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Top Romantic Things to Do in London (Even if it’s Not Valentine’s Day)

By London Food and Drink No Comments

Whether you’re in the city with your partner for Valentine’s Day or just have something big to celebrate with them at any point of the year, here’s a list of fun, unique ideas of romantic things to do in London. 

Romantic Things to Do in London - shop for new perfume or cologne together for a sexy, sensual scent-filled experience in London. It's a great idea for something romantic and unique to do in London

Find a new scent together

Scent can be a pretty sensual thing, so you do some perfume and/or cologne shopping together while you’re in London. Jo Malone has complimentary perfume consulting and combining in their London shops, or you could pop over to Harrods’ many boutiques for a luxe smelling test that will result in a bespoke scent for you and your partner.

Finally, you could go to super-Englishly Penhaligon’s, which has TWO Royal Warrants, to get a personalised fragrance profile, all while enjoying tea, biscuits and champagne. How romantic. One of their fragrances is shown above.

romantic things to do in london

Go for a romantic meal in London

It might be cliche, but you can turn a regular dinner into a romantic experience by going to the right place. Some romantic restaurants in London I recommend include…

Duck and Waffle (Bishopsgate) – incredible views from the 43rd floor, which is very dark and romantic in the evenings. It’s incredibly hard to get reservations here so exactly two months before the date you want to book, go on their site and get your spot. Yes, they go that fast!

Campania and Jones  (Columbia Road) – this teeny Italian restaurant has Tuscan farmhouse-inspired interiors made even more beautiful when it’s lit by table top candles. The food here is some of the best Italian I’ve had in London.

The Petersham (Covent Garden) – from the people who run Petersham Nurseries in Richmond (another very romantic spot but further out from central London) is The Petersham. They do creative Mediterranean cuisine with stunning leafy interiors and a romantic terrace for when the weather is agreeable.. 

If you’ve got my 3-Day London Itinerary you already have LOTS of other Jess-approved London restaurants to choose from.

Top Romantic Things To Do In London - Go To a Jazz bar for date night

Go to Ronnie Scott’s for some live jazz

If you like live jazz, go to London’s most famous jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s (pictured above), for a romantic night of live music and nice cocktails. It’s been around since 1959, so there’s a ton of history in this place…

For something more off the beaten path and relaxed, head to Dalston Jazz Bar. It’s one of the best spots to see live jazz in east London and interestingly, they do not price their meals, you just pay what you think it’s worth!

Finally if you’re looking for more romantic things to do in London, book a table at the swanky The Wellesley’s Jazz Lounge where they host live jazz musicians on Friday and Saturday nights. The venue and vibe pays tribute to its history as the former home to the famous Pizza on the Park at Hyde Park Corner, where famous names like Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum and Barbara Cook used to be regular performers. 

Top Romantic Things To Do In London (Even If It’s Not Valentine’s Day) - Best spas in London

Book a spa day

A spa treatment is a romantic way to spend time together in London, and if you’re visiting in the wintertime, it’s a great treat after spending lots of time outdoors sightseeing.

Some of London best spas in London include The Bulgari Spa in Knightsbridge, Agua Spa at Sea Containers hotel (pictured above), and The Ned’s Barber and Parlour. The Ned is on the list of the best hotels with rooftop bars in London, btw.

You can sometimes get spa deals on Last-minute.com, just be sure to do your research to make sure it’s actually a good one— Tripadvisor should help.

Even if a spa treatment is out of the budget, just booking yourself into a hotel that has an indoor pool and some basic spa facilities that are free for guests to use will feel like a treat. Try the Montcalm East hotel.

Try Personal Shopping together for something romantic to do in London. You get to sip bubbles while a personal shopper picks the perfect clothing for you.

Do a personal shopping experience

If you’re up to spending some money together on your romantic day in London, why not do a day of personal shopping? Imagine it– you both could be enjoying a glass of bubbles in a plush, private dressing room as you wait for your personal stylists to bring you clothes that should fit you like a glove. Why not wear your new threads out of the store for a night out on the town?

Some stores that offer personal shopping services are Westfield MallSelfridges (pictured above), Reiss or Liberty London.

Romantic things to do while in London, for Valentine's Day and special occasions. Soho Hotel Film Club for £40 per person

Upgrade your cinema and dinner experience

Don’t do the usual gross cinema + crappy restaurant after combo. A sexy alternative is the Soho Hotel’s Sunday film club— for £45 per person you get a three-course meal or afternoon tea at their Refuel restaurant, and then get to watch the film of the week in their romantic, luxe movie theatre (shown above). I’ve done this and loved it. The Courthouse Hotel also offers this, but without the food and with some bubbles.

Free London 101 Guide

Go for an alternative theatre show

If you want to do something a bit more culturally enriching (but also quirky) and far away from the chilly temps, then try these alternative theatre shows while you sip on a luscious cocktail. You’ll find all types of performances, from comedies and unusual storytelling to great musicals to cabaret performances, and countless other options. 

Top Romantic Things To Do In London (Even If It’s Not Valentine’s Day) - Try an immersive experience and get to know your partner

Stimulate your senses with an immersive experience

London never disappoints, it doesn’t matter what crazy concept you come up with -London has it. Immersive experiences fall a bit into that crazy category, I mean, how many times have you thought of having a drink in prison? Or a cocktail infused escape room? Even being a part of famous shows like The Great Gatsby (pictured above), Sherlock, a western movie or a dinner at The Murder Express? Check this list with over 35 different ideas to try out. What better way to know how crazy your other half is? 

Curl up at a cosy pub

For something relaxing and not terribly wallet-breaking, just finding a cosy pub nearby where your staying in London could be perfect. Curl up next to the fireplace on a comfy sofa with a pint of beer or glass of wine, and you’re sorted for your romantic evening together.

A small selection of my favourite cosy pubs around London include:

  • The Ten Bells (Spitalfields) – a great, sexy pub on the ground floor, but head upstairs to the “secret” cocktail bar for a more intimate setting (pictured above).
  • The Draper’s Arms (Angel) – relaxed neighbourhood pub with cosy decor and a chill vibe.
  • Windsor Castle (Notting Hill) – situated in a super old building, it’s got lots of small rooms and low ceilings, making it not only historic but also quite intimate. 

No need to travel too far to get to a pub, however, find one near where you’re staying so you don’t have to travel far to get to it, that’s what the locals do.

Top Romantic Things To Do In London (Even If It’s Not Valentine’s Day) - Go for a dinner cruise on the Thames

Dine while you cruise down the Thames

Bateaux London (pictured above) offers a beautiful British dinner along with live music and delicious drinks while you take in the stunning views of London. Or if you are looking for something a little more affordable then check Thames Dinner Cruise or City Cruises, offering different experiences like Jazz night, an Elvis tribute or even a Murder Mistery dinner, where you get to unfold the clues to find the killer.

Have a romantic picnic

If the weather’s decent while you’re in London, have yourself a luxurious, romantic picnic in one London’s many parks. You can pick up a ready-made hamper, which is essentially a really nice picnic basket, from places like Carluccio’s, or go for one from Fortnum and Mason if you really want to impress your date– they’re so gorgeous!

You can also order a picnic hamper from some London restaurants, check out this list. Or just make your own picnic by picking up some bits and bobs from a nearby shop. The great news is that you can break out the bubbles because London’s fairly lenient on their drinking in public laws…

Romantic Things to do in London -- have a glass of vino in Gordons Wine Bar, in their dark and cosy caves. A unique and romantic thing to do in London for Valentine's day or a special occasion

Have a romantic drinking experience

There are loads of upscale drinks spots in London that are very sexy and romantic. Have some really nice vino in the “caves” at Gordon’s Wine Bar (pictured above), have a drink at Gong in The Shard for gorgeous views of central London, or go all out at speakeasy Blind Spot, which has delicious bespoke and signature cocktails.

Enjoy champagne and chocolate on the London Eye

Did you know you can actually book your own “pod” on the London Eye and have a private champagne and chocolate experience? Yeah, ya can. That would be pretty romantic, with bubbles in hand, looking over all of London…

If you’re not up for the price tag of the private capsule, there are other options, not-so-private options that are actually pretty affordable.

Top Romantic Things To Do In London (Even If It’s Not Valentine’s Day)

Spend the day in Hyde Park

There are quite a few romantic things you can do in Hyde Park, even beyond having a lovely little picnic. A fun and cheap option is to hire Boris bikes and ride through the park together, or go a little further (and cheesier?) and rent a row boat to row along the Serpentine. Oh, and a visit to the Rose Garden is a must for a romantic day…

Top Romantic Things To Do In London (Even If It’s Not Valentine’s Day) - Go for a walk at London Wetland Centre

Go for a walk in nature

If you or your partner are nature lovers then check the London Wetland Centre, this reservoir covers over 40 hectares where you’ll be able to see otters, numerous species of ducks and geese, and discover many species of birds that don’t exist anywhere else in London. The centre is fully wheelchair accessible.

Romantic things to do in London

Get some non-selfie photos together

There’s no better time to get some photos showing how much you love each other than when you’re in one of the most incredible cities in the world. Check our London Photo sessions services in partnership with our lovely photographer Ewa Horaczko. Plus, we got you 10% extra photos from your session, just insert Love and London in the “referred by” box when booking your session on Ewa’s site.

Let me know what you’ll do for your romantic day in London in the comments.

More tips for a romantic visit to London:

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What To Do in London In February

What To Do in London In February

By London Planning Tips, Things to Do in London

If you’re visiting London in February, yes, you should expect chilly and short days, but ABSOLUTELY don’t let this scare you. There are a ton of cool special events, exhibitions and more happening across London in February, so check the list below to get some ideas for what to do around the city.

BTW to get you prepped for your February visit, watch my video video helping you stay warm when visiting London:

What To Do in London In February - beautiful orchids festival to visit at Kew GardensImage Courtesy of Kew Gardens

1. Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens hosts the festival of Orchids annually, and in 2022 it will be celebrating the rich and colourful culture of Costa Rica (check the website if you’re reading this after 2022). Walking along the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which is designed to recreate the country’s landscape, you’ll hear and see displays of native animals made out of plants, including the native bird of Costa Rica, and in the middle of the glasshouse you can find a pond filled with brilliant vibrant orchids and bromeliads.

Tickets to the festival are included with Kew’s general admission tickets, starting at £15 per person.

Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens | Book Tickets | Richmond | Visit from 5th of February until 6th of March 2022

2. London Fashion Week

If you happen to be in London during late February you might be able to snatch some tickets for London Fashion Week, one of the most important events in the fashion world. As we publish this, the schedule isn’t out yet but you can eventually find it on the LFW website. Get some tickets or you can just go around to where the events are happening and you might spot some designers, models, editors and celebs.

London Fashion Week | Visit from the 18th – 22nd of February 2022

What To Do in London In February - go for dinner on Valentine's Day

3. Valentine’s Day in London

London’s got plenty of romantic options for Valentine’s Day celebrations, from sexy bars, to romantic dinners, to special events and experiences. My best suggestions for V-day can be found in my article Top Romantic Things to Do in London.

Or check DesignMyNight for more romantic events happening around London.

4. Celebrate the Chinese New Year

The Chinese new year is China’s biggest celebration of the year, and since London has such a big Chinese community living here, there’s a lot happening. Watch the parade that goes from Chinatown to Trafalgar Square, with dance performances and ceremonies to celebrate the Zodiac sign of the year.

Head to some of the stages in the West End for more activities like Chinese dances and musical performances. If you don’t know much about Chinese culture this will be a great introduction, and I’d also recommend that you try some of the amazing restaurants they have throughout Chinatown.

The traditional Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so the Lunar New Year falls on a different date each year. If you’re reading this after 2022, check here to see the date of the celebrations, which last just over two weeks.

Chinatown to West London | Visit from 31st of January until 6th of February 2022

Watch our video on How to Spend a Day in Chinatown:

5. Imagine Children’s Festival

In the UK, kids have their “half-term” break in February, so there are quite a few events dedicated to family activities. The Southbank Centre hosts the Imagine Children’s Festival dedicated to all kinds of art and cultural experiences, including children’s theatre, music performances, literature events, comedy shows, and creative workshops. The festival is an ideal activity for those aged 0 – 11 years old.

Imagine Children’s Festival | Southbank Centre | Visit from 9th – 20th of February 2022

6. Six Nations Rugby Tournament

If you are a rugby fan then you already know that the Six Nations Tournament happens across February and March, with events all over the UK and Europe. You can see if any games are happening while you’re in town, and either catch them at a London stadium or one of these bars that will be showing the games.

Six Nations Rugby Tournament | View from 5th of February until 19th of March 2022

What To Do in London In February - visit the illuminated river project with a different illumination per bridge with free toursImage Courtesy of the Illuminated River Project

7. View the Illuminated River Project

Illuminated River is a project to illuminate the Central London bridges, with an estimated cost of about £3 million per bridge, currently setting the total spend at around £30 million. With over 3.2 miles it is the world’s longest public art commission, “cel­eb­rat­ing the struc­tures as archi­tec­tur­al, social and his­tor­ic­al land­marks, and cre­at­ing a sym­bol­ic link across the polit­ic­al, fin­an­cial and cul­tur­al centres of the cap­it­al”, as per their website.

