London is one of a handful of truly international cities on the globe. Besides the likes of New York, Dubai and Hong Kong, few cities can boast a culture as outward-looking and vibrant, and which represents the global community, quite as well as London. But whereas the other cities mentioned are primarily modern metropolises, London is also an ancient settlement, steeped in a rich and well-documented history. Its past is reflected in the landscape and the architecture of its buildings and skyline, and it is this which attracts visitors in their millions to the city every year.
Just as London has a new and an old character, so too is its past divided. The bold structures of royal palaces, monuments, and parliament are iconic and easy to recognise. But the London of the common man is equally rich in sights and heritage. But for the new visitor, it can often be hard to locate the hidden gems of London. So if you are hoping to experience some of London’s authentic charms, you could do worse than looking into car hire in London, or hopping onto a bus or the tube, and heading up to Camden. Because this northern borough is teeming with a life and culture all of its own.
Camden is a uniquely stylish part of London, more closely associated with subcultures, counter cultures, and youth movements in music and fashion than arguably any other part of the capital. Camden is characterised by its independence and variety: where vintage music shops and army surplus stores jostle for shoppers’ attention with rows of alternative market stalls and music venues. From punk rock to the soul revival, and heavy metal to hippie hangouts, Camden has been at the heart of British popular culture for more than three generations.
The hub of activity in Camden is located around the famous Camden Lock, where Hampstead Road bisects the Regent’s Canal. Many visitors travel to Camden for its plethora of market stalls, of which those found within the Lock market, Stables market and Buck Street markets are the most prominent. Each has its own unique character: from the open air Buck Street market, to the labyrinthine warren that is the Stables market. Every area boasts its own wide selection of clothes stalls, eateries and record shops, meaning that you can lose yourself in shopping for hours without having to worry about keeping hunger at bay. From traditional food to middle eastern cuisine and Asian stir fries, there is something for every taste. The location is also one of the main attractions: getting to Camden is incredibly easy, and the main hustle and bustle of activity is easy to locate by car or public transport.
Thanks to its wealth of independent retailers found in Camden, the borough has become a first stop for London’s fashion-conscious teens and subcultures, and the place is synonymous with both alternative fashion and live music. These are just two of the reasons why MTV have situated their headquarters there, and why so many of London’s most famous music venues are all able to thrive within such a relatively small distance of one another.
The Roundhouse is perhaps the most established of Camden’s nightspots. It has played host to indie music legends over the years, and played a part in creating some legends of its own. From Madness to The Libertines and Amy Winehouse, the Roundhouse has a reputation for giving world famous artists their first big breaks.
Camden is a wonderfully preserved section of traditional, old London. Its location on the canal also allows for some beautifully picturesque and surprisingly peaceful retreats which are unlike any other place in London.