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“Well presented tour of safe and establishment acceptable art” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Alternative London

Alternative London
Ranked #1 of 166 Food & Drink in London
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Discover the London you won't find in the guide books with London's original off-the-beaten-track tour provider! Come with us to explore the culture, community and street art of London's vibrant East End. We offer unique and original walking tours, bike tours and food & drink tours and as London's original street art tour provider we also offer street art workshops led by our team of street artists. Tour prices start at pay-what-you-want so there's something for everyone at a price to suit all budgets. Let our expert guides show you the real London, from a local's perspective!
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Belfast, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Well presented tour of safe and establishment acceptable art”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 1, 2012

Took the Alternative London tour recently, and felt that it was well presented by our tour guide Josh. He was passionate and really knew the material he was talking about.

However, I was dissapointed with the nature of the street art that he presented. This is not a tour of "edgy" street art, and dont expect any social commentary of society. To my mind, it often came across as "artists" who were interested merely in promoting thier name and not any insight into life in 2012 London, or the East End.

Josh offered examples of artists such Conor Harrington, whose work was very nice but also sells in gallerys for £1000s. Also Ben Eine who career took off when PM David Cameron gave Obama a print of his work on the US president's visit to Britain. One Ben Eine piece was the word ANTI painted in 12ft high letters down a wall. What wasn't clear was what he is anti towards. We were are are also told that often street artists will paint a piece to promote gallery opnening of thier shows. a large bow and arrow commissioned by London Mayor Boris Johnston remained untouched, an indication of how the artists crave acceptabliity in the mainstream.

whilst the art was pretty and accomplished and clearly there are artistically talented people working in this area, it seemed to be mere prelude to thier hitting the gallerys and the big bucks the mainstream will pay for "edgy" street art. pretty but with nothing to say. You could equally go to a mainstream gallery, tate britian etc and see pretty pictures too, and at least you would be warm.

Josh showed us the orginal markers for where the city of London ended and the east end began. perhaps the most interesting thing i seen was the one street where the crumbling 19th east end houses faced directly across the street to the massive financial skyscrappers of Bishopsgate. Josh pointed out how how the City and thier developments were encroaching into the east end and that character of the place was in danger of being lost. yet street art was noticeably absent from the walls of these fine institutions.

the differences between the wealth and power of the City of London and the working class nature of the east end could not have been more clear, yet the street artist seemingly have no comment to make about this.

on the whole the tour came across as a presentation of work by artists concerned only with promoting thier name to the point where they can sell for £1000s, or get recogntion from the great and good.

pretty but not alternative. Try Berlin street art instead.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank emmett m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AlternativeLondon, Owner at Alternative London, responded to this review, January 30, 2013
Dear Sir / Madam,

Thanks for taking the time to join one of our tours. We are really glad that you enjoyed the tour and found Josh to be a great guide.

However we are disappointed that you have chosen our reviews page on Trip Advisor to talk at length about your opinions of the London street art scene. This is something which we have no control over and negative reviews - whether founded or not - can be extremely damaging to our small independent business.

All of the artwork is put into context during the tour and whether positive or not, we aim to give a balanced and truthful view. Josh is a street artist himself and he always invites people to ask questions on his tours. He would also have been more than happy to sit down after your tour and talk at length about East London and its street art and answer any queeries you have.

It has therefore left us feeling let down that you chose not to ask any questions during your two hours with Josh, but to write a Trip Advisor review about things outside of the remit of our tour afterwards.

We would greatly appreciate it if you could remove this review of London's street art from our Trip Advisor page as we feel it would be much better suited to one of the many street art forums where opinions like this can be discussed.

Many thanks,
Gary Means.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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The Hague, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
67 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“Good but Basic”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 31, 2012

I went on the "pay what you want" walking tour on Saturday, October 27, 2012. The group was large but split into three smaller groups of approximately 20 people each. My tour guide was Josh.

First, Josh iimmediately made people in the group feel welcome. He was funny and, as evidenced by his interactions with people in the neighborhood during the day, appears to know folks throughout the East End. Josh has a great sense of humor and provided a good- albeit basic- overview of the artwork that we saw.

While it was great to walk around the East End and have someone point out street art that I would not have normally known existed, I was let down by the lack of context and history that was part of the tour. I felt that the tour was mostly a walk and point activity that gave an idea of the name of the artist and what other types of work they may have done. No background info about the art's purpose (if any) or the role that the art plays in the overall history of London was provided. The promised overview of London's history was short- very very short- so don't plan on learning much about London if you choose this tour.

That being said, it was a good afternoon activity. I would recommend even visiting the East End and walking around on your own if you're less inclined to join a large (yes, very large) walking tour. The option to "pay what you want" was nice as I know I would have felt much less satisfied with the tour if there was a (higher) set price.

Finally, the response time from office staff was incredible! I tried booking the biking tour but was told (about 5 minutes after I submitted my request) that the tour was going to be cancelled. I was offered the opportunity to join another walking tour. Email correspondence was fast and friendly. Extra points to the Alternative London group for being so helpful and welcoming.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Edwin R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
roma
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“great”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 29, 2012

++++ the tour was great , it let us discover the real shoreditch as you never see. Guy funny and prepared. Just checked before going the weather, when is really cold is hard to reach the end.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank ladymarion8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
21 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“street art passion!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 29, 2012

Booked this for a son/mum get together, and even he thought it was great! Doug was fun, friendly, and passionate about street art and its creatorst. Really showed off the ever-changing canvass of London's Brick Lane area. Would never have spotted the features on my own, and will make sure to be more observant in future. Definitely a lively alternative to dry, boring museums...but it was freezing out there so wrap up warm!

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank sue t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Not just for tourists”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 29, 2012

I actually live in London myself but don't really venture much into the East side of London and never thought about art the way Doug presented it - now I actually look round at buildings etc and can see the artists in the city. Really informative tour, would reccommend to anyone. Especially good for those on budget as you pay what you feel, no set price.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank Sarah8956
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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