West London may be home to some of the city’s more affluent inhabitants, but its highlights are much more accessible than its house prices. Here’s our pick of the best things to do in west London: from finding a tribute to Japanese green fingers in one of London’s major parks, to joining the capital’s biggest street party on the roads of Notting Hill, go west to find some of the city’s best things to do, darling.
RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in London
The best things to do in west London
This massive trampoline park offers 150 interconnected trampolines for energetic people to bound around on to their heart’s content. Sure, you can take lessons in the trampoline academy, but you’ll probably have more fun flinging yourself at the walk-the-wall trampolines in one of the ‘freejump’ sessions. Bouncier than Tigger on a pogo stick.
Let’s face it, how many of us have time for a round of proper golf? In footgolf, the holes are bigger, fewer people have the experience to beat you and if you don’t come first you can blame the weird notion of kicking a ball around a golf course in the first place. Yes, it’s really just kicking a football around a golf course, and it’s as utterly daft and brilliantly amusing as that sounds.
Holland Park has many great assets including sports facilities, play areas, woodland and an eco centre, but it also has a remarkable hidden treasure: a traditionally designed Japanese garden. Created as part of London’s Japan Festival in 1992, the garden has water features, Japanese trees and other pretty plants, and is carefully tended to ensure it remains a picturesque spot.
Every summer, Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery invites a different so-hot-right-now architect to design a temporary outdoor space for visitors to lounge around in. Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Ai Weiwei are among the more famous names to contribute work, which often makes the increasingly amorphous architecture of the city’s financial centre look like reserved office blocks by comparison.
This celebration of West Indian culture and Europe’s biggest street party always takes place on August Bank Holiday. Sunday is family day, and on Monday the streets get especially crowded so arrive by tube then walk to Chepstow Road, Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Grove. Sound systems on the street and in the squares are a big draw, but some of best DJ sessions feature at the warm-ups and after parties.
From daytime play for little ones to lates for geeky grown-ups, the Science Museum is a happily noisy home of scientific discovery that’s free to visit for one and all. Its latest feature is the new Wonderlab: Statoil Gallery, a state-of-the-art seven-zone area of the museum that’s ticketed, allowing you to see live experiments and shows, and get interactive away from the crowds. From moving exhibits and a chemistry bar to friction slides you can try yourself, it’s an exciting new addition for adults and school kids.
The grand Tudor pile that Henry VIII ‘acquired’ from Cardinal Wolsey was later home to royal Stuarts and Georgians who also made their mark on the palace and the remarkable thing is, you can stand in the very rooms where history was made, walk down the corridor where Kathryn Howard was dragged screaming, see how George I’s chocolatier prepared the king’s favourite tipple and yes, where the monarch did his business. Top tip: the wintertime ghost tours are frighteningly good.
From mid-July to mid-September The Proms’ annual festival of classical music takes over the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park. For each concert there are about 1400 £5 standing tickets, but if you want to wave your flags at the famously rousing last night, apply by ballot online from mid-spring. Alternatively, for last-minute tickets on the day, join the queues on the Queen’s Steps.
For everyone from T-Rex-obsessed toddlers to budding paleontologists, the Natural History Museum remains the ultimate destination for matters pre-historic. A left turn from the vast main entrance hall leads into the west wing or Blue Zone, where long queues form to see animatronic dinosaurs – especially endlessly popular T-rex. A display on biology features an illuminated, man-sized model of a foetus in the womb along with graphic diagrams of how it might have got there.
Maintaining the freedom of fringe arts in an intimate space above a pub, the award-winning Finborough Theatre company still manages to compete with theatreland’s bigger players for quality. The focus is on new writing or neglected plays from the nineteenth and twentieth century that would rarely been seen elsewhere, and productions regularly transfer to the West End.
In London’s West End there’s an insatiable appetite for Broadway transfers like ‘The Book of Mormon’ and 'Kinky Boots', but there’s homegrown success, too: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, Cameron Mackintosh’s ‘Les Miserables’ and the RSC’s ‘Matilda the Musical’ are among the hits. Last-minute tickets from the Leicester Square ticket booth are usually your best bet for a bargain.
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There are stalls selling veg and new goods through the week, but on Saturdays Portobello Market is at its best. At the Chepstow Villas end of the road you’ll find the antiques and bric-a-brac stalls. Don’t be fooled by the fold-out tables, this isn’t cheap tat, there are some serious treasures here. For secondhand goodies, head further along the road, beyond the Westway.
Can’t get to Florence to examine Michelangelo’s David up close? An impressive five-metre-high reproduction is on show over in Kensington, in the V&A’s Cast Courts. Collecting plaster-cast reproductions of European monuments and works of art for the British public was popular in the nineteenth century, and present-day museum-goers are still benefitting from a practice of which the V&A was at the forefront. The high-ceilinged, light-filled galleries have become an invaluable record of many sculptures whose originals have been since damaged.
How many things have you done?
Whether you’ve lived here all your life or you’ve just arrived at Heathrow, we're all spoilt for brilliant things to do in London. From picture-postcard attractions to hotspots in odd spots, by day and night, from art to wildlife, there are, in fact, many more than 101 things to do in London.
Sat across the road from Clapham South tube, Yardbird is a (mostly) slick chicken joint with a menu of hot birds and cheesy, fried sides. It’s certainly natty lookin’: both wood-heavy and bare bricked, with copper beer taps and cod-retro lighting. Food, too, was mostly good. The main event were the hunks of bird, brined for 24 hours and then either cooked plain, in a jerk marinade or buttermilked, battered and deep-fried. The jerked bird was fragrant and moist enough, though the herbaceous Caribbean rub was sorely lacking in spice; the fried was far more successful – perfectly crisp, well-portioned and succulent. Paired with teeny pots of smoked aioli and Holy Fuck hot sauce, it was hard to fault. Sides and specials lurched from tip-top to second-rate. Golden, greaseless chicken mac ’n’ cheese balls were as good as that sounds. Blue cheese fries, though, were pallid, erring on soggy. In a glorified fast food spot, fucking up the chips is a schoolboy error. Service was well-meaning but sloppy. Drinks were forgotten. Wrong dips brought to the table. A dessert of salted caramel ice cream with peanut shards and butterscotch sauce (gimme!) had run out, replaced by a vanilla ice cream and choc sauce number. Fair enough – until a tiny glass of cheapo supermarket ice cream turned up, doused in, I swear, that crappy, cold-hardening Crackin’ sauce. Great for Proustian pudding flashbacks, terrible for £5. They do takeaway, though – so I’d advise you take those hot birds home with you
Venue says: “Serving delicious coffee, brunch, chicken, cocktails and craft beer right opposite Clapham Common Southside, with a stunning outside terrace”