London is an amazing city to explore – I grew up visiting every school holiday and also I lived here while at uni. Even so, I’ve still not seen everything it has to offer.
The main attractions are great; you’ve gotta love the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and South Kensington’s great museums to name a few, but I’m still uncovering some truly weird and wonderful spots all over the city.
Perfect for return visitors or for those looking for something just a little different, here’s a taste of the quirkier attractions London has to offer…
1 – Take a quirky tour of London
Did you know you that there is a quirky walking tour in London? Run by Insider London, it gives you some cool insights into London, pointing out quirky things all over the city that you might otherwise miss.
You’ll discover Coco Chanel logos on lampposts, a 200-year-old toilet that’s been turned into London’s smallest nightclub and even get introduced to ‘Farting Lane’.
Piqued your interest? Well you can find out more in Laura’s post about all about her experiences on the walking tour!
2 – The Old Operating Theatre Museum
This museum houses Europe’s oldest surviving operating theatre. Opened in 1822, it predates anaesthetic – eek!
The Old Operating Theatre Museum is found in the attic of what was Old St Thomas’ Hospital’s church, dating back to the 18th Century. Make your way up the narrow spiral staircase to explore the museum, and even stand where the medical students once watched operations take place below.
The museum holds some ‘interesting’ events – for example at the weekends there are Victorian surgery talks where they demonstrate surgical procedures from the time (this is not recommended for small children!). There’s also a ‘gore tour’ where a historian runs you through the surgical implements used at the time. I’m feeling squeamish even thinking about it!
3- Explore an abandoned tube station
I was so excited when I found out that the London Transport Museum regularly holds tours around London’s disused tube stations. Led by experienced guides you’re told unusual and little-known stories surrounding the stations’ histories and it’s an amazing opportunity to explore locations rarely seen by the public.
These Hidden London tours take place throughout the year but tickets are limited so you have to get in quick in order for a chance to grab a spot.
At the time of writing upcoming tours include several station architecture tours, a visit to Euston’s lost tunnels and one its most popular tours – a chance to see inside the closed Aldwych underground station.
Used as a shelter during the Blitz and now regularly used for filming (Sherlock and Darkest Hour, for example) you get to visit ticket hall, the original lifts, abandoned platforms and tunnels, and inter-connecting walkways.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?!
4- Enjoy a quirky London afternoon tea
Classic afternoon teas abound in London and you can go for quintessentially English tea and scones at British XnamesX including The Dorchester, The Ritz and Fortnum and Mason. However, I personally think it’s much more fun to go for an unconventional themed afternoon tea.
The capital has loads of these on offer, with themes such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Fashion Week and even one aimed specifically at chocoholics! However, highlights for me include the Ampersand’s Science Afternoon Tea, the B Bakery afternoon tea bus tour and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Sanderson Hotel.
5 – Try your hand at urban axe throwing
Urban axe throwing has become my new favourite thing! I visited Whistle Punks for the first time last year and I’m hooked – even though I didn’t hit the target once!
Throwing hatchets is pretty darn cathartic and you get around an hour of trying your hand at this sport, with the guidance of some experts, who advise you on technique and even try to teach you some trick throws.
Put into groups, after some practice throws you get to take part in a mini tournament – and if you’re actually any good you might even get the chance to get a spot on the coveted Wall of Fame and go home with a Whistle Punks Pro t-shirt!
Interested in finding out more? Then check out my post.
6 – Visit a themed bar
London’s great for funky themed bars, so you’ve got to check one out during your city visit. One of the most interesting has to be The Bletchley, which is modelled on Bletchley Park, a covert government-run operation that enlisted some of the UK’s brightest minds to build a machine capable of doing the unthinkable: unlocking the Nazis’ undecipherable and impregnable battle codes.
At the modern day Bletchey you pay £34.99 to enter a cryptic world of cocktails, where you sit in the war room and input basic data into a cipher machine that will decode ‘personality’ into a small menu of ingredients. This coupled with odour and colour preferences will be all the clues you collect before using radio-style telephones to transmit the ingredients to the back office where a cohort of mixologists will expertly ‘map’ out the ingredients into perfectly proportioned recipes. At the end of the experience, you’re given an envelope that holds your tailor-made, highly classified recipes to take home.
One of the latest bars that people are getting excited about is Ziggy’s, which should be opening this month (September ’18). Found at the Hotel Café Royal, this is a bar dedicated to David Bowie and cocktails are named after lyrics from Ziggy Stardust songs. Tigers on Vaseline is described as a modern twist on the piña colada, while Darkness and Disgrace, which takes its name from Lady Stardust, is an espresso martini crossed with a rum flip. See you there!
Book your quirky London adventures
So there you have it, six of my favourite quirky London attractions. Have you visited any of these?
If you’re after some more quirky London inspiration, why not check out Encore Tickets? Alongside the classic tourist sights like St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and Hampton Court, you can also pick up tickets to attractions such as a medieval banquet, a speedboat journey on the Thames or themed bus tours focusing on everything from ghosts and Jack the Ripper through to Sherlock Holmes and afternoon tea!
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This post was written in collaboration with Encore Tickets.