Friday, 3 May 2013

25 things I'd do when visiting London!

This post might be a bit of a long one, but I wanted to get it up in time for the bank holiday weekend – so feel free to dip in and out of it, and use some of my ideas over the next few days!

I’ve had a couple of requests from friends abroad and at home recently for things I would do on a visit to London. Now, you lot already know the obvious ones, so I’m not going to tell you to ride the London Eye or go and see Buckingham Palace or go to Madame Tussaude’s, although all these things are touristy and fun, and if you’re only here for a weekend you might find your time is filled up with them. But if you’re here for longer – or if you live here, and you want to try something different – here’s my insider’s guide to a few fun things you should do in the capital.

25 things to do in London

These are all things I’ve done and enjoyed, and all the photos are mine – obviously I didn’t know when I did some of these things that I was going to blog about them, so I don’t have photos from everywhere! I’m sure there are millions more fun things to do in London, so leave your ideas in the comments below and I’ll try them out!


1.  Spend a whole afternoon in Topshop on Oxford Street

This Topshop is legendary if you live in England. Three whole floors of unadulterated pleasure. The ground floor is accessories – more bags and scarves and jewellery than you’ve ever seen in your life. The first downstairs floor is just a gigantic Topshop, and the bottom floor is a treasure trove of little Topshop concession stands, independents and designer collections. I personally start from the bottom and work up. Take a friend and arrange a meeting point because there’s no phone signal downstairs and you WILL get separated. Be aware that it’s full of unbelievably hip looking models waiting to be scouted. Leave yourself at least two hours and £100. You’ll need it!

2.  Go straight from Topshop to Vapiano’s
Do not pass Go, do not collect £200! Right around the corner from this Topshop mecca is a little restaurant called Vapiano’s. At this point you’ll be exhausted, but hold on just long enough to queue up while they make your fresh pizza, pasta or salad in front of you. Then collapse at a marble high top table and enjoy the unbelievably good value for money food whilst discussing whether you REALLY needed to buy pink dungarees…

3.  Go to Southbank at night and stop off at the arcade

london eye 25 things to do in London

Southbank is beautiful and it’s just worth getting off at Waterloo and wandering along at night time under the light of the London Eye – the views are incredible. Once you get past the aquarium, there’s an arcade with a crappy little bowling alley and bumper cars and a bar and 101 stupid arcade games. It’s a timeless, British-seaside type arcade of the kind hardly ever found in London anymore. It’s the closest thing you can get to an olde-worlde British seaside arcade without actually going to Blackpool, so if you’re not going there, you should stop off here for a taster of British seaside life! 
 

4.  Have a night out in Shoreditch
I recommend the Queen of Hoxton, which is fairly easy to find (or just get a cab to drop you off there) or the Hoxton Pony, both of which are full of beautiful, skinny indie people being effortlessly cool. If you do go to the Queen of Hoxton, order something with Hoxton gin, because it tastes amazing, and go downstairs because the music is brilliant.

5.  If you visit in the summer – go to Udderbelly


25 things to do in London

Again based at London Southbank, this is basically a little woodland wonderland which links to a summer music venue. It’s a grove of twinkly lights and little bars selling cider and pretty carved love seats and swings and people laughing…it’s completely free (obviously the drinks aren’t, and the queue for the toilet is mental) and I love it, and I can’t wait for it to come back this year!

6.  If you visit in the winter – go to Winter Wonderland

25 things to do in London

Based in Hyde Park, this is basically a really big Christmas market. I would go in the early evening, and again try to avoid peak times because it’s more fun if it’s not busy. Spend silly amounts of money on rubbish fairground rides, drink mulled wine over a bonfire, eat a massive hot dog whilst looking at little trinkets you’ll never buy. Get cash out before you get there, because they charge you £2.85 at the cash machines in the park! It’s expensive, but it’s really, really good fun!

7.  Drink a cocktail at Freud’s on Shaftesbury Avenue
In my opinion the best cocktail bar in the world, this is a little subterranean bar in the heart of London, strangely at odds with the posh wine bars it rubs shoulders with. Go in the week, or early if at the weekend or you’ll never get down the steps, let alone find a seat. Once you’re down the iron staircase, order a cocktail from the many scribbled up on the blackboard (my recommendation – a Holy Freud lemonade), wait while one of the beautiful bar staff make it and then go straight to the back and sit along the brick wall. Be careful though – the cocktails taste amazing, but they’re potent, and those stairs are hard to climb up when the world is spinning!
 

8.  Go to a Secret Cinema showing
Sign up on the website (here) and secret cinema will email you a location, a film, a time and a place. Always somewhere awesome and different, it’s so much more fun than spending £12.50 to sit on a sticky seat at the Odeon and watch Tom Cruise whilst eating popcorn that costs more than your college education!

