The shorter days and frosty mornings that accompany us through a London winter are no reason to avoid exploring your city — but it’s useful to know where you can defrost.
Here are five quieter places that are open later during the week…
Is your favourite on the list? If not, let me know and I will pay a visit!
1. Visit the Treasures Gallery at the British Library
The quietest time to visit the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery — possibly the most impressive collection of books and manuscripts on show in the UK — is undoubtedly during a weekday evening.
Highlights for me include one of Henry VIII’s letters to Anne Boleyn, Jane Austen’s notebook, and Isaac Newton’s letter to Samuel Pepys.
I’ll leave it to a visitor on Tripadvisor to sum up why this place is so incredible: “Where else can you see the original Magna Carta and the original handwritten lyrics to Ticket to Ride across the room from each other?”
Late opening times: Tuesday to Thursday until 8pm
Nearest Tube: King’s Cross St Pancras / Euston
Address: 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB
More information: Visit the British Library website here
2. Browse John Sandoe Books
Get a move on when you finish work and get to John Sandoe Books for a while before it closes at 6.30pm.
The shelves of this traditional bookshop (housed in an 18th-century building) are filled with every book imaginable and the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly — it’s a local bookshop in central London.
I dare you not to leave with at least one book…
Late opening times: Monday to Saturday until 6.30pm
Nearest Tube: Sloane Square
Address: 10 Blacklands Terrace, London, SW3 2SR
More information: Visit the John Sandoe Books website
3. Get cultured at the Barbican Art Gallery and Shop
Take your mind off things by ending the day with some culture at the Barbican Art Gallery.
The Barbican is a cultural hub of activity and there’s no better time to enjoy it without the crowds that in the evening when the daytime crowds have dispersed.
Late opening times: Until 10pm on Thursdays and Fridays (last entry 9pm)
Nearest Tube: Barbican
Address: Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
More information: Visit the Barbican website
4. Have a wander in the upper levels of the British Museum
It’s amazing how quiet some of the big tourist sites can be if you just avoid some of the main attractions, and the British Museum is no exception.
Head to the upper levels to avoid the crowds and get some space.
The bookshop is also open until 8pm on Fridays.
Late opening times: Fridays until 8.30pm
Nearest Tube: Russell Square
Address: Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
More information: Full list of late opening galleries at the British Museum website
5. Stop for tea at Yumchaa Soho
I’ve written about Yumchaa Soho more times than I’ve counted, but what I love most about it is its later opening times, which are later than most of the big chains.
This means you can go and read your book after work without having to go and sit on your lonesome in a bar.
Oh, and their range of caffeine-free teas mean you don’t have to succumb to a sugar-loaded chai latte just to make sure you can sleep a few hours later.
Late opening times: Monday to Saturday until 9.30pm (until 8pm on Sundays)
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Address: 45 Berwick Street, London
More information: Visit the Yumchaa website here