Normality is finally on the horizon! After a long winter lockdown, restrictions are finally easing in the UK, with the government having put together an official roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions — meaning our plans of things to do and spending time with our friends and family will finally become a reality!
As of the 29th of March, the first stage of easing restrictions began. Outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households are officially allowed, which fortunately coincided with our first heatwave of the year! Now we’re eager for the next chunk of easing to begin! By now, most of us have truly exhausted park wanders, hiking trails and socially distanced picnics. Now’s the time to look forward to the next stage of restrictions lifting. From the 12th of April, pubs, hairdressers, shops and gyms will reopen, whilst all restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve customers outside. If you haven’t started booking things to do, now really is the time!
With a little help from us at HIP Hotels, we’ve put together a selection of new and exciting places to enjoy and start booking to help get you back to some sort of social normality again. From getting dressed up and showing off those new clothes you’ve ordered online throughout lockdown at the O2’s colourful Selfie Factory, to Bar Elba’s magnificent rooftop cinema with bottomless prosecco, discover some fun things to book and enjoy with your loved ones in London as we fly through the government’s roadmap to that long awaited freedom!
Don’t worry, this guide doesn’t have a “local walk” in sight!
A place dedicated to selfie-taking, discover the UK’s first Instagram-inspired funhouse, the picture-perfect pop-up Selfie Factory. Located within London’s O2 Arena, this colourful and quirky interactive exhibition is home to over ten different photogenic installations and backdrops specifically designed to help you get the perfect selfie to fill up your camera roll and post on your social media accounts. As selfies have become more and more popular over the years, with all generations having experienced their popularity, what better place to indulge in the perfect picture than this purpose-built venue?
Make your way around this spectacular dreamland and discover everything is beholds, from a giant ball pit room to a pink supermarket — utilise the fun spaces and props, and ramp up your selfie game. Spoilt for ‘selfie opportunities’, you’ll have enough pictures to last you the entire year! Be sure to dress up in your favourite outfit, dig out your makeup and do your hair, and experience the ultimate selfie-taking location here at the Selfie Factory.
Reopening on the 12th of April, one of London’s most iconic rooftop bars is bringing everyone who steps foot inside, a cinema in the clouds. With awe-inspiring views over the city’s skyline, Bar Elba will be the ultimate night out for all. Expect popcorn, bottomless prosecco, an indulgent array of cocktails and cinema heralding pop-culture icons. This hotspot, located in Waterloo, will be the perfect place for those searching for a unique date night experience (a huge upgrade from socially distanced walks and virtual drinks), a place to catch up with friends and family who you haven’t seen in months, and of course, a place for those simply looking for the perfect tipsy night in the city.
Bar Elba will be serving up all of the movie classics. From iconic rom-coms and indie flicks to Marvel specials and musical classics (think Mamma Mia Here We Go Again!), this rooftop cinema will be taking place every single day. So what are you waiting for? Gather your troup, select your drinks package, grab your cinema ticket, and prepare yourself for the ultimate movie night experience. Not to mention, every booking comes with its very own set of headphones, so you can fully immerse yourself in this big-screen experience!
With dining outdoors until mid May will be the norm, many venues will be stepping up their outdoor experiences, with Somerset House being no exception. Nestled on their Thames-facing terrace, 2021 presents their new Dining Domes — the ultimate summer hangout (not to mention Covid friendly). Featuring a series of deluxe igloo-style domes, they’re both British weather-proof and make the perfect socially-distanced hubs. Be prepared to indulge in tantalising dishes prepared by their award-winning culinary team. From lunch and dinner specials to afternoon tea and classic cocktails, a day or night in these Dining Domes will be one to remember! So glam yourself up, book your dome and enjoy the ultimate outdoor dining experience at Somerset House. Not to mention, they make the perfect photogenic backdrops to relaunch your social self on social media.
Please note: the domes are only available for bookings of four to six people, and there will be a minimum spend on dinner sessions. Please book in advance.
Since the start of the pandemic, high street-only retailers lost a lot of business in sales due to shop closures, increasing online spending across the world. For all those who have missed a spot of physical retail therapy, you’ll be delighted to know that all non-essential retailers including clothing stores, shoe shops and tailors are now finally scheduled to reopen on the 12th of April after nearly five months of closure.
What better shopping hub to rediscover than London’s iconic streets? Wander along Oxford Street, one of the most famous in London, get lost on the many floors of toys and games in kids’ haven Hamleys, indulge in some high-end fashion and art boutiques on the historic St James’ street, splash out on some of the very best designer clothes, or go luxury window shopping through Bond Street and Mayfair. Experience a full-day shopping experience in the renowned Westfield, discover an intriguing mix of independent boutiques on Carnaby Street and explore the legendary department store of Selfridges. Wherever you decide to shop, there’s something for everyone in London.
