So you’ve hit up the museums and all the other usual suspects and you’re looking for something a little different to do in the British capital? Well look no further. Whether it’s food, sport, movies or art that interests you, there’s something for all tastes among my 9 unusual things to do in London.
1. Play London Skittles. This sport is akin to tenpin bowling, except that rather than using a bowling ball, players attempt to knock down a set of nine pins using a 10 lb hunk of cheese. Yes, cheese. The cheese is also thrown – rather than rolled – down the alley in this historic game which sometimes goes by the name of Old English Skittles. Many venues now play skittles using wooden balls rather than discs of cheese, so if you want the real deal, head to Freemasons Arms on Tuesday nights from 8-11pm.
2. Make a brass rubbing. The crypt below St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square is home to the Brass Rubbing Center, where visitors can create images of everything from knights in shining armor to Shakespeare to take back home. Staff will provide you with papers & waxes and show you how to make your rubbing, which cost £4.50 and up depending on size.
3. See the home of the Knights Templar. Temple Church was constructed in the 12th century by the Knights Templar – a powerful order of crusading monks made famous by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code. The building was originally used for Templar initiation ceremonies, and today, visitors can see marble effigies of medieval knights buried on the grounds.
4. Visit Highgate Cemetery. Highgate is one of the city’s “magnificent seven” cemeteries built during the 19th century, and is home to some beautiful, if not haunting sculpture. The cemetery is divided into two zones, and the Eastern Cemetery is where you’ll find the tombs of philosopher Karl Marx, novelists George Eliot and Douglas Adams, as well as many more notable figures.
5. Visit the British Library. This library hosts numerous temporary and permanent exhibitions including displays showcasing the Magna Carta, original Beatle’s manuscripts and Shakespeare’s first folio. Entry is free.
6. Eat in the dark. Dans le Noir is a restaurant where diners eat their entire meals in a completely darkened dining room. The concept, which began in Paris, is intended to awaken the senses and heighten the taste and smell of the food. For a truly blind tasting, you can even choose their “surprise” menu and and put your taste buds to the test.
7. Have a pint with a famous detective. The Sherlock Holmes Pub is a bar and restaurant serving up traditional pub food, but the real draw is the décor. The upstairs area features a replica of the study room used by the fictional detective and his sidekick, Watson. The pub is located at 10-11 Northumberland Street, Westminster.
8. Take a peek at Gringott’s Bank. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll want to go by Australia House – the High Commission of Australia located on the Strand. The building was the set for the wizarding bank in the Potter movies, and although it’s not open to the public, you can peek in through the doors.
9. Visit Platform 9¾. Also for Potter fans is this film location at Kings Cross Station, where young witches and wizards must go to board their train to Hogwarts. Platform 9¾ – which is complete with a stuck-in-the-wall luggage cart – is not actually located between platforms 9 and 10, but off to one side of the station (see map here).