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101 things to do in London: unusual and quirky experiences

Let these unusual things to do in the capital surprise and delight you

© Jan Vrhovnik

You collect selfies with landmarks like they’re Pokémon cards and can out-fact the guide on most London bus tours. What has the city got left to share with you? Delve into our list of unusual things to do to find an inspiring experience.

Quirky things to do in the capital

See medicine grow at Chelsea Physic Garden

Originally created in the late 1600s to cultivate native and exotic plants, this walled garden to this day holds a unique collection of thousands of plants that can be eaten or used in medicine. Popular for wedding hire and perfect for a peaceful stroll, the garden is also a charming spot for afternoon tea (at the Tangerine Dream Café) before you head back out into twenty-first-century Chelsea.

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Do the time warp at Dennis Severs' House

Imagine you’ve stepped into a painting by one of the Old Masters. Walking into Dennis Severs’ House is rather like that. Restored in the style of east London’s Huguenot period, it’s open for tours throughout the year. In silence, visitors pass through its ‘still life drama’, visiting each room to see evidence of an eighteenth century silk weaver’s family life without ever meeting a soul: a dinner lies half-eaten, a fire still crackles, a chamber pot needs emptying. A unique experience.

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Visit the park with London’s most unusual door policy

No one is allowed into Coram’s Fields playground unless they’re accompanied by a child. This small green space is a play haven, with playgrounds, sandpits and farm animals. In summer, children can splash about in water and the café is open, too. Surely the only place in Zone 1 where you’ll hear chickens and goats as you pass by on your way to work.

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Pop into a pop-up

Restaurants, boutiques, theatres, markets – whether it’s a question of short attention span or high London rents, the pop-up experience has proved a huge hit. For pop-up fashion stores head to Boxpark in Shoreditch, for food head to Street Feast and for shows sign up for newsletters from Secret Cinema and Gingerline.

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St Pancras

Find a gem at Princess May car boot sale

One of the trendiest places for bargain gear is a school playground in Stoke Newington. Every Saturday and Sunday sellers just roll up (no need to book a pitch) and spread out their wares. Keen shoppers look for vintage fashions, vinyl and anything stylishly retro. Gates open at 8am Saturdays and 7am Sundays.

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Stoke Newington

Be a gent, get a wet shave in Mayfair

The metrosexual man may no longer have his own butler to attend to his barbering needs, but Geo F Trumper is here to help. Their Mayfair store on Curzon Street is a shrine to Victorian male pampering. Having a luxurious wet shave here is as relaxing as a massage, but if you’re attached to your bristles, other grooming services include moustache and beard trimming.

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Kit out your face with authentic retro specs

At its Chalk Farm store, General Eyewear is passionate about spectacles design from 1790 to 1995. Their collection of original frames reflects the timelessness of genuine style and if you have the money, they’ll make you a replica pair in acetate. Alternatively you can buy from their own ranges, including frames that rework English and Italian designs from the 1940s and ’50s.

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Primrose Hill

Test your music knowledge at the Lexington’s pub quiz

We’re not talking about a glorified fruit machine asking chart trivia here, this live session every other Monday night is an interrogation in sound. Officially known as the Rough Trade Shop Pop Quiz, it’s a good night’s entertainment, with rounds featuring pictures, music exerpts and general pop questions. There are drinks and record tokens for prizes.

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Stop for coffee in a public loo

Venue says: 10% off evening hire at Attendant when you quote 'Time Out'! Email info@the-attendant.com for more information.

Don’t worry, these beautifully converted old Victorian toilets were given a good scrub down before the plates of cakes were laid out. Opened in 2013, Attendant has a small bank of tables where the porcelain urinals once provided relief to gents about town. It’s already a popular spot for attentively prepared Caravan-roasted coffee, sandwiches, salads and sweet treats.

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Brendan M
Brendan M

 this is an escape room with a difference worth looking at: Escape Plan Ltd. It's set in WW2 - very immersive.