7 Must See Film Locations In London That Aren’t Harry Potter

With London's rich heritage and impressive architecture, it is no surprise that England’s capital has been the inspiration and backdrop for a great many number of films.

July 6, 2022

London’s founding can be traced back to 43 CE during the Roman era, it is home to numerous iconic landmarks and is the political hub of England, with the Houses of Parliament also known as the Palace of Westminster located in the Westminster borough. 

The city is also rich in cinematic history, with her iconic landmarks and astonishing architectural achievements the backdrop to many blockbuster features such as Warner Bro’s Harry Potter series, and several of Disney’s Marvel titles.

In celebration of the beautiful city we want to highlight our five favourite cinematic moments captured in the capital that are a must see on your next visit.

7. Spider-Man: Far From Home - Tower Bridge

Tom Holland stars as the titular web slinger in this 2019 Marvel cinematic entry directed by Jon Watts, with Jake Gyllenhaal introduced as Mysterio and industry juggernaut Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Nick Fury. 

The film’s climactic showdown takes centre stage on London’s Tower Bridge between Spider-Man (Holland) and Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) in a face off atop the bridge’s glass floor attraction.

Tower Bridge is listed as a combined bascule and suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames, built between 1886 and 1894. It is one of London’s most emblematic landmarks, located in Southwark and Tower hamlets.

The glass walkway was installed in 1982, the walkway had previously been closed off to the public. Residing at approximately 42 metres above the River Thames, you are guaranteed an unforgettable view of the city. 

(Picture: Courtesy of Sony Pictures)

6. Love Actually - Gabriel’s Wharf 

This 2003 romantic comedy directed by Richard Curtis sees several loosely inter-related couples attempt to navigate their romantic entanglements, with the additional pressure of Christmas just around the corner. Starring Pirates of the Caribbean’s Keria Knightley, The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln, Harry Potter's Alan Rickman, and BBC Sherlock Holmes star Martin Freeman.

Several definitive London locations can be spotted in this feature, our location of choice goes to Gabriel Wharf, home to an eclectic range of independent shops and restaurants. 

More specifically we are focusing on one of the benches situated along the Queen’s Walk on the River Thames South Bank.

This location can be seen when step-son Sam, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster reveals to step-dad Daniel played by Liam Neeson that his recent sorrow is attributed to the fact he is in love. The comedic delivery and emotional heart to heart makes for one of many truly authentic scenes in this entry. 

So if you find yourself in this hidden gem of London in need of a heart to heart, pull up a bench and pour your heart out in front of the beautiful river.

5. Rocketman - Regency Cafe

Directed by Dexter Fletcher this 2019 biographical musical drama based on the life and music of musician Elton John stars Taaron Egerton as the British legend, alongside Jamie Bell as legendary songwriter and lyricist Bernie Taupin. 

The scene in which the titular characters first meet was filmed in the Regency Cafe, a modest old English cafe known for its deliciously greasy English breakfast food. 

The cafe’s original tables and chairs were altered to better replicate the scenery of when the pair first met in real life. Despite this change the cafe is instantly recognisable as the backdrop from this Golden Globe Award winning feature.

The cafe is regarded highly by locals for its modest prices and quintessential breakfast food options, so you won’t need a multi-platinum album to afford a great meal in this London cafe situated in the heart of Westminster. 

(Picture: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

4. Captain America: The First Avenger - Hackney Empire

This 2011 superhero feature directed by Joe Johnston is the fifth entry in the Marvel cinematic universe and the second Marvel entry to this list. Starring Chris Evans as the patriotic super soldier, Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter and Disney+’s Pam and Tommy star Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes.

The UK was used for a number of scenes in this entry, masquerading as the streets of Brooklyn, with several taking advantage of the capital's classical architecture to set the scene of World War 2 America. 

The Hackney Empire theatre takes centre stage as the location for two scenes in this blockbuster entry. The scene in which a pre-serum Steve Rogers (Evans) watches a cinematic newsreel, and when a now Captain America takes the stage in a star spangled costume amid a line of red white and blue rocketts.

It is the latter scene that truly captures the venue's beauty. Situated in the heart of London’s East End, built in 1901 as a music hall which saw the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marie Lloyd and Julie Andrews perform on its grandiose stage. 

Described by The Guardian as ‘the most beautiful theatre in London’, this historic theatre now puts on global theatrical and comedic performances, with a dedicated mission to showcase local talent. Unfortunately you will not be able to see any super soldiers take the stage when you visit. 

3. Darkest Hour - Churchill War Rooms

Gary Oldman stars as Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill in this 2017 war time drama directed by Joe Wright, set during the May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis. Oldman’s portrayal of Churchill won him an Oscar for Best Actor at the 90th Academy Awards.

The story of Churchill is engraved in Britain's history, so it is no surprise numerous London locations are associated with the man, many of which were recreated and featured in this entry. 

Our location of choice is the historic Cabinet War Rooms, that played host to a great many tension fueled negotiations. The Cabinet War Rooms were a secret underground bunker used as Britain's centre of command from 1940 to 1945, their walls are drenched in British history.

The rooms were sealed in 1945 and meticulously preserved for 40 years, their doors are now open to the public as a must see London attraction for any history and film enthusiast.

(Picture: Courtesy of Focus Features LLC)

2. Legend -  The Ivy House

This 2015 biographical crime thriller written and directed by Brian Helgeland stars Marvel’s Tom Hardy as both titular Kray brothers, Reggie and Ron in this gruesome retelling of the twins catalog of atrocities.

This entry can be seen when Reggie (Hardy) attempts to impress Frances Shea, played by Emily Browning of Amazon Prime’s American Gods, by bringing her to the pub, known in the film as the ‘Double R Club’, which is unmistakably owned by the Kray brothers.

Situated on Stuart Road London, this location started life in the 1930’s as the Newlands Tavern, later earning a reputation among the 70’s rock society through hosting the likes of Joe Strummer, Dr Feelgood and Jeff Beck.

The Tavern closed its doors in 2012, but found new life in 2013 as London’s first cooperatively owned pub after a group of steadfast community members pooled together, raising £1M to purchase the freehold.

Now known as the Ivy House, this credit to community spirit and dedication boasts a range of entertainment from comedy shows, pub quizzes and live music, not to mention their delicious range of food, including marmite fries, a menu staple.

1. 28 Days Later - Westminster Bridge

Directed by Danny Boyle this 2002 post-apocalyptic cult classic sees Cillian Murphy known for his role in the BBC drama Peaky Blinders, awaken from a coma only to discover London has become ground zero for a highly contagious virus that is turning people into zombies.  

Upon waking up Murphy travels across Westminster Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament, through Whitehall and into the City. Despite the bleak cinematography it is a beautiful guide to several iconic London landmarks.

Westminster Bridge is used in a number of films, not only for its own recognition but also owing to the Big Ben clock tower and the Houses of Parliament, two of London's most emblematic landmarks situated close by. Westminster Abbey, another London landmark heavily used by Hollywood, is also a short walk away.

Thankfully on your trip to London you won’t encounter any stumbling zombies, unless you visit on a Monday morning.   

(Picture: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight)
Bethany Vann