Peter Hoffer, London
Today an interview with Peter Hoffer, Spotter for our London cityblog.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am originally from Los Angeles but moved to London in 2004 as a student. After earning my Master’s degree, I stayed in London to work in social media research and just recently earned my UK residency! I still consider myself ‘new’ to London, so I make an extra effort to learn what the city has to offer (it’s a lot!). Discovering and sharing cool places in London has been an immense pleasure.
When I’m not working as a Spotter, I enjoy reading, travel and playing rugby.
How do you like being a Spotter? Do you have a nice Spotters-story?
The big reason I enjoy being a Spotter is having a chance to share the best of what London has to offer to visitors. London is massive and the choices for things to see, places to eat and coffees to drink can be overwhelming. What I hope to do is to take the stress out of these choices for visitors and let them find the best of London easily.
Why London? What is a must do when you visiting London? What is not?
Even after nearly 7 years of living in London, I still have moments where I have to tell myself that I live in the greatest city in the world (sorry fellow Spotters!).
Before I moved to the city, London was a city in my imagination – it only existed in films or books that I read. Now that I live here, I feel I can have a different adventure everyday; London has so many different faces – rugged East End, flashy Chelsea, sedate Hampstead. You can make your own London story.
When I have friends visit, there are two must-dos: visit a museum and visit a pub. London has some of the greatest museums in the world and most of them are free. The British Museum is my favourite – it’s where the world comes to meet the world. Afterwards a trip to a pub (a proper one without plasma TV screens and with real shepherd’s pie) completes a quick taste of London.
Which prejudices about London are true? Which ones are not?
Life in London is fast-paced. Visitors to the city will learn this very quickly, especially on the Tube. Stand on the right when taking the escalators; doing anything else will result in some tutting!
The most outdated prejudice I hear about London is the quality of food. Family and friends from the States seem to think all Londoners eat are fish and chips (well that’s part of the diet). Any type of food you can want, from Vietnamese to Ethiopian, is available to adventurous foodie. And yes, even traditional ‘British’ food is quite tasty.
What do you know about London what no tourist will know?
Around town you’ll see small green buildings with a cab or two parked in front. These are “cabmen’s shelters” which provide warm meals and a place for cab drivers to relax and chat. There are only about a dozen dotted around the capital – how many can you spot?
Can you describe a perfect day in your city? Which spots would you visit?
My perfect day would first start out with a leisurely brunch and coffee at Foxcroft and Ginger (First picture) in Soho. Don’t worry about watching your calories – brunch is the time to be luxurious! Afterwards, I would walk around town for a bit of culture. Currently the Queen’s Gallery (second picture) at Buckingham Palace is showcasing photography from the South Pole expeditions of Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton. It’s an excellent way to catch a glimpse of the last of the gentlemen explorers. Finally I would finish the day but sampling a bit of green space. Holland Park in west London is a particular favourite of mine (free of the tourists who would normally flock to Hyde Park). Check out the Kyoto Garden (pictured below) for some quiet moments of reflection.
Is there something else you want to share?
This year will be a very big year for Londoners. We celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday and the Summer Olympics. What’s the best way to keep updated on how Londoners will celebrate? Why visiting the London Spotted by Locals website, Twitter and Facebook pages of course!
Check out all articles by Peter Hoffer and our other Spotter interviews.