Perfect for a romantic gesture for your partner. The skates are decent and comfortable, the rink is large and they limit the skaters so it doesn't get too crowded. Price is high, but its worth it for the scenery (highly recommend going after dark) the Christmas tree is a great touch. Plus there is a DJ knocking out good tunes for those feeling confident enough to wiggle as they go round!
Also, your legs will feel tired after, so grab a mulled wine from the adjacent bar after an watch the next lot cautiously venture out. Best mulled wine I've ever had.
It's not bad for both skating and people watching. Located in the center of London, it's nicer than the ones in Canary Wharf or Hyde Park, in my opinion.
I do recommend that you know how to ice skate before coming, though. Lots of passerbys come to watch and hang out here, so if you fall on your butt, people will see (and laugh quietly).
I didn't get to go skating but my husband did, looked a bit sloshy out there and a tad difficult but everyone seemed to be having fun. the bar next to it serves warm drinks and boozy drinks and they're pretty generous with the marshmallows on the luxury hot chocolate drinks. The arcade wasn't open on the night i was there which was a bummer but over all not bad for people watching. Had some convo's with like minded people on the side... was fun even if you're not skating.
Somerset House is a beautiful place to skate and a very well run operation.
They have a 15 minute changeover between groups of skaters, and it ran like clockwork. The bag check was fast and affordable and the skates were pretty nice looking!
It was, however, inordinately expensive and inordinately crowded on the scale of a whole star each.
This magical wonderland saved the day! We were out celebrating my husband's birthday and the restaurant was a bit of a disappointment.
However, we walked here afterward, got a lovely (and reasonably cheap) hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream down us and watched the skaters gliding around the rink under the pretty lights.
It was romantic just to watch and the occasional person falling over was fab too (especially watching the girl who tried to save her friend from falling over, then she went, tried to get up three times but kept on going back right on her arse) - priceless!
Still in my opinion the prettiest ice rink in London, I have been several times this year and can now schoop my way across the ice without falling over.
It's a pricey ticket but really worth it if you only go skating once a year. Make sure you pop by Tom's Pop-Up Bar for mulled wine after. It's a £4 cup of warm yumminess.
A wonderful place to while away time
The galleries cover interesting art
The courtyard is joyous in the summer (the fountains are fun too) and the winter ice rink is always very popular
Ideally situated and offering lots for all you have to visit Somerset House
This was loads of fun!! The venue is gorgeous and although I haven't been skating in almost 10 years, I didn't fall once! Sweet!
They tix are a bit pricey (£13 before shipping and handling fee, + £1 to check your bag) but it's well worth it to be able to skate with such a beautiful building surrounding you. The skates themselves also look quite nice. They're Nike, sporty and quite reminiscent of the Rollerblades that I used to have as a child. So you at least get to skate in style!
For any skaing beginners, there is even a "kiddie pool" -type skating rink next to the main rink where you can get a few skating lessons.
Very beautiful and romantic, but I'm giving it 4 starts instead of 5 because it's so expensive and it's such a hassle to get tickets! We went on a Friday night and because it was "DJ night" it was even more expensive. All in all, for 2 tickets, it was £35 after all the ridiculous fees... for a one-hour time slot!! But I guess it was too cold anyway to skate more than an hour. Plus, for having time slots allocated like that, it was waaaay too crowded. I was almost always running into someone on the rink.
Definitely a one time must-see for London, but I wouldn't go back any time soon!
Great venue. We had a wonderful night visiting the spectacle.
Put your coats on, tighten your scarves around you and head out to Somerset House for a magical session of ice skating in one of the most stunning squares in London. Every winter, this beautiful 18th century setting raises an ice skating rink to the great pleasure of Londoners.
Night time is probably the most romantic time to head here, since the square is brightly lit and the Tiffany-sponsored Christmas tree glitters on the side. Booking is a must, and the sooner the better since the slots get sold out really quickly. It isn't the cheapest ice rink out there, but it is definitely the most magical and worth a visit at least once in a lifetime. And after a good bit of skating, you can always warm yourself up with a bit of mulled wine in the café.
Judging from experience the rink is open whatever the weather, so even if it is pouring, don't miss out on your slot!
