The best immersive experiences in London

The best immersive experiences in London

Step out of the city and into another world for a few hours


Don't worry, it's only a model. Or is it? Stranger Things: The Experience / Image: Fever / Netflix

Victoria Beardwood

Victoria has worked on Selamta, Vera, WIZZ and easyJet Traveller, and written for the likes of Culture Trip and ABTA.

One of the great things about going out and about in London is the ease with which you can get involved in what you’re doing – no need to be a passive consumer in this city when there are so many immersive activities available. We’ve picked five of our favourite experiences that let you become part of the action, so take your pick and prepare to step into something very, very different from everyday life.

Start working on your 'yee-haw' for Phantom Peak / Image: Alistair Veryard Photography

Phantom Peak

Don your Stetson and a pair of goggles, and enter into a steampunk-meets-western world at this immersive experience in Canada Water. Everything isn’t quite as ace-high as it seems here, though, thanks to the town’s totalitarian leader Jonas. Visitors can explore Phantom Peak and chat with the live actors playing the town residents, all while trying to complete a quest given upon arrival. There are also bars, veggie and vegan food stalls, a boat ride and live music to enjoy.

Surrey Quays Rd, London SE16 7PJ

You'll think you're really there, honestly: Sandbox VR London / Image: Sim Photography

Sandbox VR

Gaming has never felt quite so real as it does at this on-location virtual reality space in Holborn. It’s the only place in the UK that uses – and stay with us here – motion capture technology, which means that you wear special sensors and everything you do IRL happens on screen, too. You essentially become part of the game. Sessions last around 45 minutes (believe us, it’s enough!) and you can choose to partake in one of six games, with themes including zombies, Star Trek and aliens, which was the one we tried out. Afterwards, you can debrief over a cocktail shaken up for you by a robot bartender, naturally.

The Post Building, High Holborn, London WC1A 1PB

The calm before the very strange storm: Stranger Things: The Experience / Image: Fever / Netflix

Stranger Things: The Experience

Fans of the hit Netflix series need to give this hour-long immersive experience a try. It all starts in the Rainbow Room, where you’re tasked with solving puzzles before learning that you have supernatural powers, much like Eleven (one of the show’s key characters, for the uninitiated). These come in handy on your quest to save Hawkins (the town where ‘Stranger Things’ is set) from villainous creatures, which you encounter in horrifyingly realistic 4D. There are also ample opportunities for Stranger Things super-fans to live out their fantasies and snap some great photos, including buying ice cream from Scoops Ahoy, munching on pizza from the Surfer Boy van and posing in a replica of the Byers’ family’s Christmas light-bedecked living room from series one (if you’re not a super-fan, you’d better get watching to understand quite how essential on all those activities are).

Troubadour Brent Cross Studios, Tilling Rd, Brent Cross Town, London NW2 1LW

A bar behind bars at Alcotraz Prison Cocktail Bar / Image: Captis Imagery

Alcotraz Prison Cocktail Bar

If loving immersive experiences is illegal, lock us up and throw away the key – quite literally at this jail-themed activity in Shoreditch. At Alcotraz, visitors are transformed into jumpsuit-wearing inmates huddled in cells, spending your time under the watchful – yet bribable – eyes of the prison guards and the less-corrupt warden. Smuggle your booze with you, if you dare, and the long-serving inmates will help you acquire some much-needed cocktails to make your incarceration more bearable. Just make sure the warden doesn’t see, or else…

212 Brick Lane, London E1 6SA 

Here we go, again: Mamma Mia! The Party / Image: © Grant Walker

Mamma Mia! The Party

This high-energy party essentially combines a Greek holiday, ABBA tunes and immersive theatre. What more could you really want from an evening? Stepping through its doors, you leave London’s 02 Arena and enter a taverna on the island of Skopelos, where the movie was filmed. What follows is a three-course Greek meal, accompanied by all-singing, all-dancing waitstaff, plus a show set after the movie’s release, themed around a make-up artist who fell in love with the local taverna owner and stayed behind after the film crew left. If you like the Swedish mega-group and their timeless pop songs, you’ll certainly be saying “thank you for the music” by the end.

Unit 6.05, The, 02 Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX