comedy clubs london

Fancy a Giggle? Here Are the Top Comedy Clubs in London

There’s nothing better than the live experience of comedy – guffawing with friends and family, cheeks and faces aching from all the laughing and smiling, then sharing those funny moments again afterwards together, because you ‘had to be there’. London’s comedy scene is thriving, so where better to enjoy a hysterical night out with a wide and eccentric array of venues to choose between.

Rambunctious hilarity abounds with national, international and newbie comedians to suit every taste. There are plenty of options for tickets that include dinner, from your basic pub fare to international cuisine. You can even party on into the night, with some venues also hosting nightclubs.

Here are twelve of the finest comedy clubs the capital has to offer.

  1. 99 Club, Leicester Square

Hosting high quality comedy seven nights a week, The 99 Club has won Best London Comedy Club (Chortle Awards) for the past eight years in a row. The club features acclaimed international comedians, including those from shows such as Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, and Have I Got News For You. The usual format at Leicester Square is three comedians per night for a reasonable £10-£15 given the high level of talent.

If you want to splash out and make an evening of it, you can also purchase food at the venue with good quality ‘pub style’ food (burgers, pasta, salads and classic desserts such as cheesecake or brownie). You can end the night dancing in the nightclub at the same venue. The 99 Club also runs comedy at other venues in Covent Garden and Soho.

Info: 7 days per week, Ruby Blue, 2nd Floor 1 Leicester Place, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7BP

Leicester Square

  1. Live at the Chapel, Union Chapel

The architecturally stunning Union Chapel is the most beautiful venue to enjoy comedy gigs. As it hosts many different kinds of events – from music gigs to actual church services – comedy is usually only found here once a month. But it’s well worth waiting for, with innovative supporting comedians and big-name headliners, plus a top-notch live band to add even more atmosphere.

Food-wise you can support social justice issues whilst eating at the Margins Cafe, with profits going to The Margins Project (based at the Chapel) working with people who face issues of homelessness and crisis. You can even sample the Chapel’s own beer – the 1877 Union Chapel Pale Ale – at the licensed bar, or grab yourself some sweeties, a Tunnock’s teacake and a nice cup of tea from the gorgeously old-fashioned kiosk.

Info: Monthly gigs, Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN.

  1. Hoopla Impro, London Bridge

If you like comedy that is spontaneous, dynamic and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, then why not try Hoopla Impro, featuring the best in improvised comedy in London. You’ll find a huge array of styles, from short-form games, improvised plays, musical inspired comedy, and stand-up routines. Experimental is the order of the day, and there’s plenty of opportunity to try out this style with free tickets being offered for many events, and others at a very reasonable £10 or less.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a comedian? Hoopla also offers improv beginner classes and workshops, plus ‘improv jams’ so you can test out your own gags on the fly.

Info: Mon to Sat, Hoopla’s London Improv Comedy Club at The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London Bridge, London, SE1 3SS. Sundays only: The Comedy Pub, 7 Oxendon St, London SW1Y 4EE. Check the website for additional shows at other venues.

  1. Old Rope Comedy Club at the Phoenix, Cavendish Square

Featuring brand spanking new and innovative comedy, Old Rope is a weekly night where comedians test out their latest material. There’s a good mix of established names and up-and-coming talent, with the night being hosted by Tiff Stevenson (Mock the Week, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 out of 10 Cats) in this West East pub. And the noose that hangs over the stage during the show? If their new gags are sinking like a lead balloon, comics can grab the noose and rely on their more tried-and-tested material to get them through.

Info: Monday nights, The Phoenix 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0PP

  1. Comedy Carnival, Leicester Square and Covent Garden

If you’re after no nonsense big names on the comedy scene – such as those from Live at The Apollo and Mock the Week – then Comedy Carnival won’t disappoint. Shows run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Leicester Square and on Saturday nights in Covent Garden. There are plenty of food options to choose between with dinner ticket deals including Pizza Express Covent Garden, fine dining at the Sicilian Enzo’s Kitchen or Peruvian Leicester Square Kitchen.

Info: Thurs, Fri and Sat nights at Leicester Square: Bar Rumba, 36 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7EP. Saturdays at Covent Garden: Seven Dials Club, 42 Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9LA

london covent garden

  1. The Boat Show, Victoria Embankment

If you’re taking a trip to the London Eye then why not spend the evening at a floating comedy club, to enjoy a more unusual venue. Established over 20 years ago, The Boat Show takes place in a gorgeous refurbished paddle steamer permanently moored just opposite the London Eye. You’ll get a number of comedians at each show – usually three with an MC – so there’s good variety, and many of the names are well-known on the UK and International scene, including those from top TV comedy shows.

On Tuesdays, The Boat Show features ‘The Guinea Pig Club’ where you can sample new material from both established and new comedians with at least seven acts performing. For under a tenner, it’s seriously good value. At the weekend, your ticket price also includes the after-show Popworld nightclub, so you can end the evening dancing your socks off. Dinner deals are also available with classic pub food fare.

Info: Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturday nights. The Boat Show, Tattershall Castle, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2HR

london eye

  1. Angel Comedy Club, Islington

Angel Comedy is all about the sheer joy of comedy. This is a comedy club run by comedians and there to support comedians, with an aim to offer high quality, innovative and experimental comedy with no admission charge – all totally free. The emphasis is on how comedy really can be embedded in the local community, so it’s a project with a lot of heart.

The Camden Head in Islington is the main venue where the club began – in a room above the pub – and its reputation as London’s most beloved comedy gig means shows there are always packed out, seven nights a week. Get there early to avoid disappointment.

Angel also has a new and exciting venue – they’ve bought the lease on a pub called the Bill Murray (see their successful kickstarter campaign for the inspiring story) – and have big dreams to transform this into a base for comedians to come together to rehearse and work together. At the Bill Murray, they have a diverse programme of events (note admission charges apply at this venue) including comedy courses and community projects.

Info: Seven nights a week (free admission) at The Camden Head 2 Camden Walk, London, N1 8DY and seven nights a week (varied admission charges) The Bill Murray, 39 Queens Head Street, London, N1 8NQ

  1. Soho Theatre

This longstanding venue for innovative theatre, comedy and cabaret provides outstanding access to stellar comedians in a purpose-built theatre setting. Unlike most comedy clubs, the Soho Theatre lends itself better to single comedian events (rather than the usual three or more turns in an evening), so you get the chance to immerse yourself in the weird and wonderful world of a comic for a full evening.

Soho Theatre is a charity and social enterprise, and the focus is on supporting high quality work and nurturing up-and-coming talent, with artist development being high on their list of priorities. So there’s a rich mix to choose between from highly touted newbies to Edinburgh favourites, and more. The bar at Dean Street offers a great range of drinks – including gluten-free, vegan, alcohol-free and low-alcoholic options – and food-wise there’s light fare on offer, such as ciabattas, salads and snacks.

Info: Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE

soho theatre

  1. The Comedy Store, Soho

A review of the top comedy clubs in London wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the bastion of comedy talent, the Comedy Store. Established forty years ago, in a room over a strip club in Soho, it now has a purpose-built venue with over 3,500 visitors each week. The ‘recently played’ list is a who’s who of national and international comedy superstars, with this venue being a ‘rite of passage’ into the big league of comedy.

If you like sharp, uncensored and topical comedy, try the ‘The Cutting Edge’ regular show every Tuesday night, featuring a panel of famous comedians taking on issues from the week’s news. Wednesdays and Sundays also feature wickedly funny improvisation from highly skilled Comedy Store Players. A must for any comedy fan.

Info: Most nights, The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, London, SW1Y 4EE

  1. Knock2bag, Hackney and Bethnal Green

Whilst this venue also hosts high-level comics, there’s more eccentricity, innovation and surrealism here, with a wider range of comedic styles than in some other venues. Knock2bag also host ‘Cardinal Burns presents…’ – what they describe as an ‘impulsive’ and ‘anything goes’ show hosted by Channel 4 stars Dustin Demri-Burns and Seb Cardinal. The show had a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 and regularly sells out, so get your tickets early. For all things wild and whimsical, you can’t go wrong with Knock2bag.

