The London Docklands are hardly the most tourist-y part of London; situated several curves of the Thames away from the hub of Westminster, this area has historically been populated by dockyards and warehouses. And obviously, such utilitarian features don’t draw many crowds. But the modern Docklands are different- four years ago, I stayed at a Thames-side hotel in the heart of the Docklands, and was endlessly surprised by the scenery and character of the area.
A view of the Isle of Dogs from my room at dusk- I thought it was breathtaking
Looking east along the Thames at low tide
The first evening at my hotel, I just took photo after photo of the impressive skyscrapers on the Isle of Dogs. They looked so striking against the darkening sky, and since I’ve long been obsessed with the tower known informally as “Canary Wharf”- properly known as One Canada Square- it was the best sight I could possibly be enjoying.
The next morning, I walked along the south bank of the Thames west from the Docklands, and I loved the tranquility of this path. Mostly residential (with either condos or row houses), the area was charming and much quieter than the rest of the London I knew. It really was lovely, and I imagine this would be a beautiful place to live.
The Isle of Dogs, seen from a leafy courtyard
I’d love to jog or walk my dog along this quiet Thames-side path
Despite being a distance from central London, one can still see landmarks like the Gherkin from the Docklands area
This part of the Thames also felt a lot less frantic and crowded than the Westminster section. Instead of rows of tour-boats ferrying tourists about, there were small pleasure-crafts and rowboats. I might not even mind taking to the Thames in this area- but of course, wherever on the Thames one is, one really does want to avoid falling in! Apparently the Thames is actually quite clean nowadays, but I shouldn’t like to risk it…
A group of people rowing down (or up, I can’t remember!) the Thames
A moored boat caught in the mud at low tide
Leaving the riverside path, I explored Rotherhithe and the area around Canada Water- fitting, seeing as I live in Canada! Here I got a glimpse of the less affluent London; in a stark contrast to the riverside lofts just a few minutes away, I was now walking among unpretentious (and even ugly) blocks of flats.
As much as I’d love a flat in Kensington or a penthouse overlooking the Thames, in reality, I’d probably end up living somewhere like this if I lived in London!
We browsed through the Surrey Quays shopping centre, which is beside Canada Water
Canada Water itself; with the then-under-construction Canada Water Library visible
Although the green and ingenuous village feel of Rotherhithe was appealing, I still couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the bustling Isle of Dogs across the river. Canary Wharf, situated on the Isle of Dogs, is a prominent business district and it houses the offices of numerous international banks and other companies.
A look up at One Canada Square- and it’s a long way up, as this tower is 770 feet tall
One Canada Square was only recently surpassed by the Shard as the tallest building in the UK
The futuristic colonnade at the base of One Canada Square
My main purpose on the Isle of Dogs was to see One Canada Square, but there were other things of interest there as well. In one of the nearby docks, I saw a US Coast Guard vessel- unusual, but interesting! Aircraft kept going overhead to and from London City Airport, and the yellow supporting spires of the Millennium Dome were visible in the gaps between skyscrapers.
I have no idea what this ship was doing here, but it was neat
Millennium Dome is one of the most surreal buildings I’ve ever seen
I always knew that I’d like staying near the Millennium Dome and One Canada Square, two of my favourite buildings in the world. But contrary to what I expected, the locale they inhabit wasn’t boring- the Docklands were actually really enthralling! Being near the river means that the sights are always changing; changing with the tide and with the journey of rowboats and tourist tours alike. The Docklands are definitely one of the most surprising areas of London I’ve explored, and there’s more to them than old industry and financial monopoly!
The towers look so wonderful with their windows glinting in the sun
Some condos across the river from my hotel
The outstanding view from the hotel room. It could not have been any better than this!!