I feel very fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel, and sometimes that means I’m traveling internationally while solo. It can be intimidating to eat alone in a restaurant, drink solo at a bar, or sightsee without a buddy. And who will take your picture?? Don’t let the hesitation, or even fear, keep you in your hotel room. These London spots are solo-traveler friendly and allow you to see the best of London!
Eating alone in a restaurant is one of most anxiety-amping activities I can think of when traveling solo. Below are a few places I’ve had an enjoyable solo dining experience. Don’t be tempted to order room service–get out and explore!
Dishoom (Carnaby location)
The first time I visited London, I was 16 and exploring with a few friends (and a school chaperone somewhere nearby, I’m sure… maybe). We asked a man walking down the street where we could get some traditional London food. He promptly directed us to an Indian food spot around the corner. We were intrigued that Indian food was considered traditional in London, so we took his recommendation! Only one memory stands out from this experience–holy spicy! We spent £50 on water just to make it through the delicious meal. Yes, the naive high school tourists didn’t realize the bottled water they kept bringing out wasn’t free.
Since then, I never go to London without experiencing Indian cuisine. My favorite spot is Dishoom. This Indian-Iranian fusion experience pays homage to the Irani cafés and the food that used to be a cultural staple of Bombay (now Mumbai).
When I’m in London for work solo, I always go to the location in Carnaby because of their outdoor tables that allow you to people watch and enjoy the buzz of the walking streets in this area of London.
In this same area, also check out Bread Ahead for your morning latte or afternoon donut. That’s a thing right?
Old Spitalfields Market
If you only had a few hours to spend in London, I recommend spending them at Old Spitalfields Market. You can find a little bit of everything London in this single block of over 95 shops, stalls, restaurants, and food trucks. You can find unique pieces of art and vintage jewelry sold at tiny stalls and high-end English leather shoes and fashion from London designers. Dine on proper fish n’ chips, Taiwanese street food, or Neapolitan-style pizza. Grab whatever you’re craving, and take a seat on a colorful couch or at a table to people watch.
The Shoreditch area of London has a young artsy vibe that reminds me a lot of the Wynwood area of Miami. Boxpark is the world’s first pop-up mall made entirely out of repurposed shipping containers and that delivers an independent and revolutionized retail experience full of fashion, creativity, and food! Personally, I’m a big fan of the desserts here. How can you pass up a stuffed bubble waffle or a British-style cronut? But you can also experience a full meal with a modern British pie at Pieminister or one of the other many restaurants.
Take your food upstairs, and sit at one of the long picnic tables. You can get a much better view of the art strewn about the exterior walls of buildings in Shoreditch from up here.
Experience London Theatre
Initially, you might think going to the theatre alone is a scary idea. But you’re sitting in the dark, you don’t have to talk to anyone, and you’re blown away by excellent talent. It’s perfect for a solo traveler. Plus, have you ever looked for show tickets anywhere and realized the only good, up-close seats left are all these single seats? Well, you get to be that person to scoop up the last-minute ticket deals for incredible shows like Les Miserables, Wicked, and Mary Poppins. I was able to see Wicked for the first time while on a work trip 3 years ago, 4th row, center section, aisle seat. Go to a ticket stand in Leicester Square for great deals on day-of tickets or buy them online.
Tip: If you choose to see Wicked, it is at the Victoria Apollo Theatre, not the Apollo Theatre. Double check a map before you go so you don’t have to race across town via tube and make it to your seat 1 minute before the show starts. I may or may not have done this before.
Fortnum & Mason
Every time I wander through Fortnum & Mason I feel like I’m walking into a real-life Honeydukes. It feels magical inside. Like there should be fizzing whizzbees and jumping chocolate frogs coming to life. I could roam the different floors for hours checking out treats, teas, and biscuits. This is also where I stock up on gifts to bring back for friends and family.
I’ve been dying to try the afternoon tea here, but I haven’t been brave enough to do that solo yet. Maybe next time!
Harrods is also an honorable mention here for an elaborate shopping experience. But only after you see Fortum & Mason, of course.
Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden
With any new city you visit, I highly recommend simply walking around to explore and experience your new destination. London is no exception. I could walk the same route and visit my favorite landmarks every time I visit and never tire. I like to do a figure eight route from the London Eye to Big Ben, cross the Millenium Bridge to Shakespear’s Globe, then back over the Tower Bridge.
Whatever route you choose, make sure Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden is part of your path. This church once held six to seven hundred people but only the tower, steeple, and two exterior walls survived WWII. The ruins are now a beautiful garden and a tranquil escape in the middle of the city.
The Rooftop St. James
I discovered this rooftop experience on my most recent work trip to London. As I stepped out of the elevator and found my way to the outdoor bar, the views stopped me in my tracks and made me completely forget about the nice woman trying to guide me to my seat. A long row of seats with a bar top faces out onto Trafalgar Square. The woman next to me was reading a book and sipping a glass of rosé. I ordered the same and watched the crowds move and sway across one of London’s most well-known squares.
Queen Elizabeth’s Roof Garden Bar & Café
There is no better way to catch a London sunset than from this award-winning rooftop garden and bar. It’s free to visit and experience the wildflowers, fruit trees, and even a beehive with beautiful views of the Thames and London’s iconic skyline. The unpretentious wooden bar serves drinks–sodas, beer, and summer cocktails–and light snacks. Everything is volunteer run and proceeds help London’s homeless.
Bonus: The London Eye
Admittedly this one was a stretch for me to experience solo, but I pushed through the awkward feeling of riding the London Eye alone anyway. Buy your tickets in advance to avoid the crazy lines, and then go enjoy the views!
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