London is on practically everyone’s bucket list, and you probably have at least a conceptual idea of what you’d like to do when you get there. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, a ride on the top deck of a Routemaster bus, a West End show, maybe even afternoon tea and sandwiches with the crusts cut off at the Ritz.
Go ahead, these are all worthwhile activities and you’ll have a great time. But when evening comes around, don’t just follow the rest of the tourists around Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Go out on a limb a little, and you’ll get to know the real London, not just the version that is packaged up and presented to visitors.
1. Try A Night At Bingo.
Bingo has always been popular in the UK, but 20 years ago, it wouldn’t have been suggested for a night out for anyone under 70. All that has changed in the internet age. The major game companies have spent millions on campaigns to reach a younger audience and as a result, not only are they logging on to sites like https://www.unibet.eu/bingo, they are also visiting physical bingo halls to try the game out in the real world.
The cavernous one on Stratford High Street in East London has brought the game into the 21st century with touch screens that also work as menus, so you can order a meal without breaking from the action. Alternatively, check out Palace Bingo at Elephant and Castle, south of the river, for a time-warp experience that will transport you back to a bingo hall of the 1960s.
2. Curry in Brick Lane
Set aside your preconceptions about British food. Fish and chips are fine for the seaside, but when locals go out for a meal in London, Brick Lane is the obvious destination. It’s become something of a magnet for alternative, independent vendors, so you’ll find interesting stores and market stalls as well as great bars and restaurants.
In the 1990s, Brick Lane was synonymous with curry, and while there are still plenty of choices for excellent and inexpensive Indian and Bangladeshi fare, you can find something to suit every palate in this intriguing neighborhood.
3. An Old Fashioned Murder Mystery
You’ll be spoilt for choice if you decide to catch a live show in the theater district. But there is one that is something of a rite of passage in London. The Agatha Christie murder mystery The Mousetrap opened in Covent Garden on 25 November 1952 and has been on ever since.
It is by far the longest running of any West End show and there have been more than 27,000 performances. Over the years, the cast has included such stars as Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim.
Despite the play being part of London’s fabric for 67 years, the ending and the identity of the killer is a secret that audiences traditionally keep, so there’s only one way for you to find out what happens.