London calling: John Bosco

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

John Bosco, a tour guide at  Talk of the Town London  reveals the addresses to hit 

John's Friend & Family Tour (12)

Where are you from?
Originally I am from Reading. A glorious town, which in the book The 50 crappest town’s of England ranks as number 23. But it is home and they say that is where your heart is. Saying that  my parents now live in Canada and my sister is living and working in Pakistan, so I don’t make it back to Reading all that often.

What’s the first thing you do, when you get to London?
Get a potent coffee at one of the numerous fantastic independent coffee shops dotted throughout the city.

What is your favourite hangout?
Well it entirely depends on what mood I am in and what I am after. If the weather is good, then watching the sun set from the rooftop bar on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall with a craft London beer in one hand makes me re-fall in love with London again and again. If I am after feeling cultured and sophisticated and – I will be honest here – in the mood to people watch,  then Notes is for me. I spend most of my free time there. I could go on and on but the aforementioned are the first that spring to my mind.  

John's Friend & Family Tour (21)

John's Friend & Family Tour (1)

What is your favourite restaurant?
Without a doubt Rules. The oldest restaurant in London, or so it claims, it epitomises establishment Britain. Old fashioned, cluttered, traditional with a mean Gin martini – it is what this country was all about (and still is, if you move in certain circles). You are even greeted by a doorman in top hat and tails. It isn’t cheap but a little tip is to go for their pre-theatre menu and soak up the atmosphere.

What was the last exhibition you saw in London?
The Matisse cut outs at the Tate Modern. I am not a massive fan of modern art and so by extension the Tate. It is an incredible space but I am not so interested in what is inside. I suppose we all have our interests. I tend to only go if I am dragged along, but on this occasion I am glad that I was! Matisse is an evocative artist and I learnt a lot of new information, which I will hopefully remember.

What was the last gig you saw in London?
Gigs are not really my scene but if you can put classical music in this category I went to a Prokofiev recital at St Martin in the Fields. Listening to this kind of music, in that kind of setting, is a transportive experience owing to the candlelight, the violins, the stained glass… Sitting next to the tomb of Nell Gwyn, one of the most exciting society ladies of the London scene. The elements all come together to create something truly magical.

John's Friend & Family Tour (13)

What is your earliest London memory?
Coming up to visit my sister when she was studying at Imperial university, during my  half term. I was 14 and had obviously been to London before but this was the first time I had stayed in town overnight. I remember walking the streets and eeing all the call girl postcards stuck up in the phone booths, which as a 14 year old was incredibly exciting. Then I tried to get in to the London Dungeons but, unbeknown to me, the Dungeons don’t let U16s in  unaccompanied.  I was so angry and went to see What Women Want with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt at the Odeon Cinema, Marble Arch. That specific day formed my original opinion of London: exciting, thrilling, diverse but also incredibly frustrating.

What have you discovered recently in London?
Bermondsey High Street. This was about six months ago but I am still buzzing. I had heard about Bermondsey High Street but often in London, because the city is so big, you can get the impression that somewhere is hard to get to. In fact Bermondsey is only a 10 minute walk from London Bridge and  is one of the most exciting streets in London, reeling with restaurants, bars, independent cinemas, coffee shops, museums, parks, boutiques, pubs, delis. I am not exaggerating when I say you find these all on the half mile stretch of road. I keep going back and back…


What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?
Make the tube 24 hours – the fact that the tube shuts down during the night is one of the most frustrating aspects of London. That annoying decision you have to make when the clock strikes midnight – do you catch the last tube home or suffer the night bus – would be gone. Also I would decree that all takeaways have to stay open past 11.30pm. How is it in London that when you need that awful whatever takeaway after 11.30pm, the only thing you can find are chicken shops?

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What is your top tip for tourists?
Don’t do a bus tour. Spend a few days ticking off the must sees, then pick something you are  interested in. Whether that is art, history, shopping, flowers, music. Anything. And then find what there is to do around that. You will find something and if you try to do everything, you will not succeed and you will miss what you will love.

John's Friend & Family Tour (41)

Where would you like to stay?
The Tower Of London. Overnight. Apparently it’s one of the most haunted buildings in the world, but being surrounded by that amount of history? Amazing.

What is your favourite place for a pint?
Probably Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (145 Fleet Street). Cheesey and cliched, I know, but as far as atmospheric London pubs go it cannot be beaten. And as an added incentive, it’s cheap.

John's Friend & Family Tour (5)

What is your guilty London pleasure?
Going for an expensive massage at one of London’s incredible spas. And also getting a regular beard trim at my favourite London barbers.

Tell us something we don’t know about London?
There is too much. Who knows where to start. But as a little taster the word goosebumps originated in London. Look it up.



 Thanks John! To book a tour with John, click here



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