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13 Unusual Things to do on a Rainy Day in London by Sonya Barber

Meet Sonya Barber, author of 'East London: an Opinionated Guide' by Hoxton Mini Press, former Co-Editor of the City Life section of Time Out London News & Events Editor and general woman about town.

London might not look its prettiest when the clouds are grey and the sky is leaking but don’t let a shower (or three) dampen your day. The rain is a perfect excuse to head to one of these indoor delights instead.

1. Buy a stylish new brolly at James Smith & Sons

Things to do London

Next time the heavens open, head straight to James Smith & Sons shop on New Oxford Street and treat yourself to a proper grown-up umbrella. From traditional models with ornately-carved wooden handles to the latest fancy tech, buy a brolly here and you’ll be doing a rain dance so you can go out and show it off. Just try not to leave it on the tube.

2. Hide out in the Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican Centre has plenty of sheltered spots to while away a rainy afternoon but if you happen to be there on a Sunday, make a beeline for the wonderful conservatory and soak up the tropical Brutalist vibes. If you’re feeling fancy, splash out on afternoon tea where you can eat scones, jam and cream surrounded by 2000 plant pals.

3. Learn to Make Scented Soy Wax Candles

Things to do London

Head to this serene and beautiful shop in Hackney, Earl of East, and learn what it takes to make the perfect candle. This candle making experience gift is for two people, so take a friend!  Adding a little bit of Hygge to that rainy day.  

4. Get spooked at the Museum of Curiosities

Things to do London

You could easily walk past the Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History’s incongruous shopfront on Mare Street, but you’d be seriously missing out. Eccentric character Viktor Wynd’s collection of unclassified oddities is a magical treasure trove of the macabre, fantastical, kitsch and downright creepy. Keep your eyes peeled for the two-headed kitten...

5. Become a Whizz at Wiff Waff

Things to do London

Learn to chop, smash and destroy your partner at table tennis!  Head to the uber cool Bounce in Farringdon and Olav from The Indytute will teach you all the tips and tricks on how to become a really excellent table tennis player.  

6. Hang around with Flying Fantastic

What could be better than learning a new skill? The team at Flying Fantastic will have you performing tricks and twists in their aerial silks class before the hour is up. As you'll have worked up an appetite we recommend heading next door and try one of the delicious street food vendors in Union Yard Arches.

7. Sweat it out at Ironmonger Row Baths

When it’s wet and miserable outside, there’s nothing better than retreating into somewhere toasty and warm. And it doesn’t get much warmer than the saunas, steam and hot rooms in this beautiful old Turkish Bath. The hammam near Old Street was given a £16.5 million refurb in 2012 and still retains many of the original features making it the perfect spot for a long soothing spa session.

8. Lose the afternoon watching old films

Things to do London

Forget Netflix, head to the BFI Mediatheque on the Southbank instead and spend the day watching highlights from the BFI National Archive. Discover rare old TV series, Victorian film footage and classic movies as part of the 30,000 strong collection - and the best news is that it’s totally free. You probably can’t wear your pyjamas in there though.

9. Cosy up on a Canal Boat

All aboard for an overnight stay on a London canal boat! There is nothing more romantic than cuddling up together on a beautiful, luxury canal boat, listening to the rain drumming on the roof. You'll find Barbara and Velvet Morning in Little Venice on the Regent's Canal.  Light the wood burner burning, crack open a bottle of wine, it even has a bath on board.  

10. Play the day away at Draughts

Things to do London

Gather a couple of mates and head to Draughts board game café in Haggerston. With over 900 games in their library, you’ll easily find something that catches your attention. Just don’t blame us if your whole afternoon is lost to an epic game of Settlers of Catan. 

11. Get totally tropical at Palm Vaults

Things to do London

When it’s grey and gross outside, escape to the colourful oasis that is Palm Vaults café. The yummy veggie food and cakes, pastel plates, multi-coloured Instagrammable lattes and stylish tropical decor will lift your spirits and give you instant summery vibes.

12. Get the Giggles and Learn the Charleston

Dance the day away.  Our partners Swing Patrol will make sure both left feet leave the dance floor.  This dance is fast and furious and the music will lift the soul.  The Charleston is a solo dance so there's zero chance of stepping anyone's toes.

13. Go on a Gin Adventure

London gin experience

More than just a drizzle of gin here!  This is where you'll need that brolly - but only to run from your Classic Mini Cooper (with driver) to the best gin bars in London. A fantastic gin experience for up to three people. Need we say more.

Discover more rainy day experiences >>

  • Hoxton Hotel
  • Selfridges
  • Soho House
  • Stella Magazine
  • Stylist
  • Time Out
  • The Times
  • Press