Info: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Moth Club, Old Trades Hall, Valette Street, E9 6NU and Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA

  1. Up the Creek, Greenwich

Once known for its ruthless crowd who accept nothing but the best, Up the Creek is an iconic venue offering premium comedy, establishing its reputation as a classic London comedy club. From touring shows to club gigs, there’s a good range of comedy of high quality here.

On Thursday nights they’ve developed the open mic format into an exciting, interactive comedy evening called ‘The Blackout’. Featuring 15-17 comedians, they each get two minutes on stage to wow the audience, three of whom are given a ‘blackout card’. If all three hold up their cards, the stage is plunged into darkness and the comedian has to leave. If the comedians survive, they get a full five minutes and have ‘beaten the Blackout’!

Food and drink here is great – Roxburgers provides a gorgeous selection of burgers, including veggie and vegan options, and you can get freshly brewed craft beer from independent microbrewery Greenwich Brewery. Shows run on Wednesdays to Sundays in the evening and after the comedy is done, you can get on the dance floor and enjoy busting some moves to classic hits until 2am.

Info: Wednesday to Sunday evenings, Up the Creek, 302 Creek Rd, London, SE10 9SW

Up the Creek comedy club

  1. Banana Cabaret Club, Balham

Banana Cabaret Club is a respected and well-loved comedy club that’s hosted classic comedians for the past thirty years, and is still going strong in the iconic round Club room at The Bedford. There’s everyone from comedy superstars, to touted newbies and those on the touring circuit, with an annual Comedy Festival in July. The nine-day Festival features star turns testing out their material before the Edinburgh Festival and the touring circuit starts, so it’s as fresh and new as you can get.

The Bedford’s restaurant serves delicious gastropub fare, which is a step above the usual burger and fries comedy combo. Banana Cabaret is noted for a friendly, welcoming and unpretentious attitude, and that carries on with dancing post-show until 2am.

Info: Fridays and Saturdays, The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HD

From big name superstars to up-and-coming newbies, improv and topical to surreal and hard-hitting, there’s a comedy show in London for everyone. To explore London in all its glory, contact the experts Premium Tours to discuss our extensive range of exciting tours.

st pauls cathedral london

The Ultimate Guide to St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is easily one of the most recognisable landmarks on the London skyline, as the historic church and its iconic dome rise high in the centre of the city.

The cathedral has been the focus of Christianity in London since the 6th century AD. However, St Paul’s went through many different designs and suffered destruction and fires before the dramatic church you see today, which was built by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

St Paul’s Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London. While it’s very much a functioning, working Anglican church, it’s also become one of the capital’s most important tourist attractions and sees millions of visitors every year.

That means that the church can get busy, but with our ultimate guide to St Paul’s Cathedral you’ll be equipped with the best insider tips and tricks to beat the crowds. Discover the best times to visit, how to buy tickets, and you might even learn a few quirky pieces of history, too.

st pauls cathedral

Where Is St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Paul’s Cathedral is located in the City of London, in the centre of the capital. The cathedral is built on Ludgate Hill, one of London’s most prominent hilltops. Given its central location, St Paul’s is easy to travel to.

Driving in the city or even taking a taxi is inadvisable, but public transport to St Paul’s is convenient, although, in peak times both the underground and buses can be busy. The nearest tube station is St Paul’s, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral. As soon as you exit the station, you’ll quickly spot the dome towering over the surrounding buildings. St Paul’s tube stop is found on the Central Line, in Zone 1.

The nearest train station is the City Thameslink Railway Station, which is just a short stroll away and has several entrances around Ludgate Hill. There are services across the city and further afield to places such as Gatwick and Luton Airports.

There are also plenty of nearby bus stops giving quick access to the cathedral. You can also join a classic Hop on Hop off sightseeing tour and jump off by St Paul’s, before exploring the rest of London’s best attractions too.

The Best Time to Visit St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is open all year round, although sightseeing is restricted during important religious holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. Tourists are allowed to visit the cathedral from Monday through to Saturday. However on Sundays, the cathedral is only open to worshippers and sightseeing is not permitted.

Throughout the day, there are several services held for worshippers within the cathedral, and there are different special events held in the evenings too, such as choir recitals or organ performances. You can check the St Paul’s Cathedral website for details of any upcoming events.

The cathedral is open to visitors from 8.30am, with the last entrance being allowed at 4.00pm. The first service for worshippers is the morning prayer, which is held at 7.30am each day.

If you can, then you’ll want to get here early. Arrive after the first prayer to beat the crowds, and to give you maximum time to explore before any large coach tours might arrive later in the day.

If you arrive late in the day and find that there’s a large queue, you might risk being turned away if you’re still waiting once the last entrance time has passed, so give yourself plenty of time if you plan on visiting in the afternoon.

In summer when London is in the middle of its peak tourism season, the cathedral can be particularly busy, but it does stay open for an hour longer, with last entrance moved back to 5.00pm.

london st pauls

How Much Does It Cost to Visit St Paul’s Cathedral?

While worshippers may join services in the cathedral for free, if you really want to explore everything within St Paul’s, you’ll need to purchase a sightseeing ticket. This will give you access to many different areas during opening times.

Tickets can be purchased on the door or in advance online. It’s recommended to buy your ticket online if you can, as you get a small discount and are given fast track entrance into the cathedral, allowing you to skip the worst of the queues.

As of spring 2019, adults pay £17 online or £20 on the door. A child’s ticket costs £7.20 online or £8.50 on the door. If you are a family, then there are different family tickets on offer that can help you to save money, while there are also special rates for students and senior citizens.

A Brief History of St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the capital’s oldest places of religious worship, although throughout history several different buildings have stood on this hilltop in the centre of the City of London.

For centuries, St Paul’s was the tallest building in London, and its dramatic dome and spires could be seen rising high above the skyline from almost anywhere in the city. It was only in 1967 when modern skyscrapers began to become a feature of London, that other buildings took over the cathedral in terms of height.

It’s thought that there may have been a Roman temple on the same hilltop where the cathedral now stands, although evidence for this is shaky. What is known is that the first Christian church was built on Ludgate Hill in 604 AD. This church was dedicated to St Paul the Apostle. Ever since, subsequent churches or cathedrals in this spot have always been dedicated to this important Christian figure.

When the Normans conquered England, they built a new, much grander cathedral on the hill, which is generally known as Old St Paul’s. Many fires would cause damage and the need for rebuilding and redesign throughout the cathedral’s life, before it was burnt to the ground in 1666.

The architect Sir Christopher Wren designed the elaborate cathedral you see today, with the first service in the new St Paul’s held three decades after the fire, in 1697.

st pauls

Facts About St Paul’s

  • Until 1967, St Paul’s was the tallest building in London, measuring up to 111 metres in height.
  • St Paul’s is an Anglican Cathedral and the seat of the City of London’s Bishopric.
  • Many important historical characters have had their funerals held here, including the likes of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as the cathedral’s architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral is designed in the shape of a cross, and it’s the second largest religious centre in the United Kingdom and the largest in London.

What to See at St Paul’s Cathedral

The Cathedral Floor

When you first step through the entrance of St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll be instantly mesmerised by the beautiful sight of the cathedral floor. This is the main corridor of the cathedral, where you’ll find pews, ornate sculptures and intricate artwork. At the far end, there’s a lavish altar where services are conducted.

Look up from ground level and you’ll be able to see spectacular designs on the ceiling and the dome rising up above the cathedral, which is supported from below by huge, stone pillars.

The High Altar

St Paul’s high altar is the main focus of many religious ceremonies in the cathedral. Walk along the floor, under the dome, and continue past the choir and you’ll find the intricate designs of the altar at the far end of the cathedral.

While the cathedral has had many different altars throughout its history with many being very humble, wooden tables, the current high altar gleams and shimmers in gold. The altar dates only to 1958, as the previous one was destroyed by German bombing during World War II.

The Dome

The dome is the most iconic part of the cathedral’s design, and this massive structure turned St Paul’s into a dramatic feature of the London skyline. The dome is over 80 metres tall and 30 metres wide, and weighs over 60,000 tonnes, while it consists of both an inner and outer component.

The inner dome can even be climbed, with a total of 528 steps leading to the top. Along the way, you’ll pass through the three famous galleries within the dome, the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery. There are platforms built on the outer dome that you can access through the galleries, and that offer exceptional views over the rest of London.

london st pauls cathedral

The Whispering Gallery

The Whispering Gallery is the first gallery that you’ll encounter on your climb to the top of the dome.

