Where to Go for a Special Occasion in London

If you’re looking for things to do in London for a special occasion let me use my 6 years, 3 months and 17 days as a London resident to help you. I’ve been around. Over the years I’ve had to source special things to do in London for mum and dad, entertained visiting friends with Shoreditch street art tours and been to more than a few cool music venues in London.

Special occasion in London

When it comes to a really special occasion in London though, you need to pull out all the stops…

Admire the Big Smoke from above

The Shard is one of the newest attractions in London and is definitely worth a visit. City Wonders do a cool skip the line evening tour up the top which includes a delicious fish and chip dinner at the old George Inn and a tour around Borough Market too. Prices start from £62 per person.

If it’s views you’re after, the view across London from the top of the O2 is amazing. Its not actually even that scary to climb across either – I did it on a cold, windy, wintry night and survived, so you’ll be ok. Prices start from £30. 

If you’ve got a few hours after you’ve finished your special activity, or before, make sure to check out some of London’s sky view bars. My favourite is the Double Tree Hilton at Tower Hill, you can see for miles.

Taste London

If you’re looking for something a bit tamer there are plenty of great places to have an afternoon tea in London, it would probably take you a few months to get through them all. My favourite afternoon tea experience was at Fortnum and Mason – the history of the place, the service, the quality, and the fact it’s all you can eat won me over.

Special occasion in London

Watch a West End Show

Going to the West End is a fun treat in London. Most recently I went to see Phantom of the Opera and had a backstage tour beforehand, it was brilliant. I still want to see The Bodyguard and Thriller, but my all-time favourite show is definitely The Lion King. There are loads of great restaurants round there and many have a pre-theatre deal of some sort, try to choose somewhere more unique than Pizza Express, Planet Hollywood and the like.

Try to see it all

I loved the day out I had on the London Pass. For £40 you can make the most of over 40 attractions. In one day I went to Westminster Abbey, a Thames Boat Cruise, the Tower Bridge Exhibition, the Crypts and The Curzon Cinema. If you’re looking for some action for your special occasion in London, this would be the option to go for. 

Special occasion in London

Chill out with Liz

One of my favourite days in London when I was looking for something special to do, was the day my mum and I spent at Buckingham Palace looking at the latest exhibition, which at the time was the dresses of Diana. We had a great time looking around all the rooms there and following the tour. Afterwards we went to the cafe for a coffee – mum still has the Buckingham Palace emblazoned cup on her dressing table.

Market shopping

In my eyes the high street shops in London are pretty boring. It’s basically just more of the same of what you’d find on any town high street but way bigger and far more stressful to get around. The best way to shop in London is to visit the boutique shops of the likes of Covent Garden or Portobello Road, or hit the markets. Greenwich Market, Camden Market, Brick Lane Market and Spitalfields are my favourites. 

special occasion in london

Stay over

If you’re in London for a special occasion you might as well stay over so you don’t have to worry about getting home afterwards. Mum and dad recently visited me and I was able to treat them to a night at the Holiday Express Inn in Pimlico on my IHG Rewards points. A night here is normally around £300, so it was really useful to have the points to use. Find out more about IHG points here.

How about a speakeasy in London? 

Speakeasies are cool aren’t they? A nod back to prohibition time when the only drinking could be done in secret, underground, in the dark and totally illegally. How much fun does that sound?

Now it’s cool to legitimately drink underground and in secret, not quite as badass but these bars are doing all they can to create that feeling of times gone by. When people actually dressed up to go out, everyone knew each other and only the most hipster of the hipsters knew the best places to go.

Danger of Death

  • Shoreditch

1533DangerOfDeath-3166

From the front it looks like an antique shop. From the inside it seems to be a pizza joint. But down below, by the toilets, through a specific series of light-switch presses, opens a door to the super-swanky bar. Part of the Rushmore Group (Milk & Honey, Rotary Bar, etc.), they’ve got a beyond-solid cocktail menu — and as of the beginning of this year it’s no longer a members, club open their doors to the well-behaved public Weds-Sat.

Portside Parlour

  • Hackney

Head to Off Broadway – a cocktail bar in its own right – and pop straight down to the loo where one cubicle only has a sink and a cistern. Give the chain a pull and magically a door swings open to reveal this hidden colonial era-styled den, boasting over 50 different rums. Cocktails run through classics, twists on classic, and house drinks – all centered around cane hooch, naturally. Also, if you really like a bottle of something, buy it and they’ll keep it stashed away with your name on it.

5CC at The Well and Bucket and The Exmouth Arms

  • Shoreditch / Exmouth Market

5cc-well-and-bucket

A good pub is a good thing. What makes them great is a secret bar tucked away inside. In Shoreditch, look for the neon sign (this one’s not SO hidden). If you’re in Exmouth Market, however, you need to head out back – almost outside even – and upstairs for their tiny cocktail world. Both are strictly seating only, and they boast a range of house-aged cocktails in vintage bottles for a not-too-steep price either.

Kench & Bibesy

  • Smithfield

Upstairs? A delicious resto, daily prepping freshness from the market next door (pulled oxtail anyone?). Head to the bookcase at the back, however, and lean against the wall… and suddenly you’ll find yourself in their dive bar love child, with one of the best back bars and some of the more boundary-pushing cocktails in London.

UnderDog

  • Shoreditch

UnderDog3

Hidden at a dead-end hallway under the Shoreditch branch of BrewDog behind a cupboard, is the way of the future. Underdog (clever name, fellas) specializes in beer cocktails, and does not disappoint. It’s a dimly-lit bar – accessible by asking any bartender on the ground floor to take you downstairs – that’s stacked full of oddities. From snakes curled up in jars, random taxidermy and small boxes inexplicably filled with human hair, to a hidden voodoo corner where tables are surrounded by melted candles, shrunken skulls and one large, imposing skeleton. It’s pretty weird.

If you’ve got any other ideas of what to do for a special occasion in London, let me know in the comments box below. 

Chilling Out at Champneys Spa in Ashby de la Zouch
Poo With a View: Up The Shard

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