London is becoming a 24-hour city – and not just when it comes to staying out drinking later. From midnight movies to swanky restaurants serving food all night and London’s first all-hours hair salon, there are a multitude of fun things to do until the wee hours that don’t involve alcohol.
Here are eight late-night things to do in London that are easier to get to thanks to the night tube – and to make your way around London for your night-owl adventure, remember that TfL operates a night tube service on the Central, Northern, Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines, as well as Overground and bus services. Use the TfL journey planner to plan your next after-hours journey.
Go to a Prince Charles Cinema all-nighter
From Jean-Claude Van Damme movie marathons to Disney pyjama parties, the Prince Charles Cinema runs regular all-night back-to-back movie screenings for hardcore nocturnal movie buffs. Ever wanted to watch the entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy in one go or scare yourself silly with teen horror classic after teen horror classic? Get the coffees in and head to this cult-favourite cinema.
7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY.
Night tube: Leicester Square (Northern line)
Buy prime cuts at Smithfield Market
Food lovers can get their fill of super-fresh, quality meat cuts at Smithfield Market for a snip of what big-name restaurants and even local butchers charge. Bring cash and be ready, as the doors open for the week at 2am on a Sunday night/Monday morning. Even if you’re not buying, a visit to the wholesale meat market – the UK’s largest, on this site since the twelfth century – is an experience in itself.
London Central Markets, EC1A 9PS.
Night tube: Chancery Lane (Central line)
Get a fancy haircut
Neil Cornelius is the only hair salon in the UK to offer its cut, blowdry and colour services by appointment, 24/7. Because if you’re really, really busy, why not get your highlights done at 3am? On a visit to the swanky Mayfair hairdresser, you might even bump into Sam Smith, Mariah Carey or Keira Knightley, who’ve all had their locks coiffed by Neil Cornelius stylists.
1st Floor, 109 New Bond St, W1S 1EG.
Night tube: Bond St (Central/Jubilee line)
Visit New Covent Garden Flower Market
Opening up at 4am Monday to Saturday, New Covent Garden Flower Market is a pretty exciting place for buying blooms. The large, lively market in Vauxhall moved from actual Covent Garden in 1974 and sells a range of pretty petals and fancy foliage wholesale – plus fruit and veg from midnight until 6am.
New Covent Garden Market, SW8 5BH.
Night tube: Vauxhall (Victoria line) then 344 bus
Stargaze at Morden Hall Park
Gone are the days when accidentally going to Morden late on a crisp Friday night was a bad thing – now if you fall asleep on the tube, style it out with a bit of stargazing at Morden Hall Park before hopping back on the night tube and heading home to where you actually meant to go. The former deer park is a well-known stargazing spot. Look out for free star-spotting events run by The Baker Street Irregular Astronomers.
Morden Hall Rd, SM4 5JD.
Night tube: Morden (Northern line)
Eat at a 24-hour restaurant
Late night food doesn’t necessarily mean drunk food. Polo Bar, a spruced-up caff by Liverpool Street Station, serves all-day and all-night breakfasts and various other dishes for less than a tenner. VQ serves breakfasts, burgers and classic dishes in Chelsea, Bloomsbury and Aldgate round the clock, while the legendary Duck & Waffle has a delicious 24-hour dining concept with sunrise views from 40 floors up Heron Tower. Balans Soho Café is also open constantly, with an all-day menu served until 7am, when the breakfast options kick in.
Watch a Midnight Matinee at Shakespeare’s Globe
When things warm up later in the year, Shakespeare’s Globe rekindles its annual Midnight Matinee season, with late performances beginning at 11.59pm and ending three hours later with a sausage sarnie in Swan, The Globe’s bar and restaurant. Midnight Matinees happening in 2018 include ‘Othello’, ‘As You Like It’ and ‘A Winter’s Tale’, and tickets go on sale at 10am on January 29.
21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT.
Night tube: Southwark. (Jubilee line)
Take a dawn photography workshop
Get yourself to one of London’s bridges before sunrise to hone your camera skills with photographer Anthony Epes, who runs Cities at Dawn photography sessions. You’ll capture the changing light as the rest of the city is just waking up, in locations such as Borough Market and Columbia Road. Keep an eye out for group workshop dates or book a private one-to-one course if you can’t wait.
More of London by night
Shikumen Shepherd's Bush
The owners of Shikumen were doubling their bets when they launched London’s newest Chinese restaurant concept. They opened this branch in the Dorsett Hotel just six weeks after debuting their first in Ealing’s Xanadu Hotel. Named after a Shanghainese East-meets-West architectural style popular in the seventeenth century, Shikumen claims to reflect the refinement of that period. It isn’t something you’d expect to find. First impressions lived up to the promise – from the courteous greeting at the door to the handsome dining room furnished with leather banquettes and Shanghai-style room dividers. The dim sum menu is a compact selection of exquisitely steamed, baked, and fried dishes ranging from classic har gau and xiao long bao to more sophisticated items such as scallop siu mai topped with tobiko and cheung fun filled with prawn and beancurd skin. The latter was a revelation, each mouthful exploding into a sensual mix of sweet, briny flavours and crisp textures. Pan-fried turnip cake, another lunchtime staple, exceeded expectations with an eggy topping of chopped garlic chives. A generous portion of stir-fried seafood udon in XO sauce was also faultless. We didn’t have time for Peking duck, which requires at least 45 minutes notice and is presented in two servings – sliced and served with pancakes, then shredded and served with fried rice or fried or braised noodles. Judging from the dim sum, I’m willing to bet this dish would be executed with equal meticulousness. Servi
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