9.  Have a night out at London Zoo
You either like zoos or you don’t, but who doesn’t want to go to one for a night out? London Zoo offer ‘Zoo Lates’ on Friday nights in June and July.  There’s even a silent disco and pop up bars! Get off at Baker Street (check out all the Sherlock Holmes references around the station, while you’re there) and walk across Regent’s Park to the zoo for a night out with a difference!

10.  Go the M&M Factory in Leicester Square


25 things to do in London

The adult in me says that a whole 3 storey shop dedicated to M&M’s is ludicrous. The child in me runs around the shop buying M&Ms in different colours and wakes up with a sugar headache the next day. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s so ludicrous and excessive that it’s worth going.

11.  Get surreal at Rumpus
And at the other end of the spectrum… you’ll have to be lucky, because Rumpus Rooms only run their club nights once every couple of months, so check their website (here). If you’re lucky and there’s one on while you’re here, grab a ticket as soon as you can – they usually sell out. Based in a warehouse in Angel, this is without doubt the craziest and the best club night I’ve ever been to. Spread over roughly six floors, the club night comprises of a full size ball pit, several food stalls, countless different rooms with bands and DJs playing just about every kind of music you can imagine, and a million bars so you basically never have to queue. Get there for around midnight and stumble out at 7am wondering when the sun came up. You’ll be talking about it for years.



12.  Eat dinner at the Big Easy


25 things to do in London

This is my favourite restaurant in London, and even though it’s actually a themed American diner, I can’t write a post on my favourite places in London without putting it in. Based just off Sloane Square in Chelsea, this little two-storey restaurant serves up the biggest and best plates of burgers and fries, BBQ half chicken and ribs, huge steaks and onion rings and spicy chicken wings that you could ever want. You should book (here) because it gets busy – and you really should get to eat here at least once in your life!

13.  Hire a Boris Bike and ride around Hyde Park
Hyde Park is lovely but it’s huge and you’ll get bored of walking, so hire a Boris bike and peddle your way through it (admittedly, this will be more fun if it’s not raining, for once). Start at Hyde Park, listen to people ranting and get a free hug at Speaker’s Corner.  Then head towards Knightsbridge. Once you get to the other end…

14.  Have afternoon tea in Harrod’s
It’s one of the only things you’re likely to be able to afford there, and it makes you feel a bit posh. Get a cream cake, then afterwards take a look around the shop, lusting over things you’d love to buy and gasping at ludicrously priced dog collars and the like. A London tradition!

15.  Womble through Wimbledon
Start at the station and if you want, check out the shopping centre for an example of exactly what all shopping centres in the whole of England are like! Then walk up the hill to Wimbledon Village. Get fish and chips in a pub, then go all the way up to Wimbledon Common and walk alongside the beautiful walled mansions, pointing out how posh all the cars are. If it’s a sunny day the common will be full of happy people lazing about eating and drinking and listening to music, and you should join them!
 
16.  Visit Borough Market when you’re hungry
Buy every kind of street food you can imagine! Wander up and down the stalls, enjoying the smells and the sites, getting free tasters. When you’re finished, go down to the Anchor pub by the river. Get a cider and some lunch. The perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday.

17.  Visit Camden Market on a Sunday morning
Push your way through crowded stalls full of alternative clothing and all sorts of other interesting things. Make sure you keep your purse close by! Afterwards go for a drink in any of Camden’s many brilliant pubs – I like the barfly. If you’re lucky enough to come to London when the Camden Crawl takes place – July this year – you should go! Collect your pass, then wander freely in and out of venues listening to up and coming indie artists – last year we saw Tom O’Dell in a tiny before anyone else had even heard of him, now he’s won a Brit award! Then when you’re done…

18.  Go dancing at Koko
My favourite club in Camden. Great music, huge rooms, and no one is pretentious – you can dress however you like, really, and nobody cares. It’s always a good night! If you can see a gig there (as you can at the end of the Camden Crawl) then do – it always turns into a club afterwards, and if you hang around sometimes you get to meet the band. I met the members of the Airbourne Toxic Event standing at the bar...


19.  Go to the Ship pub in Wandsworth on a sunny day


As per my post about moving out, I used to live in the flats right next to this pub, but I’m not biased – it comes up all the time as one of the best pubs in London. Go when it’s busy because the atmosphere is amazing – a bank holiday, or a sunny Sunday – grab a drink and sit in the pub garden. The views over the Thames are gorgeous. Get a BBQ burger – the prices seem high but they’re worth it. Girls – all the men in this pub are beautiful. What more do you need??
 
