London is so jam-packed with things to do that it’s often tricky to know where to start, especially when there’s someone that you’re trying to impress and especially when you’re strapped for cash.
We all know there are a million free things to do around the capital, but if you’re keen to look like you’re stepping it up several notches, here are five ideas for amazing things you can do on a modest budget this summer.
Hit the beach
Source: The Resident
Price: £5 entry or free for SW6 and SW18 residents
Granted, a luxurious day on the sand might not be what you immediately think of when planning a day out in the capital, but then it sounds like you haven’t heard of Fulham Beach Club.
Located, as you might imagine, along the Fulham section of the Thames, the beach club is a haven of (imported) white sand, sultry cabanas and deckchairs for all. Open 6 pm – 11 pm Wednesday to Fridays, 12 pm – 11 pm Saturdays and 6 pm – 8 pm Sundays, it’s the perfect spot to grab an evening drink or to indulge in some al fresco dinner (£8 – £10 for pizzas or £4 – £10 for dim sum nibbles and bao buns).
Fulham Beach Club is open throughout the summer and is transformed into ‘Winterland’ over the colder months, meaning that you can head out for an inexpensive, romantic date even when the sun’s not out.
Share cocktails at a VIP venue
Price: £21 for two Espresso Martinis
Surprise your date by taking them to a hidden gem that’s right in the centre of the action. The Icon Balcony Bar overlooks Leicester Square and has a great view of the cinema, the garden and the crowd milling around on the street below.
Inside the bar, you’ll find swanky décor and friendly staff that can whip up great cocktails for a very reasonable price, given the venue. Once you’ve got your drinks, head onto the sweeping balcony (grabbing a complimentary blanket if it’s cold) and take a seat to people-watch to your hearts’ content. Bonus points if you can time your visit with a film premiere to watch the red carpet!
To get to the Icon Balcony Bar, you’ll have to go through the doors to the Empire Casino and up the flight of stairs on the right-hand side of the lobby. Arrive pre-dinner to snag the best seats outside.
Exercise your creativity
Price: £10 each in advance, £15 on the door
If you’re looking for something weird, wonderful and a little bit sexy, try out one of Dr Sketchy’s burlesque life-drawing classes. Instead of semi-awkwardly sketching nudes with a stick of charcoal, Dr Sketchy events involve dazzling circus acts and stunning burlesque performers, who put on a show in between rounds of drawing.
There’s no requirement to be an expert artist, just come along (materials provided) and enjoy music, comedy and cabaret between doodles.
Usually held once a month at various locations around the city (recent venues have included London Wonderground and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern), the next few sessions will be held at Toulouse Lautrec in Kennington.
Toast marshmallows on a campfire
Source: Design my Night
Price: £5 entry per person and £8 for drinks
Does it get more romantic than watching the sunset and cosying up around an open fire?
Midnight Apothecary has been voted one of London’s best cocktail bars since 2012, inviting guests up to their secret roof garden above the Brunel’s Thames Tunnel. Here, you can enjoy exquisite cocktails made from ingredients grown in the garden, relaxing as the gentle sounds of wildlife and the nearby riverboat traffic wash over you.
Book you and your date in for one of their afternoon or evening sessions but do it soon – the bar is only open until the end of September.
Enjoy an old-school night at the movies
Source: Sant Magazine
Price: £5 – £15, depending on the film
If you’re in the mood for a bit of classic cinema, head to the Rivoli Ballroom, Crofton Park. Their stunning, 1950s ballroom hosts all kinds of events throughout the year, along with nostalgic movie nights several times a month.
The gorgeous barrel-vaulted auditorium packs far more personality than any chain cinema you could visit, plus there are two bars that run the length of the hall on either side. Sit and sip a pre-film beverage before grabbing a bucket of popcorn and watching Indiana Jones, Rocky Horror or Home Alone.
Doors open at 8pm – get there promptly to pick up your tickets from the venue’s box office and grab the best seats.
Main Image Source: The Up Coming