You can take a boat tour to see them or a long stroll around the Southbank, the project offers some free tours, check here.

Illuminated River Project | Central London | Visit all year

What To Do in London In February - vintage car at the London classic car showImage Courtesy of the London Classic Car Show

8. Visit the London Classic Car Show

The London Classic Car Show features over 700 classic cars, from vintage Formula 1 racing cars to American muscle cars, so it’s a big day out for any car enthusiast. You can even bid on the auction of rare and unusual cars, which at the time of writing includes a WWII era amphibious Porsche.

Tickets start at £20 per person.

London Classic Car Show | Olympia, West Kensington | Visit from Mid – Late February 2022

9. Watch the Super Bowl

If you are a fan of the Super Bowl, there are actually a few bars and restaurants in London that show it. For an up-to-date list for this year, check out DesignMyNight which has compiled a list of the best pubs, bars and parties where you can catch up with the NFL Super Bowl in London.

First or Second Sunday of February

Go visit the London Mime Festival theatres and workshops - What To Do in London In February

10. Attend the International Mime Festival

If you’ve seen our January list of recommendations, then you might remember the International Mime Festival which spans over 26 days with events all over London, these include theatre pieces, international productions, short films, post-show discussions with creators and performers, and expertly led workshops. In February you have six more days of the festival, so see what’s on while you’re in town.

International Mime Festival | Visit from 12th of January until 6th of February 2022

Visit the Lightopia Festival - What To Do in London in FebruaryImage Courtesy of Lightopia Festival

11. Visit the Lightopia Festival

Similar to the last event, the Lightopia Festival was also mentioned in our January article, but this event runs all through February, giving you a good window of opportunity to visit.

The Lightopia festival is a first of its kind in the UK and Europe, an immersive and visually-dramatic lantern and light experience, mixing beautiful art installations with human experience. It includes an incredible 3D projection onto Chiswick House, and pieces like The Love Gate, Tree of Life, Flower Hand, Happy Valley and many more, symbolising various experiences throughout life and humanity.

Tickets from £18 per person.

Lightopia Festival | Book Tickets | Chiswick Park | Visit from 22nd of January until the 1st of March 2022

Watch Matilda the musical in London - What To Do in London In FebruaryImage Courtesy of Matilda The Musical

12. Catch a theatre show

If you want to do something a bit more culturally enriching and far away from the chilly temps, then try the world-famous West End theatre district. Here are just a few options:

What To Do in London In February - go visit the natural history museum

13. Visit a Museum Exhibition

Most museums in London are free, but we encourage you to always make a donation (ps: some of the exhibitions have a cost). We also have a list of 15 unique museums in London that you should check out, they are mostly open all year round with permanent exhibitions as well.

This is such a fun and cultural enriching activity that you can’t miss when you visit. We have gathered a few 2022 events:

If you are reading this past 2022, check their individual websites to see what’s on.

What To Do in London In February - Go watch a game or a tour of Wembley StadiumImage Courtesy of Wembley Stadium

14. Watch a football Game or do a stadium tour

If you or someone you’re visiting London with is a football enthusiast, then try to catch a football game at one of the many stadiums in London. Or you can book a tour of the Emirates Stadium or Wembley Stadium.

Get your Tickets here

15. Attend an event from the London Borough of Culture

London Borough of Culture is a competition between the 32 boroughs of the city in which they bid for more than £1 million to organise a programme of local cultural events and initiatives. The winner of 2022 was the borough of Lewisham, so they are working on lots of fun events. Check their website to see what’s happening when you’re in town (this link will bring you to a list of events no matter which year you’re reading this!)

London Borough of Culture | Lewisham

There’s your list of what to do in London in February. Have a great time in London and be sure to tag @Loveandlondon on IG if you do any of our suggestions!

 

Read next: 

 

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What To Do in London In February

10 Hidden Gems to See with Three Days in London

By 3 Days in London, London Food and Drink, Things to Do in London

Back in 2013, I moved from New York to London. Since then, I’ve spent so much time exploring the nooks and crannies of this city, beyond the typical attractions most travel guides talk about. So much, that it became my job (as explained in this video), and I’m now considered a London expert.

I love sharing my favourite local gems with my followers, so that you can experience the side of the city that you’ll never see if you stick with the most touristy attractions and characterless areas.

So in this article, I’m telling you the local, hidden gem spots that I love and I think you’d love too if you’re visiting for three or more days in London.

I won’t lie, it was really hard to narrow this list down to just ten… but luckily all of these gems, plus tons more, are part of the 3-Day London Itinerary, so you can easily hit them all in just three days.

If you prefer to watch instead of read, you can see each spot mentioned in this article in the below Youtube video. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read.

1. Leake Street Tunnel

Leake Street runs under Waterloo station and used to be where the Eurostar taxi rank was, back when Eurostar trains left from Waterloo. When the service moved to St. Pancras station in Kings Cross, the tunnel was left disused.

Then in 2008, world-famous street artist Banksy proposed to revitalise the tunnel with a street art festival. Since then, it’s been an authorised area for street art, and is constantly changing.

The tunnel is managed by The Vaults, a group that promotes art, culture and revitalisation in the area. This is done via the tunnel project as well as theatre shows, live music and events, all held within the tunnel and railway arches. Just check their website to see what’s on when you’re in town.

You’ll visit Leake Street Tunnel on Day 1 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

Lyaness is on the ground floor of the Sea Containers hotel and was named as one of the 50 best bars in the world.

2. Lyaness

Lyaness is on the ground floor of the Sea Containers hotel and was named as one of the 50 best bars in the world.

Mr. Lyan, world-famous mixologist, together with his team has developed a menu of cocktails designed around seven signature ingredients, like vegan honey, infinite banana and onyx. If you like unique, special cocktails made by some of the best bartenders in the city, Lyaness is a must-visit.

They also do a boozy “fancy tea” that’s centered around those special house ingredients, and they also have small plates to eat while enjoying your drink and looking out onto the River Thames with a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

When you visit Lyaness, make a reservation if you can– even just calling ahead a couple of hours before could help. However you should be fine to walk in during the week before dinner time.

You’ll visit Lyaness on Day 1 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

For other unique and local-gem bars to drink at, watch this video…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgPLJ8_DkPU&t

3. Flea at Vinegar Yard

On Saturdays and Sundays, Vinegar Yard hosts Flea, a pop-up flea market, where you can find almost anything your vintage-loving heart desires. Londoners set up shop here to sell homemade jewelry, vintage brooches, recycled glass jars, handmade jackets made with leftover fabrics, and much more.

During the week, Flea is still at Vinegar Yard with a reduced market, so you can pop by and do a little shopping even if you can’t make it on a weekend.

For anyone not into shopping, still stop by for something to eat or drink at Vinegar Yard. It’s a very cool spot for food and a tipple, made complete with crazy art installations from artist Joe Rush of Mutoid Waste fame. A favourite vendor of mine is the Prosecco truck that offers bubbles with (optional) CBD drops.

There are both outdoor and indoor areas at Vinegar Yard, so you can visit all year round. The vibe is the best around meal times and on the weekends, but it also gets very busy on lovely summer evenings as Londoners love to eat and drink here once work lets out.

You’ll visit Flea at Vinegar Yard on Day 1 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

If you find yourself in Covent Garden before the shops open-- or heck, even if they are open-- pop into the Royal Opera House.

4. Royal Opera House Piazza Terrace Bar

If you find yourself in Covent Garden before the shops open– or heck, even if they are open– pop into the Royal Opera House. It’s free to walk around, and the building itself is absolutely stunning. You’ll see models of how the Opera House has looked over the centuries, costumes on display from historic performances over the years like Swan Lake, and more.

Here’s something most Londoners don’t even know– if you head to the top floor, there’s a stunning restaurant, cafe, and a terrace that looks out over Covent Garden Piazza. The terrace is completely free to use, you don’t have to buy anything, but of course, purchases made at the cafe bar support the arts and the maintenance of the building.

There are a few tours that the Opera House offers throughout the day. You can sometimes get a last-minute spot on the day, but try to book ahead online if you can, especially during the busy summer months.

You’ll visit Royal Opera House Piazza Terrace Bar on Day 1 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

It’s a somewhat funny coincidence that two incredibly famous musicians lived in the same building right here in London, separated only by a couple hundred years.

5. Handel and Hendrix Museum

It’s a somewhat funny coincidence that two incredibly famous musicians lived in the same building right here in London, separated only by a couple hundred years. The Handel and Hendrix Museum shows you what their homes were like (they’re replicas of course, but with some originals intact), while also giving you a history lesson on the artists and their lives in Londontown.

You’ll visit the Handel and Hendrix Museum on Day 2 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

Check out more museums you should visit in London but haven’t heard of…

6. Atika London

Atika London, located in Shoreditch, is Europe’s largest vintage shop, so if you want a one-stop shop for all things vintage, this is a great place to go. There are two floors of clothing and accessories for both men and women. Despite being so large, the selection is super neat and organised, making your shopping experience less overwhelming than other vintage shops in London.

You’ll visit Atika London on Day 3 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

For more tips for where to go vintage shopping in the area, watch this video…

7. Broadway Market

Broadway Market is the name of this road in east London’s London Fields area. But on Saturdays, an actual market does pop up here too, with a huge and varied range of vendors selling fruit and veg, specialty meats, vintage clothing, handmade accessories, chocolate, vegan cheese, and a lot more.

Even if you end up in London Fields NOT on a Saturday, Broadway Market is a lovely little street lined with cafes, restaurants, book shops, boutique clothing stores, and more. The street and its vendors are moving towards being completely zero-waste as quickly as possible.

You’ll visit Broadway Market on Day 3 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

For more local markets to visit, watch this video…

8. Regent’s Canal

The lifeline of this area in East London, from Hackney to Kings Cross, is Regent’s Canal. If you find yourself with decent weather, I’d recommend heading south on Broadway Market (mentioned above) until you hit the canal, and then head down the steps to the waterside and make a right (west), towards Haggerston and beyond.

You’ll see lots of Londoners cycling, running, and walking along the canal, admiring the houseboats and just enjoying the journey. It’s really lovely!

You can also go the opposite direction (east) and hit Victoria Park, which has been voted the best park in London for many years. Watch our guide for Victoria Park below…

You’ll see Regent’s Canal on Day 3 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

The Bike Shed is a motorcycle shop, restaurant, cafe, and barbershop all rolled into one venue under four Victorian railway arches.

9. The Bike Shed

The Bike Shed is a motorcycle shop, restaurant, cafe, and barbershop all rolled into one venue under four Victorian railway arches. The food at the restaurant is decent and it’s a pretty unique experience seeing bikers ride up to the shop for repairs while you’re chowing down and having a pint.

You’ll visit The Bike Shed on Day 3 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

Founded in 2003 by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, anyone even just slightly interested in fashion or art will enjoy a visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum.

10. Fashion and Textile Museum

Founded in 2003 by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, anyone even just slightly interested in fashion or art will enjoy a visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum. There are no permanent displays, but rather, the entire museum is made up of one temporary exhibition at a time that changes every few months, so no matter how often you go to London, you can also go back and see a completely new museum.

Check the Fashion and Textile Museum website to see what’s on when you’re visiting. You’ll visit Fashion and Textile Museum on Day 3 of the 3-Day London Itinerary.

All of my top spots mentioned in this article are in my 3-Day London Itinerary, so if you have it, you’ll hit all of these spots in a really cohesive itinerary, plus many more, without having to do tons of research and planning. A local has done it for you.

For more tips for what to do when in London, read these articles…

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20+ Things to Do in London in January

By London Planning Tips, Things to Do in London

If you are visiting London in January, you’ll notice it’ll be pretty chilly weather and there’s noticeably more darkness than light. BUT, you’re a smart cookie to visit at this time of year, because you’re likely saving tons of money on your flights and accommodation, plus it’s the quietest time of year crowd-wise so you’ll find it easier to make reservations and book tickets.

Ok to make sure you have a GREAT time here, I’ve made you a list of things to do in London in January.

What to Do in London in January - Watch the London New Years day paradeImage Courtesy of LNYDP

1. Watch the parade on New Year’s Day

The London New Year’s Day Parade (LNYDP) is a tradition with over thirty years of history, happening since 1987. In the parade there’s over 10,000 performers, from musicians, to acrobats, to dancers and even marching bands. Grab a ticket and watch it live or you can join more than half a million of Brits who watch it annually on TV from the comfort of their homes.

Tickets from £35 per person.

