Readers’ travel tips: fun London

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WINNING TIP: Gordon's Wine Bar, Charing Cross

Long before it became a wine bar (London's oldest) in 1890, this building was home to Samuel Pepys and also a famous brothel. It feels untouched since Pepys left – nicotine-stained walls, history-stained stone floors, and candles lighting illicit encounters. The staff are efficient and friendly, and pull schooners of sherry, Madeira or port from barrels behind the bar. Excellent wines are also available, and homemade food has recently been introduced.
47 Villiers Street, WC2, 020-7930 1408, Herbalwalks

Chasing zombies on Hampstead Heath, a checkpoint dash around Hackney, escaping a laser trap in Covent Garden … Fire Hazard games let me experience London in a completely different way. Trying to smuggle a cashbox up my jumper during a fake heist at an old police station was a highlight. The crew are great and these games for grown-ups usually end in the pub.

By far the craziest night out I've had in London was at literary salon The Book Club Boutique – a collection of eccentric London characters having a knees-up. There are bands playing, poets reading, actors swooning, and tales of life and love being shared in the beautiful chapel of the House of St Barnabas on Greek Street. There's excellent drink too, especially the exotic cocktails with hilarious names – I just wish I could remember them!

The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons has more than 3,500 specimens collected by anatomist John Hunter. There is a vast array of pickled body parts, the skeleton of a 7ft 7in "Irish giant", a grisly display of foetuses and Winston Churchill's dentures. You can try your hand at simulated keyhole surgery, and watch footage of brain surgery.
35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, 020-7869 6560,, free entry

Visiting London, we happened upon a free drop-in drawing session at the National Portrait Gallery. The welcoming tutor placed a sheaf of cartridge paper and some pencils in our hands, and we were away. A great hour's fun. Even my wife, who hates drawing, found it engaging and was proud of her finished efforts, which we still have.
St Martin's Place, WC2,, free entry

Jane, a Londoner, was sceptical when I suggested this tour. Wrapped up warm, we sat on the top deck and learned an eclectic mix of history, celebrity and the macabre: Trafalgar Square's lions were cast from melted French cannons; Green Park was a graveyard for lepers. You can hop on and off as you like, and tickets, which include a river cruise, are valid for 48 hours in the winter., adult ?23,child ?11

For macabre Victoriana, take a walk round Highgate Cemetery. The West Cemetery is no longer open for roaming, but tours are entertaining and informative, with its catacombs, statuary, grand mausoleums and famous names.
Swain's Lane, N6, 020-8340 1834, Entry to East Cemetery ?3, tours of East or West ?7

A captivating, quiet retreat near St Paul's. Since 1900 it has served as a Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. Dozens of memorial tablets line the walls in poignant memorial of ordinary and otherwise forgotten people, who died saving the lives of others.
King Edward Street, EC1

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