I love going ice skating at Somerset House. It is such a beautiful setting. I don't know if it's the cold or the laughing, but my cheeks get flushed and I feel light and happy. How can you go ice skating and not feel all those things? On the weekend it does get a bit crowded, it wasn't too bad on Saturday, but I do want to go at night, I'm thinking less kids and more grown-ups. On a positive note, I did like the music they played, it always helps if the music is good, helps get you in the mood and not think so much about falling.
Now that's the fun part, the not so fun part is that it's £10.50 (more for evening and late skate) to skate for one hour and if you get to the session late you still pay the £10.50. Granted that does include skate rental but it takes about 45 minutes to work the kinks out, so you only have 15 minutes of going around the rink and not landing on your behind. I would prefer that the skate last for 90 minutes, that's plenty of time to work things out and enjoy going around spending less time kissing the ice.
As Christmas appraoches once more Somerset House plays host to one of the most beautiful and magical of all London attractions. In the centre of one of the most historic buildings in England an ice-skating rink has been set up allowing you to experience the full wonder of Christmas (before you fall flat on your arse). I came here at night with a sometime girlfriend and it was one of the more romantic experiences of my life. The air was crisp and cold, a few stars shone out through the smog of the city and the lights revealed the gorgeous features of Somerset House.
On the down side you won't be alone for this experience as Somerset House gets incredibly popular at this time of year and you will also be given a time limit of one hour. In addition prices are quite steep at around £10 a skate though if you go in a large group you can receive a discount.
Something you definitly want to do once in your life.
Rumour has it there was a time when the Thames froze over. It seems fanciful, I know, but just imagine how gloriously freeing it would have been to strap on a pair of ice skates and skip about from borough to borough with nary a care in the world. Fewer stabbings. No need to visit the TFL Journey Planner to learn what buses you need to take, assuming they are all running. Ahhhh...
Skating at Somerset House is the closest approximation we're likely to get here in Londinium. And boy, it comes at a price. Ne'er before this had I paid quite so much to swing about an ice rink. Was it worth it? It's the only game in town, so I must grudgingly say that it is. They certainly try to make an event out of it: late nights, DJ nights, skate school, bar, etc. But £10 for an hour of skating? Highway robbery!
Then again, I did grow up on a pond in considerably more frigid Ontario. I am fairly spoiled. And once I got over the expense I was ridiculously happy. Think: autistic child at a petting zoo. You would be well advised to book in advance, although they do release day tickets on the morning of. Concessions available.
This must be one of the most beautiful venues in London! I have been to several gigs here, and you just couldn't ask for a better setting. Lovely stage set up in the courtyard of what used to be the home of the Inland Revenue.
The size is just right as well and you get a good view from wherever you stand.
They seem to cater for the crowds, too. While there were 2-pint plastic beakers for the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, they served Pimms and miniature wine bottles for Grace Jones.
It's a special treat, and the cost prevents me from giving this 5 stars.
Same goes for the ice-skating!
The vast courtyard is my favourite place to escape the hustle and bustle of central London if I am in the area. I have to go to the LSE every now and then and if the weather is nice I try to arrive early, grab a coffee at one of the many nearby shops and sit in the lovely courtyard for a few minutes of R&R. In the winter there is an ice skating rink and in the summer the water fountain is heaving with kids.
The courtyard is also used for concerts and other events, and Somerset House also hosts open-air films, contemporary art and design exhibitions, family workshops and free guided tours of spaces usually hidden to visitors.
I came here for a special event so I only had to pay £10 - not sure what it is normally. The skates weren't bad for rentals. The rink itself is gorgeous - the best part is Somerset House's courtyard is beautiful no matter which direction you're facing, so as you skate around and around the rink, you always have a lovely view. After dark with the lights is perfection. Yummy mulled wine and cupcakes to follow skating. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I think they had too many people on the rink at once and their skating monitors were excessive - there were so many of them skating around that it was actually a hazard trying to dodge them. Maybe they were afraid the people at my event were especially prone to falling. However, a great night, definitely worth it.
Great place to skate.The view is great, I felt like I was in another world when I started skating.
I went to Somerset House yesterday to show a friend the whizzo time travel vid which used to be in the Embankment lobby. We were directed to a sub- sub-basement exhibition, so badly sign-posted we wouldn't have found it but for our determination. The vid was there on a much smaller screen, with a fantastic (though badly lit) old river barge behind. On the whole the exhibition felt half-hearted, with bits and bobs culled from site excavations and the Museum of London, and a few 18th c. images and plans. I was surprised there was no discussion of the site's Dark Age and Medieval importance - this is close to where Alfred set up the port now known as 'Aldwich'. And on this run of watching the CGI time-travel vid I wanted to see what it was like to float into the building from the river before the Embankment was built.
