It’s a huge city with an enormous amount of people, so chances are you’ll hardly even notice that you’re alone, especially with our list of activities to help capitalise on the capital – so go forth and visit, eat and drink your way around without ever feeling the pinch of loneliness.
Visit & Shop
Museums are best appreciated in as much silent contemplation as possible – otherwise there wouldn’t be such universal irritation upon the arrival of shouty tour groups with yellow flags brandishing in front of your face. And much as you might think it’s nicer to appreciate genius with friends, why make others suffer when you could simply revel in some of the world’s best people-watching? The only company needed for that is a pair of headphones and a lively imagination…
London has one of the world’s best, broadest selections of museums and galleries, from Tate Modern to the Victoria and Albert, the Natural History Museum or the Barbican you’d have to be pretty demanding not to find something to entertain you in your free hours. If you’re not in the cultural frame of mind, there are enough shopping districts and emporiums to keep you busy for weeks – on any given day the areas surrounding classic Covent Garden, quirky Portobello Road or something-different Smithfields, there’s a district and diversion for everyone.
Stage & Screen
If you’d rather spend your time out of the public eye, there’s maybe no better place to while away the wintry blues than in the warm glow of the cinema or the theatre, especially alone. And for those theatre tickets that have long been sold out, being just one without the plus means a better chance of seeing the shows you might not otherwise get to.
No-one likes a talker during a good film, and the only eye-contact you need to be making is with the screen (and maybe the actors on stage). London has hundreds of options, but these are our a few of favourites for avoiding the crowds and catching the works of art your friends won’t see or have all seen already.
The Prince Charles Cinema has an official Kevin Smith toilet and is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite movie theatres in the world: you should go, in other words. The Electric Cinema on Portobello Road is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious cinema in London. Opened in 1910, the restored Grade II listed Notting Hill building boasts a gorgeous gilt-domed box office, mosaic floor and a Baroque-style auditorium and has just undergone a £5 million refurbishment, making it a challenger for the most luxurious way to watch a film in London. For pure theatrics, the Royal Court Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe are two different but equally worthy ones to explore and where no-one will bat an eyelid at your single orders at the bar.
Eat & Drink
Stomach demanding attention? Borough Market is a safe bet for breakfast or lunch and will always accommodate the solo traveller, with its endless possibilities for wandering, tasting and testing the local and international goods on sale. If you feel more like having a proper sit-down meal, especially pre or post-theatre, Arbutus is great for eating at the bar, plus it means that even when it’s busy you can still blag a spot (also, any wine on the list can be bought in single-person-friendly 250ml carafes). If speedy tapas are more what you’re after, Barrafina welcomes the solo diner: with only 20 or so stools around the bar, it’s also perfect for meeting people if you’re in the mood, and with all the shouting of orders it’s part-theatre anyway, so you won’t even feel like you’ve got no-one to talk to.
If you’re just after a drink and a think, Dean Street will accommodate you from early morning until late night and the debatable hours in between. The long bar is perfect for sitting and chatting to its tenders, or you can book one of the comfy chairs by the window and people-watch. An atmospheric option is Mark’s Bar below Hix restaurant on Brewer Street. The dim lighting, leather sofas, mirrors and apothecary cocktail bar all leave you feeling under no pressure to leave this snug spot. Pull up a chair at the long sunken bar and have a go at the ‘Pegu Club’ of gin, curaçao, lime, Angostura and orange bitters, named after an officers’ club in Burma.
Resolve to spend some quality alone time this year – book your break now at Amba Hotel Charing Cross!