London is all the buzz at the moment. But honestly, it always has been! The cultural heartland of the UK, this gargantuan, bustling city is jam-packed with a seemingly endless array of hotspots, and a thousand things to do.
But despite being one of the world’s most popular tourist hotspots, it’s still possible to find off the beaten path attractions, hidden gems, and quirky attractions.
So make yourself comfortable at The Devonshire London Paddington, and ditch the guide book. The following attractions aren’t listed in traditional guides anyway!
Quirky Things to do in London You Won’t Find Listed in a Guide Book
Sleep Among Asiatic Lions
If you’ve ever wondered what happens in a zoo after dark, Gir Lion Lodge has an experience for you! A little piece of Africa in the center of London, you can sleep inside the Land of the Lions exhibit, but don’t worry about waking them if you snore – they roar!
Inspired by the welcoming charm of hotels in the lion’s native Gujarati home in India, the beautifully decorated lodges here have a traditional feel and are each themed to a different animal found in the Gir forest.
There are nine lodge cabins, which makes it an intimate experience, each with a private veranda so that you can sip your bedtime tea or hot chocolate whilst listening to the sounds of the Zoo at night.
The experience includes three special tours including a sunset tour, torchlit night tour and an early morning tour, which all take place when the Zoo is closed to the public.
Visit an Ancient Roman Temple
12 Walbrook, London
Thousands of locals and tourists alike pass by the Bloomberg skyscraper in the City, but few realize that they’re actually right next to an ancient piece of Rome, especially if it’s your first time to London.
Dating back over 1,000 years, the Temple of Mithras is one of the UK’s most significant archaeological sites. It was discovered by accident in 1954 on a World War II bomb site, and while it was originally taken apart and moved, you can now visit it where it originally stood.
Having been fully restored it now looks just as it did when it was first discovered, though the experience today has the addition of special lighting and audio to make the experience more evocative.
Haze, light and the sound of footsteps, chanting and secret whispers will transport you back to London AD 240.
Photo credit: Allan Harris
Visit a Secret Island
Eel Pie Island
Located in the middle of the Thames near Twickenham, Eel Pie island is one of London’s best kept secrets. A great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, the island is a thriving artist community of sculptors, photographers, glassblowers, mosaic makers, and potters.
During the 50’s and 60’s this was the center of the UK’s music revolution, and is famous for drawing rock and roll legends like Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones to its shores.
It’s also rumoured that King Henry VIII used the island during the 1500’s as a courting ground for his many mistresses.
The island got its unusual name from the tasty eel pies that were sold by its residents to passing river traders. While this specialty has since died out, today you can visit the island, chat to local artists, explore eccentric laneways, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere as a break from the city.
Sip Tea at the Original Twinings Tea Shop
216 Strand, London
Tea is synonymous with London, and Twinings has been tightly woven into the cultural identity of British citizens since 1706.
The oldest tea shop in London, make sure you stop by the historical Twinings flagship store.
Located in the heart of the capital directly opposite the Court of Justice, Londoners as well as tea fans from all over the world have been coming to this beautiful store for more than 300 years.
You can shop for your favourite Twinings blends, gifts and premium teas from around the world, sample new flavours at Loose Tea Bar, or sign up for a Masterclass with one of their expert Tea Ambassadors.
Go Directly to Jail
1 Clink St, London
Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to the oldest prison in London.
The Clink Prison Museum dates back to 1144 making it one of England’s oldest and most notorious prisons.
Positioned in the heart of modern-day Southwark and built on the original site, The Clink Prison Museum presents the scandalous truth of Old Bankside through a hands-on educational experience.
There are opportunities to view archaeological artefacts, experience the sights, sounds and smells of the prison, handle torture devices, and to view and hear all about the tales of torment and many misfortunes of the inmates of the infamous Clink Prison.
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