British weather means that whilst spring is around the corner there’s always a high chance of grey skies and showers (the current weather being a good reminder!) When the winds howl and the rain patters down the window, I’m usually not all that motivated to leave the comforting warmth of my duvet and will use it as an excuse to spend the day lounging on the sofa watching old films (particularly retro 90s films – does anyone remember this Disney film?!). But from time-to-time, particularly when I have guests to entertain, I really have to think about wet weather options. No one wants soggy shoes or wild frizzy hair do they? So where to go?
Well, you can’t do all of the things done on sunny days, but on rainy days everyone seems to flock to the same places. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’ve put together a few ideas for the next rainy day. (You can guarantee as I post this the sun will be shining, such is the unpredictability of our Blighty).
A F T E R N O O N T E A
London’s iconic afternoon teas often need to be booked weeks (if not months) in advance but if you want something more last minute there are some good options out there depending on where you are. Bea’s in St Paul’s can be a good shout, you do need to book in advance but not usually as much as other places. You could also try The Modern Pantry (menu here), Biscuiteers, Balthazaar (current menu), The Wallace Restaurant, Hillmans Tea Room, Dean Street Townhouse, Hoi Polloi (current menu). BB Bakery offers a cafe, a bus tour, a boat tour and delivery. I would recommend phoning in advance on most of these places to check their afternoon tea booking policy.
H O T C H O C O L A T E
Even in the midst of summer, temperatures can tumble to the low double digits and I’ll always be happy to turn to the comfort of molten chocolate. An instant warmer and sweet pick me up. You can find the best ones in my opinion here, only Paul A Young doesn’t have a sit down option.
M U S E U M S
Everyone rushes to the city’s iconic museums when the rain pours. Either arrive at 10am and pick up a ticket for an exhibition where the numbers are limted or think about whether there’s a smaller or lesser-known museum you might fancy. There’s a full A-Z here. On my list is the Fan museum, Fashion and Textile Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Horniman Museum.
S O M E R S E T H O U S E F R E E G U I D E D T O U R S
I wandered into Somerset House just the other weekend to dry off after getting totally soaked just crossing the bridge. Unfortunately, I’d just missed the tour and the next one wasn’t for an hour but I’ll definitely be returning. There are two tours operating, more info can be found here.
H I S T O R I C A L H O U S E S
Whilst everyone runs for cover under the capital’s most well-known shelters (and who can blame them), think about heading to the lesser known roofs of its historical houses and learn something new about the city. Apsley House was both lavish to see and interesting to explore. Queen’s House was stunning (but it doesn’t reopen until later this year). I’ve got Kenwood House, Eltham Palace, and Syon House on my visit list.
B O O K S T O R E S
Even bookworms who use Kindles and mobiles to read everything would love a look around a great book store. It will remind you of the pleasure of being able to physically turn pages and the smell of a new book. A Lady in London did a great list recently which you can read here. You can get more inspiration from Buzzfeed and you can find a map of independent bookshops on Londonist.
C O F F E E
It might only be a short term fix for a miserable afternoon but there’s nothing quite like a caffeine pick me up at one of London’s best coffee shops. You can find all of my reviews here, but I definitely recommend getting the London’s Best Coffee app and visiting their website. You should also follow London Coffee Shops on Instagram for inspiration.
I C O N I C S T O R E S
If you’re looking the fill an hour or so and you haven’t heard the creak of Liberty’s staircase, had the temptation to treat yourself in Fortnum’s food hall or marveled at Harrods’ price tags, it should be on the rainy day list. They’re definitely busy at the weekend so arm yourself with patience.
T H E A T R E
James and I have had a few last minute theatre dates using Lastminute.com and an afternoon matinee is a bit easier to get tickets for than evening shows. It’s also quite a novelty weekend treat!
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What’s your favourite thing to do in London when it rains?