London New Year’s Day Parade | Waterloo | Visit on the 1st of January

2. Attend a New Year’s Day brunch, lunch or dinner

If you spent the last evening of December celebrating, then you are probably in dire need of some amazing grub to give you life on New Year’s Day. Check out one of these places that are definitely open on New Year’s Day for some delicious dishes…

The Breakfast Club has tons of locations in London where you can indulge in some classic American breakfast dishes like pancakes and french toast, as well as its famous Full English Breakfast.

Cèleste at The Lanesborough serves a high-end lunch on New Year’s Day. Have a three-course meal of creative European dishes for £85 per person, served in the opulent dining room of the hotel.

Flight Club, a darts bar, is the ideal spot to socialise and have some fun on New Year’s Day in London. Book a spot to play while you eat and drink.

Pergola Paddington is a bright spot for a casual and affordable New Year’s Day feast, serving delicious burgers, kebabs, sushi & dumplings from various street vendors.

The Ritz – if you want to experience the Michelin star restaurant without the huge price tag that comes along with the New Year’s Eve dinner ticket, go for New Year’s Day lunch and dinner. For £150, you’ll get a four-course meal prepared by the executive chef and his team.

Find more restaurants and food spots that are open on New Year’s Day on DesignMyNight.

What To Do in London in January - Attend a New Year’s Day brunch, lunch or dinnerImage Courtesy of Flight Club

3. Attend a New Year’s Day Party

You’ve partied your way into 2022, but if you want to keep that trend going, London can help you out (even if I personally think you’re a bit nuts!)

There are tons of parties at warehouses and clubs where you can continue your New Year’s celebrations. Some of our favourites are:

Flight Club, a great cocktail bar with dart boards, where you can grab some casual bites and keep the party going until around 1am.

Tobacco Dock is putting together a fun party of underground sounds with headliners like Enzo Siragusa, Hot Since 82, Loco Dice, Maya Jane Coles and many more.

Glitterbox at Printworks promises an iconic party with inclusivity and diversity at its core, including glam dancers, disco anthems and, obviously, tons of glitter.

Check this list by DesignMyNight for more New Year’s Day parties.

4. Attend Prom at The Barbican on New Year’s Day

The New Year’s Day Prom at the Barbican Centre is an event filled with classical music and lots of fun, plus your ticket includes a glass of champagne (ps: this isn’t like an American prom, it’s a seated theatre show). You’ll get to hear the London Concert Orchestra play classics like ‘Nimrod’ from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar, Largo al factotum by Gioachino Rossini, Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and many more.

Tickets from £18.50 per person.

Prom at The Barbican | Barbican | Visit on the 1st of January

What To Do in London in January - Participate in a run at Hyde ParkImage Courtesy of Serpentine Running Club

5. Participate in a run at Hyde Park (or just watch!)

A fitness goal is usually a staple in any New Year’s resolutions, and London offers you the best way to start it off. Every year on the first day of the year, the Serpentine Running Club organises a 10K race and a 3K fun run through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. People of all ages can participate, so bring your family and friends along (unless they hate you for even suggesting physical activity on New Year’s Day.)

Tickets from £5 per participant, free to watch.

Run at Hyde Park | Hyde Park | Visit on the 1st of January

Do a Winter-y or Christmas-y activity - What To Do in London in JanuaryImage Courtesy of Natural History Museum

6. Do a Winter-y/Christmas-y activity

If you visit in January, especially at the beginning of the month, you can experience festive London without the insane crowds you’d be battling in December.

To help you experience allll of the Christmas-y things to do in London (or choose just a couple that are to your own taste) I compiled a list to help you get in on the action like a true Londoner (spoiler alert: it’s not all about Winter Wonderland). Read Things To Do In London During The Christmas Season for fun activities like ice skating, visit a Christmas Market, try a festive afternoon tea, etc. Most of these things will still be happening throughout January.

7. Go shopping (huge sales!)

Most shops will put on huge sales in January, so you can go check out what they have or if you have a certain shop in mind you can check online to see if they have any sales on.

Some of the most famous department stores in London are: Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, Liberty London, and Harrods, so that could be a great place to start.

But we always love to support more local shops, as you’ll get something much more original and helps support the local economy… Some of my favourite shops are in the video below, or if you grab my 3-Day London Itinerary I have suggestions in there too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qpj-MIQieQ

8. Visit the London Art Fair

Hosted at the Business Design Centre for over 30 years, the London Art Fair opens the city’s art calendar for the year. You’ll find over a 100 modern and contemporary galleries to browse. Pick up your own piece of art or buy some more affordable prints to take home as a unique souvenir., There are also programmed talks, tours and curated exhibitions, so there’s plenty to see and do here!

Tickets from £14 per person.

London Art Fair | Book Tickets | Islington | Visit from 19th – 23rd of January 2022

Experience Burns Night at a Scottish pub - What To Do in London in JanuaryImage Courtesy of Ceilidh Club

9. Experience Burns Night

Burns Night is a Scottish holiday that England has unofficially adopted. It’s dedicated to the poet Robert Burns born on the 25th of January 1759 and it celebrates all of his contributions to Scottish culture. The festivities usually consist of a Burns supper, with traditional Scottish dishes like haggis being served, with a reading of his works such as Address to a Haggis. It also includes lots of whiskey (hey ho!)

If you want to celebrate Burns Night, stop into one of the Boisdale pubs across London (they’re specifically Scottish pubs) or opt to dance the night away the Scottish way at Ceilidh Club.

Celebrated on the 25th of January

Visit the Harry Potter Studios for a Hogwarts in the Snow experience - What To Do in London in JanuaryImage Courtesy of Warner Bros Studios

10. Visit the Harry Potter Studios for a Hogwarts in the Snow experience

Ok I’m not a Harry Potter fan but I know a load of you will be, so head to the studio when it gets its festive makeover. Sets like the Forbidden Forest are covered in layers of snow and the enchanting Great Hall is draped in wreaths, glands and trees with miniature witches on broomsticks. But most impressive is the long dining tables that you see in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone complete with special FX flaming Christmas puddings and prop versions of mouth-watering roast turkeys and hams studded with cherries.

Tickets from £47 per person.

Harry Potter Studios | Book Tickets | Warner Bros Studios Watford | Visit until the 16th January 2022

11. Attend the London Short Film Festival

The London Short Film Festival is a BAFTA-qualifying, internationally regarded independent short film festival. With over 5000+ submissions they narrowed it down to about 250-500 national and international films which includes all genres, from comedies, dramas, animations, documentaries, low-budget shorts and experimental works. You can watch this wide variety of film screenings, along with live music, workshops and talks.

Festival venue and tickets yet to be announced.

London Short Film Festival | Visit from 14th – 23rd January 2022

Catch a festive theatre show - What To Do in London in JanuaryImage Courtesy of the Nutcracker

12. Catch a festive theatre show

The famous West End theatre district puts on tons of incredible shows, including some festive ones that you can still catch in January:

Nutcracker at the London Coliseum: Tchaikovsky’s famous score is played live with over 100 dancers and musicians. The story follows Clara who received an enchanted nutcracker as a present on Christmas Eve. They then embark on a journey together where they find a magical world. (Watch until the 8th of January 2022)

Snowman at the Sadler’s Well Theatre: Snowman is an adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ book that explores the winter wonderland of a boy and a snowman that comes alive. A two-hour piece by Birmingham Repertory Theatre with an engaging mix of dance, live music, storytelling, and magic. (Watch until the 2nd of January 2022)

Circus 1903 at Royal Festival Hall: One for the whole family, the Circus 1903 includes acrobats, contortionists, trapeze artists, a death-defying high-wire act and sensational life-sized elephants, created by the puppeteers behind War Horse. Take time to explore the Southbank Centre Winter Festival (mentioned earlier) before and after the show. (Watch until the 2nd of January 2022)

13. Attend the Snookers Masters

For the snooker fanatics, this is your kind of event! First started in 1975, the Cazoo Masters is a professional non-ranking tournament with sixteen of the world’s best players to be held at the exquisite Alexandra Palace. This tournament is considered one of snooker’s Triple Crown events.

Tickets from £28 per person.

Snookers Masters | Book Tickets | Alexandra Place | Visit from the 9th – 16th of January 2022

14. Attend a Chinatown Walking Tour (Lunar New Year, special edition)

If you have seen my video on how to spend the day in Chinatown on Youtube then you saw that I suggested taking one of the China Exchange’s Chinatown walking tours. I discovered so many things about the area via this tour, even though I walk through the area ALL the time. January is pretty special as it’s often when Lunar New Year is, so you’ll get insights into Chinatown’s celebrations and their significance, alongside their usual tour material. And if you watched my video you also know that your tour ticket includes lunch in one of the Chinatown restaurants.

Tickets are £27 per person.

Chinatown Walking Tours | Book Tickets | Chinatown | Visit on the 30th of January 2022

15. Watch a football game or go on a stadium tour

If you or someone you’re visiting London with is a football enthusiast, then try to catch a football game at one of the many stadiums in London. Or you can book a tour of the Emirates Stadium or Wembley Stadium.

Get your Tickets here

16. Attend an event with the London Borough of Culture

London Borough of Culture is a competition between the 32 boroughs of the city in which they bid for more than £1 million to organise a programme of local cultural events and initiatives. The winner of 2022 was the borough of Lewisham, so they are working on lots of fun events. Check their website to see what’s happening when you’re in town (this link will bring you to a list of events no matter which year you’re reading this!)

London Borough of Culture | Lewisham

Attend the William Hill World Darts Championship - What To Do in London in JanuaryImage Courtesy of Alexandra Palace

17. Attend the William Hill World Darts Championship 2021/2022

If you are a fan of darts I’m pretty sure you already know about the William Hill World Darts Championship. It’s a prestigious event with the world’s best dart players as they compete for the winning prize of £2,500,000. It’s been happening every year at the beautiful Alexandra Palace since 2008.

Tickets from £48.

William Hill World Darts Championship | Book Tickets | Alexandra Place | Visit from the 15th December 2021 – 3rd January 2022

What To Do in London in January - participate in a baking competitionImage Courtesy of The Big London Bake

18. Participate in The Big London Bake

Have you ever watched The Great British Bake Off and thought to yourself “I can totally do that!”?

Well, you can at The Big London Bake, a workshop where you can challenge your friends and family into a competition to see who can bake the best (or the worst!).

They do workshops all year round, but until the end of January the baking theme is a festive one: Woolly Winter Hat Cake.

Tickets from £42 per person.

The Big London Bake | Tooting | Festive theme available until 31st of January

What to Do in London in January - Get a Sunday RoastImage Courtesy of The Mall Tavern

19. Go for a Sunday Roast

The British are very proud of their Sunday roast, it usually consists of roasted meat, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy, but there are some variants, including vegetarian and vegan versions. Some of our favourite spots are:

The Mall Tavern in Notting Hill has fabulous Sunday roast options, and a really nice new menu with a top London chef. A favourite among the locals and well-known for its large selection of local and foreign beers on tap and in cans.

The Hemingway at Victoria Park is a neighbourhood pub serving a good Sunday roast made with locally sourced ingredients. It has beautiful interiors and is very affordable.

The Punchbowl in Mayfair, is one of my recommendations on the 3-Day Itinerary. It’s a great spot for a drink in a quiet area, amidst some of the most expensive properties in the country. While I haven’t eaten here myself, I’ve heard very good things about the food and the Sunday Roast.

Vaulty Towers in Waterloo, it’s the self-proclaimed “quirkiest bar in Waterloo”, this playful tavern serves a great veggie and vegan Sunday roast.

What To Do in London in January - Attend the Canary Wharf Winter Lights ExhibitionImage Courtesy of Canary Wharf

20. Attend the Canary Wharf Winter Lights Exhibition

If you’re after even more things to do in London in January, here’s one… a beautiful event takes over Canary Wharf, transforming the area with over 25 light installations by different artists from all over the world. This year, along with their permanent collection, they’ve added a family of mammoths, twelve swans performing ballet on the dock, and they’re bringing a greenhouse to life in Jubilee Park. To complete the evening there’s a delicious pop-up food market serving food and hot drinks, and for something a little more unique try their fire pits where you can toast gourmet marshmallows from The Marshmallowist.

This is a free exhibition, just download the map so you know where to go.

Winter Lights | Canary Wharf | Visit from the 19th – 29th of January 2022

21. Attend the International Mime Festival

The International Mime Festival spans over 26 days with events all over London, including theatre pieces, international productions, short films, post-show discussions with creators and performers, and expertly led workshops. This is probably one of the most unique things to do in London in January…

Tickets from £12 per person.

International Mime Festival | Visit from 12th of January until 6th of February 2022

Visit the Lightopia Festival - What To Do in London in JanuaryImage Courtesy of Lightopia Festival

22. Visit the Lightopia Festival

The Lightopia festival is a first of its kind in the UK and Europe, it is an immersive and visually-dramatic lantern and light experience, mixing beautiful art installations with human experience. It includes an incredible 3D projection onto Chiswick House, and pieces like The Love Gate, Tree of Life, Flower Hand, Happy Valley and many more, symbolising various experiences throughout life and humanity.

