Venice has its canals, New York its sky scrapers and Berlin its sadomasochistic fetish clubs. London’s got rain. So much rain. Thinking of checking out Hyde Park? Don’t bother, it’s raining. Wandering down St James’s hand-in-hand with a loved one? Won’t work, you’ll both be clutching brollies. Whether you’re a visitor without a mackintosh or a weather-worn London, here’s some suggestions of things to do when it rains in London.
The Romans may have just pipped us with the covered market, but since the 18th century London’s been punching back, covering markets like a Queen Tribute Band covers Bohemian Rhapsody. Take your pick, from the genteel confines of Burlington Arcade, with its million pound watch shops, high fashion boutiques and tail-coated attendants, to modern interpretations like the ultra-modern Bloomberg Arcade, from ornate gothic Victorian efforts like Leadenhall Market to the hipster magnets of South London and its foodie hubs like Tooting Market or Brixton Market, places where you can go for the very latest in food and drink trends. And the best thing? Totally impervious to rain.
Where: Leadenhall Market (pictured), Gracechurch Street, The City, EC3V 1LT
There’s something so very London about the British Museum in the rain, as you squint through the diagonal streaks of rain to its immoveable columns you could be visiting at any point in the last two centuries. But once you’re inside it’s clear that you’re bang upto date. Yes there’s reminders of classical civilisations, Elgin playing marbles and suchlike, but there’s also the Foster and Partners designed great court and an ever changing array of exhibitions you could lose yourself there for an entire day, oblivious of the storms brewing or rainclouds clearing outside.
Where: Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3DG
See that dangly thing? Guess what it is? Can you guess? In that case send me an email because it totally beats me. Sea Containers London is a special hotel, set on the Thames and one of the best designed hotels in London. With its fabulous views and quirky styling, it’s also ideal to dart into during a rainstorm, and not emerge from until evening. Number one your list of things to do should be the spa (though try the (literally) world beating cocktail bar or the fabulous restaurant too), just sit back and relax while the treatments and the music wash over you at agua London.
Where: Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD
Famously not a game to be played in a storm, golf isn’t a natural wet-weather option. But fear not, we’re not playing outside human-lightning-rod proper golf, but indoor mini-golf and in a capital awash with mini golfing, Puttshack is the king. Play multiple innovative courses, and it’s so clever that it keeps score for you, leaving you to get slowly drunk safe in the knowledge that it’s got your back.
Where: Westfield London, Ariel Way, Shepherd's Bush, W12 7HB
Catch a film in an indie cinema
The perfect activity for a rainy day has to be a trip to the cinema. While the rain pelts it down outside you can be transported to other worlds. But don’t settle for a multiplex, there’s more than enough Odeons in the world for the sort of people who want to pay £15 for a box of popcorn to watch a mediocre film in an out-of-town shopping centre. No, what you want is a real indie cinema, a place that feels like it’s totally designed for film lovers. London has no shortage of beautiful cinemas,
Where: 52 High Road, East Finchley, N2 9PJ
Before Instagram they probably didn’t even have cake. What would the point be? Must be the thinking at a new generation of cake shops. Ahead of the pack are Peggy Poschen, who being together Instagrammable everything with lashings of pink and, perhaps surprisingly, excellent tasting cake. In fact, it’s perfect for anyone who’s looking to dash out of a rain shower to grab a bite, guzzle a coffee and maybe to a bit of work while you’re at it.
Where: Peggy Porschen, 219 King's Road, Chelsea, SW3 5EJ
Let’s face it, you’re wet anyway, may as well embrace it by combining one of the most London things ever (rain) with one of the most London things ever (a lido). Lidos are scattered across the capital, outdoor swimming pools that are bizarrely popular all year round. Whether you’re jumping in to escape the summer heat, or breaking the ice on Christmas day, people are out come rain or shine. And when it’s rain, well why not?
Where: Tooting Lido, Tooting Bec Road, Tooting, SW16 1RU
Curl up with a book in a bookshop
Not sure about you, but there’s normally one thing that I want to do when it’s pour with rain, and thats’s curl up with a good book. Hot drink optional, glass of wine ideal. Well if your housemates, children, cat make this impossible to effect at home, perhaps do it in style at one of London’s many bookshops. If nothing else a good browse and a book and tote bag purchase later, the shower may have stopped.