Yes the building's great and it deserves a better context exhibition than this - I remember the previous one in the lobby being more satisfying. I can't judge the skating since the last time I tried to go it was far too pricey for me and we ended up at Broadgate (again).
Other than that, in good weather the balcony is a brilliant place to either eat the cafe food on offer or bring a picnic and watch the river go by. There was an expensive exhibition on fashion and architecture in the new 'Embankment Galleries' (£12 anyone?), the Courtauld is still there (with a good collection for only a fiver), and frankly the recently closed Gilbert Collection (mainly snuffboxes) and Hermitage exhibitions aren't missed.
One more thing: the fountains in the courtyard, like the ones in Russell Square, are perfect for kids of all ages since they rise straight out of the ground. Would be a great place to go in the summer time.
Lovely location for a gig - and i've been for a couple - only problem is depending what you come to see the crowds don't tend to pay that much attention - at times - during an Athelete gig which I regret to this day - it felt like being in an All Bar One courtyard where the wankers standing around were more interested in discussing their stock options than watching the (admittedley rather lame) band.
UNKLE here on the other hand were so loud it was mindblowing.
Summary based on several visits as an interested spectator:
--great (non celebrity) people watching
A couple of years ago I came here for an Athlete gig which was one of the best gigs I've ever been to. As a venue it's magical, just top drawer. I also came before that for an art exhibition, but this time, I was hear for the skating.
Wrapped up in hat an gloves, I confidently strapped on my skates and took to the ice. 2 seconds later I was clinging to the side, trying to remember how to balance on metal strips on the slipperiest surface known to humanity. It comes back quickly. They do a great job here, with a huge fairy-lit tree, twinkling lights and music piped out, 45 mins whips past in no time. The only down-side is the going round and round in a circle, but then what do I expect? A frozen lake? Skating down the frozen river Cam? Shut up David, and get skating.
I don't know how I've lived in London for 6 years and never been skating at Somerset House. Now I've done it, I can't believe I've missed it all these years. Believe the hype, skating at Somerset House really is just magical. Yes, ok, the rink isn't that big. And yes, the cafe is expensive. But it's so, so magical.
We went at dusk and it got dark in the hour we were skating. With the pretty lights, the beautiful buildings and the atmospheric classical music, you end up skating around feeling like you're in a film. If you're good. Otherwise you shuffle around the edge, but even so you feel like you're shuffling with style.
The boots are comfortable and high quality, there's a good bag storage area so you're free to skate bag-free and the cafe, though very expensive, is a great place to sit and watch people skate. The hot chocolate with marshmallows, warm cider and mulled wine all come recommended. There's also a lot of staff on the ice so if you fall over, they're there to help you up again. They're good at taking photos too.
Really. If you haven't been yet, it's so very worth a visit.
Visited Somerset House as part of their Summer Music Festival for a concert, and was quite impressed at the size of the venue.
Although it was clear that Somerset House's main intention was not as a music venue, the size and acoustics of the site made for an interesting experience. Open air however, so was very much subject to the potential bad weather.
The concert took place in the courtyard, and there was also a number of stalls selling drinks and merchandise aligning the edges to substitute for a bar.
The bouncers and staff working were very pleasant, and the evening was very successful.
I went skating here and didn't fall over at all.
Except at the end, where I fell over.
Well, I collapsed in on myself really.
Landed on my coccyx. It was pretty god damn painful.
It was pretty fun though. I couldn't skate at all before getting on the ice, but there was a remedial area where I could stumble about pathetically. By the end (before the unfortunate collapse) I was doing pretty well.
I think skaters would enjoy it a lot. Lovely location to twirl about.
Skates were okay, the rink was in good condition and everyone had fun.
Except my coccyx.
Wonderful place to have a seat and read or to get a good view of the South Bank. The staff working there are very helpful if you don't know where you're going. They host exhibitions all the time (currently they're doing one about the Arab Spring and London riots, which is actually pretty cool if you have an iPhone or similar smartphone), many of which are free.
