Don’t Waste It
It is so easy to waste an hour, sitting around, wondering what to do, or phone staring, even when you have no coverage or inclination to solve puzzles.
There are so many cool things to do in London – an hour is enough to get something done, see something cool, or grab a great coffee.
In this series, I tell you what I would do with My One London Hour from various locations in London, because let’s face it London is pretty big!
I have centred all these around train stations for the simple reason that train stations are the easiest way to figure out where you are in London.
From King’s Cross
Let’s say that you have arrived into King’s Cross Station, lots of people do, and you have an hour free.
There are a number of things to do right there inside King’s Cross, especially if you are a Harry Potter Fan.
Harry Potter Tip: Don’t get in the line for a picture at Platform 9 3/4 if you only have an hour. If the line goes the full extent of the ropes, you would be waiting more than 60 minutes.
There is the Harry Potter Shop there however, so if you need some last minute souvenirs for the Potterhead in your life – voila.
There are also quite a few coffee shops and stores around the station, if a nice relax is what you want.
I, personally, would head into the British Library next door. The British Library runs beautiful exhibitions, free ones as well as paid. They recently ran a history of magic, to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the the first Harry Potter book. There were some very cool Harry Potter things, but also some artefacts from the real history of magic.
Monday to Saturday they open at 9:30am and close at 8pm Monday to Thursady, 6pm on Fridays, 5pm on Saturdays, and Sundays they open 11am-5pm.
I would, however, recommend you check this on their website they day you are there.
General Tip: It may look on a map like the British Museum is very close to Kings cross. In reality, it’s over a mile and will take you at least 20 minutes each way.
Waterloo is probably my favourite, and least favourite, station. It’s the busiest, with just over 100 MILLION people passing through each year. It is also very well connected and has a Yo Sushi which I enjoy.
Around Waterloo you have a few things like the Florence Nightingale Museum and The London Dungeons. But I would recommend leaving the station via the big steps, crossing the road in front of you and turning right.
Lower Marsh is a street full of awesomeness. Yes, Awesomeness. There are dinky bars and pubs, plus potentially my favourite shop in the whole world.
This is a bookshop, dedicated to travel. AND there is a cafe! What more could you ask for??
They have all the things you would expect, Lonely Planet guides and maps. But also travel writing, fiction that inspires wanderlust (I found my most recent copy of The Historian in this shop, review here!) and books about far away places.
From Liverpool Street Station
There is very little to do in this station except eat, I also find it stupidly difficult to get to. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. So I really would recommend aiming to get there early.
There isn’t a lot to do in terms of attractions but there are some very cool bars and restaurants near by.
The Breakfast Club: American and English breakfasts, all day. Not angry about that.
Duck and Waffle: Apart from having an absolutely superb name, they are a quite cool concept. 24/7, up a tower, with amazing views.
Beer and Buns: The UK’s largest Japanese Craft Beer offerings, and steamed buns. And giant chicken wings. Sounds good, add it to my list immediately Jeeves!
Apart from the necessary and required visit to the Paddington Bear Store, Hyde Park is right around the corner.
I have had few occasions in London as legitimately pleasant that sitting in Hyde Park with a freezing cold can of Coke in summer.
It was hot. Actually hot, not the 15 degrees Celsius that Brits seem to think is the height of ultraviolet decadence and strip down to their skimpiest in order to tan.
You can wander through Hyde Park and relax, check out some of the memorials, and have a nice ice.
If its raining or a perambulation is not to your liking, the Alexander Fleming Laboratory is just up the road in St Mary’s Hospital. This museum has been rather lovingly restored to its 1928 condition and tells the story of the discovery and development of penicillin.
From London Bridge
The obvious answer here is to go up the shard. It’s there, you’re there, the view is there – it’s like it’s meant to be. However, if you have already been or don’t like heights there is a fair offering of things to do in and around.
There is a selection of little shops and restaurant, mostly though the connecting tunnel and in the retail arcade that connects London Bridge to the Underground station of the same name.
If you head out the big doors and turn right on to St Thomas Street, you will find the Old Operating Theatre and Museum, which is open every day except Mondays from 10:30am – 5pm.
This is MAD COOL, yes I like 1980’s terminology to describe my museums. Every Saturday at 2pm they have a Victorian Surgery Talk in the original operating theatre of St Thomas’ Hospital from 1822.
Similarly you can check out the Gordon Museum. This one is may not be for the faint of heart for the collection houses real specimens from those who had suffered from various maladies, and hyper realistic wax models of dissected corpses.
What I would do with a spare hour while visiting the centre of London. You have the option, basically always, of grabbing one of 19.4 MILLION cups of coffee sold annually in the UK from one of the 22,000(ish) coffee shops that London has. Because, as we know, coffee and travel are joined at the hip.
With so many things to do in London, and these are just the ones that caught my eye – what would you do with your One London Hour?
Let us know what you would do in One London Hour in the comments, and share this with your friends!
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