Max Colson, Conservatory, Barbican Centre
Get a taste of the tropics here: Barbican Conservatory
Shake off the outdoors and explore a beautiful glass-bound rainforest at the Barbican Centre’s famous conservatory. Boasting more than 2,000 species of exotic plants and trees, this tropical oasis is not to be missed. Take a stroll through the paths and gaze at all manner of flora – from tree ferns and beautiful blooms to coffee, banana and ginger plants – and be inspired by the large collection of succulents and spiky cacti in the arid house. Koi carp show off their bold colours in two of the ponds, and terrapins - who were relocated here after causing too much trouble on Hampstead Heath - can be seen at the third.
Extend your experience by booking afternoon tea in the conservatory and enjoy delicious bites inspired by the fruit, flowers and herbs growing here, or boost your horticultural knowledge by taking a tour with the resident gardeners.
It’s only open on selected Sundays, so check the website before you head out.
Barbican Centre, Silk St, London, EC2Y 8DS
Sip coffee all day long here: Grind & Co
When it’s grey and wet outside, what could be better than pulling up a seat in a coffee shop, ordering a flat white and staying put for the day? And if it’s a stylish setting you’re after, look no further than Grind. Having first started with a solo site in Shoreditch, this cool coffee venture is now taking over London and can be found in multiple locations across the capital. Not only is the coffee on point and the interiors aesthetically pleasing, but the upbeat atmosphere will soon have you forgetting the dreary weather. As dusk falls, the cafés turn into lively bars so if the rain is still falling come evening, you have the perfect excuse to try one of their renowned espresso martinis.
Various locations across London
Fill your kitchen cupboards here: Daylesford, Notting Hill
Use the dreary weather as an excuse to stock your cupboards for the week ahead and visit this beautiful farm shop in the heart of the city. Offering everything from freshly baked bread and home-grown vegetables to grass-pastured meat from its Cotswold farm and cheeses made in its very own creamery, Daylesford Organic is a haven for food lovers. Attention is placed on farming responsibly, sourcing food sustainably and wasting as little as possible, and a simple passion for real food is at the heart of everything here. Once you’ve finished shopping, treat yourself to a wholesome lunch made with seasonal ingredients in the stylish café upstairs, and don’t forget to browse the artisanal homeware section downstairs.
208-212 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2RH
Watch a matinee performance here: The National Theatre
Whether you want to be entertained, challenged or enlightened, there will be something for you at The National Theatre. This award-winning theatre has three auditoriums (Olivier, Lyttelton and Dorfman) and it’s no exaggeration to say they really do show some of the best productions in the world. If the rain has caught you unawares and you don’t have tickets booked in advance, don’t despair – a small number are available to buy on the day. Get there early though – sales start at 9.30am and there will be queues way before this for the theatre’s most popular shows. If you miss the chance to get a seat, stay for a while anyway. There are cafés and bars to whet your appetite and free exhibitions in the Lyttelton Lounge and Wolfson Gallery. Visitors can also take a walk along the Sherling High-Level Walkway to see a secret view of the theatre’s busy production workshops.
National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX
Play a boardgame here: Proceed Clockwise
Take cover from the rain and put your brain to good use at this cool board game café in Shoreditch. With hundreds of different games to play – From Ticket to Ride and Obama Llama to Code Names and Scrabble – you might end up hoping for an all-day downpour if you have a competitive streak. The menu includes delicious pizzas and sharing platters and there’s good coffee and craft beer on offer. It’s reasonably priced too – just pay £5 per person to play as many games as you like for up to four hours at the weekend.
150 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6DG
Trustees of the British Museum
Learn something new here: The British Museum
Chances are, even if you’ve been a London resident all your life, you’ve probably barely ventured into the British museum – if at all. But this cultural powerhouse is a must-visit – and a rainy day will give you the perfect excuse for an excursion here. As the world’s oldest national public museum, it is home to a staggering number of items, including art, literature and other treasures. Key pieces to look out for include the Rosetta stone (an ancient slab with a decree inscribed on it in three different languages – and the reason we’re able to decipher hieroglyphics today), one of the famed statues from Easter Island, a stone tool dating back 1.8million years (yes, you read that right!), a selection of cat mummies and the Elgin Marbles, which were originally part of the Parthenon in Greece.
Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 3DG
Steve White, 2016. Image courtesy of Saatchi Gallery, London
Soak up the art here: The Saatchi Gallery
With its contemporary and innovative exhibitions, the Saatchi Gallery never fails to disappoint. Expect to find dynamic work by mainly unseen young artists that will challenge your thinking as well interesting pieces from international artists who have never exhibited in the UK before. Once you’ve finished, muse over what you’ve seen with a glass of wine at the Gallery Mess restaurant bar and café. It has an excellent menu and beautiful setting with exposed brickwork, a vaulted ceiling and impressive artwork.
Please note the gallery will be closed until the 15th March.
Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY
Buy some gorgeous homewares here: Aria, Islington
Update your interiors with a trip to this stylish homeware shop. With its flagship store operating out of Barnsbury hall – an impressive 19th century building with restored original features – Aria sells a unique range of contemporary furniture and homewares. You’ll find coveted high-end designer pieces as well as beautiful and innovative items from the likes of Ligne Roset, Fornasetti and Aytm. Smaller buys such as toiletries from Cowshed or Sarah Straussberg jewellery are also available. Its other store can be found just down the road at 168 Barnsbury Street.
Barnsbury Hall, Barnsbury St, London, N1 1PN
Tuck into some tasty food here: Market Hall, Fulham and Victoria
Avoid walking from restaurant to restaurant in the rain trying to find one you like the look of. Instead, head to Market Hall in either Victoria or Fulham and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Created by a UK-based team of community-minded investors and restauranteurs, these stylish destinations have turned disused spaces into buzzy food halls offering the best tastes of the city.
Housed in the former entrance hall of an Edwardian underground station, the Fulham location has a 250-seat capacity, a coffee shop, bar and seven kitchens. Choose between dishes from traders such as Ahi Poke, which serves up sustainably sourced fish with a Hawiian twist, Butchies, which claims to sell the best fried chicken in London, or Texan-BBQ experts Hot Box. Victoria’s location is the former Pacha nightclub and here there’s three floors to explore – with bars championing British-made drinks and delights on offer from Monty’s Deli, Koya Ko, Super Tacos and Fanny’s Kebabs.
472 Fulham Road, London, SW6 1BY and 191 Victoria Street, Victoria, London, SW1E 5NE
Curl up with a good book here: The Wellcome Collection
Describing itself as ‘the free museum and library for the incurably curious’, The Wellcome Collection is certainly an unconventional space. As a 19th century pharmacist who was passionate about medicine, Sir Henry Wellcome collected all manner of curios (expect to see Napolean’s toothbrush and Nelson’s razor among the items on show), and this venue is his legacy. As well as the permanent exhibitions, the building is home to temporary exhibition spaces, a café and restaurant, library and shop, but it’s the reading room that is the real star of the show in our eyes. A beautifully calm and relaxing space, it’s the perfect place to take a good book on a rainy day. Don’t miss the live events such as poetry readings, plays and talks, which take place in this room too.
183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE
Catch a film here: Electric Cinema, Portobello
The Electric Cinema is somewhat of a landmark in Portobello and for good reason. With plush leather armchairs, cosy sofas and even double beds to recline on, this is no ordinary cinema. Escape the drizzle and enjoy whatever film is showing – be it a mainstream blockbuster, an independent offering or a cult classic. And, if you’re feeling a bit chilly, wrap up in one of the luxury cashmere blankets on hand for this very purpose.
191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2ED
Nelly Duff Gallery/Raymond Okudzeto
Pick up a new print here: Nelly Duff
Spend an hour or two lusting over the eccentric art on offer inside Nelly Duff. This edgy gallery can be found among the trendy shops in Colombia Road and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for something to liven up a bare wall. Expect to see interesting pieces such as stylistic animal prints by Dave White, delicate bee and butterfly images by Jessica Albarn and cool typographical designs by Anthony Burrill. If you’re lucky you may even spot an original Banksy on the wall.
156 Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG