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 really think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.
Oliver Crane is a decade long black cab driver and founder of Discover Real London (www.discoverreallondon.com), a tour company offering private guided excursions around London and the surrounding areas, all in the comfort of an Iconic London Taxi. When he’s not navigating London’s streets on one of his tours you can find him either on the golf course or spending time with his wife and three young boys.
What’s your secret London tip?
My favourite tip is that there are actually so many free things to do in London if you know where to look! Whether it’s catching the changing of the guard, booking a free place in the sky garden, enjoying one of our world-class museums or strolling through one of London’s Royal Parks, there really is so much to experience for absolutely nothing!
What’s your secret London place?
Leake Street Tunnel. This disused tunnel nestled under Waterloo Station is truly a hidden gem. If you venture down you will be treated to some of the very best street art in the Capital. It’s abundant with street artists on the weekend and the best part is, if you bring a few tins of paint with you, then you will be free to have a go yourself – as it’s completely legal!
What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Roadworks . . . I know it’s a classic but there really is nothing worse when you’re trying to navigate your way around the Capital and getting snarled up in a ton of temporary lights . . . especially when there is no one even working.
What’s your favourite building?
The Gherkin. Norman Foster’s masterpiece is still at the top of the pile for me even after all these years. I love how brave and ground-breaking the architecture is. It really grabbed London’s skyline and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
What’s your most hated building?
At the time of writing, it has to be the so-called ‘Marble Arch Mound’. (If you’re reading this beyond 2021 Google it and you’ll be guaranteed a chuckle). At an eye-watering cost of £6 million, this embarrassing tower of scaffold and mud is designed to be a vantage point across Hyde Park, but at 80ft it barely makes it over the trees. The last time I checked it out the plants had largely died and it seemed to be inhabited by flocks of nesting pigeons.
What’s the best view in London?
Primrose Hill. I absolutely love this place and the vista it offers over the city. It’s situated far enough away to offer a broad view of the city, but close enough to pick out the fascinating details of our urban jungle. To top it off, when it’s sunny there is such a lovely vibe at the summit; filled with locals, artists, musicians and happy people soaking up the atmosphere.
What’s your personal London landmark?
St Dunstan’s in the East – A slice of tranquillity in the heart of the square mile. Originally, only known to locals this place is now a mecca for Instagrammers! Check it out and you’ll understand why.
What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Battersea Girl: Tracing a London Life by Martin Knight. A fascinating book that portrays an incredibly human tale of London life in 20th century London.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Hawksmoor, Air Street – Steak and Art Deco . . . what’s not to love?
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
It would have to be a bite to eat in Borough Market, a pint in one of London’s old pubs such as the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, accompanied with the Sunday Papers. Then finally a wander down the Thames to catch the sunset over Waterloo bridge.