You’ll need to tackle 259 steps from the cathedral floor to reach the gallery, which is named for its marvellous acoustics that allow you to hear even the faintest of whispers from afar.

The Whispering Gallery offers great views of the floor below and is one of the most famous parts of the cathedral.

The Stone Gallery

Above the Whispering Gallery, more steps lead upwards to the Stone Gallery. 378 steps lead from the cathedral floor to this gallery, where you’ll find a beautiful terrace.

That terrace extends around the exterior of the dome, and you’ll be treated to a 360-degree view if you walk around the circumference.

The Golden Gallery

The Golden Gallery is found at the top of the dome. Although it’s the smallest of the three major galleries, it’s arguably the most spectacular.

This gallery offers the best view out over London, as you’ll be atop the highest point in the cathedral, and will have the best panorama of the city.

The Crypt

After heading high up to the top of the dome, on your return to ground level it’s time to go below the cathedral. St Paul’s was designed with a large crypt beneath its floor, and it’s here that you’ll find the grave of Sir Christopher Wren, who made those designs as the cathedral’s architect.

This is the largest cathedral crypt in Europe, and it’s the resting place of some of Britain’s most well-known and important historical figures including Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.

Oculus

In the crypt, you can find one of the latest additions to St Paul’s Cathedral. The Oculus is a unique multimedia experience that allows you to see first-hand the development and history of the cathedral through the ages.

On a 270º large television screen, you can watch the history of St Paul’s unfold before you. You’ll be transported from the early churches to the great fire of 1666, before seeing Sir Christopher Wren’s design and construction of the cathedral you see today, and its iconic survival and symbolism during the Blitz in World War II.

cathedral st pauls

Insider Tips When Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral

  • Arrive early to beat the crowds, and purchase your ticket online to not only save money but to skip the queues with fast track entrance to St Paul’s.
  • Join a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour if you are pressed for time in London, and want to see all the best sights, quickly. St Paul’s Cathedral will always be a stop, and you’ll learn some interesting history while you’re on the bus.
  • If you don’t fancy paying the entrance price, then you can join a service in the cathedral, but you won’t have access to all the other, unique areas in St Paul’s.
  • For a totally free and spectacular view of St Paul’s and the iconic dome from the outside, then head to the nearby shopping centre at One New Change, where you can find a rooftop terrace that’s open to the public and that offers an unrivalled panoramic of the cathedral.
  • Audio tours in a variety of different languages are included in the ticket price. Just remember to pick up your audio guide at the entrance.
  • Free tours are also provided throughout the day by knowledgeable staff, but you’ll need to book on when you arrive, as places are always limited.

As London specialists, we offer a superb range of London tours, many of which involve a trip to iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. We visit the cathedral early to avoid large crowds and offer fast-track entry. To find out more or to book your London tour, contact Premium Tours today.

fish and chips london

These Are the Best Places for Fish and Chips in London

Since the 1930s when there were over 35,000 fish and chip shops in the UK, trends in takeaway food have definitely changed. Now, with about 10,500 chippies in the UK there are more opportunities to try other types of takeaway food. But, let’s be honest, nothing beats fish and chips. Even just reading about them makes you want to go out and get some for your dinner, doesn’t it?

Although the UK would like to claim fish and chips as its own, it’s thought that the French were the first nation to fry cut-up potatoes in oil to make chips. And back in the 1800s, Jewish immigrants from Portugal and Spain coated fish in flour then fried it.

Fish and chips are a billion dollar industry in the UK, and to keep up with the competition they’re moving with the times. Chippies are all grown up now, and nowhere more so than in innovative London.

Little beats fresh fish in perfect light batter complemented by crispy, fluffy chips. If you’re heading to the capital, we’ve put together the definite guide to the best fish and chip shops in London. Just make sure you’ve got some stretchy trousers with you!

fish and chips

Olley’s Fish Experience, Herne Hill

Olley’s Fish Experience is the only chip shop in London to make the top ten in the 2019 National Fish and Chip Awards. Located opposite Brockwell Park, they’re in the perfect spot to people-watch while munching your fish and chips.

Olley’s are committed to ethically sourcing the best fish around. Not only do they sell classic fish and chips, they also have a range of other seafood including scampi and mussels, all served with the obligatory mushy peas!

Olley’s is named after the Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist, which contains the first known mention of a fish shop in 1839, calling it a ‘fried fish warehouse’.

Poppie’s, Camden, Spitalfields and Soho

With three locations in London, Poppie’s is named after its owner, Pat ‘Pop’ Newland, who has been in the fish and chip trade since 1952. The shops use fish caught on day boats by third generation Billingsgate fishmonger and friend Joe Bush, while their chips are peeled and sliced on site. No frozen chips here! Serving all the classics including fish suppers, jellied eels and sticky toffee pudding at their retro-style restaurants, this a standout choice when you’re seeking fish and chips in London.

‘Poppie’s is to fish and chips what Muhammad Ali is to boxing – the greatest!’ Pat Newland.

Kerbisher & Malt, Brook Green and Market Hall Victoria

With two outlets and a food truck, there’s no excuse not to try Kerbisher & Malt’s contemporary fish and chips.

They peel and cut their own potatoes then double fry them, giving their chips the perfect crunchy outside and fluffy inside.

If you’re in the mood for something different, try their sustainable mussels in a cream, white wine, leek, onion and garlic sauce, which are, naturally, served like the French with a pile of chips!

You can wash it all down their very own Kerbisher Pale Ale.

fish and chips restaurants

Golden Union Fish Bar, Soho

Open since 2008, Golden Union is a no-frills chippie dedicated to providing the best quality fish and chips in London. They claim that cleaning their oil up to eight times a week gives them the edge over their competitors.

Their fish is delivered fresh daily from sustainable British waters, with their cod and haddock hailing from Peterhead in Scotland. Their potatoes come from the Fenlands of East Anglia.

Homemade pie and chips is also one of their specialties.

Toff’s, Muswell Hill

Toff’s in Muswell Hill is always busy, but it’s definitely worth the wait at this award-winning chip shop.

It’s old school fish and chips at its best, with all the usual suspects like cod, haddock, plaice and skate on the menu. They’ve been open since 1968, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their craft. They also do a cracking fish soup!

Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack, Soho and Fitzrovia

Don’t be fooled by the laid-back seaside vibes at this fish and chip shop; the food at Bonnie Gull’s is top class. Try their beer battered North Sea haddock cooked in Japanese tempura batter, accompanied by crispy, beef-dripping chips and homemade ketchup – you won’t be disappointed. Open every day between 4pm and 6pm, come for ‘Bonnie Hour’ where you can slurp £1 oysters, £5 Prosecco and £6 cocktails. What’s not to love?

oysters

Sutton and Sons, Stoke Newington, Hackney and Islington

Serving traditional food with a modern twist in their three locations, Sutton and Sons have specialties like Cromer crab and Maldon oysters alongside the usual classics. Don’t forget to add a serving of Mrs Sutton’s famous homemade pickled quail eggs, picked red onions or balsamic baby shallots.

These guys also have a vegan chip shop with a full vegan menu, including their innovative take on fish and chips using banana blossom as one of the ingredients to make their ‘fish’.

If you’ve got room after your meal, why not try their classic Scottish speciality: deep-fried Mars Bar or Snickers Bar!

Fish House, Victoria Park Village

Perfectly located across the road from Victoria Park, Fish House is certainly not your average fish and chip shop.

Some of their offerings include fish finger sandwiches, fish tacos and loaded fries. But don’t worry, they still have good old-fashioned fish and chips served with homemade coleslaw, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Fish Lounge, Brixton

Fish Lounge in Brixton isn’t a big place, but it is perfectly formed! The shop is spotless and welcoming, the staff are friendly, and the fish and chips are perfection. With a delicate crispy batter and big fat fluffy chips, you can takeaway or dine in at the few tables they have out the back. They don’t have a license, but you can bring your own wine (with no corkage charge) or enjoy your dinner with a big mug of tea!

Join them every Monday for gluten-free fish and chips.

Hook, Camden

Originating from a market stall in Dublin in 2011, Hook brings a fresh look to fish and chips.

