It’s January and there’s a definite nip in the air across the UK, and London is no exception. But that’s no excuse not to get out and about in the capital. You may need some tips on how to keep warm, however – take a look at some of the options below.
Shop for a warm hat and gloves
If you’re going to survive in the capital in the depths of winter, you’re going to need a new outfit. And while such an outfit needs to keep you warm, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be stylish as well. The capital’s extraordinary shopping scene allows you access to all the big brands, with popular destinations for getting a good bargain.
Lovers of luxury can find everything they need on Bond Street and in Mayfair, which boast juggernauts of the fashion world including Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Gents are advised to head to Jermyn Street, which is a particular hotspot for men’s clothes shopping. Other places to check out include Carnaby Street, Covent Garden, Regent Street, Oxford Street and of course Westfield’s extravagant shopping centres.
Hot drinks galore
While you’re shopping for that new hat, scarf and mittens, you’ll come across plenty of places where you can dive in and have a quick cup of tea or coffee. England is, of course, famous for its tea obsession, and there are plenty of places where you can indulge in a cuppa when out and about. Not only are the cafés themselves nice and toasty but the warming effect of the tea will help to fight against the cold long after you’ve left to resume the shopping.
Particularly renowned is the Attendant in Fitzrovia, which is set underground in a Victorian loo. Not only are you guaranteed a perfect drink (the hot chocolate is particularly warming) but such an inventive use of the small space is a serious novelty factor. Coffee fiends will find what they’re looking for in Alchemy Coffee in Blackfriars, while Algerian Coffee Stores in Soho offers an espresso for just £1 per shot. Lattes and cappuccinos are just 20p extra. Those wanting to go all the way and have an afternoon tea are also spoilt for choice, with London’s plethora of luxury hotels offering this wonderful English tradition. The Ritz is one, while Red Carnation’s Chesterfield Mayfair is another good option.
Galleries and museums
London has an absolute plethora of galleries and museums on a variety of topics, from the extraordinarily extensive archives of the National Portrait Gallery to the elementary exhibits of the Sherlock Holmes Museum. They all have one thing in common though – they’re warm.
A great many are also owned by the city, and as such, you won’t have to pay a penny to get inside and see the permanent exhibits. Kensington is a great place to head to if you’re into your museums – it’s the home of London’s museum quarter which proudly hosts the likes of the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. These behemoths are all entirely free to go into apart from any temporary exhibitions that are advertised otherwise. But they’re all pretty obvious examples – visitors to London seeking quirkier museums should try Greenwich’s Fan Museum, Holborn’s Cartoon Museum and the Old Operating Theatre in London Bridge.
Head to a market
All right – the vast majority of London’s markets are actually outside. Those that aren’t are generally drafty anyway, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get warm and toasty. While London’s markets come in all shapes and sizes, and sell a variety of different things, you’ll usually find they serve up some pretty tasty street food. And for an excellent price, too. You won’t find anything this good for this cheap in any of the restaurants, and the impact of a warm meal will mean you’re warm for absolutely ages.
Greenwich Market is among those with the strongest food sectors. Portuguese spicy chicken with potatoes, green Thai curry, beautifully baked pies – the list of available eatables goes on and on. Equally legendary for food is Camden Market, where you’ll find yourself heckled by cooks urging you to try a tub of their hot speciality for just £4-£6. Wrap yourself in a coat and scoff it down while overlooking the canal and sitting on a faux Vespa bench.
However, you haven’t experienced street food unless you’ve been to Borough Market at London Bridge. Positioned between the arches of a railway bridge, it’s an atmospheric place that boasts all kind of delicious hot foods and drinks, some of which are truly mind-boggling. These will warm up your stomach while the community atmosphere and the sound of traders calling to one another will warm up your heart.
Speaking of warming up the heart, London’s extraordinary array of festivals and celebrations provides a lively calendar throughout the year, and some of them are so bizarre or wondrous that you’ll be instantly cheered by them. From London Cocktail Week to the MCM Expo, these are opportunities to stay on the move, keeping yourself warm while experiencing all kinds of wondrous occasions.
While most cities save their occasions for the summer when the weather is generally better, our wonderful capital doesn’t bother with such niceties, based on the fact that the summer may well be as bad as the winter. If anything is going to get your blood pumping, it’s dancing to your favourite band at the Spitalfields Music Festival. Other events include the London Short Film Festival, the Incloodu Deaf Arts Festival, Changing Britain and many others that will get you into the warm. Not only that – they’re guaranteed to be fantastic fun.
Head to the theatre
London’s theatre scene is legendary, and there is no better place to warm yourself up, since you’re guaranteed to have some excellent entertainment at the same time as snuggling yourself down in a comfy seat. The sheer variety of what’s on offer is amazing. You might find yourself experiencing a Broadway import such as Wicked, full of showbiz glitz and glamour, or enjoying an atmospheric ghost story such as the Woman in Black. Cry your eyes out at War Horse or be utterly inspired by the opening scene of the Lion King. All together now – “It’s the circle of life!”