Looking for things to do when it’s raining in London? From indoor crazy golf to a brewery tour at Fuller’s, a history lesson at west London café The Troubadour or a mooch about Greenwich Market, there are a myriad of indoor activities to try, as Keegan Strandness discovers…
1 Flip Out London E6
The capital’s largest trampoline park launched in July at the Granada Theatre in East Ham. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and Rod Stewart have all performed at the iconic art deco venue, which has been transformed into an adventure park following a £3 million renovation. As well as rows of inter-locked trampolines, the three storey arena also features a giant super-slide with an almost vertical 30ft drop, a network of indoor caves, a 100-metre indoor potholing zone, 12 themed climbing walls, plus a laser maze, cyber tower, ninja warrior course and dodgeball. For actual real kids (under 5s), there’s also an enchanted castle themed soft play zone with building blocks, play tunnels, balance beams, slides and a ball pool. There are also three themed cafes. Activities from £8. Soft play from £4.25. South of the river? There is also a Flip Out trampoline park in Wandsworth.
The old Gala Bingo Hall, 281 Barking Road E6 1LB; flipout.co.uk
2 Swingers crazy golf
Swingers, the crazy golf club, is a venue that combines the holy trinity of fun: street food, amazing drinks and competitive socialising, combining them all into one incredible social experience. Swingers is based on a 1920’s golf club set in the bucolic English countryside. The 16,000 sq ft venue, just a stone’s throw from the Gherkin in the City, has two bespoke nine-hole crazy golf courses, five cocktail bars, three of London’s best street-food vendors, a two-storey clubhouse with gin terrace and nightly DJs. Open seven days a week from 12noon till late.
8 Brown’s Buildings (Between Bury Street and St Mary Axe) EC3A 8AL; 020 3846 3222; swingersldn.com
3 Junkyard Golf Club, Brick Lane
More crazy golf! This time in east London… Located on Brick Lane, Junkyard Golf Club is an underground crazy golf haven supplying caddies, private bars and DJs for all your late-night shenanigans. Boasting three golf courses – soon to be four – there is plenty of scope to hire out small sections or the entire venue while taking advantage of the package deals for those of you wanting an alternative Christmas party. Bart’s Dog Kart is on hand to provide The Original, The Brooklyn and The Chiuahua plus the Veggie Dog for vegetarians, 100% quality hot dogs laden with combinations of nacho cheese, pico de gallo, jalapeno, sour cream, guacamole, sriracha, crispy onions and coriander. Omnomnom.
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane E1 6QL; junkyardgolfclub.co.uk
4 Playtime with London on Board
An excuse to relax indoors and play some games with your mates, London on Board is a friendly social board game club for anyone aged 18 and up, and is open to novices and veterans alike. Since the club was founded in 2006, it has acquired over 4,000 players, growing ever more popular by the month. The group gets together almost every day of the week and meet-ups are free to attend; bring your favourite game, or learn a new one that’s been brought by another. If you don’t consider yourself a board game connoisseur, have no fear – this welcome bunch is happy to teach newcomers. All meet-ups are scheduled online and you can RSVP on the group website. Locations vary so make sure you check in advance.
5 Visit a museum in South Kensington
Take cover from the harsh elements in one of Kensington’s many world-class, free-entry museums. All are located near Exhibition and Cromwell Road, so it’s easy to spend the day exploring the lot of them. Visit the dinosaurs or investigate the Earth’s birth and ecology at the Natural History Museum, appreciate some of London’s most historic Art and Design artefacts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, or delve into the genius of technology at the Science Museum.
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road SW7 5BD; nhm.ac.uk
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road SW7 2RL; vam.ac.uk
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington SW7 2DD; sciencemuseum.org.uk
6 Relax and recline at the Electric Cinema
Relaxing at the cinema is an age-old outing, and there is obviously no shortage of venues in the city. The Electric Cinema, however, is a cut above – taking the notion of comfort and amplifying it to the extreme. Not only does this cinema provide a selection of luxury leather armchair and footstool combos for general seating, and a spread of couches in the rear, but one can also find six double beds stationed in the front row – that’s right, beds. So weather the storm and snuggle up with your complimentary cashmere blanket while you watch a film at the cinema that makes you forget why you even left home in the first place.
