jo skates

Skating in the key of life

London skating


So here I am in the great city of London, and one question that I haven’t been able to answer is: Does the Queens Ice and Bowl (advertised as “London’s Only Ice Rink and Bowl”) have anything to do with the royal family? Will I catch a glimpse of any of Their Royal Highnesses as they are taking a break from their charitable activities and projects and other regal duties?

Well, I haven’t yet, but I have made it to the rink, which is not far from Kensington Gardens (decidedly royal) but definitely not posh. One clue to the lack of royal patronage is that the public ice is quite expensive (10 pounds plus!) But it seems like you can pay that much and stay for hours.

Being that I haven’t been skating much and that I came after work (the reason why I’m in London in the first place), I managed a couple of hours, which made the price feel a little more reasonable.

I have fond memories of skating here a number of years ago. Aside from the nasty bruise I got on some rough ice, it was pretty much a hoot. Among other things, Torvill and Dean were still doing their Dancing on Ice series (sort of like “Dancing with the Stars,” only on skates), and it was fun to follow it while I was there. I was also just starting to work on my first free dance program and learning twizzles and trying out music.

This time around is much more low-key. The ice surface pretty much looks the same, with no hockey lines, a disco ball, and these trippy flying-saucer lights. I was struck by the music they were playing, a strange mix of contemporary pop and the soundtrack to Mary Poppins (strange to hear Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke doing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” followed by Bruno Mars and Adele). The rink is located in a full-service entertainment complex, with bowling, an arcade, pool table, and snack bar complete with an enticing display of gelato flavors that beckons to weary and hungry skaters.

Next week they will be starting a major renovation of the facilities, so it will probably look different if I return again. So here’s some pictures.


Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

13 thoughts on “London skating

  1. London! Well now, this does take ice tourism to a new level! Did you take your boots/blades as carry on or as checked luggage? While there’s little support for the notion that POSH stood for “port out, starboard home” as the preferred method of booking the most comfortable side of ships traveling between England and India in the days before AC, I still kinda like the possibility that it did. Enjoy the delights of the Big Smoke!


    • George, I appreciate your glossing of “posh”–I had to look that one up!!! Likewise the reference to the “Big Smoke”; fortunately the air quality seems pretty good here, though there are more individual smokers on the streets than I’m used to. I put my skates in my checked bag for this one. I wasn’t sure whether to pack them or not, but am glad I did now!


      • Thank you for answering George’s question about traveling with skates. I didn’t bring mine (we are in London as well, on family visit) because I thought they’d get snagged by TSA or something. I have this crazy dream of flying to Vienna at Christmastime, skating outdoors there and then using rail to go to other European cities to skate (sort of ‘skating across Europe), ending up in Amsterdam and then London.


      • How great that you are in London too. Hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. That’s a brilliant idea for a tour, by the way. Invite us all along!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jo – I’ll do the research on which cities have outdoor skating at that time of the year and see if I can come up with something that makes sense. 🙂


  2. Wow – what a fun trip! Those penguins are adorable – wish we had those around here. Hope you are enjoying your trip!


  3. So far, so good, Eva! Thanks for checking in–sending happy thoughts of skating penguins your way!


  4. I’m glad you got to bring and use your skates. I always like checking out the skating scene when I travel, it helps me connect to the place I’m visiting (as well as get in some practice).


  5. Yes, Mary, I’m finding that it is actually good to have a change of scenery–even for my skating! Thanks!


  6. If you have time, I recommend going to skate at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally) in north London. It’s a beautiful big historic (1870s) building.


    • What fun! I am looking at the website now and it looks like it is fairly accessible by Tube/bus. It also looks like they may have “patch” practice ice at various times of the day, which may make it easier to fit into my work schedule here. Thanks so much for the recommendation. I will report back if I do make it there!


  7. How long will you be there? Am planning to visit Rachel in Tbilisi and thought about a stop in England at one end or the other…


  8. What fun, Anne! I’ll email you about your plans.


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