About Alternative London
Alternative London – Culture | Creativity | Community
Alternative London Tours was founded in 2010 as the first London Street Art Tour, and the first London Walking Tour to take visitors and locals off the beaten track to discover the real London – from a local’s perspective. London is so much more than colonial buildings and statues. For us, it’s about people and communities. We are proud to shine the spotlight on the underdogs; the vagabonds, the non-conformists, the immigrants, the creatives and creative thinkers who made our endlessly fascinating community the vibrant, cultural epicenter it is today.
Founded by long-time East End resident and activist, Gary Means who had spent his life in the creative industries, a return from a stint of travelling the world enabled him to see his hometown in a different context. Inquisitive travelers, it transpired were left to their own devises or advise from friends to find the most unique things to in London. And even the most up-to-date locals would find it hard to know where all the best street art and graffiti in London could be found due to the ever-changing and clandestine nature of the art.
Alternative London Tours was born, and within one year it was rated the Top Thing to do in London on Trip Advisor! It held the top spot for over a year and has never been out of the top ten. Local, national and international papers, blogs and magazines raved about our unique experience with constant 5 – Star Reviews. We were voted as one of Guardian Travel’s Top Ten Guided Tours in the World and were the single activity chosen in London for Lonely Planet’s 50th Anniversary World Tour Edition. We have worked alongside and advised Visit London, Visit Britain and The Mayor of London’s office on Cultural Tourism. We partnered with AirBnB for their pilot of AirBnB Experiences and over time, we steadily helped modernise the culture of tourism in London.
Local street artists and creatives came on board to shape our collective and to generate a realistic London income to fund their creative endeavours. We are proud to have provided a platform for so many young creatives to go on to achieve great things. As our team grew, we began to offer hands on experiences like our Street Art & Graffiti Workshops. Our Alternative London Bike Tour and Street Art Bike Tour, which offer the most comprehensive insights into the East End yet. Our Shoreditch Food Tour and London Craft Beer Tours give visitors and locals a real taste of East London away from the tourist traps and typical London Experiences. We would go as far to say that there is no individual or collective with a better knowledge of East London and the Global Street Art scene than the Alternative London Team.
We began offering our Experiences to Educational Institutions and training our staff to become the only Arts Council UK Street Art Course Accreditors. We became experts at designing cultural and creative packages for companies for team building and days out and became the go-to location finders for the world’s largest creative companies and brands. Working within and alongside the East End Trades Guild, we are a voice for cultural tourism and small enterprise in East London, affecting real change against a backdrop of rampant and insensitive development.
In 2016 we outgrew our original H.Q – our beloved converted London bus, parked in a creative Shoreditch community, and opened our own Cultural Space; Unit 5 Gallery. This 3,500sqft space consisted of a Street Art Gallery, exhibiting the works of the worlds top street artists as well as producing their large-scale murals. An event and creative co-workspace and our own Street Art Workshop.
With the impending demolition and development of Unit 5, 2020 saw another move, this time to create London’s only purpose-built Street Workshop Space. Here we offer Street Art & Graffiti Workshops year-round in a safe, ventilated environment, which has been deemed Covid Safe.
In 2012, along with Alternative Berlin we assisted a former team member with the set up of Alternative Hamburg and in 2019, we founded Alternative Lisbon. Covid put our for future plans on hold. However, we feel forever grateful that after ten years, we are still here. We are still providing unique experiences and practicing good ethics and values in our workplace and for our valued customers. We’d like to thank everyone who has helped us to get to this monumental point and we look forward to what the next ten years brings for us.