Book Review of the Week: NFT London

Ed Forteau's picture

One of my very favorite cities in the world is London. After living there, though, I could definitely tell the tourists from the locals - the locals all had MUCH more fun exploring and living in London! I am always asking locals for advice on food, since I am a foodie and you just know that the best places to eat aren't always the ones that are the flashiest, or right on the main street.  I am also always seeking more local accommodations when we travel, so we usually rent a house or apartment while we are visiting a place.

As we've written on Wandering Educators before, one of our favorite travel guides is produced by NFT, Not For Tourists. NFT is an urban manual to living in a city. They currently have a plethora of US cities represented by NFT Guides, and have their first-ever guide to a city outside of the U.S. Yes, you guessed it, London! Now, I need to get planning another extended stay there...

NFT London, 2009, is an exciting (and thick, for a pocket book) guidebook bound in NFT's traditional little black book cover. Yep, too cool for words. They are, as always really funny.  The other unique thing about NFT guides is that it is compiled from information gathered from locals. So, a section on Fulham will have information from Fulham-ites; someone in Brixton suggested the Speedy Noodle Restaurant; Tooting Bec recommendations include the Bec Bar and Mirch Masala; and those very familiar with Marylebone West suggested Maroush Deli, Phil Parker, Spymaster, and Totally Swedish for shopping (Marylebone East - head to the Phoenix, a "quirky gem amidst an ocean of shite chain bars," or Inn 1888, "quiet pint perfection.")

Each geographic section includes banks, libraries, cinemas, shopping, post offices, coffee, landmarks, nightlife, emergency rooms, restaurants, and supermarkets. Of particular interest to me was the section on London for the kids - SUCH great offerings, I could not believe I had missed all those (well, I did live there before I had a child). 

After perusing the geographic information (complete with maps), a reader can explore parks and places, colleges and universities, sports, transport, general inforamtion, and arts and entertainment. There is a street index at the back, as well as bus and underground maps of London.

Love parks and places? I am still laughing at this excerpt from the guide on the Barbican:

As terrifying as it is impressive, the Barbican Centre is a one-stop shop for all things cultural.  At its best, the Barbican is utterly brilliant: a rambling collection of cinemas, galleries, bars, theatres, even a housing estate and a school. But stay after dark, when the culture vultures have left, and you can find yourself alone and lost in this city-within-a-city. 

That the center is brutally ugly makes what's inside even more splendid. The gallery space hosts world-class exhibitions and the cinemas show both mainstream and arthouse films.  There's a world, classical and jazz music programme catering to everyone from scruffy backpackers to bearded professors.  Most are sensible enough to leave before it gets too spooky. But plan your exit route in advance just in case.

Interested in different airports? Here's what NFT London 2009 says about the London City Airport, in part:

With its one wee runway squeezed over the water between the old George V and Royal Albert Docks, City is London's smallest and most central airport (6 miles from the City of London).  Where once stevedores ate pie and mash, stockbrokers are now whisked off to lunchtime meetings on dinky short take-off jets. Primarily used by business types, its small size and short runway means City only serves European destinations (33 in total, although British Airways do have a flight to New York in the pipeline) from its single terminal and 22 check-in desks. Still, this means much faster check-in times and fewer delays than at the comparative behemoths of Heathrow and Gatwick.

If you're heading to London, you'll do no better than to grab a copy of NFT's London Guide, 2009. What an excellent foray for their first overseas guide. And, if you only want certain sections, you can order them online.  As always with NFT guides, there is extensive supplementation on their website,


Check out their website  - they have free downloadable guides, maps, gear, and of course, the travel guide books. Not to mention, they are pretty funny people. I am always laughing when I visit their site, or read their newsletter.

They also have sections of their guidebooks available for download at only $1.50.

Not For Tourists has offered a coupon for Wandering Educators - please use the coupon code: WE for a 10% discount.




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