Tickets from £18 per person.

Lightopia Festival | Book Tickets | Chiswick Park | Visit from 22nd of January until the 1st of March 2022

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Alternative Things to do in 48 hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

By London Planning Tips

This is a little bit different from my usual, as I headed up to Scotland’s capital. I stayed for 48 hours in Edinburgh and filmed and photographed everything to show you, because as you might know, I don’t like to do the tourist-y stuff, and love to share alternative things to do with you wherever I go.

In 48 hours in Edinburgh I did a ton, including drinking at a panda-filled speakeasy behind a bookcase, browsing a beautiful secondhand bookshop, walking the Water of Leith waterway, and tasting whiskey and gin at a hyper local Edinburgh distillery. You’ll get tons of inspo for your future Edinburgh visit, especially if you want to discover the more “local” side of the city.

If you prefer to watch instead, here’s the youtube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhf9hggFHws

Day 1 in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Larder for breakfast in Edinburgh, Scotland. Add to your list for 48 Hours in EdinburghImage Courtesy of Edinburgh Larder

Breakfast at Edinburgh Larder

Edinburgh Larder, located just off the Royal Mile, is a cafe that serves seasonal local food with ingredients sourced from Scottish producers. They are really known for their Scottish breakfasts, with typical veggie and vegan options. I tried out their vegan one and it was de-li-cious and very filling!

The vibe at Bermondsey Larder is super chill, the staff were friendly and prices are London-level but you’ll have a pretty great meal and good coffee too.

Edinburgh Larder | ££ | 15 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB

Tills secondhand bookshop in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Secondhand book shopping at Till’s

I love shops that sell secondhand stuff, so when an Instagram follower of mine recommended Tills, I had to pop in.

Tills bookshop has a mix of titles and genres so give yourself some time to browse the very reasonably priced secondhand selection. Inside the shop there are a couple of reading corners and that, paired with the old-timey jazz music, makes the shop vibe feel a bit like you are stepping back in time.

Till’s | £ | 1 Hope Park Crescent, EH8 9NA

Sustainable shopping at Treen

Treen is a boutique shop located in the Stockbridge area that sells eco-friendly, vegan and sustainable products, so it’s right up my alley. They have beautiful clothes, accessories and homeware, all from brands that keep the planet and people in mind. Notably, they have an incredible jacket collection and I picked up some Girlfriend’s collective leggings when I visited.

The staff are super nice and if you visit, please tell them I said hello! Because the pieces are sustainably made, expect higher prices than you might find in other stores, but this is the place you go to to get that one piece that you wear for years that always reminds you of your visit to Edinburgh.

Treen | £££ | 2-4 St Stephen Pl, Stockbridge, EH3 5AJ

David Bann is a fully vegetarian restaurant with loads of vegan options and I had read some really positive reviews about it, so I was excited for a yummy meal. The dishes are inventive and beautifully presented, and I tried their quinoa courgette wrap with roast potatoes that was delicious. I’d advise that you go for dinner as at lunch time there was not much of a vibe going on. I think in the evening it would make for a beautiful date night spot. Prices are mid-range for Edinburgh.Image Courtesy of David Bann

Vegetarian-friendly lunch at David Bann

David Bann is a fully vegetarian restaurant with loads of vegan options and I had read some really positive reviews about it, so I was excited for a yummy meal.

The dishes are inventive and beautifully presented, and I tried their quinoa courgette wrap with roast potatoes that was delicious. I’d advise that you go for dinner as at lunchtime there was not much of a vibe going on. I think in the evening it would make for a beautiful date night spot. Prices are mid-range for Edinburgh.

David Bann | ££ | WA | 56-58 St Mary’s St, EH1 1SX

I’m not the biggest fan of whiskey but I figured that when you are in Scotland you just have to do it, don’t you? Holyrood Distillery is new to the Edinburgh distillery scene, making both whiskey and gin on-site. The ingredients and processes that they use are very Edinburgh and Scotland-focused, so if you want a hyper local distillery experience this is a good one to go to. The distillery tour and a four drink tasting flight of either whiskey or gin is about £25 per person, and it’s only a 15 minutes walk from the Royal Mile so it’s a pretty easy stop to fit into your schedule.

Whiskey and gin tasting at Holyrood Distillery

I’m not the biggest fan of whiskey but I figured that when you are in Scotland you just have to do it, don’t you? Holyrood Distillery is new to the Edinburgh distillery scene, making both whiskey and gin on-site. The ingredients and processes that they use are very Edinburgh and Scotland-focused, so if you want a hyper local distillery experience this is a good one to go to.

The distillery tour and a four drink tasting flight of either whiskey or gin is about £25 per person, and it’s only a 15 minutes walk from the Royal Mile so it’s a pretty easy stop to fit into your schedule.

Holyrood Distillery | £ – ££ | 19 St Leonard’s Ln, EH8 9SH

After finishing at the distillery I popped into this Vietnamese fast-food-ish kind of restaurant called Saboteur. They don’t take reservations, so if you just want something that isn’t too expensive then this is a good spot. It still has a good vibe to it even though it’s casual dining so you can still have a fun and cool evening here without breaking the bank.Image Courtesy of Saboteur

Dinner at Saboteur

After finishing at the distillery I popped into this Vietnamese fast-food-ish kind of restaurant called Saboteur. They don’t take reservations, so if you just want something that isn’t too expensive then this is a good spot. It still has a good vibe to it even though it’s casual dining so you can still have a fun and cool evening here without breaking the bank.

Saboteur | ££ | WA | 19-20 Teviot Pl, EH1 2QZ

 

DAY 2 in Edinburgh

Fortitude Cafe in Ediburgh, Scotland. 48 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Breakfast at Fortitude

To start the day I went for coffee at Fortitude, a local favourite. This tiny cafe is great for coffee snobs who know their roasts. I personally don’t really know them but I do know that the coffee was delicious! They also have a small selection of breakfast options that they source ingredients for as locally as possibly.

Even though it’s small, Fortitude is a nice, relaxed spot to have some breakfast (I had a nice little granola bowl) and a damn good coffee!

Fortitude | £ | 3c York Pl, EH1 3EB

The Water of Leith Walkway is a footpath along a beautiful stream that runs almost 30 miles or 20 km throughout Edinburgh. It was opened in 2002 and is used for walks, cycling and even horseback riding. I managed to walk the part closest to Leith, but a local told me to next time start in Stockbridge, which is even more picturesque than where I was. But it was a great way to get to Leith for my next activity, taking me only about 30 minutes to walk.

Walk to Leith on the Water of Leith Walkway

The Water of Leith Walkway is a footpath along a beautiful stream that runs almost 30 miles or 20 km throughout Edinburgh. It was opened in 2002 and is used for walks, cycling and even horseback riding.
I managed to walk the part closest to Leith, but a local told me to next time start in Stockbridge, which is even more picturesque than where I was. But it was a great way to get to Leith for my next activity, taking me only about 30 minutes to walk.

Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

Tour of Leith by Invisible Cities

This alternative tour of Leith is run by Invisible Cities, a social enterprise that employs people that were at some point homeless as tour guides. My guide was Paul, he had grown up in Leith making his stories even more interesting to listen to and he was super energetic and entertaining. He also taught me how to pronounce Leith correctly, which is pronounced as leeth so don’t make the same mistake I did 🙂

The tours are reasonably priced at just £15 and your money goes back to paying fairly to the tour guides and to the business as they are a non-profit organisation.

Invisible Cities | £

48 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Take the tasting menu at Aizle

This came from a follower recommendation that said this was the best tasting menu in the world, with such a bold statement I had to go and check it myself (I have done some amazing tasting menus so my standards are high.)

Aizle is located in the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel in the Garden Room, which gives the restaurant a relaxed and yet incredible high-end feel to your experience. It’s all tasting menus here and they actually hand you a sealed envelope with your menu in it, in case you want to keep your courses as a surprise.

The service was incredible as well as the presentation of the dishes, so this is really a high-end special experience. The food wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but I definitely enjoyed it.
The tasting menu is £85 per person and you can pair that with a wine tasting for £60 per person, so this is likely to be one of, if not, the most expensive meal you have in Edinburgh.

Aizle | ££££ | 38 Charlotte Square, EH2 4HQ

I loooove a bar behind a bookcase and luckily that’s where Panda & Sons is. As you are led into the bar you will see old-school panda decor scattered all over, really living up to the bar’s namesake. I sat at the bar as I was on my own and chatted with the bartenders, who really know their stuff. The cocktails are fairly off-the-wall, I tried one called ‘Dubai in the Sky’ and it had a cotton candy stick adorning it. If you love an eclectic cocktail and don’t mind paying a pretty price for it then you’ll love the vibe here.

Go for cocktails at Panda & Sons

I loooove a bar behind a bookcase and luckily that’s where Panda & Sons is.

As you are led into the bar you will see old-school panda decor scattered all over, really living up to the bar’s namesake. I sat at the bar as I was on my own and chatted with the bartenders, who really know their stuff. The cocktails are fairly off-the-wall, I tried one called ‘Dubai in the Sky’ and it had a cotton candy stick adorning it.

If you love an eclectic cocktail and don’t mind paying a pretty price for it then you’ll love the vibe here.

Panda & Sons | ££ | 79 Queen St, EH2 4NF

That’s a wrap on my 48 hours in Edinburgh, enjoy exploring the more local and alternative side to the city with these recommendations.

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48 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

14 Cheap Eats in London You Have to Try

By London Food and Drink

Even with this city being so expensive, there are plenty of cheap eats in London that are also really good. But the key is, you HAVE to know where to go to find these affordable dishes. So I’m here to help you find some of the best cheap eats around London, so you can eat well without busting your bank account too hard.

Every spot mentioned in this article is super vegetarian-friendly (I’m a veggie myself), and I’ve indicated if it’s vegan-friendly and/or GF-friendly.

For the purpose of this article, I’m defining a “cheap eat” as either street food, or restaurants where you can get a sizable main course for under £15.

Prefer to see cheap eats in London in video form? Watch the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1nsd2t2CAM

 

 

My YouTube friend Shu introduced me to Jian Bing a few months ago and it’s one of the cheapest and most filling street eats in central London. Think of it like a Chinese crepe, which is made with egg and can be filled with any ingredients on offer, like meats, veggies, and more. Get a big ole Jian Bing from Chinese Tapas House for just £5.50, which is super filling for one but still pretty sizable when split for two. There’s plenty to do in Chinatown once you’re there btw, check out my video on how to spend a day in Chinatown.Image Courtesy of Chinatown

1. Jian bing at Chinese Tapas House

My YouTube friend Shu introduced me to Jian Bing a few months ago and it’s one of the cheapest and most filling street eats in central London. Think of it like a Chinese crepe, which is made with egg and can be filled with any ingredients on offer, like meats, veggies, and more.

Get a big ole Jian Bing from Chinese Tapas House for just £5.50, which is super filling for one but still pretty sizable when split for two.

£ | Chinatown | Chinese Tapas House via Chinatown’s Website

There’s plenty to do in Chinatown once you’re there btw, check out my video on how to spend a day in Chinatown.

 

Arepa and Co is one of my favourite spots to go in London when I want a casual meal with some friends that doesn’t break the bank. Arepa and Co does Venezuelan brunch, lunch and dinner, with a selection of arepas (obviously) and cachapas, which I personally always go for. They do a great lunch deal during the week which gets you a main course plus a glass of fresh lemonade for just £8.50, making this one of the best lunchtime cheap eats in London.Image Courtesy of Arepa & Co

2. Arepa & Co

Arepa and Co is one of my favourite spots to go in London when I want a casual meal with some friends that doesn’t break the bank. Arepa and Co does Venezuelan brunch, lunch and dinner, with a selection of arepas (obviously) and cachapas, which I personally always go for.

They do a great lunch deal during the week which gets you a main course plus a glass of fresh lemonade for just £8.50, making this one of the best lunchtime cheap eats in London.

£ | WA |Bethnal Green and Haggerston | Arepa & Co’s Website

 

London is known for not having great Mexican food, but Club Mexicana takes the cake (in my opinion) when you’re after a greasy, cheesy Mexi dish to curb your craving. They in no way serve authentic Mexican, with options like the Cheezburger tacos and the ‘Chorizo’ & Sweet Potato burrito but well, it all just tastes great. Plus here’s the kicker… it’s all vegan.Image Courtesy of Club Mexicana

3. Club Mexicana

London is known for not having great Mexican food, but Club Mexicana takes the cake (in my opinion) when you’re after a greasy, cheesy Mexi dish to curb your craving. They in no way serve authentic Mexican, with options like the Cheezburger tacos and the ‘Chorizo’ & Sweet Potato burrito but well, it all just tastes great.

Plus here’s the kicker… it’s all vegan.

