits a newsletter about the city’s news, politics, arts, food and people.

What’s your secret London tip?

If you can walk there, then walk there. You miss so much by getting on the Tube and chances are you’ll come across something even more interesting than the place you were heading. If you have to get a cab, get a black cab. I’m not just saying that. Uber is a terrible company and a dreadful service. Cabbies know stuff. The only reason I know one of the great train robbers used to live on my road is because I got a black cab home one day.

What’s your secret London place?

Bit of a weird one because it’s hiding in plain sight, but a lot of people walk past Le Beaujolais because of its location right in the middle of all the tourist traps, or they peer in and see a dark cave with a load of ties hanging from the ceiling and get scared off. But it’s one of the best bars in the whole of London and you will always get to talk to someone interesting there, plus the people-watching is first class.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

Right now it would be the amount of small, independent businesses that are being forced to close. Every other day another one seems to bite the dust and we don’t seem to be able to do anything to stop it.

What’s your favourite building?

I could happily sitting front of the British Museum all day and I’ve always been a fan of St Pancras.

What’s your most hated building?

Probably the MI6 building. Eugh.

What’s the best view in London?

Well, I live in Crystal Palace, so I have to say the view from ’the triangle’ looking back out over The City don’t I?

What’s your personal London landmark?

I proposed to my wife on Chelsea Bridge so there can be no other answer (but if there was it would probably be the Crystal Palace dinosaurs).

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

Film: Oh wow…Okay. Alan Moore’s From Hell is up there for the book title (but not the film!). But I just wrote a whole article about how much I love Geoff Ryman’s 253 so I have to mention that too. More recently there’s Little Scratch by Rebecca Watson, Loom by Matthew Turner and Plume by Will Wiles. Also, I loved The Parakeeting of London by Nick Hunt because we have so many in SE19.
Films: An American Werewolf in London is one of my all-time favourites, and the other film featuring monsters on the Tube: Death Line…. But what about The Elephant Man? The Long Good Friday? 10 Rillington Place? This question is evil!
Documentaries: There aren’t enough good London documentaries actually. The London Nobody Knows, obviously. The Cardinal and the Corpse is great. And Keiller’s ‘London’ has to be on the list.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Other than cheese and bread at Le Beaujolais? 🙂 If it’s a special occasion then probably Pollen Street Social, but less fancy than that I would usually go to one of the Noble Rots or Quality Wines.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

I would probably walk the dog through Crystal Palace to pick up a coffee and breakfast, then I’d head off on my own and go see an exhibition somewhere like Whitechapel Gallery or the Photographer’s Gallery. Seeing a film in the afternoon on my own is one of my favourite things to do and I’m a lifetime member of the Prince Charles cinema, so I’d go there next (maybe stop off at the Coach on Greek Street for a drink or Bar Bruno for lunch). Then in the evening, dinner somewhere (see previous answer) and end up somewhere like Bradley’s or Trisha’s (depending on how much energy I have left).

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