Not tired of life, ergo not tired of London
November 8, 2018 4:45 PM   Subscribe

The future Ms. Ubiquity and I will be vacationing in London from Boxing Day through New Year's Day. We both know the city well, and would be happy to spend the time revisiting the British Museum, the V&A, the Tates, Westminster, the Palace and the Parks, etc., by day and the theatres by night. But what is there new or unusual that we might not have seen?

We were probably last there about 10 or 8 years ago. We've done the Eye. We have wide interests, but I particularly like movies, art, literature and science, and the FMU is nuts about ballet and archaeology. We also enjoy fine dining, and will eat almost anything (though the FMU does not eat pork and prefers not to eat Italian food outside of Italy).

We will be staying somewhere in Central London, and will not have a car, but are willing to go anywhere the tube stops. Feel free to suggest day trips too, but we have done most of the obvious ones (Stratford, Hampton Court, Windsor, The Downs, etc.) and of course it's likely to rain so we might be better sticking around town where we can be more flexible.

As a bonus, please let us know where you think we might enjoy spending New Year's Eve. No dancing (the FMU was once a professional dancer and so refuses to dance with me), but a good meal, a little champagne, some music...

Thank you very much for your suggestions.
posted by ubiquity to Travel & Transportation around London, England (20 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I highly recommended Dennis Severs' House in this previous Ask.

If you haven't already seen the Wallace Collection, that makes for a lovely afternoon.
posted by theory at 5:10 PM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you haven't done the National Portrait Gallery, I highly recommend - easy location, small and usually something interesting on. Whenever I visit London (been too long :) I swing through.
posted by parki at 5:14 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ride the Mail Rail!

And visit the Dickens Museum nearby.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 6:13 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

You've listed the V&A, and its expansion is worth a visit by itself. I'll rattle off a few things that are seasonal or new or not as well-known.

Skating at Somerset House. The Mithraeum. White Lodge Museum at the London Ballet School. The Prince Charles is the best cinema in London -- it's known for both limited showings of classic films and also for its sing-a-long screenings.

Upscale NYE venues can get booked up quickly; the OXO Tower is not cheap but perhaps hits the spot. (And as it notes, you can't see the Thames fireworks from there. You can from Vertigo42. Or the Shard.) Or you could see if there are reservations for the American Bar at the Savoy and saunter down to the river afterwards. If your budget or preference is for something less opulent, then perhaps J Sheekey Atlantic Bar or one of the Wright Brothers seafood / champagne spots might be doing something?

Oh, and get breakfast at Dishoom.
posted by holgate at 6:39 PM on November 8, 2018

For a splash-out meal, Hedone is the way to go. If you don't want to splash that much, the lunch is a "reasonably" "good" "value."
posted by praemunire at 8:32 PM on November 8, 2018

Have you been to The Soane, or the Churchill War Rooms? They're both awesome. Also, a new bit of Westminster Abbey just opened!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 8:57 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I also popped by to recommend the Mithraeum as it's new since your last visit but if you're into Roman archaeology and haven't been before do head to the Guildhall for some excavated amphitheatre action.

For ballet Matthew Bourne's gorgeous
Swan Lake
is being revived at Sadler's Wells this year.

On the science side there's the brand new Science Gallery at London Bridge and the evergreen marvel that is the Wellcome Collection at Euston.
posted by freya_lamb at 10:57 PM on November 8, 2018

Have you been to the Museum of London yet?
Great place, you can easily spend a whole day there.
posted by bluedora at 10:57 PM on November 8, 2018

Ooh, and for literature do go see the Treasures of the British Library. The BL itself is an amazing place and worth a general visit.
posted by freya_lamb at 11:05 PM on November 8, 2018

Columbia Road market on a Sunday morning. Then wander over to Brick Lane for more (different) market. Columbia Road is a flower market but worth going for the spectacle even if you’re not buying flowers. Brick Lane - a while since I’ve been but clothes, design, second hand/vintage and street food. If it rains, there are usually some covered areas off Brick Lane but it’s a while since I’ve been and they tend to move around so not quite sure where. Spitalfields market is also nearby and covered, tho has lost a good deal of its charm in recent years since they filled half the space with restaurants and the stalls became more homogenous.

If you go to Brick Lane, I recommend reading Rachel Lichtenstein’s On Brick Lane beforehand - it’s one of London’s most fascinating streets, has housed wave after wave of immigrants over hundreds of years, and she really opens it up in a readable, intriguing way. It’s getting ever more hemmed in by the corporate monstrosities of the City, so worth going before they turn it into an HSBC office block or something.
posted by penguin pie at 1:54 AM on November 9, 2018

Wilton's Music Hall is an original music hall in East London (near Aldgate & Aldgate East tubes) which dates back to the 1850s. It's absolutely gorgeous and in December they're showing a play version of The Box of Delights which should be lovely and Christmassy.
posted by *becca* at 3:02 AM on November 9, 2018

That time of year is prime Panto season! There will be a few on in London this year - here's a list.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:02 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just got back from England and would like to recommend two $$$ places to dine that I really liked, both for lunch, though I'm sure dinner would be good too.

At Colbert's on Sloan Square, I adored the Smoked Haddock Kedgeree. The National Portrait Gallery Restaurant served a memorable roasted partridge.

Both places were hopping, making for excellent people-watching.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:18 AM on November 9, 2018

The Behind the Scenes tour of the spirit collection at the Natural History Museum is amazing.
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:20 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Leighton House and Lindley Sambourne House (18 Stafford Terrace) are close to each other. Both worth a visit, I loved Leighton House, it was gorgeous.

Nthing the Sever's house, it was really interesting.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:10 AM on November 9, 2018

Foundling Museum is a few blocks from the British Museum. Very interesting, and there is a collection on the top floor of a famous composer (damn, I cannot remember the name).

Shoreditch Street Art Walking Tour

Brunel's London Walking/Boat Tour

And if it's playing DEFINITELY go see "The Play That Goes Wrong". We saw it in London, and in New York, and it is the funniest play that I have ever seen.
posted by mbarryf at 6:43 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding that the new Diamond Jubilee Gallery at Westminster Abbey is well worth a visit!
posted by antiquated at 8:20 AM on November 9, 2018

We did a street art tour of East London (Brick Lane area) run by Alternative London and loved it. Great history as well as art, and the tour guide was himself a street artist.
posted by girlpublisher at 9:45 AM on November 9, 2018

My one current London recommendation as someone who is very much not a Londoner is also the British Library - they have an Anglo-Saxon manuscript exhibition atm which people are raving about.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 1:46 AM on November 10, 2018

Thank you all for the suggestions. We will try as many as are practicable.
posted by ubiquity at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2018

« Older NY/NJ travel: turbo wedding hygiene edition   |   Huge Hunk of Meat Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.