£ |Seven Dials and Carnaby | Club Mexicana’s Website

 

Mamason is London’s only Filipino dessert shop and they absolutely KILL IT in the sweets scene. They serve up some popular Filipino treats but my absolute favourite is the Bilog, which is like a hot ice cream sandwich. Get it with Ube ice cream (Ube is a Filipino purple yam) and get ready to have a good time.Image Courtesy of Mamasons

4. Bilog at Mamason Dirty Ice Cream

Mamason is London’s only Filipino dessert shop and they absolutely KILL IT in the sweets scene. They serve up some popular Filipino treats but my absolute favourite is the Bilog, which is like a hot ice cream sandwich. Get it with Ube ice cream (Ube is a Filipino purple yam) and get ready to have a good time.

£ |Chinatown and Camden | Mamasons’ Website

 

This casual Japanese tapas restaurant in Kings Cross serves organic dishes that are fully vegan, yummy and super affordable. Try the tofu and mushroom croquette, vegan calamari with tartar sauce, or the classic gyoza. They also do bento boxes which are great lunchtime options for cheap eats in London.Image Courtesy of Itadaki Zen

5. Itadaki Zen

This casual Japanese tapas restaurant in Kings Cross serves organic dishes that are fully vegan, yummy and super affordable. Try the tofu and mushroom croquette, vegan calamari with tartar sauce, or the classic gyoza. They also do bento boxes which are great lunchtime options for cheap eats in London.

£ |Kings Cross | Itadaki Zen’s Website

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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6. Taiyakiya

Taiyaki is a traditional Japanese fish cake (like a pancake, not an actual fish cake) that is a great street food option. Pop into this cute little shop and the lovely staff will help you choose a savoury Taiyakiya or a sweet one. They also do seasonal options as well as their own bubble tea.

£ | Chinatown | Taiyakiya’s Website

 

Need a late night meal after a big night out in Shoreditch? Head to Le Bab, right next to Old Street tube station, for what I consider to be an upscale kebab shop. Grab a seat if you can find an empty one, or get yours as a takeaway. There are veggie and vegan options, plus the hummus and double-cooked fries are *chefs kiss*Image Courtesy of Le Bab

7. Le Bab

Need a late night meal after a big night out in Shoreditch? Head to Le Bab, right next to Old Street tube station, for what I consider to be an upscale kebab shop. Grab a seat if you can find an empty one, or get yours as a takeaway. There are veggie and vegan options, plus the hummus and double-cooked fries are *chefs kiss*

£ | WA | Old Street | Le Bab’s Website

 

If you’re in Camden, pop into Purezza for some of the best pizza in London. In fact, it’s award-winning. Go for the classic Margarita or one of their other inventive options, and the friendly staff will serve it to you with a smile on their faces. Oh also… everything is completely plant-based, even the “pork” and other meaty toppings. And they have plenty of gluten-free options.Image Courtesy of Purezza

8. Purezza

If you’re in Camden, pop into Purezza for some of the best pizza in London. In fact, it’s award-winning. Go for the classic Margarita or one of their other inventive options, and the friendly staff will serve it to you with a smile on their faces. Oh also… everything is completely plant-based, even the “pork” and other meaty toppings. And they have plenty of gluten-free options.

£ | Camden | Purezza’s Website

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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9. Mac Factory

Mac and cheese is hit or miss here in London, but Mac Factory have nailed it. Inspired by NY-style mac and cheese (which basically means, the more cheese, the better) you can get a souped-up m&c for just a few pounds. My go-to’s are Super Mario (hello truffle) and La Med Babe.

£ | WA | Camden | Mac Factory’s Website

 

Bao has a small menu of Taiwanese dishes that you might not have ever heard of but I promise that literally everything on the menu is damn good. As a veggie my go-to is the Daikkon Bao (bao are little fluffy buns) and the *ice cream wrap sounds weird but is banging.Image Courtesy of Bao

10. Bao

Bao has a small menu of Taiwanese dishes that you might not have ever heard of but I promise that literally everything on the menu is damn good. As a veggie my go-to is the Daikkon Bao (bao are little fluffy buns) and the *ice cream wrap sounds weird but is banging.

£ |Borough, Soho and Fitzrovia | Bao’s Website

 

Pastaio, next to Borough Market is one of the most popular restaurants in London but it absolutely deserves the accolades. They serve up delish yet simple pasta dishes at affordable prices. Trust me, I’m picky about my Italian food after having lived in Florence, and as far as Pastaio goes, it’s one of the best cheap eats in London. It gets SUPER busy here so be warned, if you visit during a peak time, you could be waiting for up to ninety minutes. However they do have a good system where they’ll text you when your table is ready so you can pop to one of the many nearby pubs for a drink or two before it’s time to eat. (They do gluten-free pasta for most dishes, just ask them.)Image Courtesy of Pastaio

11. Pastaio

Pastaio, next to Borough Market is one of the most popular restaurants in London but it absolutely deserves the accolades. They serve up delish yet simple pasta dishes at affordable prices. Trust me, I’m picky about my Italian food after having lived in Florence, and as far as Pastaio goes, it’s one of the best cheap eats in London.

It gets SUPER busy here so be warned, if you visit during a peak time, you could be waiting for up to ninety minutes. However, they do have a good system where they’ll text you when your table is ready so you can pop to one of the many nearby pubs for a drink or two before it’s time to eat. (They do gluten-free pasta for most dishes, just ask them.)

£ | WA | Carnaby and White City | Pastaio’s Website

 

A close second for best affordable pasta spot in London is Padella, located in Carnaby. Very similar to Pastaio, they do simple pasta dishes at reasonable prices, and they even have a vegan pasta menu. This is the spot I always try when I’m near Carnaby and need someplace to eat and don’t have a reservation, I have never waited too long to get a spot at one of their long banquet tables.Image Courtesy of Padella

12. Padella

A close second for best affordable pasta spot in London is Padella, located in Carnaby. Very similar to Pastaio, they do simple pasta dishes at reasonable prices, and they even have a vegan pasta menu. This is the spot I always try when I’m near Carnaby and need someplace to eat and don’t have a reservation, I have never waited too long to get a spot at one of their long banquet tables. (Although, they don’t have any gluten-free pasta dishes!)

£ | WA |Borough Market and Shoreditch | Padella’s Website

 

Londoners looking for a cheap-and-cheerful spot to meet friends for dinner love to book in at one of Kaosarn’s locations. Here you’ll enjoy traditional, simple Thai dishes, and the restaurants are BYOB, saving you even more money. Definitely book ahead as both locations are super popular.Image Courtesy of Kaorsan

13. Kaosarn

Londoners looking for a cheap-and-cheerful spot to meet friends for dinner love to book in at one of Kaosarn’s locations. Here you’ll enjoy traditional, simple Thai dishes, and the restaurants are BYOB, saving you even more money. Definitely book ahead as all locations are super popular.

£ |Brixton (WA), Clapham and Tooting (WA) | Kaorsan’s Website

 

This takeaway spot in Brixton Village (with picnic tables nearby) has a menu “inspired by Caribbean Ital and European recipes, ‘made with love’ to produce that home cooked feeling”. Expect unique ingredients, big portions and punchy flavours, all for a reasonable price, and all vegan!Image Courtesy of Eat of Eden

14. Eat of Eden

This takeaway spot in Brixton Village (with picnic tables nearby) has a menu “inspired by Caribbean Ital and European recipes, ‘made with love’ to produce that home-cooked feeling”. Expect unique ingredients, big portions and punchy flavours, all for a reasonable price, and all vegan!

£ | WA |Brixton | Eat of Eden’s Website

Now go forth and enjoy some of these cheap eats in London. Make sure you tag @loveandlondon in any of your pics featuring my recommendations.

 

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What To Do in London on New Year’s Eve

By London Food and Drink, Things to Do in London

If you’re visiting London around New Years, you’re in for a treat. The festive season is a bit like a dreamland of Christmas lights and fun activities in the lead up to the 31st of December. Typically on New Year’s Eve, there’s a world-famous fireworks display in Central London that brings over 100,000 people to see it in person, however it’s been cancelled again this year due to COVID restrictions.

But don’t worry, there are a ton of fun places to go on this special night (and that won’t require you to stand in the freezing cold for a couple of hours) so keep reading to find out what to do in London on New Year’s Eve.

Book a swanky dinner on New Years Eve in London

Book a special dinner for your New Year’s Eve celebration in London. Here’s a small selection of options.

The classic Ritz hotel is hosting a black tie gala with a six course dinner (including champagne), where you’ll be entertained with performances from a live band, the traditional sounds of bagpipes from The Lone Piper and 14-piece military marching band. When midnight comes there will be a countdown to the new year, and then the night continues with live music from the band The New Atlantics. This is an event of a lifetime but it does come with a hefty price tag of £1,500 per person.Image Courtesy of The Ritz

The Ritz

The classic Ritz hotel is hosting a black tie gala with a six course dinner (including champagne), where you’ll be entertained with performances from a live band, the traditional sounds of bagpipes from The Lone Piper and 14-piece military marching band. When midnight comes there will be a countdown to the new year, and then the night continues with live music from the band The New Atlantics. This is an event of a lifetime but it does come with a hefty price tag of £1,500 per person.

WA.

Piccadilly | Website

Revelry: A Savoy New Year is a grand gala dinner filled with lots of live music, entertainment, dancing and incredible food. Drink some champagne while you appreciate the gorgeous views of the Thames, then you’ll move onto their Lancaster Ballroom where you’ll experience a five-course dinner paired with wines and thrilling entertainment.Image Courtesy of Savoy

Savoy

Revelry: A Savoy New Year is a grand gala dinner filled with lots of live music, entertainment, dancing and incredible food. Drink some champagne while you appreciate the gorgeous views of the Thames, then you’ll move onto their Lancaster Ballroom where you’ll experience a five-course dinner paired with wines and thrilling entertainment.

Priced at £850 per person. WA.

Westminster | Website

In this three Michelin-star restaurant all the menus are prepared with seasonal produce, which means the menus are constantly changing to give you the best dishes. Their New Year’s Eve menu includes some lavish dishes such as caviar, black truffle, lobster and pigeon.Image Courtesy of The Connaught

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

In this three Michelin-star restaurant all the menus are prepared with seasonal produce, which means the menus are constantly changing to give you the best dishes. Their New Year’s Eve menu includes some lavish dishes such as caviar, black truffle, lobster and pigeon.

Priced at £360 per person. WA.

Mayfair | Website | Menu

You might remember the Mama Shelter hotel from my blog post on Cool Hotels in East London or from my review video (linked below), it’s one of the best and most affordable hotels you can book in London. They are celebrating the New Year with a three-course dinner, a welcoming vodka cocktail and acts from Crystal of RuPaul's Drag Race and guest performers, and music by DJ Tina Edwards. The theme is “It's Disco Bitch”.Image Courtesy of Mama Shelter

Mama Shelter

You might remember the Mama Shelter hotel from my blog post on Cool Hotels in East London or from my review video (linked below), it’s one of the best and most affordable hotels you can book in London. They are celebrating the New Year with a three-course dinner, a welcoming vodka cocktail and acts from Crystal of RuPaul’s Drag Race and guest performers, and music by DJ Tina Edwards. The theme is “It’s Disco Bitch”.

Tickets from £65 per person.

Bethnal Green | Book Tickets

 

M Threadneedle Street is preparing an All-White party for their NYE event. It will include dazzling performances by Sandy Rivera (Kings of Tomorrow), Soul Serious Ensemble (live band), Harty, Primrose Bill and Vicki Etherton. Their Supper Club Ticket includes a three course meal and you’re encouraged to wear all white but it’s not compulsory.Image of M Restaurants by Design My Night

M Restaurant

M Threadneedle Street is preparing an All-White party for their NYE event. It will include dazzling performances by Sandy Rivera (Kings of Tomorrow), Soul Serious Ensemble (live band), Harty, Primrose Bill and Vicki Etherton. Their Supper Club Ticket includes a three course meal and you’re encouraged to wear all white but it’s not compulsory.

Tickets are £55 per person. WA.

Bank | Book Tickets

For something more relaxed a “pubby”, try the Dartmouth Arms on New Years Eve in London. You’ll be welcomed with a cocktail and afterwards you can enjoy a four course meal including oyster, crab, caviar, duck, truffle and champagne. Your night will be filled with music played by different DJs including Nancy Noise (Future) and DDC regulars Neil Thornton and Dave Rose (Music Box Radio).Image of Dartmouth Arms by Design My Night

Dartmouth Arms

For something more relaxed a “pubby”, try the Dartmouth Arms on New Years Eve in London. You’ll be welcomed with a cocktail and afterwards you can enjoy a four course meal including oyster, crab, caviar, duck, truffle and champagne. Your night will be filled with music played by different DJs including Nancy Noise (Future) and DDC regulars Neil Thornton and Dave Rose (Music Box Radio).

Tickets are £85 per person. WA.

