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Weekend Away

Exciting attractions which can be found off the beaten track

Everyone knows about the London Eye and Big Ben, so this time why not give the guidebooks a miss and explore a different side of London? Here are some of the city’s best kept secrets…

 

Thames Rockets

Tour London in an incredibly unique experience unlike any other – you’ll be whizzing down the Thames in a speedboat in an edge-of-your-seat sightseeing tour and enjoy an action-packed day out. Thames Rockets are famously the fastest speedboats along the iconic river, on-board you’ll find comedian guides who are sure to keep you entertained along the way.

Enjoy classic London sights as you’ve never seen them before whilst the wind whips through your hair on this exhilarating tour of the city. Zoom under famous bridges as you slice through the water at 30 knots (super-fast!) and marvel at a variety of city landmarks. This attraction prides itself on being suitable for all ages from 1 to 101, as well as appealing to any type of party - from hen and stag dos to staff gatherings and school outings. Partake on this ultimate adventure whatever the weather – just bring a raincoat just in case it starts pouring down in typical British fashion. If you need any more reason to take part, Thames Rockets was awarded a five-star rating from London’s Timeout Magazine and also a ‘Gold Tourist Attraction’ badge in its first year of sailing.

Thames Rockets was the first ever speedboat tour operator of its kind in London and is a favourite for both tourists and locals since their start up in 2006. Unfortunately, the central London section of The Thames does carry speed restrictions but once you’re past Tower Bridge you’ll be seeing speeds of up to 35mph! Not only are the guides hilarious, but they do have great knowledge about the city that will certainly impress passengers - it also means they’re on hand to answer any and all of your questions.

Chin Chin Labs

You absolutely must make a pit stop at Chin Chin Labs in Camden Lock when you venture into the bustling city of London. Chin Chin Labs is a nitro ice-cream bar which offers guests a bit more than just a Mr Whippy. Watch as your ice-cream is frozen before your very eyes and is wrapped in billowing clouds of -196°C liquid nitrogen and transformed into crazy creations such as brownie cookie sandwiches and killer marshmallow cones.

Standout ‘classic’ flavours range from Tonka bean to Valrhona chocolate and burnt butter caramel whilst vegan options include peach tea and mango lassi. There’s always something different on offer and flavours change regularly to match the seasons so it’s worth revisiting whenever you’re nearby. Once your ice-cream has been frozen to perfection, choose from the toppings and sauces which are equally as creative, they include: hazelnut sand, truffle crumble, grilled white chocolate, cinnamon toast and handmade torched marshmallow. There’s so much to choose from you’ll be spoiled for choice!

This unique, tasty ice-cream experience is one you won’t forget for a long time as you witness first-hand food chemistry at its absolute best. It’s situated amidst the tourist chaos opposite the giant Gilgamesh statue inside Camden Lock and is depicted as a mad scientists’ lair - you can’t miss it. Sweet-toothed visitors will gape at the minimalistic interior inside the restaurant; look out for measuring cylinders and test tubes filled with coloured liquid that aren’tjust a gimmick, they’re part of the ice-cream creation. If the weather takes a turn and you don’t fancy ice-cream, opt for one of the hot chocolates topped with toasted marshmallow – take it from us, you won’t regret it!

 

This place has the best ice cream you could ever have in London. Burnt butter caramel ice cream is to die for. Must have the hot chocolate with handmade torched marshmallow it’s really good!

 

Davenports Magic

Davenports holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest continuously owned magic shop in the world - it has stayed in the same family ever since it was first founded by Lewis Davenport in 1898. This unique, quirky store can be found hidden in the Charing Cross Underground arcade and draws in tourists who have decided to venture off the beaten track and into the tunnels around Trafalgar Square.

This truly is the hub of magic in London - all levels are extremely catered for whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional. Friendly staff are always on hand to demonstrate tricks and share their wealth of knowledge whenever possible. Regular magic workshops are also run here for both adults and children inside the specially dedicated magic studio which can be accessed via the shop, so everyone gets a chance to be Harry Potter for a day!

Photo credit: @chienishere

Choccywoccydoodah

This impressive chocolate emporium situated in Covent Garden is a highly successful international business which combines exclusive art and design with delicious Belgian chocolate to offer the best sweet experience in London. Inside Choccywoccydoodah you’ll find the most mouth-watering creations made to the highest quality in the form of cakes, gifts, sculptures, truffles, lollipops… the list goes on!

Whether you’re looking for something to celebrate a special event or you’re just stopping by for a midweek treat, you certainly won’t end up leaving empty handed. For over 20 years, this weird and wonderful shop has seen a fair share of celebrity clients including the likes of Rihanna, Madonna, Joan Collins and Kylie Minogue – Elton John even had his wedding cake made here! If you want your own bespoke, custom made cake you’ll need to contact the company at least 3-6 months prior to the special date to ensure your order is made on time, so don’t wait around. Previous designs have featured carousels, horses, dragons and even a mini amusement park - anything is possible here.

The cafe here is amazing - the cakes are divine and the ice cream shakes are beautiful too. Really friendly staff and service. Definitely worth a trip if you’re in the area. Even if not for the cafe, the shop is amazing!

Scale the O2

Reach new heights as you witness London like you’ve never seen it before when you scale the O2 to enjoy 360 degree views from the towering platform. There’s a selection of packages for any and all occasions, partake in a sunset climb and head on up as the sun comes down, or treat your better half to a celebration climb for your anniversary and pop a bottle of bubbly on the roof. When it’s clear, you’ll be able to marvel at iconic landmarks up to an impressive 15 miles away; it’s truly an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience. Look out for the Olympic Park, Tower Bridge, the Shard, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and not to mention, the Olympic Stadium.

Those not keen on heights will benefit from the friendly, chatty guides who are sure to make you feel relaxed as you spend around 90 minutes scaling the ginormous 52 meter high arena. Once you reach the top, you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of achievement as well as a strong rush of adrenaline just like the other 300,000 people who have already made the climb since 2012. Before you begin your summit up this cherished London landmark, strike a pose for the professional photographer who snaps your picture which is then readily available for you to buy upon your return down to earth.