Using only sustainable small fisheries and day boats to supply them with all their fish, you’ll love their creative take on fish and chips, with fish cooked in panko breadcrumbs and served with seaweed salted chips with homemade tartar sauce. For something a little different, you can order a mix of their three small plates including fish tacos, sea bass pancakes and calamari hot rings.

You won’t find any plastic around here either. Even the takeaway cutlery is made from biodegradable cornstarch.

fish! Borough Market

You know the saying – if you want the freshest produce, eat at the market. Well fish! in Borough Market, is no exception.

Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, their motto is still the same as when they opened their doors: ‘best quality fish, cooked in front of you, in simple and classic ways’

Their amazing restaurant started life as a Victorian pea-shelling warehouse. Take your pick to sit out on the heated terrace or at the counter watching the chefs at work, and sample some of the freshest fish and chips in London.

borough market fish

The Fish House of Notting Hill

The Fish House at Notting Hill offers old school fish and chips close to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Open all day for takeaway or sitting in, they have plenty of different fresh fish to choose from and excellent portion sizes. Make sure you add a serving of their famous mushy peas and pickled onions.

Fish Central, Clerkenwell

Still the same as when they opened in 1968, Fish Central is a homely fish and chip restaurant that’s always busy, and for good reason. Serving traditional fish and chips for those in the mood, they also have a more unusual range of fish dishes, including sardines and chargrilled squid. They serve a classic fish supper and a three-course dinner, which is prawn cocktail, cod or haddock with chips, and a choice of dessert. If you’re looking for a genuine, unpretentious restaurant, don’t go past Fish Central.

Masters Superfish, Waterloo

Masters Superfish is your typical no frills chippie in the heart of London. It’s welcoming, clean, well priced and the service is great. Oh and it goes without saying, the fish and chips are excellent! They offer takeaway and dine it; if you choose the latter, your meal will come with a serving of bread and butter. This is a true London gem.

North Sea Fish Restaurant, Bloomsbury

Not only is North Sea Fish Restaurant famous for its fish and chips, it’s also one of the landmarks cabbies in London need to know in order to pass their Knowledge test. Taxi drivers get discounts here, so you’ll always see a line of black cabs out the front!

Established in 1977 by Ian Beauchamp, the restaurant is now run by one of his sons, and it continues to serve great fish and chips.

All the classics are here and your meal comes with limitless chips! Try the onion rings they are a standout. Make sure you book a table though, as it’s always busy.

Oliver’s, Belsize Park and Whetstone

The owner of Oliver’s, a Mediterranean-influenced fish and chip shop, wanted to combine fresh, fun Mediterranean food with traditional fish and chips. Here you can choose from original fish and chips or try one of their specialities, like the open ciabatta grills, which is tuna, sea bass or salmon served on a warm ciabatta roll with a house salad, dressing and a handful of chips.

A good selection of wines makes this an excellent spot for lunch or dinner.

If you can’t be bothered going out, you can order online and have your meal delivered.

fish and chips uk

Seafresh, Pimlico

Seafresh opened in 1965, so they’ve had plenty of practice making great fish and chips. Their fish and shellfish is hand picked daily from the famous Billingsgate Market, and their potatoes come from the same source they first used when they opened over 50 years ago. Depending on the weather, they either use Maris Piper or Spanish Agria, which are both considered to be the best potatoes for making the perfect chips.

Their menu isn’t fussy, but I guarantee you’ll have trouble choosing because everything sounds fantastic!

The Sea Shell of Lisson Grove, Marylebone

Close to some of London’s most famous landmarks like Lords Cricket Ground, Madam Tussauds and The London Zoo, The Sea Shell has been serving fish and chips for over sixty years.

Freshly made, generous portions and good service are what they’ve built their reputation on. You won’t be disappointed if you head there for lunch or dinner.

They also offer something different if you are looking for a healthy option. You can have your fish grilled and served with new potatoes or with a side salad. But, just so you know, chips are bottomless when ordered with a main course!

The Chipping Forecast, Notting Hill and Soho

You have to visit The Chipping Forecast just because of its great name!

Their main focus is on sustainable fishing, and they guarantee from hook to plate in 48 hours, with each fish able to be traced back to the ship and fisherman that caught it.

The restaurants are all about a relaxed, casual dining experience. As well as the usual suspects, they have a few different dishes like Lobster and Crab Mac and Cheese, Fish Finger Sandwiches, and Fish Pie.

Obviously, everything comes with a serving of hand-cut, triple-cooked chips, deep fried in beef dripping for the ultimate chip experience!

As you can see, London has a superb range of fish and chips, whether you’re hankering after a traditional chippie or something a little creative and contemporary. With this many restaurants to choose between, you’ll be making several trips to the capital!

While you’re in town, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours. As London experts, we know our city inside out and guarantee you’ll enjoy a fun tour, while learning insider tips such as the best place to devour a UK institution: fish and ships!

dimsum london

These Are the Best Places for Dim Sum in London

There’s not much that can beat a hot basket of fresh dim sum. Despite the fact that London is thousands of miles away from the south of China, where this iconic dish originates, the British capital can still serve up some of the most authentic dim sum outside of Asia.

The capital’s rich, multicultural heritage comes to life when you head out in search of dim sum, as London is bursting with dim sum goodness. This beautiful Chinese dish, which translates literally as ‘to touch the heart’, makes a hearty impression on all who try it. You can enjoy these simple, yet profound dumplings in many different ways. Whether you are after your dim sum steamed, fried, sweet or savoury, you’ll find just the right style for you in London’s many restaurants.

Start your culinary journey eating the best dim sum in Soho’s Chinatown, but save room because, across the capital, there are many more dim sum restaurants to indulge in!

chinese dim sum

Opium Cocktail Bar and Dim Sum Parlour

Our list of the best places for dim sum in London kicks off in Oriental style with the Opium Cocktail Bar and Dim Sum Parlour. This intriguingly named bar and restaurant is as curious as the name suggests, and it’s a fascinating venue that’s packed with both character and flavour.

If you can find your way into Opium, then it’s like taking a step back into 19th century Hong Kong, as you’ll be immersed into the world of the Far East. This is Speak Easy style, so the bar itself is hidden behind a nondescript door in central London. It’s quite literally like walking into a forbidden opium den.

The focus of this establishment is cocktails and dim sum. You’ll find a huge array of drinks on offer late into the night, and you can complement the masterfully crafted drinks with masterfully created dim sum.

dumplings

Hakkasan

Hakkasan is a worldwide chain of incredibly upmarket Cantonese restaurants found in such glamorous locations as New York, Dubai and Shanghai. The London restaurant is one of the most highly regarded, and it comes complete with a Michelin star.

Hakkasan serves up a beautiful range of dishes that take inspiration from southern China and, of course, dim sum is one of their specialities. The restaurant makes use of seasonal and local ingredients, ensuring that the dim sum you can eat in London is very different from the dim sum in the same restaurant in say the United Arab Emirates.

That unique flair gives the food at Hakkasan a truly local flavour, without losing sight of the Cantonese inspiration, and you’ll find that the menu and flavours change constantly through the year.

As well as excellent dim sum, you’ll also be able to order from their marvellous wine list and creative cocktail menu, both of which successfully fuse Eastern and Western tastes and inspiration.

Yauatcha

The same team behind Hakkasan set their sights on creating a culinary empire. In London, you can also visit the Michelin-starred Yauatcha, which is located in Soho and also keeps to the highest standards.

Whereas Hakkasan has a broader menu that delves into an array of Cantonese cuisines, Yauatcha is more focused and puts its energy into crafting the ultimate dim sum.

This is one of the best places to visit for dim sum lovers, particularly if you aren’t worried about price but are only focused on quality and flavour. The atmosphere is elegant and sleek, and the fusion of flavours, both traditional Cantonese and Western accompaniments, are seamless.

The traditional feel is added to by the extensive tea menu. Traditionally, dim sum is eaten alongside a hefty dose of hot tea, and you’ll find that Yauatcha serves up the heftiest and most varied doses of tea in the capital.

A. Wong

A. Wong is also one of London’s high-end Chinese restaurants, offering an exceptional glimpse into the true diversity of China’s culinary tradition. The restaurant is the work of Andrew Wong, a legendary Chinese-British chef who has been bringing traditional Chinese cooking techniques to contemporary London.

A. Wong is a standout from the regular Chinese fare in London and across the rest of the country. This is because it dares to stray from what has become traditional ‘Chinese-British’ cuisine, or the version of Chinese food imported from Hong Kong in the last few decades that the public now see as synonymous with wider China, even if that’s far from the truth.

Andrew Wong offers a ten-course tasting menu that shows the varied cuisine of the country, and not just the cuisine from one small part of China. As well as this tasting menu, there’s a beautiful dim sum menu that also takes inspiration from across the whole of China, rather than just the south, giving this restaurant a dynamic slant over many of London’s other Chinese establishments.

dim sum

Kym’s

Andrew Wong isn’t just stopping with his famed, Michelin-starred A. Wong restaurant though. He’s recently opened a new venture in the Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London. His new restaurant is simply called Kym’s, which was the name of his parent’s original Chinese restaurant in London when he was growing up in the city.

The original Kym’s was more of a greasy, Cantonese-style eatery that many Brits will be familiar with from that classic Chinese takeaway night on weekends that everyone has experienced on one too many occasions. While he took inspiration from this style of cooking, Andrew Wong also wanted to turn the Chinese culinary scene on its head in London, and the new Kym’s is very far removed from his parents’ restaurant.

Kym’s is as stylish as it is innovative, and you’ll find some of the best dim sum in London on the menu. Kym’s blends the history and heritage of Chinese culinary traditions with the more modern Chinese-British culinary scene and creates a wonderful fusion that’s quite unlike either of its primary inspirations.

Mamalan

Really authentic Chinese food can be difficult to find in the inspired, fusion restaurants of multicultural London, but one place that is serving up dishes that are as true to their origins as you can find in Britain, is Mamalan.

Mamalan takes its culinary expertise from the streets of Beijing. While you can now find it in two locations, in Brixton and Clapham, the restaurants haven’t lost sight of their first goals, which was to serve up street food from China to Londoners.

The owner’s parents ran small street stalls in Beijing, and this is reflected in the authentic quality of the dishes on offer today, thousands of miles away, in the British capital rather than the Chinese capital. You can find supreme, handmade dumplings on offer, produced in a distinctive Beijing style that’s hard to find elsewhere in London. As well as the gorgeous dumplings, Mamalans also serves up homemade noodles, as well as homemade bao buns too.

Ugly Dumpling

The creatively named Ugly Dumpling has quickly become a hit in Soho, thanks to its creative dumplings and dim sum. The aim of the Ugly Dumpling is to transform dumplings from a simple snack into an innovative London staple, and they aren’t afraid of trying new things and fusing together different culinary styles from both East and West to create something new.

This is where dumplings are taken to the next level. While they have the traditional heritage of dim sum at the core of their ethos, Ugly Dumpling does a great job taking seasonal British ingredients and taking advantage of London’s vast multiculturalism to produce dumplings that are quite unlike anywhere else in the city.

With the simple dumpling concept as the basis for the menu, Ugly Dumpling adds in unusual ingredients such as salmon, truffles or halloumi, ingredients you wouldn’t expect to find on your dim sum menu, but ingredients, that, for the most part, seem to work gloriously. Ugly Dumpling started out as a food truck, but despite moving to restaurant premises and setting up a more traditional shop in London, surprisingly, they’ve still managed to keep the prices mostly at street food level.

dumplings dimsum

My Neighbours the Dumplings

Equally well named and creatively inspired is the excellent My Neighbours the Dumplings restaurant in Hackney. These guys specialise in all things dumplings and dim sum, but they also specialise in Sake.

The focus is on all types of dumplings – not just dim sum – and you can choose from a wonderful menu that takes inspiration from across Asia and aims to showcase as much of the dumpling world to London as it can. The style of serving and eating though is distinctly dim sum, as you’ll be able to mix and match your dumplings, as they are served up basket style.

To accompany your dumpling selection, you can choose from the extensive Sake menu, and you’ll find Sake brands and Sake cocktails that you didn’t even know existed before you stepped into My Neighbours the Dumplings.

Ping Pong

Another of London’s unique dim sum restaurants is Ping Pong, and you’ll find that this contemporary dim sum and cocktail bar has eight different venues across the capital.

Ping Pong certainly takes top marks for its name, but you won’t actually find any Ping Pong tables here. What you will find though, are some of the best dim sum in London and a huge menu that’s perfect for sharing.

Order up a few baskets of dim sum, order a few steamed buns to go with it, and if you’re really hungry, you can even order fresh bowls of noodles or soup to accompany the dim sum feast.

Hutong

In Beijing, the Hutongs are a historic part of the city – small communities with narrow streets and heritage-listed houses that have stood unchanged in hundreds of years. That sense of tradition has been brought to London, and at the Hutong restaurant you can enjoy the cuisine of northern China, including excellent dim sum-style dumplings in a modern setting.

That setting is as superb as the food, because Hutong is found a world away from the streets of Beijing and high up on the 33rd floor of the iconic Shard building in London. This is where the north of China meets head-on with London, and it’s a beautiful fusion of food and culture that’s well worth the price tag.

asian dim sum

Bun House

Buns aren’t strictly dim sum, but they are from the same dumpling-inspired family. In London the best place to find some authentic Cantonese-style buns is at the Bun House.

It’s a simple name for a simple concept, and you can find a wide selection of buns from across Asia. The focus is on Cantonese-style bao buns, which you can find in ample supply on the menu, and in various shapes, sizes and with a huge range of delicious fillings.

Those filings are exquisite. You can find a range of choices that will leave you wanting to try everything on the menu, from traditional Chinese fillings to more modern London-fusion fillings.

Novikov

Novikov has a reputation for being one of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in London. Equally, it also has a reputation for serving some of the best dim sum in London.

The restaurant might not sound particularly Chinese, but the Asian food served up in the swanky Mayfair establishment is world class. Novikov has two restaurants on the same premises, and you can choose from the Novikov Italian or the Novikov Asian restaurants. If you’re after the dim sum though, head to the Asian floor.

The food is undeniably expensive – in many ways you pay as much for the atmosphere and the chance to see celebrities and footballers dining as you do for the food – but the dim sum is undeniably excellent.

As well as the restaurant, Novikov has a renowned cocktail bar, where you can find classics and an array of fusion drinks. But just remember that prices are equally as high as the food!

If you’re visiting London in search of a dim sum feast, check out Premium Tours’ superb range of London tours. As London experts we can show you the best the city has to offer, including the most delicious places to eat dim sum!

big ben churchill

The Ultimate Guide to the Churchill War Rooms

World War II is an event that has remained in the memory of Londoners and within the mainstream consciousness of the capital, even several generations after the conflict ended in 1945. Across the city, you can find museums and memorials dedicated to the war, and it’s difficult to visit London without coming across at least some reference to World War II.

One of the best museums to visit in London if you’re looking to learn more about the city’s role in the war is the Churchill War Rooms. This fascinating museum is a branch of the Imperial War Museum, and it’s found directly beneath Whitehall. The war rooms is where Winston Churchill and the rest of the British government made their decisions at the height of World War II, in underground bunkers protected from the Blitz and bombing of the German air force.

The Churchill War Rooms have been faithfully restored and preserved, much in the manner they would have appeared when Britain’s most iconic Prime Minister was giving orders below ground when the threat of invasion from Germany was very real. If you’re in any way interested in London or World War II history, then this is a museum that you just can’t miss!

churchill war rooms

A Brief History of the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is located directly beneath Whitehall, in central London. Whitehall is the historic home of the British Government – not the Parliament, which sits at Westminster – where you can find the likes of the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence.

For these reasons, in 1938, when hostilities with Nazi Germany were looking more and more likely as Hitler led Europe to the brink of war, the government ordered the construction of a set of war rooms, which could act as a safe haven for the most important members of both the government and the armed forces.

Known as the Cabinet War Rooms – because they would shelter the cabinet ministers – the underground bunkers were built to withstand bombing and were completed with communication channels and accommodation. Everything that was needed to run a war could be found here. Once Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940, he would make decision after decision in the Cabinet War Rooms, effectively running an entire war from beneath London until the conflict ended in 1945.

The War Rooms played a pivotal role in the ultimate Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, and this fact hasn’t been forgotten. Even so, for several decades the Cabinet War Rooms were off limits to the general public, despite the fact that they had been left almost in the same condition as when the war ended, stocked with old maps and what would be intriguing historical artefacts. By the 1970s, it was decided that to save this underground treasure trove of World War II history, the war rooms would need to be turned into a museum.

The Churchill War Rooms, run by the Imperial War Museum, were finally opened in 1984. Since then, the site has seen millions of visitors passing through its underground doors.

How to Get to the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are located in central London. Being found in an important, busy part of the city, it’s incredibly easy to get here by public transport.

The entrance to the museum is on King Charles Street, in Westminster. The Houses of Parliament are just a short walk in one direction, while St James’s Park is just a short walk in the other direction.

The most convenient method of public transport to reach the museum is the London Underground. The nearest tube stations are Westminster and St James’s Park. Westminster is located on the Circle, District and Jubilee lines, while St James’s Park is located on the District and Circle Lines. Both are an easy stroll away from the entrance to the Churchill War Rooms.

There are plenty of bus stops nearby too, including Hop-on Hop-off bus stops. If you are pressed for time, then these Hop-on Hop-off tours of London can be a great way to see a lot of the city in a short timescale, while also learning about the history and culture of the capital at the same time.

london bus tour

The Best Time to Visit the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is more of a niche tourist attraction in London – at least in comparison to such sights as the London Eye or Buckingham Palace. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be busy.

The summer, particularly between June and August, is the busiest time to be in London, and all attractions in the city can be overflowing, with queues stretching well out the doors. If you can, you might want to consider visiting the Churchill War Rooms in the off-season, when the capital is quieter. As this is an indoor – well, underground – attraction, then the weather won’t exactly affect your experience of the museum.

If you can, avoid public holidays and weekends too, as the war rooms can be busy all through the year on these days. If you can’t avoid this, then get here early to beat the crowds, or you might find yourself queuing.

The Churchill War Rooms are open every day of the year, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Doors open at 9.30 am and close again at 6 pm, with the last entrance at 5 pm. In summer, between 1 July and 31 August, the doors are open later until 7 pm, with the last entrance permitted at 5.45 pm.

War Rooms

How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Churchill War Rooms?

Tickets can be purchased on the door or in advance online. It’s highly recommended to purchase tickets online if you can, as this gives you priority entrance to the museum. When it’s busy, that means that you can skip the worst of the queues on the door, but you do need to specify your date of entry and a specific time slot when you purchase tickets.

As of spring 2019, an adult, single entrance ticket purchased online costs £22 per person. A children’s ticket costs £11, while concessions for students and seniors are £17.60. There are also family tickets, which can work out to be great value.

If you plan on visiting more than once or on visiting other Imperial War Museums, then you can buy year-long membership that gives you unlimited access to the Churchill War Rooms and other sites run by the IWM.

What to See at the Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms is split into two main, permanent displays. These are the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. There’s also a third, minor permanent exhibition, the Undercover: Life in Churchill’s Bunker display. All three touch on different aspects of World War II and life within the bunkers and war rooms during the conflict. All three are included in the ticket price.

Cabinet War Rooms

The Cabinet War Rooms are the most important aspect of the museum, as this is where Churchill, his ministers, staff and generals lived and worked during World War II. The Cabinet War Rooms are an extensive set of underground bunkers, which were built out of the existing basement beneath what was the Treasury, in Whitehall. It’s a maze of different corridors and rooms, each of which had a different function or purpose during the war.

The war rooms are dimly lit, very dull looking and very cramped and confined. This is exactly how they would have looked at the time, as the museum has tried to keep a high level of authenticity where possible. When you are walking through the underground corridors, you’ll be instantly transported back decades to World War II, as you’ll feel immersed in the sights and even smells that the people working here would have experienced.

The Cabinet War Rooms consist of many different areas, as they were designed to accommodate hundreds of people at any one time. You can visit the map rooms, where operators would have permanently staffed the different world maps that showed the strategic process of the war. It is here that Churchill and his generals would have studied the course of the war and watched it play out in the dimly lit room, and where they would have begun making decisions too, that would affect thousands of people, if not more, each time.

You can see where Churchill would have slept, where his wife and daughter would have stayed, and where the different ministers and generals had beds too for when they needed to stay in the bunkers. Much of the furniture is authentic, and it’s a really unique insight into what happened behind the scenes during World War II.

Churchill Cabinet War Rooms

Churchill Museum

The second major component of the Churchill War Rooms that you have to see is the Churchill Museum. This is dedicated to Winston Churchill, arguably Britain’s most iconic Prime Minister.

This wonderful museum is filled with unique pieces of memorabilia and personal items that have been collated and put on display for the public to learn more about Churchill. The museum tells the story of his life, from childhood through to World War II and beyond, but of course, the primary focus is on his actions as Prime Minister.

There are rousing World War II speeches to hear, old photographs to see, and much, much more to learn about the great man himself.

Undercover: Life in Churchill’s Bunker

This unique exhibition takes visitors on a journey into the lives and stories of the ‘real’ people who lived and worked in the Cabinet War Rooms, alongside Winston Churchill.

Hundreds of people would have been living underground during World War II, and this display will give you an insight into their individual lives, from their day-to-day tasks as the war raged around the world, to their thoughts and emotions during pivotal moments in the war, and when pivotal decisions were made that they saw first-hand.

It’s a very personal and insightful exhibition, which adds to the museum a uniquely human aspect that is perhaps lost in the other sections of the Churchill War Rooms.

churchill war bunker

Insider Tips for Visiting the Churchill War Rooms

  • Visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds, as on weekends and public holidays, the Churchill War Rooms can get very busy!
  • Book your ticket in advance to get priority entrance and to beat the queues. Advance purchases are limited to time slots though, so you’ll still need to book in advance if you want a prime spot on the weekend.
  • Included in your ticket price is an audio guide, which can be played back in several languages. If you want to learn more on your way through the museum, this is a great way to enjoy a self-guided tour.
  • Check on the Imperial War Museum website for any temporary exhibitions that might be on now or in the future, as they usually commemorate big events – such as D-Day – with fascinating new displays that shine a new insight on World War II.
  • The underground war rooms really are a dense and at times confusing network of rooms, corridors and different displays, so if you are travelling with family or in a group, try to stick together or you can easily end up getting lost in Churchill’s labyrinth!
  • There’s a lot to see, but even more to read in the Churchill War Museums, so make sure that you save plenty of time for your visit. It’s recommended that you spend at least 90 minutes exploring the museum, but you might even need more if you are particularly interested in World War II history.
  • The museum is in a fantastic central location, so after visiting the Churchill War Rooms you can make the most of your time in London by visiting nearby sights such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, which are just a few of the classic attractions within easy walking distance.

While you’re in London, check out Premium Tours’ excellent range of London tours, designed to give you an insight into the culture and history of this iconic city.

ice skating

Want to Know Where to Go Ice Skating in London? Look No Further…

England might be known for its cold and rainy weather. But it’s not exactly known for snow, ice or winter sports.

Surprisingly though, London can be a great city to go ice skating, as there is a huge range of ice rinks found across the capital.

Some of these ice rinks, like those found at Alexandra Palace or Lee Valley, are permanent and can be visited all year round. You can strap on the skates and cool down on the ice during London’s fleeting summer months, or you can enjoy evening disco skating sessions that continue long into the night.

Other ice skating rinks are seasonal. During winter, and particularly over the festive Christmas period, many more will pop up across London. Many of these are found in iconic locations, with classic attractions such as the Natural History Museum or the Tower of London hosting the city’s most famous ice rinks. You can visit the city’s best landmarks, and then go ice skating too.

If you want to go ice skating in London, then look no further than our detailed guide!

london ice skating

Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Palace is one of London’s oldest and most well-known recreation centres. The historic, heritage-listed building dates back to the 1860s when it was built in the Victorian era.

While Alexandra Palace might be better known for hosting music concerts and sports tournaments, it’s also home to one of the best ice rinks in London.

The ice rink is indoors and is open all through the year, making this a great place to go skating. As well as free skating sessions, through the week you can also join skating lessons or even try your hand at ice hockey.

The ice rink at Alexandra Palace even hosts late night club sessions, where you can skate and dance on the ice in the evenings.

Lee Valley Ice Centre

Another great ice rink to visit in London is the Lee Valley Ice Centre, which is also a permanent rink that’s open all through the year.

The Lee Valley is a bit of a journey from the centre of London, found in the northern suburbs of the city, but the ice rink and its facilities are some of the best in the capital, making it well worth the journey.

The rink has sessions every day of the week, while on weekends there are even late night disco parties which are held on the ice.

If you like figure skating or ice hockey, then Lee Valley is the home of several teams, and you can watch training sessions or even live hockey matches at the venue.

Queens Skate Dine Bowl

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit closer to central London to hit the ice, then in Bayswater right next to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, you can find Queens Skate Dine Bowl.

This permanent ice rink is not only a great place to go skating any time of the year, but it’s also a large entertainment complex too.

After an intense ice skating session, then, if you still have the energy, you can even go bowling. If you don’t have the energy, you can refuel at the restaurant or relax at the bar with a few drinks.

Queens Skate Dine Bowl is also a place to try unique ice sports, other than skating. The venue holds curling events and you can also learn how to play this somewhat unusual sport, while thrill-seekers can even race ice karts around the rink.

ice skating

Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre

Serious skaters won’t want to miss out on a trip to Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre, because this is a mega, Olympic-standard ice rink.

In the south of London, the ice rink is a bit of a journey from the city centre, but being the largest in the capital it makes for a fantastic place to skate.

There’s been an ice rink here for decades, but in the last few years, the centre was completely refurbished. Consequently, its facilities are almost brand new and of excellent quality.

Being the only Olympic-sized venue in the capital, Streatham is a hotbed for ice hockey and figure skating, and it’s a great place to learn how to skate or to take your skills to the next level, with excellent coaching opportunities on offer.

The local ice hockey team, the Streatham RedHawks, are one of England’s oldest teams, and you can catch packed matches on the weekends or on selected evenings at the venue.

The Natural History Museum

One of London’s most beloved temporary ice rinks pops up in the winter outside the Natural History Museum.

The ice rink isn’t just for Christmas, as it’s open for skating as early as the end of October and doesn’t close until the end of January.

The Natural History Museum is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious museums, and it’s a fantastic place to explore when you are in the capital.

After browsing through the famous dinosaur skeletons and exhibits in the museum and learning all about the natural world, then strap on your skates and skate across the ice with the dramatic building behind you.

The museum is free to enter, but of course, it does cost money to hire the skates and to enjoy the ice rink. Wrap up warm, because the rink is open air, but you can warm up again on the sides with a steaming hot coffee or perhaps even some mulled wine.

ice rink natural history museum

Canary Wharf

From November through to January, head over to Canary Wharf for one of the best ice rinks in London.

Canary Wharf is one of the capital’s most important financial districts and business centres, and its modern skyscrapers and flashy high rises on the river are a great sight to see by themselves.

The district is bustling at the best of times but even more so come winter when Londoners flock to Canary Wharf to jump on the ice.

The ice rink is one of the city’s largest temporary skating venues. At Christmas time, it’s ablaze with colours and decorations that complement the dazzling lights of the surrounding skyscrapers.

The rink is found in Canada Square Park, and you couldn’t ask for a better location. After skating across the ice, you can enjoy drinks at the popular bar found by the side of the rink, which is open late into the evening.

The ice rink is semi-covered by a high glass roof, making this one of the best places to skate in winter if you don’t want to brave the full force of the elements while the weather in England is at its most unpredictable.

The Tower of London

Built on the orders of William the Conqueror after the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the Tower of London is one of the city’s most historic sights.

The iconic castle is one of London’s most visited attractions, and when you are in the capital, it’s a must see. You can explore the high walls and towers, see where and how the kings and queens of the medieval era lived, and even see the majestic Crown Jewels.

In the winter, the Tower of London also becomes home to a fantastic ice skating rink, which generally opens at the end of November and closes just after the New Year.

It’s not open for as long as many of London’s other iconic, temporary skating rinks, so get in fast while you have the chance to visit.

This has to be one of the most striking locations for an ice rink. Here, you can skate in the shadow of the Tower of London, with beautiful views of the castle.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

From November to January, Hyde Park in London is transformed into the country’s biggest and best Winter Wonderland.

The enormous Christmas event sees the park decked out with elaborate decorations and Christmas trees, while you’ll be able to shop at the Christmas markets and drink mulled wine late into the night.

There are festive-themed restaurants, Bavarian-style bars, and live shows and fairground rides, but one of the highlights is, of course, the huge ice skating rink.

The outdoor rink is the largest temporary rink found in London over the Christmas period. But despite its size, you’ll soon see how quickly the ice fills with skaters.

It’s busy, but it’s festive, and Winter Wonderland is one of the funniest rinks to skate at over Christmas, as you dance across the ice to classic Christmas tunes before overindulging in too much food and drink afterwards.

ice skating london

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is the lavish estate that’s best known for being one of King Henry VIII’s royal residences during the Tudor era.

The beautiful mansion dates back several hundred years, and it’s no longer used by the royal family, but offers visitors a chance to step back in time to see how the monarchy used to live.

You can explore stately rooms, walk through the extensive gardens and tackle the famous outdoor maze. In winter, you can also experience the festive delights of the ice skating rink.

The ice rink is open from the end of November and into the first week of January, and few other skating arenas have such a dramatic backdrop as this.

The rink is right in front of the palace itself, and while you’re skating across the ice you’ll have the best view of Hampton Court, as you listen to festive music and enjoy the wonderful sights around you.

Somerset House

Somerset House is one of Central London’s most distinctive buildings. It’s found on the Strand, by the River Thames and dates back to the Tudor era.

Somerset House has a spectacular neoclassical design, with huge pillars and elaborate statues found on the outside. The large open square that the different wings of the house are built around also makes for the perfect location for one of London’s best seasonal ice skating rinks.

The ice skating rink is set up from the middle of November through to the middle of January, and it’s one of the most spectacular places to skate in London.

You’ll be surrounded by the classical architecture of Somerset House, which over Christmas is lit up and decorated vibrantly in festive colours.

As well as a skating rink, over Christmas Somerset House is also home to an array of fantastic food and drink stalls, selling all sorts of festive treats that you can enjoy when you’ve finished ice skating.

somerset house ice skating

Skylight

Skylight is one of London’s best rooftop bars, and it offers sweeping views over the Thames and the city from Tobacco Dock.

While many of London’s rooftop venues are best enjoyed in the summer months when the sun is shining and the evenings are warm and long, Skylight is a little bit different.

The rooftop bar is just as popular in the winter as it is in the summer, because Skylight becomes the site of a great ice skating rink over Christmas.

You can hit the ice and indulge in festive cocktails and food, while Skylight also hosts plenty of unique events and parties to complement the Christmas cheer.

Clapham Common

Clapham Common is transformed into Christmas heaven at the end of the year, as the famous public space becomes home to the ever-popular Winterville event.

This is one of London’s busiest winter fairs, and you’ll find a huge array of delicious food stands and more than enough bars to keep you coming back every week that Winterville is open.

As well as the food and drink, Winterville has a great ice skating rink and a roller skating rink.

Winterville is more alternative than other winter fairs in London, and you’ll find that there are DJ sets and music being played while you skate late into the night, making this one of the best places for adults to hit the skating rink over Christmas.

As London experts, we know a thing or two about the best ice skating rinks in London, whether you’re looking for a festive treat or want to skate all year round. While you’re in town, check out Premium Tours’ superb range of London tours, where you’ll learn lots more about where to have fun in the capital.

 

climbing indoors

Here’s Where to Go Rock Climbing in London

London might not be the first destination that comes to mind when you’re planning a day of rock climbing, but the British capital is actually home to some of the country’s best indoor rock climbing centres.

In London, you can rock climb all through the year – regardless of the weather – and the many centres across the city are set up with different climbing walls that are suited to different ages and abilities. You can boulder, learn how to top rope and, if you’re experienced, you can even do unsupported lead rope climbing.

If climbing indoors isn’t for you, then close to London there are a few fantastic outdoor areas where you can boulder and rock climb in spectacular surroundings. And if you’re really looking for an adventure, then London even has an ice climbing wall.

To inspire your adventurous day out in the capital, here’s our guide to the best places to go rock climbing in London.

Different Types of Rock Climbing in London

There are several different types of climbing that you can take on in London. Some climbing centres specialise in particular activities, while others are more general. Some centres only support certain specialities, while others are more encompassing.

The most casual and common form of climbing at London’s indoor centres is bouldering. This is where the climber attempts a route unsupported, with no ropes. Bouldering routes are usually quite low-level and, ordinarily, you can simply jump back down if you start to fall, particularly as there are padded mats beneath you. Bouldering is great for beginners and great for practising climbing techniques, as it’s fast, fun and casual. Many centres in London only cater to boulderers.

Top rope climbing is the more traditional form of rock climbing that you can find in London. This is where you are attached to a rope that is looped to the top of the climbing wall or the top of the route, and which then passes back down to a ‘belayer’ on the ground, who is responsible for supporting the climber’s weight as they climb up and then abseil back down. This takes some training or, at the very least, an experienced climber to act as the belayer, as you’ll need to know the ropes and the commands. Centres that support top rope climbing will be able to provide tuition and training classes too.

climbing indoors

The third major type of climbing supported at London’s indoor climbing centres, is lead climbing, but this is only for more experienced and equipped rock climbers. Lead climbing involves two climbers attempting to climb a route at the same time. However, rather than having a rope above, they lay the rope out themselves as they work their way up the wall or the rock, with the second climbing behind acting as a belayer.

Lead climbing takes a lot more trust, skill and experience, but you can learn how it works from instructors at many different rock climbing centres in London after you’ve mastered bouldering and are confident in top rope climbing.

The Climbing Hangar

The Climbing Hangar is in Parson’s Green in Fulham, and the London establishment is one of four across the country. The Climbing Hangar is dedicated to bouldering, and you’ll find a huge array of different climbing boards, overhangs and unique routes that are just begging to be tackled.

This is a great place for boulderers of all abilities, as there is a wide range of different difficulties, and you can be a complete beginner or even a pro and still find a suitable place to climb in the hangar.

The routes are changed regularly too, so as you progress and conquer harder bouldering walls, you’ll still be able to find something new and ever more challenging to take on here. There are changing facilities, a communal viewing area and, if you climb regularly, you can sign up for monthly memberships too.

VauxWall West Climbing Centre

As the name suggests, VauxWall West Climbing Centre is located in Vauxhall, London, right by Vauxhall train station. The climbing centre is actually built beneath the arches of the train station, making this a really unique place to climb.

VauxWall West is just dedicated to bouldering, but there are 250 different bouldering routes in the centre, spread over hundreds of square metres of climbing space and climbing walls. This is a relatively new addition to the bouldering scene in London, but the centre has gone all out to ensure that it’s one of the most high-tech in the city. You can book spaces online and you can check in electronically when you arrive. There’s a fantastic on-site cafe for when you’re chilling out after a heavy bouldering session, and you can rent boots or buy equipment at the shop.

climbing walls

HarroWall

HarroWall is run by the same company behind VauxWall West and is even newer and bigger than its companion climbing centre. HarroWall opened in 2018, and it’s ultra modern and spectacularly hi-tech.

It’s also the largest bouldering centre in the United Kingdom, with 12,000 square metres worth of bouldering space on offer. That’s absolutely enormous, and you can rest assured that there is something for everyone here, no matter how seasoned or how new you are to the climbing game.

The bouldering setup includes standard, vertical walls, as well as ridiculously challenging overhangs that take those brave enough high up onto the ceiling, at harrowing angles. There are changing facilities, a cafe, viewing areas and dedicated zones for kids, including not just play areas, but low-level bouldering walls.

Interestingly, HarroWall is also home to Europe’s largest indoor cave. The 170-metre long cave system is built under the climbing centre and is entirely man-made, but it gives you the chance to try your hand at caving in a safe environment.

HarroWall is located in Harrow, so it’s a bit of a journey from central London, but it’s well worth it because few other climbing centres in the capital can match this one!

The Castle Climbing Centre

The Castle Climbing Centre is one of London’s more unique offerings in the climbing world. This excellent centre is found in an old Victorian-era pumping house, an archaic looking building that bears a remarkable resemblance to a medieval castle, given its striking turrets and towers.

The Castle Climbing Centre is for both boulderers and climbers, and you can learn from the experts how to do both if you’ve never attempted the sports before. The climbing routes are set over several different floors, with the highest routes reaching up to 12 metres in height.

There are many different marked routes that you can rope into and climb, while if you’d rather boulder, there are lots of lower level routes to tackle without ropes too. The Castle is one of the busiest climbing centres in London, as the fairly central location next to Finsbury Park makes it easy to get to. The Castle is also well established, having been around since 1995, while the iconic Victorian building is a huge draw too!

While most of the routes are inside, when it’s sunny, there are even a few outdoor climbing walls you can tackle, although they aren’t quite as tall or as impressive as the indoor ones. Not many other places in London offer outdoor climbing though, so make the most of it outside the castle in summer.

Hackney Wick Boulder Project

In East London, Hackney Wick Boulder Project is one of the best places in the capital for a spot of bouldering. This is bouldering only, and it’s a very new establishment, but it’s one of the friendliest climbing centres in the city.

Hackney Wick Boulder Project is small, but it’s a great place to meet fellow climbers, as they host many different social sessions through the week, which give you the chance to climb with fellow enthusiasts.

You can enjoy excellent coffee in your downtime, while there are tempting monthly climbing rates to keep you coming back time after time for more and more bouldering.

The Arch Climbing Wall

The Arch Climbing Wall is a company that runs not just one climbing centre, but three climbing centres across London. If you are keen on climbing, then they offer a subscription-based membership that gives you access to all three centres, giving you three times the opportunities for new challenges and new climbs in comparison to other centres.

The centres are spread over London, with the newest being the Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey, where there are thousands of square metres worth of space and hundreds of different routes for different abilities.

You also have The Arch North, the company’s offering in North London, which is just as big as its cousin across the city and is home to more technical bouldering walls, and many more overhangs.

Finally, there’s the Arch Climbing Wall Acton, the biggest of all three of the centres, where you can find technical walls, beginner walls, and a huge range of different routes that will challenge both novices and professionals. It’s probably the best of the three, and one of the best places to rock climb in London.

climbing wall

Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea

In the heart of London’s most affluent neighbourhood, you can find Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea, which offers an easy route into the climbing world for beginners. Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea has a wide range of walls and climbing routes, and all of it is for bouldering or top rope climbing. However whereas in other climbing centres you will need to know how to belay and will need some level of experience and instruction to top rope, here, it’s all done for you.

You literally clip onto the rope and start to climb, because the ropes are fully automated and held in place by a mechanical belay system, which tightens or slackens as you climb and then descend again.

It’s not quite as cheap as other climbing centres – this is Chelsea after all – but if you’re a beginner or if you’re looking for a great place for your kids to learn, then Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea is the best place to start in London.

More than just the climbing though, Clip ‘n Climb Chelsea also has a range of other attractions. You can take on the Leap of Faith, which is a vertical drop slide that takes some courage to tackle, while there are other challenges across the climbing walls, such as speed climbing.

Harrison’s Rocks

London doesn’t exactly have too many opportunities for outdoor climbing, on actual, solid rocks, but head out of the city and there are a few places nearby where you can enjoy some true climbing.

One of the most iconic locations is Harrison’s Rocks, which is an hour outside of central London to the south, close to Tonbridge. Harrison’s Rocks are part of the Southern Sandstone region, where the rocks are soft but the routes are tough.

Harrison’s Rocks is a tall, rocky crag that offers a wide variety of top rope climbing options to climbers of all abilities. Many of the climbing centres and clubs in London will organise trips to Harrison’s Rocks, particularly if the weather is looking good, but you’ll want plenty of indoor practice before you head outside, because conditions will be very, very different.

Vertical Chill

If you’re looking for a new climbing challenge or just want to try your hand at something a little bit different, then head to Vertical Chill where you can learn how to ice climb!

Vertical Chill is in Covent Garden, and it’s run by the Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports Store. The indoor ice wall is the perfect place to learn how to ice climb, as you’ll be given all the necessary gear, and you’ll be given tuition and tips by the experienced staff.

You don’t need any experience ice climbing, but a bit of climbing knowledge might help you to get to the top of this high ice wall.

If you’re going rock climbing in London, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours while you’re in town. As London experts, we’ll help you make the most of your adventures in the capital.