Roll up and step this way for the weirdest, freakiest and most unusual things to do in London. If you've been hanging around the same ten museums all your life, if you collect selfies at attractions like they’re popping out of fashion, or if you've already seen all of London's new exhibitions a hundred times, you might find yourself wondering what else this city has left to surprise you with. Well, never fear, fun-seekers, here's our collection of the very best unusual things to do in London – now get out there, you quirky little trailblazer, you.
The best unusual things to do in London
Open on the first Friday of each month, this small gallery displays photographs, props and costumes used by some of Britain's most famous clowns. Clowns have an unofficial rule that no two performers are allowed to have the same make-up. In order to ensure that clowns weren’t duplicating each other’s look, a practice of painting each unique design onto an egg began. The museum has a collection of more than 200 of these eggs.
Yes, you can sleep next to real-life lions in London. The appeal of staying the night in (well, right next to) the zoo’s Land of the Lions enclosure is obvious: you’ll feel a bit like you live in ‘The Jungle Book’, surrounded by creature companions. Hire a lodge and enjoy private guided tours around different animal enclosures after hours.
A beautiful time capsule attraction where visitors are immersed in a unique form of theatre. The ten rooms of this original Huguenot house have been decked out to recreate snapshots of life in Spitalfields between 1724 and 1914. A tour through the ‘still-life drama’, as American creator Dennis Severs put it, takes you through the cellar, kitchen, dining room, smoking room and upstairs to the bedrooms.
This London 2012 Olympic Games venue is open to the public for adrenalin-fuelled white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking sessions – riding the rapids that challenged the world's best makes for an action-packed experience. On the centre's raft adventure, you'll be high-siding, spinning and nose dunking on the Olympic Standard Competition course before you know it.
God's Own Junkyard showcases neon artist Chris Bracey's personal collection of work in a salvage yard in Walthamstow. It contains everything from his signage for Soho sex clubs in the '60s to his work for the movie industry, including pieces that were used in 'Captain America', 'Eyes Wide Shut', 'Byzantium' and more.
Take a guided walk at low tide around Deptford Creek, one of the last natural creeks to survive in the UK. The creek is a haven for freshwater and saltwater plants and animals including birds, butterflies and some 120 species of wild flowers. Walks last around two hours and booking is essential.
This zoological museum, the only one of its kind in London, seems like it has been here for a century or more. Such is the transporting effect of seeing avenues of display cases stuffed to the gunnels with animal skeletons, taxidermy specimens and creatures preserved in fluid, like a true Victorian wunderkammer. From a jar of tiny moles to a huge elephant skull, there is plenty here to draw gasps of amazement.
Kayak down the Thames in a bovine boat as part of this watery sightseeing tour. A two-or-three-man vessel decorated with a black and white cow print will be your mode of transport. There are several waterway routes you can pick from, including Hackney Wick or around Limehouse Basin, and some come with meal stops for hungry canoers.
This Mare Street curiosity shop is both on the art circuit and determinedly off any beaten track. Peek through the windows and you’ll see a world in which velvet-cloaked Victorians, or perhaps The Mighty Boosh, might reside. Entering the shop, which is also the spiritual home of the esoterically minded Last Tuesday Society, reveals a wunderkammer of shells, skulls, taxidermy specimens and assorted oddities.
Down a perfectly normal-looking street in East Dulwich you'll find a perfectly not-normal-looking abode. Taking the concept of one man's trash being another man's treasure, artist Stephen Wright is in the process of covering every available surface of this home in his kitschy mosaics. Everything here comes together in a magical hideaway that's only open to the public a few days a year.
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Don’t get us wrong, we’re huge fans the big London museums, the major art galleries and London’s best restaurants. But sometimes what you need is a bit of tranquility – a few hours somewhere where you’re guaranteed not to be asked for directions to Piccadilly Circus or whacked with a selfie stick.
Towering over Canary Wharf, Bōkan may sit on the 37th floor of a Novotel – but this is the kind of hotel restaurant you’ll actually want to eat in. With amazing views of London’s skyline it’s undeniable that a key reason for coming here is the setting itself. Especially given that it’s been so thoughtfully decorated, with rustic Scandi and subtle industrial vibes. And if it’s true that you can judge the merits of a restaurant based on its loo, then this sky-high spot – which, per square foot, rivals Versailles in its mirroring – is soaring. Service, too, was as slickly competent and polite as the surroundings. So far, so great. The food was slightly more irksome though. Beautifully presented, the scallops tasted mainly of lemon, with only the smallest amount of lip service being paid to the promised seaweed. Similarly, the crab salad had a nice kick, but with far too much daikon (Japanese radish). Having said that, desserts were awesome, with a meringue that was everything you could hope for – coconutty, fluffy and crunchy all at once. And the ginger pudding – billed as a sharer – was so great that one person could very easily wolf the whole thing down. Don’t expect culinary fireworks, but for a dining room with a view, Bōkan will do nicely. Note that there is a smart-casual dress code, so any sloppiness may be refused entry.
Venue says: “Test your taste buds and spoil yourself in our amazing sky-high restaurant. Try our five-course chef's tasting menu for £60 per person.”
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