10 Gems for New Students in London (2023)

To help newcomers start exploring this incredible city,  we've put together a list of our favourite shops, venues and eateries.



This year, London has been ranked as the best city in the world for university students and here's a few reasons why...

The 400,000 students currently residing in the capital would attest to London’s status as a truly global city, and excellent place to study.

With over 300 languages spoken, London is the most linguistically diverse city on earth. Boasting 9 million residents, 170 Museums, and almost 200 nightclubs, this bustling metropolis has a rich and diverse offering of culture, history and nightlife – catering to everyone’s tastes.

For those arriving in London to enroll on our 2023-2024 intake, congratulations! We cannot wait to meet you in person!

We appreciate that London’s size can be daunting to newcomers, so in time for your arrival, we have put together a list of places in London to shop, eat, party and more!

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
Samuel Johnson

1. Audio Gold

Calling all audiophiles! Audio Gold is the charming audio store in North London for you!

A purveyor of hi-fi equipment, vinyl records and vintage equipment – they buy, sell and repair all things hi-fi (turntables, amps, speakers, wifi streamers, cassette decks, records & more!) They even do rentals for private parties.

They have kindly offered 10% off vintage hi-fi equipment for ICMP students - simply show your ICMP student card when you go to pay! 


2. Boat Live

Boat Live’s eye-catching aesthetic and ambitious musical curation has led to its dynamic rise to become one of Hackney Wick’s most sought-after event spaces.

With indoor and outdoor party spaces, the venue is available for DJs, labels and crews to hire.

Boat Live is an amazing venue, the low ceiling and iconic Core Sound-system creates an intimate space that's perfect for DJ performances and live-sets. The re-purposed venue is steeped in the history of Hackney Wick's musical community, and will continue to play a role for years to come." - Matio - a.k.a Matthew Harrington (DJ & Producer). 

3. The Bedford 

A landmark spot for live music, the Balham institution spans multiple rooms and event spaces.

With world-class music, comedy, food and drink on-site, The Bedford has the credentials to keep everyone happy on a night out.

A lively music and comedy venue in south London that hosted early gigs for the likes of U2, The Clash and Ed Sheeran. It now comes with 15 stylish rooms, some with roll-top baths, in retro hues, and still has a busy Club Room where you can catch up-and-coming musicians and comedians." - The Telegraph 


4. The Cause 

Back from a brief hiatus, the dance music icon has returned and reopened its doors at their new Canning Town site.

The “Possibly Maybe” series is a three-month run of parties testing out the rigours of a new potential home, with nights by Adonis, Keep Hush, Alien Communications and more!

The Cause London

The Cause is one of London's most game-changing venues" - MixMag (2022)

5. Howarth of London 

Perhaps the most niche spot on this list, but it’s very much a necessary one for those in need.

From instruments, accessories, repairs and maintenance, Howarth of London is the place to go for all things woodwind!


6. Phonica Records

This independent record store has gained a reputation as one of Europe’s finest.

Head to the Phonica Records shop or website to dig into their extensive catalogue of new and second-hand records, as well as music merchandise.


Phonica Records has grown a reputation as one of the world’s most formidable dance music retailers, with an enviable wall of the newest 12″s from across the spectrum" - The Vinyl Factory

7. Roland Store London

The Japanese music tech maestro has opened a flagship store on Denmark Street.

The Roland Store London offers in-store product specialists for the most exciting products from Boss, Roland and V-Moda.


8. Rough Trade

With a site in both the East and West Ends of London, Rough Trade combines an independent record store and events platform.

It's definitely a great brand to follow if you want to explore London’s thriving live music scene (and dig for more records).

Rough Trade Shop

9. Tayyab's 

A fifteen-minute stroll from Rough Trade East, Tayyab’s has been feeding Londoners their traditional Punjabi cuisine since 1972.

The warm atmosphere and delicious food makes for an excellent ending to a day of record shopping.


When I drift away into a mental image of eating their food, it’s not just the thought of a roasted marinade smearing my cheeks or a smoking, blackened bone in my hands that makes me smile. It’s the memory of clatter and elbows and being barked at by waiters who are focused on seeing how quickly they can get you out rather than being your friend. It is literally managed chaos. I wouldn’t want it any other way." - Jay Rayner (The Guardian)

10. Wunjo Guitars

Not far from The Roland Store, this Denmark Street shop is a haven for guitarists and bassists.

From stunning vintage instruments, to the latest from industry leaders, Wunjo Guitars has everything from amplifiers to accessories

wunjo guitars

11. Bonus Gem – Gods Own Junkyard

The neon wonderland - Gods Own Junkyard (as well as The Rolling Scones Café/Bar) - makes for an excellent day trip to decorate new student digs, hang out and explore the vast creations they have on offer.

Gods Own Junk Yard - Neon Wonderland London

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by Staff Writer
August 31, 2023
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