The weather was just perfect in London during my recent visit.
Without rain nothing grows, so why not embrace the journey in your travels? In case you are not lucky with the London weather, here are a few gems, hidden and not, with great photo opportunities where you can stay dry and warm.
What’s red, red, and red all over?
The Classic British Telephone Box, that’s what. Ahh, the iconic red phone booth. Admittedly, some may not refer to a phone box as proper shelter from the rain, but oftentimes a rain photo can be quite stunning.
Before I divulge where to find the coolest red phone box, here’s a short history: Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed the phone booth in 1924, and it was introduced to the London public in 1926. He designed it for a Post Office-sponsored competition and won. His first design was known as the K2, or Kiosk 2. In 1935, he updated the design to the K6. The phone box is constructed of cast iron and the door is teak. I think the domed roof is a nice touch. There aren’t as many of these red beauties dotting the London streetscape as there once was; luckily for us, 2,000 red telephone boxes were declared “listed buildings” and remain in place.
Now, where to find the coolest of England’s cool iconic red telephone booths? I think this is the coolest installation. “Out of Order” by David Mach is in Kingston, London.
Coordinated and funded by Kingston First contributions from Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames and Danehurst, “Out of Order” was renovated in 2019 to mark its 30th Anniversary. The refurbished sculpture was unveiled by Mach in April 2019. It is an impressive installation. What do you think the artist was trying to say?
Where is London’s highest public garden?
On the one rainy day during my two-week visit to London, I visited the Sky Garden, a public park. A public park in a skyscraper, that is, at 20 Fenchurch Street. Three floors of greenery surrounded by glass walls offering panoramic views of the city.
Make sure to pre-order your ticket (it is free). However, when the daily allocated tickets run out to @sg_skygarden. The alternative 5.5£ entrance fee includes a worthwhile coffee and muffin at the lower bar. I had the quite delicious chocolate muffin. Don’t order the mimosa, too watered down for my taste. I also prefer fresh orange juice.
The cold and rainy day I went, I was lucky to bypass the long line, obtaining my ticket the morning I visited. Make sure to pre-book your ticket before your trip. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take photos from the deck because of low clouds, fog and rain. However, the roof terrace offers a fantastic view.
You may also want to treat yourself and make reservations for Fenchurch Restaurant, situated within the famous glass dome. The dome contains the beautiful public gardens and London’s most exclusive social spaces, including observation decks and the open-air terrace.
Pro-Tip: Go during the week to avoid crowds.
A Field Guide to Finding Creative Inspiration
Where to go on your second rainy day to brighten your London visit? The Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond. This gem is an hour drive from the city center but worth it. You will be treated to great coffee and cake. Also, check their extended menu online. The kitchen philosophy is slow food of the Italian variety.
It was so quiet when I was wandering around with my camera. If you appreciate flowers as much as I do, this location is a gift to your creativity. Like a demonstration garden, the shop’s rooms are quite inspirational, and I bet it will be a delight to see the holiday themes.
You will be under cover and will have plenty of motifs for you and your camera. If you are visiting around the holidays, then you will have festive photos to share with us. The rain will add a romantic touch against the glass windows as you dine or stroll around to shop or take photos.
Read more on London Calling: Gardens Are Always in Bloom here.
More books than one can count
Another rainy location to visit, especially if you love books, is the British Library, one of the largest libraries in the world. The catalogue claims approximately 150+ entries, so much more than books, too. You can find out the “Top 15 Largest Libraries in the World by Collection Size” click here.
Have you heard about Elton John’s piano at the train station?
St Pancras Station evokes the Romance of train travel. It is one of London’s monumental stations. You may have heard about Sir Elton John surprising rush hour commuters with a concert at St Pancras Station in 2016. After playing the piano (a Yamaha [and he didn’t sing]), he donated it to the public. Today it sits in the arcade with the note “Enjoy this piano, it’s a gift. Love, Elton John” engraved on it. Such a lovely touch for all passengers and visitors.
Piano or not, this is a beautiful station to explore on a rainy or cold day. There will be an abundance of photo moments at the station with all the little shops and cafes.
Pro-Tip: If you are hungry, I recommend Carluccio’s Italian food.
Best Place for a city view
Where to catch a great view of the city? At Duck & Waffle, of course. That’s the unlikely name of the wildly popular restaurant (more than 1 million dishes sold) on the 40th floor at 110 Bishopgate. I stopped by here and the restaurant area was not open but took a quick snap of the entrance. I will need to head back here to dine and enjoy a sunset view.
Pro-Tip: Make a reservation for Duck & Waffle.
That’s me in front of the Gherkin, London’s most recognizable tower, at 500,000 square feet in size. There is so much to see and do in London. I love their incredible gardens, but I am also keen to their fashion, architecture, and, of course, the incredible food.
Want to know what else I found in London?
City of Westminster (Upper Brook Street) is a beautiful area to walk around. You will find an abundance of flora in this neighborhood. I always love to highlight hidden gems that have not saturated Instagram.
For nicer weather in London, I suggest reading my article: London Calling: Gardens Are Always in Bloom. For a rainier visit, read on for few locations you may wish to sojourn.
Where are you staying?
I’ve stayed here twice with British Airways, and I’d stay again. Corinthia is luxury and leisure in Central London. Originating in Malta in 1962, Corinthia is a hotel group founded by the Pisani family. That familial touch lives on in making every visitor feel like an honored guest.
Plus, it’s near the West End and Covent Garden. Other walkable destinations I recommend are
Floral Street with its haberdasheries and variety of boutiques, including Diptyque for fragrances and scented candles; King Street for the Moleskine shop (I love those notebooks!); and a Petersham Nurseries, which is more citified than the one I mentioned earlier but chockablock with gorgeous home goods.
M by Montcalm Shoreditch London
I stayed at one of the Montcalm Luxury Hotels for the first time. M, the nickname for Montcalm Shoreditch London, is in London’s Tech City. Needless to say, the neighborhood pulsates with the high energy that comes with incubating businesses, start-ups, and creative hives. M offers sophisticated lodging with luxurious appointments.
citizen London Hotels
No, not a typo — citizen London Hotels. Look at this sweeping view! You can see the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. This is a great bar, and view, from @CitizenM
I missed my opportunity to catch a sunset view, perhaps the next visit.
Pro-Tip: The bar is on the seventh floor. Craft cocktails served. Pictures often taken, especially on sunny days.
To complete this article’s listed itinerary, you will need at least a week to tour this city. I was in London for two weeks and was able to enjoy the city leisurely.
Don’t forget to enjoy your visit and remember to take in the moments and not just collect the moments.