Well its winter time again, time for London to set up various outdoor ice rinks around the city. I would have to say that the ice rink at Somerset House is the best one out of all of them. It is London's equivalent to ice skating a Rockefeller Center in New York City. Only go at night because with the lighting of the Christmas tree it is absolutely stunning, and very romantic with a partner. The only draw back is that since people in London only tend to skate once a year, the don't tend to be very good, so watch your back for foolhardy skaters, with the means to knock you off your skates. It is also extremely pricey for an hour on the rink, and the rink will be very full, definitely book in advance so that you do not miss out entirely on this beautiful opportunity that will get you in the Christmas spirit.
Ice skating at Somerset House is just so lovely and Christmasy; it's such a gorgeous setting. If you'd like to hone your skating skills or learn to skate, I'd really recommend the Skate Schools that runs in January, comprising four one-hour lessons. The weekday classes are 8-9 am, which sounds too early, but actually it's fabulous, because your the very first people on the ice. The light in the mornings is lovely; I'll never forget one morning when when it was snowing gently and there were only eight of us on the ice, with Somerset House all to ourselves. The teachers were from the GB Ice Skating team and let you take it at your own pace, there was no pressure to do any scary tricks that you didn't want to do.
Hard to argue with the lovely setting. Nice romantic evening fare, though the skates are very uncomfortable.
Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.
If you love ice skating and you're in London for the winter, then YOU MUST experience SOmerset HOuse. Such a novel concept, utilising the quadrangle space of this building - winter means skating; summer means concerts. Skating times are limited, so be prepared to skate your little heart out in the allocated slot given and book in advance. The vibe is great - families and groups of 'older' kids gather to skate in the evenings. I went for my birthday and had one of the best! Cool skating music is played, light shows are spewed over the bldg walls, and the ice laden square equals = sensory bliss for around 12 pounds.
In terms of the rest of the building, there is also the Courtald gallery which features some important paintings by famous artists. At June 08, until October, there is the Courtald Cezannes - a showcase of one of the most influential Impressionists of all time. Tix are only around 7 quid for adults.
Superb rolling stones photos. Twas spot on!
As a big fan of ice skating, I found somerset house to be a top london location to do so. the atmosphere is great, it is very picturesque, and great fun on an otherwise boring weekend. Make sure you wrap up warm, and maybe book in advance as it is very popular!
I've always been a fan of Somerset house and it's wonderful architecture. The Italian fountains are not only great to look at but cooling and fun in Summer. Good place to just while away an hour or two with a book and a coffee. The Hermitage rooms are a joy. Not far from Covent Garden so take the walk after your shopping trip and enjoy this wonderful building.
We went to take a look at the ice rink after we had watched to Lord Mayors show. It looks amazing, it wasn't quite ready for opening, what a great idea though. We definitely want to book a visit it is such a lovely location. The buildings are most impressive and as we were standing drinking in the atmosphere the workmen were decorating the christmas tree with beautiful ornaments in the shape of ice skates. It all gives the feeling of a good old fashioned Christmas.
With interesting architecture and giant fountains in the centre of the courtyard this is a great place for photography. In summer there are always people playing in the fountains ( or getting caught out by the fountains! ) In winter they turn it into an ice skating rink which is always really popular.
The Courtauld Gallery within Somerset House has an excellent collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, admission is £5 but students and under 18's are free I believe. Lovely cafe, perfect for sitting outside during summer days, good buns! The skating rink at Somerset house is well worth a visit during the run up to Christmas but can get very busy (and noisy) at weekends it's harder than it looks too!
I've been here ice skating in winter and its amazing!
They serve mulled wine indoors and the wardens are really helpful if you really know how to skate!
I have no idea what this place is like in the Summer, but I DO know that around christmas time, the whole courtyard gets converted into a giant icerink and becomes the most beautiful nightspot in the city for a few months. Make sure to book in advance, take a loved one and score MASSIVE brownie points for the romantic gesture. With the lights, crowds and music, you'll find yourself swept up in the festive spirit. I've been every year for a while and its always impressive.
We go to Somerset House every year during Christmas for ice-skating. We bought the tickets in advance from Ticketmaster.co.uk and arrive just 10 mins before to collect the footwear. As compared to Natural History Musem, this rink is slighly smaller, however the view is spectacular. Remember to bring a camera!
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