20.  Have a night out on Brick Lane
Firstly, have a curry – it has to be done. As I’ve mentioned in my post on the Red Lion, my favourite is Monsoon, but lots of them are worth a visit. Don’t be distracted by the men leaping at you out of the doorways – walk all the way to the end, then meander back again, and finally hang around vaguely outside the window of one you like the look of. The waiters will come out and offer you deals – haggle a bit by looking a bit unimpressed by the first offer. Afterwards, if it’s warm, go to Vibe Bar and sit in the pub garden – it’s huge, it has twinkly lights and an outside bar, and if you can fit it in after your curry they sell AMAZING jerk chicken. If the night carries on, stagger across the road to 93 Feet East – it’s got a number of rooms playing different kinds of music and again, a decent outside area which stays lively way into the morning.

21.  If it’s winter…go ice skating at Somerset House/Canary Wharf
Either venue is lovely in its own way. At Somerset House, Tiffany’s design the Christmas tree and you skate in beautiful surroundings, feeling like you’re way out in the country somewhere as you look up at the sky. At Canary Wharf, you skate feeling like you’re at the heart of the city, surrounded by sky scrapers, and afterwards you can pop into Parlour or Canteen and have a quick drink while your feet thaw out.



(Also, if you’re at Parlour in the summer, grab a pineapple cocktail and play a few games of table tennis! These cocktails are low calorie and yet still include marshmallow syrup…what more could you need?)
 

22.  Visit the London Dungeons and be scared out of your mind
This is not just scary for kids – the live actors genuinely made me jump! The ride at the end is not for the faint hearted either!


23.  Have a Convent Garden girlie day

Go for lunch – I recommend the My Old Dutch Pancake House, where you can get different varieties of savoury or sweet pancakes and a milkshake. Wander about the shops, watch the street performers, potter around the market. In the afternoon, book in a treatment at the Sanctuary and have a relaxing facial. When you come out feeling fresh faced and glowing, pop into Henry’s Bar for a drink and a bite to eat. Best day ever? Possibly.

24.  Go to Light Bar and drink with city slickers
Best night for this is a Thursday, followed by a Friday. Follow the people in suits as they trickle out of Liverpool Street station, head towards Spitalfields and on the station side of the road you’ll find the Light Bar – a huge conversion with a decent outdoor area and a brilliant atmosphere. At the weekend its full of indie kids, but I like it in the week, filled with a mixture of posh boy bankers and city girls in pretty clothes and poser wannabe rockstars with cool hair and all sorts of other people who wandered in off the street.


 

By the way girls, if you want more city boys, head to Bank and ask for directions to Abacus. Get one of their shot trays. It’s an experience, although I’m not sure it’s one I’d necessarily recommend…
 
25.  Eat a whole lobster at Burger and Lobster


Look, it’s £20 either way, so why spend it on a burger? Get a whole lobster and dig in. Get the garlic butter and dip your chips in them. This is not a meal for a diet day!



This post has been a whole lot of work, but a whole lot of fun, so I'd really love to know what you all think of it!
 


 
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13 comments

  1. love this post, I'm going to London for the first time in summer, I'm definitely going to have to look at that Topshop!x

    makeupmusicfashion.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. Amazing post! Thanks for all the ideas, they're great!!!

    Stevie Hearts Makeup

    Stevie xxx

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  3. hya found ur appriciation at my blog.im following u.:)

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Love this post! I'm hoping to get to London in the summer for a while, this will be great reference!

    Ramblings of Hannah

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  6. I wish I had this London guide before. Really love London. Can´t wait to visit again and check out these places. I followed you back on Bloglovin and if I visit London I will check out this post again. Hope we stay in touch <3

    xx

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  7. This is a great post for me because I've never been to the UK, let alone London! I scrolled through your blog and stopped on your 25 Facts posts. I totally relate to #9. . . hats are just something I have to have, and subsequently never wear :/ I also laughed out loud when you compared the name of your band to a "dodgy massage parlour." I do #22 as well, complete with the trying to snap myself out of it. And #24 I just plain love. Now following you!
    http://cofcorals.blogspot.ca/

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  8. You have listed most of my favourite things to do in London! Also I would add - Go to the Icebar & visit Notting Hill!

    Great post :)

    Belle x
    Mascara & Maltesers

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  9. I love Oxford street topshop!! I wish we had one that good up north :'( the places to eat sound gorgeous too xxx

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  10. I'm moving to London in about 2 months, so this is soo helpful! Thank you! :D It all sounds so wonderful!!

    http://littlexcub.blogspot.com.au
    xx

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  11. Hi!! :)
    I really like your blog and your style!
    I´m following you :)
    maybe if you want, you could visit my blog too,
    and if you like it, follow me back!
    http://modacapital-blog.com
    kiss

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  12. Loved this post! I've only done a few thing on the list but hopefully I'll get to come back and tackle the rest soon!

    Following you on Bloglovin
    www.jilliciouscosmetics.blogspot.com

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  13. Thanks for such a great post. I am off to London soon so have enjoyed reading this and planning my day.
    Jade x

    http://jadewiggins09.blogspot.co.uk/

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