Tufnell Park | Book Tickets

London New Year’s Eve parties

Who doesn’t want to party on New Year’s Eve in London? Here are some parties you can crash. Definitely book your tickets in advance as the best ones always sell out fast.

Ballie Ballerson is a famous ball pit cocktail bar in Shoreditch. Yes, they actually have a huge adult ball pit that you get to play in. This year they are throwing a glitter and sequins NYE party. You can choose between pre-partying before midnight (between 5-9pm) and attending the Baller Experience and spending midnight with them. Expect buy-one-get-one free cocktails, a free glass of champagne at midnight, and if you go with their VIP ticket you’ll also get pizza.Image Courtesy of Ballie Ballroom

Ballie Ballroom

Ballie Ballerson is a famous ball pit cocktail bar in Shoreditch. Yes, they actually have a huge adult ball pit that you get to play in. This year they are throwing a glitter and sequins NYE party. You can choose between pre-partying before midnight (between 5-9pm) and attending the Baller Experience and spending midnight with them. Expect buy-one-get-one free cocktails, a free glass of champagne at midnight, and if you go with their VIP ticket you’ll also get pizza.

Tickets from £5.50 per person.

Shoreditch | Website

Whether you have been on this planet for a while and got to experience the 70’s IRL, or you were born a little too late but want to experience that decade, then Blame Gloria is for you. For New Year’s Eve, they’ve prepared a Studio 54 party, honoring the iconic exclusive NYC disco club from the 70’s. Dress appropriately for this trip back in time.Image Courtesy of Blame Gloria

Blame Gloria

Whether you have been on this planet for a while and got to experience the 70’s IRL, or you were born a little too late but want to experience that decade, then Blame Gloria is for you. For New Year’s Eve, they’ve prepared a Studio 54 party, honoring the iconic exclusive NYC disco club from the 70’s. Dress appropriately for this trip back in time.

Tickets from £15 per person.

Covent Garden | Clapham Junction | Website

If you’d prefer a more formal evening then check out the Masquerade Gala at the Hilton on Park Lane. You can choose to dine with a three-course dinner created by the Executive Head Chef Anthony Marshall, or you can just go to dance the night away. Either way, you must dress to impress in formal attire and masks are essential.Image Courtesy of Eventbrite

London Hilton on Park Lane

If you’d prefer a more formal evening then check out the Masquerade Gala at the Hilton on Park Lane. You can choose to dine with a three-course dinner created by the Executive Head Chef Anthony Marshall, or you can just go to dance the night away. Either way, you must dress to impress in formal attire and masks are essential.

Tickets from £85 per person. WA.

Mayfair | Book Tickets

Candlelight Club is London’s secret 1920’s party. They have no permanent venue and their events are literally lit by candles, to really set the ambiance. Their Candlelight Club New Year’s Eve event will be hosted somewhere in Central London and you’ll be able to experience the late 20’s before we enter the new 20’s. There will be live music and cabaret by Champagne Charlie and the Bubbly Boys, Charleston dance routines from the Gatsby Girls, and the fortune teller Lucius. The event attire is 1920’s glad rags, Great Gatsby style.Image Courtesy of Candlelight Club

Candlelight Club

Candlelight Club is London’s secret 1920’s party. They have no permanent venue and their events are literally lit by candles, to really set the ambiance. Their Candlelight Club New Year’s Eve event will be hosted somewhere in Central London and you’ll be able to experience the late 20’s before we enter the new 20’s. There will be live music and cabaret by Champagne Charlie and the Bubbly Boys, Charleston dance routines from the Gatsby Girls, and the fortune teller Lucius. The event attire is 1920’s glad rags, Great Gatsby style.

Tickets from £45 per person.

Central London | Website

Evolution is located in the heart of Battersea Park, where you can go for an all-inclusive New Year’s Eve ball with an Après Ski theme. Your ticket includes a four course dinner prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients; unlimited house beer, wine and soft drinks, a live DJ and disco, a late-night casino, photo booth, a free shuttle bus back to Victoria station after midnight, and much more. Expect gigantic Christmnas trees, fancy chandeliers, blizzards of snow, giant mirror balls, starlit ceiling and giant icicles.Image Courtesy of Evolution London

Evolution London

Evolution is located in the heart of Battersea Park, where you can go for an all-inclusive New Year’s Eve ball with an Après Ski theme. Your ticket includes a four course dinner prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients; unlimited house beer, wine and soft drinks, a live DJ and disco, a late-night casino, photo booth, a free shuttle bus back to Victoria station after midnight, and much more. Expect gigantic Christmnas trees, fancy chandeliers, blizzards of snow, giant mirror balls, starlit ceiling and giant icicles.

Tickets from £190 per person. WA.

Battersea | Website

If you can’t be bothered with formal attire or dressing for a certain decade then check the New Year’s Eve party at Skylight rooftop bar in Tobacco Dock. There will be a DJ, ice skating, delicious Alpine food and winter cocktails. The party will be hosted in their Alpine Ski Bar and the covered Pergola area, and you’ll get a glass of Moet champagne on arrival. If you have a group of you going, you can reserve a covered hut or igloo, which will include mulled wine, champagne, dinner and ice skating tickets.Image Courtesy of Skylight

Skylight Tobacco Dock

If you can’t be bothered with formal attire or dressing for a certain decade then check the New Year’s Eve party at Skylight rooftop bar in Tobacco Dock. There will be a DJ, ice skating, delicious Alpine food and winter cocktails. The party will be hosted in their Alpine Ski Bar and the covered Pergola area, and you’ll get a glass of Moet champagne on arrival. If you have a group of you going, you can reserve a covered hut or igloo, which will include mulled wine, champagne, dinner and ice skating tickets.

Tickets from £39 per person. WA.

Tobacco Dock | Website

For more ideas, Design My Night has a great resource of tons of events and things to do on New Years Eve in London.

Need some ideas for what to do in the rest of December? During this period the city is alive with tons of fun things to do, you won’t be out of options with activities like ice skating at the Natural History Museum, visiting the Southbank Center Winter Festival, or seeing the Christmas lights display or a theatre show

More ideas for what to do:

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Things to Do in London During the Christmas Season

By London Travel Tips, Winter in London 2 Comments

From early November until New Year’s Eve, London is one of the most festive cities in the world, so you’re pretty lucky if you’re visiting at that time of year.

To help you experience allll of the Christmas-y things to do in London (or choose just a couple that are to your own taste) I compiled this list to help you get in on the action like a true Londoner (spoiler alert: it’s not all about Winter Wonderland).

BTW… when you see WA this means that it’s wheelchair accessible.

Prefer to watch instead of read? A few of the activities mentioned below are featured in our Christmas in London YouTube series, so we’ve embedded the videos from the series into this post.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coFeKEUot4o

Christmas Markets

European cities are quite famous for their lovely little Christmas markets, and London gets in on that as well with some world-famous ones as well as lesser-known local favourites.

Check out our video on Christmas Markets:

Leicester Square Market

The touristy Leicester Square has a very festive market each year. It’s got everything that a traditional European market has, with stalls selling festive food, mulled wine and lots of gifts (some that are better than others). 

If you have little ones with you, pop into Santa’s grotto for a fun Santa spotting. There’s also a vintage Spiegeltent where you can see a Christmas-themed show. This year, they have the trailblazer La Clique, a global show that features the top talent from the worlds of circus, comedy and cabaret. 

Leicester Square | Website | Book Tickets | Visit from 12th November 2021 and 9th January 2022

Southbank Center Winter Festival

Every year along the Southbank is the pop-up Winter Festival, run by the Southbank Centre, the UK’s largest arts centre. Naturally, the festival’s most popular feature is its winter market, with its stalls lined up along the River Thames, and it’s got the usual stalls and spots to eat, drink and shop. 

But what makes the Winter Festival more special than the others is the arts and theatre programme. Along with plenty of free art and light installations all around the Southbank area, many winter nights will have at least one or two art exhibitions or musical performances you can get tickets for. Check the website to see what’s on when you visit.

Southbank | Website | Visit from 4th November 2021 and 2nd January 2022

This needs very little introduction, it’s a superfamous fair that happens every year (except last year due to you-know-what).  Located in Hyde Park, expect to browse over 200 Bavarian huts selling festive drinks, food and winter-themed gifts. There’s also plenty of fairground rides, an ice skating rink, karaoke area, and other activities, both free and ticketed. It’s free to visit Winter Wonderland during off-peak periods, and tickets go up to £7.50 for adults at peak times. Heads up here-- this is THE most famous Christmas-themed thing to do in London and therefore the crowds get absolutely insane. I recommend you keep reading for some, erm, better alternatives.Image Courtesy of Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

This needs very little introduction, it’s a superfamous fair that happens every year (except last year due to you-know-what).  Located in Hyde Park, expect to browse over 200 Bavarian huts selling festive drinks, food and winter-themed gifts. There’s also plenty of fairground rides, an ice skating rink, karaoke area, and other activities, both free and ticketed.

It’s free to visit Winter Wonderland during off-peak periods, and tickets go up to £7.50 for adults at peak times. Heads up here– this is THE most famous Christmas-themed thing to do in London and therefore the crowds get absolutely insane. I recommend you keep reading for some, erm, better alternatives.

Hyde Park | Website | Book Tickets | Visit from 19th November 2021 to 3rd January 2022

Greenwich Christmas Market

Greenwich Market is already a fantastically curated market any time of year, but around Christmastime it gets even better. Pop down on a December Saturday and you’ll find over 150 stalls with a beautiful selection of items for sale, like stocking fillers, original artwork, eco-friendly candles, handmade jewellery and more, with everything being British-designed-and-made.

Of course, once you’ve finished your shopping you can visit one of the many food stalls selling street foods or grab some mulled wine to warm you up.

Greenwich | Website | Visit on Saturdays in December 2021

Head to Kingston, a leafy suburb in south London for a winter-themed market in its popular market square. Food lovers can choose from bits like artisan cheeses and handmade baklava, and can shop for gifts like ornaments, art prints, or wool hats and gloves, all sold out of cosy winter cabins. #ShopSmall!Image Courtesy of Kingston

Kingston Christmas Market

Head to Kingston, a leafy suburb in south London for a winter-themed market in its popular market square. Food lovers can choose from bits like artisan cheeses and handmade baklava, and can shop for gifts like ornaments, art prints, or wool hats and gloves, all sold out of cosy winter cabins. #ShopSmall!

Kingston | Website | Visit from 18th November until 24th December 2021

 

Christmas-themed afternoon teas in London

Afternoon tea is a fun experience if you’re visiting London (us Londoners tend to reserve it for special occasions) and some of London’s best afternoon tea spots go all out on their winter or Christmas-themed teas once November and December roll around. Here are just a few of the stand-out teas.

Winter Wonderland afternoon tea at The Rubens at The Palace

Have your afternoon tea overlooking Buckingham Palace and in an old-school English-style hotel. Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Houghton, who was a finalist in 2021 Bake Off: The Professionals turns their traditional afternoon tea into a festive experience with a Winter Wonderland twist. And it includes bottomless mulled wine!

Price: £59.50 per adult. WA.

Westminster | Website | Menu | Available from  15th November until 23rd December 2021

Afternoon tea is a fun experience if you’re visiting London (us Londoners tend to reserve it for special occasions) and some of London’s best afternoon tea spots go all out on their winter or Christmas-themed teas once November and December roll around. Here are just a few of the stand-out teas.Image Courtesy of The Dorchester

Festive Afternoon Tea at the The Dorchester

Christmas at The Dorchester is a bit like an out-of-a-film experience, with the lineup of Christmas trees at the promenade, the sparkling lights, life-sized toys, and the tall piles of gold-wrapped presents.

The festive afternoon tea promises the same magical feelings with a live school choir performing traditional carols while you dine on freshly baked pastries, delicious scones and homemade jam.

Price: from £85 per adult. WA.

Mayfair | Website | Menu | Available every weekend in December 2021

Alpine Escape Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La in the Shard

Shangri-La hotel’s TING restaurant, being on the 35th floor of The Shard, western Europe’s tallest building, has some of the best restaurant views in the city (obviously). TING know how to do amazing themed afternoon teas in the sky and of course they pull out all of the stops for every festive season.

This year, the Alpine Escape festive tea brings an Austrian inspired Christmas to London, with freshly made savoury delights and baked scones, served with Austrian inspired pastries such as Black Forest Gâteux and Sachertorte. 

Price: £62 per adult, or £72 with a glass of champagne or a cocktail. WA.

London Bridge | Website | Available from 8th November 2021 until 27th February 2022

I’ve actually done an in-depth review of the Shangri-La afternoon tea which you can read about here or you can watch the video linked below:

 

Drinks

Love a drink? Yeah, me too. Especially when it’s a festive one, preferably surrounded by Christmasy fun. Here are some options for Christmas-themed drinks in London.

Queen of Hoxton

The Queen of Hoxton has created Alice in Winterland on their rooftop. Travel through the rabbit hole and into a world where anything can happen, and to help with that, try some of their signature cocktails, moreish food delights and even shisha.