There’s something about taking a dip in open water that is deeply soothing for both the mind, body and soul. Swimming is not only a great way to keep fit, but it’s also a fantastic low-impact activity with many physical and mental health benefits. As of 29th March, all outdoor pools and open-water swimming facilities have reopened — the perfect place alternatives to health and fitness, other than home workouts and local walks and runs.
From the hidden gem of the vast West Reservoir in Hackney and the iconic Hampstead Heath ponds, to London Fields’ Lido and the Royal Docks located near the ExCeL centre, all outdoor swimming options in London will have social distancing restrictions in place to ensure everyone's safety. So what are you waiting for? Dive in, unwind, de-stress and let all of your lockdown worries melt away with an indulgent swim in London’s open-water and wild swimming spots.
During lockdown, many of us have been getting creative and practising our DIY skills, so why not carry on with that trajectory? Get to grips with a range of hand-building techniques and indulge in the ultimate 90-minute pottery workshop experience. With a fun focus on the classic workshop, get a little merry while you pot at a BYOB class at London’s magnificent Token Studio. This workshop located near South London’s Bermondsey, hosts the perfectly creative and party-like experience. The perfect place if you’re looking for a more hands-on date, the ideal pre-drinks filled with creativity and laughter, or a place to create the perfect gift for yourself or your loved one. Token Studio has really nailed it when it comes to creating the ultimate creative experience with a unique twist for everyone to enjoy.
Please note: you must be 18 and over to take part.
After months of closure due to London’s third lockdown, the wonderful Vinegar Yard is preparing a grand return this April 12th, and reopening to the public. If you haven’t visited already, this London Bridge hotspot is the perfect place to tantalise your tastebuds with a magnificent selection of street food options — indulge in magnificent art installations, browse through an array of ethical and sustainable pop-up shops and enjoy a drink or three with friends.
Open seven days a week until late, in the upcoming months we expect to see Vinegar Yard packed with foodies and after-work revellers alike. From Nanny Bill’s delicious burgers and tantalising Italian street food at Sugo, to Baba G’s Indian nachos and tasty coffee from The Gentleman Baristas, this year, Vinegar Yard will also be welcoming a Bacardi rum shack to keep it fresh for the summer. This iconic hotspot will be the perfect place to dine and drink alfresco in London so be sure to book a table and a drink package before it's too late!
This one’s for all you thrill seekers out there…
Escape the busy city life and blitz your senses across the ultimate high ropes course at one of London’s iconic Go Ape venues. This treetop adventure is not only the perfect place to be bold and daring, but it’s also a great activity for friends and family to enjoy — a far cry from the less exhilarating socially-distanced walk! Choose between Alexandra Palace, Battersea and Cockfosters, and begin an unforgettably thrilling experience among the trees. Enjoy some panoramic views over the city whilst indulging in the goliath of high rope adventures and challenging obstacles, fly through long zip lines, cross over intricate, wobbly bridges and feel like Tarzan as you swing among the trees. Go Ape has also ensured Covid-friendly restrictions and additional measures are in place that work effectively to keep you safe during your visit.
As the countdown to April 12th begins, most of us will be waiting impatiently for the pubs to finally open after months of closure. London’s pubs are now eagerly preparing for the reopening of their outdoor spaces, gardens and terraces since the announcement of the UK government’s roadmap. With most pubs only taking bookings for up to six people, it’s advised to start booking now to avoid disappointment.
With so many outdoor bars and pubs in London to choose from, we’ve put together some of our favourites. Discover North London’s Faltering Fullback, a well-loved, ivy-covered local pub nestled within Finsbury Park. Home to magnificent tiered decking, making you feel as if you’re walking straight into a beautiful Thai garden, it’s the perfect early afternoon sun trap where you can enjoy a delicious cold beverage. Book a table at Tooting’s The Castle, home to a public house since 1832, and enjoy the cabana-style huts (with some featuring built-in drinks’ fridges and fires!). Enjoy some on-site micro-brewing production at the People’s Park Tavern and enjoy some old-school games consoles, weekend DJs and a hacienda-style garden leading onto the backs of Victoria Park. Grab some street food from the delicious Patty & Bun and explore The Prince, London’s largest beer garden in the heart of West Brompton. Indulge in the magnificent wine list put together by a Master of Wine at The Eagle in Shepherd’s Bush — it not only has one of the most original and beautiful beer gardens, but the bean bags and seaside huts are the perfect spot for an social media snap. Wherever you decide to indulge in a couple of alfresco drinks, be sure to book your table now!
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