A guide to the best ice rinks in London

Natural History Museum Ice Rink, (photo by James Macdonald)
Natural History Museum Ice Rink.

If you find yourself in London this winter, you'll have no problem finding an ice rink to skate on - many of which are in interesting, historical locations. Here's a rundown of our favourite ones in the city... Happy skating!

Swarovski Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum

Until: 3rd January 2016

The museum's large ice rink sits between the front of the main building and the incredibly busy Cromwell Road, but its position in a sunken garden gives the feel of a secluded refuge. Each year, a large Christmas tree stands in the centre of the rink adding further festive cheer and additional support for the unsturdy. A smaller training rink is found under the cover of a modern extension where toddlers push penguins around the ice – much to the delight of their parents.

Adult price: From £12.65

Child peak price: From £8.80 

Refreshments: Residing above the rink is a large comfy café with a balcony that overlooks the rink. Nicely decorated and spacious, the café is a Starbucks venture so the usual  drinks are available as well as some beers, wines and a few unique snacks. 

After skating: This is the London museum district. Within a four-minute walk are three of the UK's main museums, the Natural History Museum itself, the adjacent Science Museum and the V&A over the road. Each of these museums is a day trip in itself and are all free. For more consumer-based fun, Harrods is a 10-minute walk to the east. You can find out more about the area in our online guide to Kensington.

In South Kensington, you'll find that the Hummingbird Bakery is a cake and cookie paradise with lovely coffee, while a branch of the small chain Le Pain Quotidien serves lovely breakfasts and lunches on thick wooden communal tables.

Somerset House Ice Rink

Until: 10th January 2016

Sitting in the central courtyard of Somerset House, this is one of the older ice rinks in the city. As well as the standard skating days, the rink also holds a number of club nights where the ice turns into a dance floor. It’s a beautiful and glamorous destination, if sometimes a little claustrophobic and crowded within the four walls of the venue. Booking ahead of time is essential. 

Ticket price: From £7.50 

Refreshments: Tom’s Skate Lounge is an offshoot of Tom’s Kitchen, which is found in Somerset House. The usual mulled wine is found on a menu that also includes martinis, champagne and homemade cakes. The soups are also great.

After skating: Somerset House also holds the Courtauld Gallery, which holds some stunning exhibitions throughout the year. Across the Strand is Covent Garden, great for shopping and eating. To the east lies Fleet Street, once the home of the UK newspaper industry – look for the wonderful old Daily Express building at no.120, one of the best examples of Art Deco in London.

Tower of London

Until: 3rd January 2016 

Nestled within the moat of the tower, this is a cute little rink that doesn't seem to be as crowded as its competitors. The walls of the Tower are nicely lit and the music not too loud while skating. This is the rink that many of the Insight Guides staff visit each year!

Adult peak price: £14 

Child peak price: £10

Refreshments: A small café with the usual hot chocolate, mulled wine and coffees.

After skating: The Tower of London is a key London attraction with an astounding history worthy of a day in itself. Adjacent is Tower Bridge, which is best seen from the Thames Path just to the south of the ice rink; it's especially impressive at night. Try and time your visit with a "lift" (details here). St Katharine Docks is a small dock to the east of the Tower, and is a destination for the city workers after work thanks to it bars, pubs, boutiques and restaurants. It is best visited over summer, but there are enough places to spend a cold evening with a warm meal or a festive drink.

Hampton Court Palace

Until: 3rd January 2016 

This one is a little out of town but the location could not be grander – laid out before the magnificent Hampton Court beside the River Thames.

Adult peak price: £13 

Child peak price: £9.50

Refreshments: A small café serving all you need to warm up: hot chocolates, coffees, teas, beers and mulled wine. There are snacks available too.

After skating: The Palaceis spectacular, everything you would expect form a former royal residence. The Gardens are also fantastic but a little less amazing during the winter. The world-famous maze is open of course. Other nearby sights of interest are Bushy Park, a deer-filled Royal Park with a beautiful woodland garden and waterfowl filled ponds; Kingston-upon-Thames, a large shopping town on the banks of the Thames; and Richmond, which is a rather tasteful district to the north. 

Insight Guides' top ice rinks in London

• Best for families

Hampton Court

• Best rink for a romantic evening

Somerset House

• Best for historic surroundings

Hampton Court / Tower of London

• Best café

Somerset House

• Best local attractions

Natural History Museum

• Best overall

Natural History Museum


Buy a book: Insight Guides: London City Guide

Read more: 11 of the world's best outdoor skating rinks