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Where To Go When The Weather’s Being British

Our go-to spots when it’s cold, wet, and windy. So that’s 99% of the time.
Where To Go When The Weather’s Being British image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

You booked a ticket months ago. You’ve read every 72-hour London itinerary that exists on the internet, and you’ve filled your group chat with videos of aesthetic picnics to recreate on Primrose Hill. And you haven’t packed a single umbrella between you. Big mistake. Because what those itineraries left out was the 99% chance of rain at any given moment. The good news is that we’re used to it, and we’ve got a list of go-to restaurants for when the weather has ruined all plans that include leaving your hotel room.

THE SPOTS

Central

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Indian

Soho

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerCatching Up With MatesDinner with the ParentsLiterally EveryoneLunch
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Oxford Circus is not for the faint-hearted, and Oxford Circus in the rain is for the straight-up desperate. When you’re tired of dragging your feet from H&M to H&M, head to Darjeeling Express. The Indian spot on the top floor of Kingly Court feels more like a mate’s dinner party than it does a restaurant. Staff are chatty, the owner walks around welcoming people, and the royal thali set menu is an excellent well-rounded dinner that’s enough to keep you full until the next morning. There’s also a more flexible à la carte menu at lunch if you don’t want to commit to the £65 dinner—make sure to get the spicy keema toastie.


There are two ways to react when you realise you’ve used your frequent flyer miles to fly to a city that’s been greyer than George Clooney’s beard since you touched down. You could sulk in your hotel room with a Pret sandwich, or you could invest in an XXL umbrella and head to this udon bar in Soho. Koya was made for rainy days—the small, cosy, wrap-around counter is packed with cold, hungry people with excellent taste. The menu is filled with slippery, bouncing udon soups and comforting sides like braised pork belly that’ll more than make up for the downpour outside. The English breakfast-inspired noodle bowl, with bacon, egg, and shiitake mushrooms, is also worth getting up early for, even if it’s dry outside.


Step inside this Marylebone townhouse and head for whichever free table is closest to the wood-burning fireplace. Not only will your clothes dry faster, but you’ll also get to check ‘eat finger sandwiches and demolish a pot of Earl Grey’ off your London bucket list. Afternoon tea is essential when visiting this cuppa-obsessed country, and it’s also extremely useful when the weather is trying to sabotage your trip. Spend a couple of hours in this rustic, mismatched tea room and tell them to keep the raisin scones coming until you see the sun reappear or they kick you out—whichever comes first.


North

What started as a light pitter patter has turned into a downpour so heavy you’re fairly certain you’ll be taking to bed tonight like a Victorian with a fever. What you need is a pub where you can nurse a pint as you wring droplets from your jacket, look out the window, and shake your head like a local. The Clarence Tavern in Stoke Newington is all that, plus they serve classics like onglet and chips, fall-apart, slow-cooked lamb, and a feck-off portion of oozing gratin dauphinois. Find a cosy corner, order another Guinness, and fully lean into the rainy day vibes.  


Acton probably wasn’t on your list of places to visit. It doesn’t have an aquarium, and the chances of bumping into an off-duty royal (even a minor one) are slim. But it does have Yasmina, a Lebanese bakery serving the best mana’eesh in the city—and that’s exactly what you need when it’s grey, miserable, and only carbs will do. Our favourite thing to get here is the spinach mana’eesh with extra cheese, or the lahm bi ajeen. This simple, family-run spot isn’t somewhere you spend hours in, but it’s worth travelling to for a doughy breakfast. 


East

You’ve been in London for three days and four hours, and you’re pretty certain you’ve developed seasonal affective disorder. You need some light, some joy, and something to boost your serotonin before you start thinking Westfield is a good idea. Homies On Donkeys is a Mexican taqueria in Leytonstone that’s straight out of Mattel-land. Walls are Barbie-pink and Lego-yellow, and there’s a wrap-around mural that makes us smile like we’ve just seen a puppy. The chicken thigh barbacoa and charred broccoli tacos are must-orders, and whatever you get, the upbeat staff and a hip-hop soundtrack will lift your spirits. 


The Instagram version of Columbia Road Flower Market was a lie. Dahlias weren’t getting pelted into submission by raindrops the size of new potatoes, and the cafes weren’t full of people staring into the slate sky with the despondency of a Ben Affleck meme. Just when you start wishing you’d organised a trip to Italy instead, book dinner at Campania & Jones. This charming Italian restaurant off Columbia Road is on the kind of cobbled street that looks romantic in the rain. Inside, it’s all flickering candles, hands being held over rustic wooden tables, and piles of venison ragu clinging to belt-like pappardelle.


South

Our go-to pick-me-up method involves scream-crying “we’ll always have Paris” between mouthfuls of pasta bake while watching Casablanca. But there are easier, more uplifting fixes when the weather is a bit rubbish. Like Nandine, a family-run Kurdish spot in Camberwell, whose top priority is making you feel good through a chat at the register, a bit of baklava as you eye those clouds, and through all the food coming out the kitchen. The freshly baked borek is pillowy enough to take a nap on and the shawarma is a warming seven-spice hug.


Much like going to see a 180-minute movie at a posh cinema, eating in Hannah Japanese Restaurant’s mahogany-filled dining room is a calming experience. One that ensures 2.5 hours safe from the rain and one of the better meals you’ll have in London, combined. Eight courses—including plenty of edible flowers and Japanese pottery you’ll fleetingly consider stealing—later, and hopefully the weather will have improved. But if not, channel all of that raw fish you just ate at this Waterloo restaurant and embrace the rain.


West

Arriving at Victoria coach station you’d think the “British experience” was takeaway bags of Leon, pelting rain, and the Megabus mascot. But don’t lose heart. A short walk away is La Poule Au Pot. It’s stuffed to the wooden beams with baskets of dried flowers, hanging grape decorations, yellowing framed prints, and well-dressed groups sipping wine as though it’s a gathering in one of their second-home farmhouses. The charming French restaurant was practically made for miserable days. And the food is just as transportive and wholesome—wine-infused beef bourguignon and perfectly cooked guinea fowl, all served with vegetables that are heavy on butter and bacon. 


If the constant rain is making you question which person started the rumour that London was a good place to spend your precious vacation, let us introduce you to Normah’s. This small Malaysian kitchen inside Queensway Market will restore your faith in this moody city. The rich beef rendang is one of the best dishes in London, and the roti it comes with is worth extending your trip for. If you find yourself on the tube with socks that came head to head with a murky puddle and you’re trying to figure out what all the hype is about, go to Normah’s.

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