The summer’s starting to flex its muscles here in London. As the thermometer creeps up, we still find ourselves in the office and desperate for some cooling-off time. Funnily enough, the capital has a number of places filled with cool, refreshing, icy activities. Ice walls, rinks, bars: they’re all there, including some of the best gelato you will find this side of Italy.
Escape the heatwave
One of the easiest ways to escape the onslaught of heat that hits the capital each summer is by finding a room full of ice. London has a number of rinks open year-round, in addition to the picturesque pop-ups that grace landmarks around Christmas. Queensway, near Bayswater, and Alexandra Palace (by Wood Hill) are two classic institutions that welcome everyone from first-timers clutching the barrier to seasoned professionals.
Hit the slopes
Believe it or not it is possible to ski in London. Yes, on two planks down a slope. Indoor skiing is a more common site in out-of-town shopping centres around the UK (for a lack of ‘properly’ wintry conditions), but there is a year-round slope in Chiswick. The Skiplex indoor slope is found at the Duke Meadows Golf Club, with trained instructors and a fully adjustable slope. Who needs Val d’Isère anyway?
Reach new heights
London caters for those mountaineers feeling at a lost in the summer months. Vertical Chill is an ice wall operated by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports found right in Covent Garden. The wall is kept between -5 and -12 degrees and stands at 8m tall, with a viewing gallery (if you don’t fancy following your friends in the ascent). It’s not quite Game of Thrones, but still pretty intense with a range of faces available from flat to terrifyingly sketchy. Sessions include the latest gear and guidance from fully qualified professionals is also available.
For something less strenuous, you can take the idea of enjoying a cool, refreshing drink in the West End a level up with London’s Ice Bar. The bar itself is, naturally, made entirely of ice kept at -5 and drawn from northern Sweden (with its superior water), as are the ‘glasses’ from which you drink. There is also an exquisite range of ice sculptures that are shipped in at the start of each year. Mayfair’s version of cool.
Now for the food…
The British staple of a Flake 99 can still be found, thankfully, in parks and street corners across the city. Ice cream in London, however, is now so much more. Gelaterie have opened across the city, as well as frozen treats from the rest of the world to make ice cream just as cosmopolitan as the capital itself. Nardulli’s in Clapham offer an enormous variety of flavours, ranging from beetroot to Galaxy Caramel, while Gelupo in Soho have crafted some exquisite gelato. More recently you can find mochi, with Little Moons opening up the first dedicated stalls at Whole Foods branches (including in Camden, Kensington and Fulham).