191 Portobello Road W11 2ED; 020 7908 9696; electrichouse.com
7 Drink up on a brewery tour at Fuller’s
Have you ever wondered where your beer comes from? If not, perhaps a raging rainstorm will persuade you to find out. Take your pub trip one step further and tour Fuller’s Brewery, which brews award-winning beers including London Pride, ESB, Chiswick Bitter, London Porter, Bengal Lancer, Honey Dew and 1845, plus bottled beers like the brewery’s Brewer’s Reserve and Vintage Ale ranges. There are 25 tasting tours a week costing £10.90, with a 20% discount available for existing Fuller’s Fine Ale Club members. And at the end why not enjoy a lunch, or at least a pint, at The Mawson Arms, which is housed on the same site – it would be rude not to. Tours run from Monday-Friday at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. The Mawson Arms is open from Mon-Fri, 10.30am to 8pm.
Chiswick Lane South, Chiswick W4 2QB; fullers.co.uk
8 An historic eating experience at The Troubadour
The Troubadour is one of west London’s most popular alternative destinations, combining food with history and atmosphere. This raffish café was conceived in the 1950s and has hosted musical gigs for talents including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Jimi Hendrix. Monday nights are poetry nights, while other days feature house live DJs and auditions. In addition to the café’s musical spirit, the bistro-style food is delicious and of the owner’s original recipe; The Troubadour was even recognized as Les Routiers’ Café of the Year 2014. It’s quite a popular joint so it may require a little advanced booking, but the experience should be well worth it.
263-267 Old Brompton Road SW5 9JA; 020 7370 1434; troubadour.co.uk
9 Get moving with a dance class
When the weather is cold, it’s time to get hot. Incognito Dance is the hub of Latin dance in the UK, offering weekly salsa classes taught by award-winning teachers in Putney and Hammersmith, amongst other locations. Absolute beginners are warmly welcomed, and no partner or previous booking is required. Single classes run for one hour and cost as little as £8-£10; if you’re looking for a longer commitment, several week-long courses are also available for reasonable prices.
Hammersmith Salsa Club, 11 Rutland Grove, Hammersmith W6 9DH
Community Church Putney, Werter Road, Putney SW15 2LL
10 Ice-skating and bowling under one roof
If you’re looking for a all-in-one entertainment venue, Queens Skate Dine & Bowl has recently had a major overhaul to offer 50,000 square feet of ice skating, bowling, ice karting – yes, that’s go-karting on ice! – curling and an awesome retro video arcade. There are two cafes, too, with food provided by the delicious denizens of street food MEATLiquor. So if it’s raining cats and dogs outside, you can hide away all day and long into the evening at Queens.
17 Queensway, Bayswater W2 4QP; queens.london
11 Shopping at Greenwich Market
Nothing beats the rainy day blues like a proper shopping spree. Regarded as one of London’s best covered markets, Greenwich Market is open seven days a week and offers a wide array of independent, boutique and designer shops, with top notch food to boot. The brand new glass roof will keep you dry while the new flooring will keep those buggies rolling, and the new food court has a handy pavilion to keep the rain off while you munch your way around the global assortment of street food. Regular family friendly activities and workshops take place at the market, so be sure to check out the schedule and plan your outing accordingly.
greenwichmarketlondon.com (open every day from 10am-5.30pm)
12 Hang out in Ham Yard
The Ham Yard Hotel near Piccadilly Circus has a spectacular basement bowling alley, The Croc. The original 1950s bowling alley, with stylish lounge, bar and dance floor, was imported from Texas and manufactured by the iconic Brunswick company. The monochrome bowling ball returns include original features such as hand warmers and visible return runs. The solid maple bowling lanes have been specially commissioned, making it one of only a few of its kind in the UK. Back-lit bowling balls, vintage bowling shoes and bowling pin lamps sit alongside two large scale Howard Hodgkin artworks. Bowling is £20 per person, which includes use of up to two lanes in the bowling alley for a one-hour period (depending on numbers – 8 people per lane per game of bowling is approximately 1 hour per game), traditional bowling shoes, VAT and service charge. Minimum four guests, maximum 16 guests. Ages 7 and over.
1 Ham Yard W1D 7DT; firmdalehotels.com