Shoreditch | Website | Visit from 5th November

Miracle at Henrietta Hotel

Miracle at Henrietta features a 70’s inspired Christmas home with retro decorations and coloured light.  You’ll be transported back in time for a nostalgic festive season, which you can pair with one of Miracle’s signature cocktails.

Covent Garden | Website | Visit from 15th November until 23rd December 2021

Skylight at Tobacco Dock is bringing back their famous Canalside igloos and rooftop ice skating rink. They’ve also got an Après Ski Lodge, a Secret Speakeasy and a Cocktail Cinema experience, so you will definitely have plenty to do here. The cinema one is showing a fun selection of Christmas films for which their team of mixologists has designed a selection of cocktails to fit each movie theme.Image Courtesy of Skylight

Skylight at Tobacco Dock

Skylight at Tobacco Dock is bringing back their famous Canalside igloos and rooftop ice skating rink. They’ve also got an Après Ski Lodge, a Secret Speakeasy and a Cocktail Cinema experience, so you will definitely have plenty to do here. The cinema one is showing a fun selection of Christmas films for which their team of mixologists has designed a selection of cocktails to fit each movie theme.

WA

Tobacco Dock | Website | Visit from 5th November

 

Unique Christmas experiences in London

See London’s Christmas Light Displays

From November to early January, the city is beautifully decorated with thousands of Christmas light displays. For a fun and absolutely free thing to do in London, get walking about central London to take it all in and get in the festive mood without having to spend a penny.

To see all of the places you can spot Christmas lights around London, check out this article.

 

Besides the city lights, many of London’s most famous shops, department stores and restaurants also decorate their front windows, creating the most stunning Christmas windows displays that always end up being featured in articles for Grazia or CN Traveller.  Why not take a stroll around London and see them in the flesh? Some of our favourites are: Liberty London, Selfridges, Harrods, Pollock’s Toy Store, Hamleys, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum and Mason, The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Annabel’s, and all the shops along Bond Street.Image Courtesy of Liberty

Take a peek at the Christmas shop window and storefront displays

Besides the city lights, many of London’s most famous shops, department stores and restaurants also decorate their front windows, creating the most stunning Christmas windows displays that always end up being featured in articles for Grazia or CN Traveller.  Why not take a stroll around London and see them in the flesh?

Some of our favourites are: Liberty London, Selfridges, Harrods, Pollock’s Toy Store, Hamleys, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum and Mason, The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Annabel’s, and all the shops along Bond Street.

Go Ice Skating

We’ve got some incredible ice skating rinks here in London during the winter season, so book a ticket, pop on some skates and get gliding.

Here’s where you can do so…

Queen’s House Ice Rink 

The Queen’s House ice rink, as the name says, is at the Queen’s House in Greenwich.  Obviously, the Queen doesn’t actually live here, but the building is a 16th-century royal mansion used to display items from the National Maritime Museum’s collection.

From the ice rink, you can admire the Unesco World Heritage site, along with views of Greenwich Park to the south and Canary Wharf to the north, all surrounded by some of the best views in London.

Tickets from £15 for adults and £8.50 for children. WA.

Greenwich | Website | Book Tickets | Visit from 18th November 2021 until Sunday 9th January 2022 (except Christmas Day)

Set against the museum’s impressive Victorian building, the ice rink at the Natural History Museum is one of the most beautiful rinks in London. We even featured it in our London Colouring Book!  Unfortunately, after 16 years, 2021 will be the last season for the rink, as the museum will transform the space into a hub for urban wildlife as part of their national campaign to encourage people to nurture nature right on their doorsteps. Image Courtesy of Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Set against the museum’s impressive Victorian building, the ice rink at the Natural History Museum is one of the most beautiful rinks in London. We even featured it in our London Colouring Book

Unfortunately, after 16 years, 2021 will be the last season for the rink, as the museum will transform the space into a hub for urban wildlife as part of their national campaign to encourage people to nurture nature right on their doorsteps. 

Tickets start at £12.65. WA.

South Kensington | Website | Book Tickets | Visit from 22nd October 2021 – 16th January 2022

Somerset House Ice Rink

Skate at Somerset House returns again this year with a collaboration with the French fine winery Moët & Chandon, who curate the decorations for the famous 12-meter-tall Christmas tree, transforming the courtyard into a Christmas wonderland.

But what makes this one of London’s favourite winter experiences is the contemporary music playing during your skate session, the gourmet dining at the pop-up alpine restaurant Chalet Barragiste, or that you can indulge in some champagne and cocktails at the Skate Lounge by Moët & Chandon. High class, baby.

Tickets from £11.00. WA.

Somerset House | Website | Book Tickets | Visit from 17th November 2021 until 16th January 2022

Throughout December, head to Trafalgar Square to listen to some Christmas Carols performed live. Each group usually sings for around an hour and they collect donations to be given to charitable causes. While there, you can also see the 25-meter tall Christmas tree gifted by the Norwegians, an old tradition in recognition for Britain’s support during World War II. The tree is decorated with hundreds of lights, but it’s usually a point of contention for Londoners because, well… it’s sometimes a bit sad-looking! Go and see for yourself...Image Courtesy of Trafalgar Square

Listen to Christmas carols in Trafalgar Square

Throughout December, head to Trafalgar Square to listen to some Christmas Carols performed live. Each group usually sings for around an hour and they collect donations to be given to charitable causes.

While there, you can also see the 25-meter tall Christmas tree gifted by the Norwegians, an old tradition in recognition for Britain’s support during World War II. The tree is decorated with hundreds of lights, but it’s usually a point of contention for Londoners because, well… it’s sometimes a bit sad-looking! Go and see for yourself…

Trafalgar Square | Website | Visit throughout December 2021

See a Christmas theatre show in London

Why not do something a bit more culturally enriching? The famous West End theatre district puts on tons of incredible shows, including winter and Christmas-themed ones.

Nutcracker at the London Coliseum or Royal Albert Hall

Tchaikovsky’s famous score is played live with over 100 dancers and musicians. The story follows Clara who received an enchanted nutcracker as a present on Christmas Eve. They then embark on a journey together where they find a magical world.

Ticket from £10. WA.

London Coliseum | Website | Visit from 16th December 2021 until 8th January 2022

Royal Albert Hall | Website | Visit from 28th until 31st December 2021

Snowman is an adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ book explores the winter wonderland of a boy and a snowman that comes alive. A two-hour piece by Birmingham Repertory Theatre with an engaging mix of dance, live music, storytelling, and magic.Image Courtesy of Sadler’s Well Theatre

Snowman at the Sadler’s Well Theatre

Snowman is an adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ book that explores the winter wonderland of a boy and a snowman that comes alive. A two-hour piece by Birmingham Repertory Theatre with an engaging mix of dance, live music, storytelling, and magic.

Tickets from £18. WA.

Clerkenwell | Website | Visit from 20th of November 2021 until 2nd January 2022

Circus 1903 at Royal Festival Hall

One for the whole family, the Circus 1903 includes acrobats, contortionists, trapeze artists, a death-defying high-wire act and sensational life-sized elephants, created by the puppeteers behind War Horse. Take time to explore the Southbank Centre Winter Festival (mentioned earlier) before and after the show.

Tickets from £25. WA.

Southbank | Website | Visit from 16th December 2021 until 2nd January 2022

Visit one of London’s Parks

Almost every single public park in London is open during the festive season, so be very British and go for a brisk winter walk. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are a great combo for Central London, or head to East London and explore Victoria Park, frequently voted London’s best park by Londoners. Find out more about Victoria Park in the video below.

 

Religious things to do in London

Some things to do if you’d like to participate in religious ceremonies for Christmas.

Christmas Mass attendance is on a ticketed basis and this year they’ll be released on the 15th of November, with services and carols happening on the 23rd and 24th of December. This is a great way to participate in a special religious event and to see the interior of Westminster Abbey without having to pay for a ticket!Image Courtesy of Westminster Abbey 

Attend a Christmas Mass at Westminster Abbey

Christmas Mass attendance is on a ticketed basis and this year they’ll be released on the 15th of November, with services and carols happening on the 23rd and 24th of December. This is a great way to participate in a special religious event and to see the interior of Westminster Abbey without having to pay for a ticket!

Restricted WA.

Westminster | Website | Visit on the 23rd and 24th of December 2021

Attend the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

The festival tells the story of the birth of Jesus in this traditional service of carols, readings and music, complete with the Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields, led by the Vicar Revd Dr Sam Wells. 

Trafalgar Square | Website | Visit on 12th December 2021

If you’re spending the Christmas Day in London, then check out this blog post dedicated to special activities available only on Christmas Day, plus some important things to know about the city on that day.

Read next:

 

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Gifts for People Going to London

Gift Ideas for Anyone Visiting London in 2022 (who doesn’t want to be basic)

By London Planning Tips

Every year, I’ve published a “What to get someone visiting London next year” gift guide, and looking back, I think it’s catered to the “basic” traveler a little too much.

What’s a “basic traveler”? Well… he or she is someone who wants to do the usual. The major sights, the classic attractions, the areas of London that locals actively avoid.

If that’s you, or the person you’re getting a gift for, don’t worry, that’s fine! No hate here. In fact you should check out our previous gift guide because it should still be pretty helpful for that type of traveler. But over the last couple of years here at Love and London, we’ve shifted away from that. We want to help you see the other side of the city, the one with character, the one that Londoners rave about, the one that makes you say “I could totally see myself living here.”

So this year, because of that mission, and because we want to be supporting small businesses over the big guys as much as possible, this gift guide will be for the non-basics, and if you’re getting a gift for someone who fits this description, then you’ll absolutely grab some good ideas from this article.

Right… let’s talk gifts.

*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means if you purchase something after clicking it, I will earn a commission. This is at no extra cost to you and helps to support Love and London during a very difficult time.

Clothing to gift someone visiting London in 2022

There are two things that I think people would definitely appreciate being given as a gift in anticipation of their trip… a beautiful London-inspired jacket, and stylish-but-walking-friendly shoes.

London-approved jacket

For anyone visiting London in the spring or fall, a classic coat makes for a great gift, as receiving a nice new coat can feel quite luxurious, and of course, it helps keep your giftee warm, duh. If the visit is planned for summer, a light trench coat will work too, as evenings can still get quite cool.

This trench coat (shown above) from sustainable and ethical coat company Noize doubles as a vegan leather raincoat too.

Walking shoes for London

I am always searching for shoes that are comfortable for traipsing around London but that still look good and don’t ruin the planet. So over the summer I picked up a pair of Allbirds’s new flats and well, they are SO comfortable…

Best walking shoes for London

On top of that, they are made more sustainably than most shoes. The Women’s Tree Breezers are made with renewable eucalyptus tree fibers and have a Brazilian sugarcane outsole, which is made with the world’s first carbon negative green EVA.

Best presents to get to someone visiting London soon

For men, I’d recommend the Men’s Tree Loungers, a slip-on made with similar materials and again they are machine washable, so when they start to get smelly or dirty, just chuck ‘em in the wash.

Allbirds makes quite a few different types of comfy and sustainably-made shoes that are great for travel, so check out the Allbirds site for some more gift ideas. They also have a really great return policy in case your giftee isn’t a fan.

Want more London-friendly clothing and shoe suggestions? Check out the London Packing Guide, which also makes for a instant, affordable gift.

Make their flight or hotel stay more special

A little bit of luxury is SUCH a treat for someone with a big trip planned, so it would be such a lovely surprise to be gifted a flight upgrade or a more luxurious hotel stay than was originally expected.

If the giftee hasn’t booked their flight or hotel yet, this is your chance! Just make sure they don’t book anything before you actually get to give your gift.

If they HAVE booked it already, a flight upgrade might be a bit tricky if you aren’t on the booking yourself, but give the airline a call to see if there’s anything they can do to help you pay the difference for an upgrade from say, economy to premium economy.

The hotel is a bit easier, as you can likely call them directly, ask for the upgrade, and pay the difference via a payment form sent to your email.

Do something fun to “gift” this to your giftee… like print out a picture of the view from their upgraded room and put it in the card you give them on exchanging day.

If you want to book the hotel for them, I have some resources to help you find a great one.

This article gives suggestions for less touristy areas to stay in, and great hotels in those areas at different price points. Or find out which London hotels have their very own rooftop bars.

I have a whole video series sharing my stays at four different hotels in London, from budget up through to one of the most luxurious suites in London. Watch the whole series here on Youtube, and see one of the videos below.

Finally, if you happen to have the 3-Day London Itinerary, there are tons of great hotel recommendations in the London Hotel Guide, which you will have gotten if you opted for the bonus package.

Give them a unique London experience

Of course, one of the BEST things you can get someone traveling to London is an experience they can do while actually here. People ALWAYS get more out of experiences than actual physical items when it comes to receiving gifts.

There are two ways you can give an experience to someone… book it for them, or give them a gift voucher for it.

