Unusual Things to Do #1: Dine in the Dark
If you’re looking for a quirky dining experience, look no further than Clerkenwell’s Dans Le Noir?: the only restaurant of its kind in Britain.
Established with the ambition of encouraging diners to reevaluate their preconceptions about eating, socialising, and the dining experience as a whole, Dans Le Noir? invites guests to eat in a pitch-black room. 80% of the information we perceive is taken in through the eyes; by removing that sense, diners rely on taste, texture, and smell to evaluate their food. There’s also a social message at play, here: you’re prompted to think about sight as a sense, what it means to you as an individual, and what life might be like for a blind person.
On arrival, you are prompted to select one of the coded menus: red for meat; blue for fish; green for vegetarian; and white for the chef’s special tasting menu. Next, you’re led to a table in the dark basement by one of Dans Le Noir? visually-impaired waiters. After that, you’re left to guess exactly what it is you’re eating – and who you’re sitting next to! The restaurant consists of sharing tables, providing the opportunity to chat to new people in an environment that encourages the shedding of inhibitions. As Dans Le Noirs? puts it: ‘It is a social experience where darkness frees inhibitions and fosters a conviviality without preconceptions.’
An experience like no other – not for the fainthearted, but not to be missed!
Unusual Things to Do #2: Sleep with the Lions
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in the depths of nature, wonder no more: at Gir Lion Lodge, you can bed down in the heart of London Zoo’s very own Land of Lions enclosure (or, as they put it, ‘within roaring distance’ of their magnificent beasts).
Though the zoo is conveniently located in the centre of the city, you’ll feel completely removed from your urban surroundings. Resting within one of the nine comfortable lodges – which have been inspired by the décor of Indian hotels within the lions’ native Gujarati province – you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sounds of hooting monkeys, cooing birds, and growling lions. In the morning, you can breakfast on your own verandah and take in the atmosphere of the park, before taking a private guided tour around various enclosures (which are open to Lodge guests out of hours). Free parking, entrance to the zoo, dinner and breakfast are all included: everything you need for a truly special overnight stay.
Unusual Things to Do #3: Celebrate Cereal
When the Cereal Killer Café opened in London three years ago, it was met with some controversy: how could the owners charge for serving their customers a bowl of cereal, after all? Three years later, however, the institution is still going strong; and whilst the Brick Lane branch is the world’s first – and most popular – international cereal café, the founders have since opened cafes in Camden Market, Dubai and Kuwait.
The truth is, the café offers so much more than a bowl of cereal – and that’s precisely why it’s proved so popular with natives and tourists alike. Visitors can lounge in the nostalgic surroundings of a 90s bedroom – complete with single bed ‘seats’, vintage cereal boxes, and retro cartoons playing on old-fashioned television sets – and pick from a menu that includes cornflake-coated chicken, a ‘Lucky Charms’ cocktail (marshmallows included), and ‘Cereal Milk’ ice cream. If you really are in the mood for cereal, there are more than a 100 different types to choose from, including some rare, imported options.
Unusual Things to Do #4: Discover a City of Cheese
No trip to London would be complete without a visit to one of its many markets: from Portobello to Camden, there is so much to explore. Leadenhall Market, which can be found in the heart of the city, was founded in the 14th century, and is home to a number of exceptional restaurants, shops, and bars. It’s also the base for Cheese at Leadenhall, a leading cheesemonger that is famous for its imported cheeses, lovely café, and wacky ‘cheese tours’.
These cheese walks – which are one of our top picks for unusual things to do in the capital – allow visitors to see a completely different side to London. Beginning at Cheese at Leadenhall, walkers are guided through the City of London, tasting some delicious cheese on the way whilst hearing all about the history of British cheese: its influence on architecture, culture, and politics. After the tour is done, participants will return to the cheesemongers to savour four cheeses and a selection of wines in the bustling surroundings of Leadenhall market.