The UK capital’s home to a glut of hugely well-known, world-class attractions (and terrific, affordable accommodation properties, such as the London Premier Kensington) but, let’s be honest, these aren’t to the taste of every visitor. And, to that end, being the extraordinary centre of diversity it is, London’s also home to venues that celebrate the freaky yet fantastic too – here are some of the best examples…
Sir John Soames Museum
(13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2A 3BP)
When not coming up with the designs for some of London’s most iconic buildings (such as the Bank of England), Victorian architect Sir John Soames was busy amassing an incredibly eclectic collection of art, furniture and ornamentation; so much so he eventually transformed his home into a museum to which he wanted any and every one to enjoy access. Open Wednesdays through to Sundays, this house full of fascinating, obscure artefacts is entirely free to enter.
Dennis Severs’ House
(18 Folgate Street E1 6BX)
This stunning time capsule of an attraction features 10 separate rooms of this grand Spitalfield-located, terraced house. Originally the home to several generations of a large Huguenot immigrant family, each of the building’s different rooms captures a moment in time from the family’s era in the house, which spanned from 1724 to 1914. The house-as-museum’s founder, American Severs, referred to its USP as ‘still-life drama’ and a tour (on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday evening) of the property will take through its cellar, kitchen, dining room, smoking room and upstairs bedrooms, lasting roughly 45 minutes.
Lee Valley White Water Centre
(Station Road EN9 1AB)
Deployed as an eye-catching venue for white-water rafting at the 2012 Summer Olympics held in the capital, this fantastically well-appointed centre is now open to all and sundry to try their hands at white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking. It all makes for an action-packed day out and no mistake; the rafting’ll see you thrown into high-siding, spinning and nose-dunking, all on the ace Olympic Standard Competition course. Maybe not for the faint-hearted, though!
Grant Museum of Zoology
(Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street WC1E 6DE)
If you thought the Natural History Museum in South Kensington was the only one in town worth salt, think again. For this venue truly is a treasure trove of the weird and wonderful. Yes, like the former attraction, the Grant Museum’s home to animal skeletons, taxidermy specimens and many a creature preserved in fluid – but it’s the kind of creatures that sets this place apart; tiny moles in a single jar and gigantic elephant skull, for instance. Be aware, mind you, that although it’s open Monday-Saturday, doors never open before 1pm; so, judge your start-out time right if you’re staying at the likes of the Park Grand Paddington Court hotel.
God’s Own Junkyard
(Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street E17 9HQ)
Located in a salvage yard in Walthamstow, don’t be deceived into thinking that there’s nothing worth seeing here, for this venue’s the site of artists Chris Bracey’s collection of his own fantastic neon artworks from a career’s worth of producing them. Dazzling the eyes then are signs and pieces that have been used for everything from the movies (specifically, the likes of Captain America, Eyes Wide Shut and Byzantium) to Soho sex shops back in the 1960s. And when you’re done with this pop art emporium, be sure to cross the street for a coffee and a snack at the great Rolling Scones Café (before popping back, perhaps, to one of The City’s corporate hotels in London).