Book it for them

This option is best if you are traveling with the person you’re getting this gift for, as it requires no effort on their part and because well, you probably know their itinerary pretty well if you’re traveling with them.

Tours and activities

Book a tour or activity for you to do together, and then pop the confirmation page into a card and BOOM, you’ve got yourself an amazing gift.

Now, because your gift recipient isn’t into those boring ole generic London walking tours, let me help you out with some unique tours and experiences you could book that will impress them with your knowledge of off-the-beaten-path London.

Unique London experience, Tours and activities

Black History Walks

A ton of Britain’s history is completely whitewashed, and therefore, most tours don’t cover the actual reality of what happened. Enter Black History Walks, which does walking tours around the city that will open your eyes to various parts of Black Britain.

I once did a walking tour of Notting Hill, which was truly eye opening. I thought I knew Notting Hill inside and out but I learned SO much about the impacts that the Black community have had on the area.

See what tours are available on the Black History Walks website.

Women of London tours

Women of London tours takes guests around different areas of London and introduces them to the smaller and often missed tributes to the women who shaped London. They currently have two tours to choose from, one that covers women’s history around Westminster, and one about working women’s impact on East End history.

Book a tour with Women of London

Uncomfortable Art Tours

Due to the UK’s (frankly horrifying) colonial history, a huge portion of the artifacts displayed around London’s major museums were actually stolen by the Brits from various countries around the world. But… well you rarely read about that when you stroll around the British Museum reading their plaques…

So get clued up on the true history of the pieces with an Uncomfortable Art tour. They currently run at six sites: the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the Queen’s House (National Maritime Museum). You can even buy a “Display it Like You Stole It” badge on the tour, which is a call for museums to start being more honest about how their pieces were acquired.

Book an Uncomfortable Art Tour

Book a London Photo Session to get great pictures in London

London Photo Session

It’s so hard to get decent photos of the whole travel group when you’re dealing with cloudy skies, a stranger holding your (very expensive) camera, and people bobbing in and out of your shots.

If you want to have some professional-grade photos from your trip that you can frame and admire for years to come, gift your recipient a professional photo shoot. A photographer meets you and takes incredible photos of you with the London sights, without you having to worry about anything. Good photogs can even make rainy days look beautiful!

We work with a wonderful photographer named Ewa, and if you go through this page, you’ll find out how you can get extra photos by mentioning that we referred you.

There are of course a ton of other experiences and tours you can book as a gift for a London visitor, here are two articles that will give you more options:

12 Unique Experiences You Should Totally Try in London
11 Unique Tours to Take While Visiting London

Gift vouchers for London experiences

Ok so if you can’t book the tour or experience directly for them, that’s totally fine. Many indie tour operators and vendors sell vouchers, so you can pay for the experience for them but they can pick when they do it, or if they offer a few different tours, they can choose which tour they want to do.

Gift vouchers for London experiences

Eating Europe Food Tours

Eating Europe also does great food tours, they started in Italy and now have tours all over Europe and they now have multiple tours in London, including a cocktail tour around Soho and a food and street art tour around East London.

You can buy a gift voucher, called a “Flexi Pass” from Eating Europe, which has no expiration date and can be used all over Europe, not just London.

Get a Flexi Pass from Eating Europe

small businesses, tours and experiences in London

Other tours and experiences

With so many small businesses in London struggling this year, so many will be offering gift vouchers for future spending, including restaurants, shops, tour companies, experienced-based companies and more. So if your gift recipient has a few “must do’s” on their itinerary, check all of their websites to see if they’re offering gift vouchers, and I think you’ll be in luck.

Some other small vendors in London giving gift vouchers:

  • Women of London tours
  • Carousel – a venue with constantly rotating chefs from around the world putting on supper clubs. Great for discerning food lovers.
  • Hayman’s Distillery – head to London’s Balham to see how Hayman’s gin is made with a distillery tour.

Many of the experiences in this list of unique experiences to take in London link to a Virgin Experience Days page where you can buy vouchers for the experience suggested, so I recommend having a browse of that for more voucher ideas.

Gifts to Get Them Excited About Their Trip

Here are some things you can make or get your future London visitor to help build the anticipation for their trip.

11 Beautiful London Themed Coffee Table Books To Get
London-y books

No, not just any old guidebook for London… a beautiful coffee table book filled with both beautiful images and London info will help build the excitement for what they will see when here. It can then sit on their coffee or bedside table ready for them to browse as they wait for their trip to happen.

We’ve got a great list of the best London-related coffee table books, have a read and you’ll find at least a couple of lovely options for your giftee.

Or if you think they’d prefer something with less pictures and more words, there are tons of fiction and non-fiction books that are based in London and the UK that would be great to gift a bookworm. Give them a goal to finish them all before they head to the airport… book nerds love that kinda stuff.

We have two lists to help you with this:


3-Day London Itinerary

Your giftee would probably LOVE for a Londoner to sit down with them and give them a walkthrough of all of the best things to do in the city. You can give them the next best thing with the 3-Day London Itinerary, a digital itinerary made by a London expert (me) with a flexible plan for three days in the capital. It’s not completely linear, it has tons of options that will suit various different travel styles, tastes and budgets, so it’ll feel like your giftee has their very own custom itinerary.

The 3-Day London Itinerary  2021 version is available now, and we have an option to give someone a gift card to get their own 3-Day London Itinerary (Basic Package) or the Bonus Package (they can use it on future versions too!)

London Packing Guide or London Colouring Book

Need a little extra something to give? The London Packing Guide helps take the guesswork out of packing for such a big trip. It comes with a London weather guide, clothing and shoe suggestions (with links!), printable packing lists for each season, and more. Grab the London Packing Guide for just £9.99, or if you prefer you can give them a gift card to purchase their favourite products from our shop.

There’s also the London Colouring Book, which has a bunch of London-themed colouring pages which can be coloured in by printing them out or by uploading them to your iPad to colour digitally. The colouring book was illustrated by Jen and Jennifer, a local illustrator who’s also a friend of mine. Check out the London Colouring Book.

Popular to give as gifts in the UK, like gift baskets
Make a London-inspired food hamper

Hampers, or you might know them as gift baskets, are very popular to give as gifts in the UK, and you can pick up some very swanky ones depending on where you order from. I recommend making or buying one for your recipient, and filling it with English treats that they can enjoy before they’re able to make it over to London. Hopefully you’ll also get in on some of that snack action…

If you want to make a hamper yourself, find yourself a beautiful basket and load it up with English treats.

I’d recommend (with some links to where to order from if you’re in the US):

There are of course many other fun things you could add, like Christmas Pudding, English Sparkling Wine, English Cidre, and more.

If you’re like ermmmmm I don’t want to DIY a gift, iGourmet makes a “A Little Bit of Britain Gift Box” that does it all for you for $99. They have a couple of other British-themed options as well.

Or if you want to go PROPER London and super fancy, you can order a hamper from Fortnum & Mason in London. They are world-famous for their incredible hampers, with ones that go upwards of £1000. Their F&M hampers, the baskets themselves, are also collectors items.

Two Fortnum & Mason hampers that ship worldwide (not the only ones!):

Gifts to help preserve the London memories

How about a couple of cute things to help preserve the memories your recipient will make on their London trip?

Gifts to help preserve the London memories
Travel Journal

I love this cute travel journal made by an independent craftsperson on Etsy. It’s made with recycled paper and the cover is made from textile industry waste, so it’s incredibly eco-friendly. They can use the journal to record their experiences and thoughts after each day of their trip, so they can always remember the small details of it.

Get the journal on Etsy

Cute things to help preserve the memories made on your London trip
Keepsake box

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with all of the ticket stubs, flyers, and small items you accumulate on a trip that you can’t seem to toss in the trash as they’re associated with your amazing time away. Gift a lovely little box for them to keep those bits and bobs in for the next few years, and to help them remember all of the fun they had.

Get this Keepsake Box from Not On The High Street

Ok… I’ve given you a pretty good list. If you can’t find something for your London-loving giftee well then I might not be able to help you 😉 But again these gifts are great if you’re buying for someone that wants to avoid the overhyped and overdone, and who like GIFTS that are out of the ordinary too.

If you’re after something for someone who wants the touristy London, check out our previous gift guide.

Happy gifting and let me know how it goes!

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What to do in London on Christmas day

What to Do in London on Christmas Day 2021

By London Travel Tips, Winter in London 4 Comments

Visiting London on Christmas Day? This guide will help you figure out how to have a lovely 25th of December, despite closures and empty streets (which is actually very cool to see)!

*Some of the links in this article are affiliated, which means I may earn a small commission if you buy something after clicking. 

London transportation options on Christmas Day

It’s very important to note that the tube, trains and buses don’t run on Christmas Day. I recommend walking as much as you can, as you’ll enjoy a very quiet London that only happens once a year. Also consider going to one of London’s parks, or just walk around admiring the city’s architecture, outdoor artwork, and Christmas lights.

Traffic is also super light, so rent a Santander Cycle (Boris Bike) and cycle around the city in a way you’d never be able to do the rest of the year! Watch the video below to find out how they work.

You can also take Ubers and black taxis but just note that they’ll be limited in number, so give yourself extra time to call one, just in case it takes a little longer than usual.

Where to get a Christmas meal in London

Select restaurants and pubs will be open for Christmas lunch and/or dinner. Most places will have a set Christmas menu, and the offering on that menu, as well as price, will vary. Book early!

Here are some restaurants and pubs serving up Christmas meals in 2021:

Corinthia : 12:30 – 9pm, Price per person: Adults £225, Kids 4-13 £112.50. Christmas afternoon tea also available. Book a table

Kerridges’s Bar & Grill: noon – 4pm, Price per person: £250. Book Your Table

The Cinnamon Club: Christmas Day lunch from 12pm-5pm and dinner from 5.30pm from £125 pp, includes a sparkling cocktail on arrival along with a selection of side dishes and deliciously petite fours to round off your dining experience. Book a table

The Riding House Cafe: 11.30m – 4pm, £90 pp, includes a cocktail upon arrival and plenty of food. Book a table

Duck and Waffle:  Christmas day dining available: 11:30 am – 5 pm, £120 per guest and £45 children under 10. 

Benares: open from 12pm to 4pm, several menus from £75, £95 or £195 pp (email or call to book at table)

City Cruises will be doing a Christmas river cruise, which includes a Christmas lunch on board the boat while cruising the River Thames. (gluten free and veggie menu available on request, child-friendly)

Where to go to church on Christmas Day in London

Many churches and cathedrals around London host Christmas Day services, even the big ones like St. Paul’s Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral

There’s also a Christmas Day service at St Martins in the Field in Trafalgar Square. 

If you have a favourite church you’d like to worship at on Christmas Day in London, check the church’s website to see when services are being held.

Since public transportation is closed, I’d also recommend asking your hotel concierge about nearby churches and cathedrals that they know are having services that are within walking distance.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Where to get Christmas afternoon tea on Christmas Day

A few festive afternoon teas are available on Christmas Day too. Again, book ahead.

Afternoon teas on Christmas Day in London:

The Savoy

Corinthia

London attractions and activities open on Christmas Day

Unfortunately, not much is open beyond some restaurants and pubs. However, here are some options for things to do and see.

Go swimming in Hampton Pool

Hampton Pool is heated, and on Christmas Day they’re welcoming brave souls to go for a dip. Make sure you book tickets in advance!

Watch the Peter Pan Cup

If you’d rather watch some swimmers from the comfort of your down jacket and thick mittens, go watch the Peter Pan Cup. The Serpentine Swimming Club holds an annual swimming race (every year since 1864) in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. Show up at 9am to see these brave souls do their thing. 

Visit one of London’s incredible parks

All royal parks (which covers most of the major ones in London) are open on Christmas Day, so be very British and go for a brisk winter walk. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are a great combo for Central London, or head to East London and explore Victoria Park, frequently voted London’s best park by Londoners. Find out more about Victoria Park in the video below.

Go on a Christmas hop on hop off tour

Big Bus Tours has a special Christmas tour on Christmas Day. Book tickets here.

Go for a Christmas boat ride along the Thames

Even if you don’t want to go for the City Cruises’ Christmas lunch cruise you can still book yourself in for a classic Thames river sightseeing tour. Christmas Day on the River Thames… what a treat… 

Go ice skating at JW3

The Jewish Community Centre in London has an ice rink that’s open on Christmas Day. What a fun thing to do! It’s pretty popular so book your tickets as far in advance as you can.

Go experience spookily quiet London

There’s truly no day like Christmas Day in Central London, the quietest day of the year. So grab a Santander bike or just put on your decent walking shoes and explore the city while it’s in this almost spooky state. It’s GREAT for taking photos without crowds of people blocking the way. If you go at night, all of the Christmas lights can be enjoyed in the quiet too.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Enjoy Christmas Day in London! Be sure to tag @LoveandLondon and use #LoveandLondon on Instagram so we can see what you got up to around the city.