1. Sherlock Holmes Experience
If you’ve long been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, then make sure you head to the new Sherlock Holmes Experience at the ever-popular Madame Tussauds London. The London institution has swapped its Chamber of Horrors for this famous detective themed interactive experience that will take you on a walkthrough adventure to some of the most famous places from the stories. The theatrical adventure is a great thing to do in London with children and the cost is included in the regular Madame Tussaud’s ticket price (Dh250 for adults and Dh210 for children if you buy online). The last daytime show is at a 6.05pm.
2. The City of London Police Museum
This purpose-built museum recently opened and plans to hold a number of talks, walks and events to give a glimpse into one of the world’s oldest police forces. If you follow the London museum’s narrative you’ll be taken on a journey that includes the last hours of Catherine Eddowes, a victim of Jack the Ripper, bombing during the Ritz, and how the current force is using technology to fight terrorism and cybercrime. To see what events and talks are coming up, visit the museum website.
3. Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch
The designers behind The Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch have stayed true to the location of this new swanky hotel – the Old Street Magistrates’ Court and police station. A well-stocked bar has replaced the original courtroom and now features five refurbished cells as VIP booths, complete with jail related artwork. Some of the original stained glass windows have been repaired and restored, as has the original wood panelling in the courtroom. The hotel has 128 rooms and suites and is a few minutes’ walk from Old Street tube station. Amenities include a brick-walled, two-lane bowling alley, spa, swimming pool, and a roof top bar.
This indoor ice rink in west London dates back to 1930 but has recently undergone a massive makeover. There’s 12 tenpin bowling lanes, a 9,000 square feet indoor skating rink, two bars, three table tennis tables, table football, air hockey, pop-up cinema and Jimmy’s Diner, serving drinks and foods to the rink and lanes. It’s open from 10am to 11pm on Sunday to Thursday, and 10am to midnight Friday and Saturday. Bowling prices start at around Dh35 and skating costs from Dh55 per person.
5. Discover new places in the city on a City Hunt
Ok, so this isn’t strictly a new London activity, but it is designed to help you discover new parts of the city. The “mass participation treasure hunt” involves solving between 20 and 30 clues that will take you on a cultural and historical hunt around an area of London. The organizers promise that you’ll discover some great hidden places and quirky stories on your hunt! You can download the map, clues and app from the City Hunt website.
6. Deptford Market Yard
The London market scene is already pretty busy (think Borough, Spitalfields, Camden, Covent Garden and Greenwich), but there’s always room for more. Artists have long gathered at the old railway arches at Deptford but the space has now been transformed into a functioning market with restaurants, creative studios and shops. The Grade II listed building has 14 arches and seven shops above the carriage ramp. Stock up on stylish homewares at Win and Ruby, or buy a pretty bouquet of flowers from the team at The English Flowerhouse in arch 5. There’s also a hairdressers, coffee shop and a fitness center offering circus and aerial fitness classes (including trapeze, silks, poles and ropes!).
7. Leman Locke Hotel
The concept behind this new hotel would suit people looking for somewhere to stay in London for more than a couple of nights. Every one of the 168 studio/suites has a fully equipped kitchen, WiFi and very comfy couches. The idea is that you’ll be just as comfortable ‘living’ in the space as you will be sleeping in it. Eating out at every meal can get expensive in London so it might be worth spending a little more on your accommodation to make a bigger saving in the long run. There’s also a gym, yoga classes and an in-room spa.
8. Lego shop
Big and little kids will love a trip to the world’s biggest Lego store which recently opened in London’s Leicester Square. As well as meeting the store’s mascot Lester and choosing from thousands of Lego sets, you can buy a personalized mosaic portrait made by a machine that captures your image and replicates it onto Lego blocks! It’s open Monday to Saturday from 10am until 10pm, and from midday to 6pm on Sunday. Weekends are likely to be busy, so head down on a weekday if you can.
This New York bakery has just opened its first London branch in upmarket Belgravia, the second branch outside the US. Its most famous creation, the cronut, which is a croissant and donut hybrid, became the most talked-about dessert of the decade when it first popped out of the oven in 2013. The bakery opens at 8am (9am on a Sunday) and if you want to get your hands on a cronut before they sell out, get there early.
10. The Good Hotel London
This not-for-profit hotel recently relocated to London from Amsterdam (easy to do when you can sail from one place to the other). The premise behind the floating Good Hotel is to help unemployed people find work, leaving a lasting legacy. There are 114 rooms and, because it’s moored at Newham’s Royal Docks, some great views. The rooms are very stylish and cosy, and you should sleep very soundly knowing your money is going to a good cause.
11. Ceru Restaurant
If you don’t think you can go a few weeks without a bowl of tart tabouleh or a shish taouk plate, this new London restaurant can satisfy those cravings. If you’re pushed for time, go for the vegetarian or meat express lunch platter which won’t cost you a penny if it arrives at your table more than 20 minutes after you ordered! The dessert menu includes cardamon ice cream with baklava, and lemon sorbet made by The Ice Cream Union Of Bermondsey (which you could enjoy on the restaurant’s outdoor heated benches!).
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*Published December 2016. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.