Bucket List · Food & Drink · Travel

Visiting London’s hidden Rainforest cafe

toad and toadstool mushroom decor at the bar of the rainforest cafe, london

Off the side of Leicester square, the Rainforest Cafe is a hidden gem on the city of London.

I wish I’d gone to this place as a kid because I would have been obsessed! In fact, the reason we went was because the friend I was travelling with had been there as a kid and wanted to go back, which was like how I felt about wanting to revisit the Pirates of the Caribbean themed hotel in Disneyland.

The Rainforest Cafe

With rain-forest decor of tropical plants and animals, and brought to life by the sounds of the rain-forest, it’s like it came right out of Disneyland! In fact, this place actually put the restaurants in Disneyland to shame, as not only did they play almost exclusively Disney songs, but the food and decor was infinitely better than what I saw in Paris. They even simulated a short monsoon with the sounds of rain and thunder, and flashing lightning!

We went in for lunch and ordered sides that turned out to have very generous portion sizes. They had a lot of vegetarian options, but only one vegan which was a veggie burger. The staff were really nice about the fact that we didn’t order any mains – most places get annoyed, but we only wanted something light. I just ordered chips and corn on the cob – which was better than similar things I had in the Disney restaurants.

wishing pond and crocodile in the gift shop in the rainforest cafe, london

What to keep in mind

It was quite expensive, and on top of that everywhere in London adds on a service charge so your meal always costs more than what the menu says, some places only do it for tables with a certain number of people or if the goes over a certain price but for the most part, it’s there regardless of how many people eat and what you ordered. The service charge is pretty much a tip split between the staff. I’m all for tipping people, but I’m just not a fan of it being calculated into the price and pretty much being a requirement.

Tipping in Europe is not the way it is in America, where it’s an expectation and should be a certain percent of the bill, because people working here don’t solely get paid in tips or have to rely on tips more than their actual paycheck.

I had looked at the menu and told my friend what it came to – having not seen the price calculated underneath which had the service charge added on and told my friend what it was, only for the waitress to correct me and point to larger sum, so although it says it’s optional in most places – it’s really not.

Again, I’m all for tipping people and very often, if not nearly always, tip in restaurants and taxis, but where I’m from it’s not treated like it’s mandatory. In fact, eating at home, there’s almost never a service charge (unless it’s a huge group) so I was surprised. I guess it’s just one of the ways London differs to here.

This isn’t a complaint about the way eating out in London is, just a comment and a bit of a forewarning for those who’ve never been there! We had the same experience in the Hard Rock. Just make sure you have extra money to pay for dinner with.

parrot and tropical plants in dining room of the rainforest cafe, london

 The Bottom Line

If you have kids, they’ll love it, and if like me you’re just a child at heart, you’ll love it too. Their kids menu actually seemed reasonably priced as it was around £16 for what I recall was about three courses! Cafe actually isn’t an accurate word to have in the title, it really is more of a place for an evening meal, but I guess the Rainforest Restaurant didn’t have the same ring to it, despite the alliteration!

The dim lighting meant that the pictures I took weren’t great, plus I took them on my phone because I was afraid of travelling with my camera, so bear in mind that these pictures do not do this place justice!

I would love to go back and have a proper meal when I have more time and money!

outside of the rainforest cafe, london

26 thoughts on “Visiting London’s hidden Rainforest cafe

  1. I’ve only visited the once but I had such a good time! I went with my grandparents for drinks and we loved it so I really enjoyed reading this post! X

  2. This looks so cool! I haven’t seen anything like it before, what a great idea for a cafe. When I come to London I’ll visit it for sure, thank you for sharing this amazing place! And I agree with you, I always leave a tip, but I hate when people act like it’s mandatory.

  3. This sounds like such a cool concept, I love Disney as well so I’d be loving the tunes playing! The decor inside looks amazing, my little brothers would definitely love it there. I’d love to try their food just to determine whether it’s a gimmick or a genuinely nice place to eat food-wise. The pricing doesn’t sound overly bad for three courses 🙂

    Alice xx

  4. I’ve visited this place a few times, but never to the actual restaurant! It always looks and sounds amazing for my inner child! When it comes to tipping, it can get completely nuts here in London. Something to consider for next time, always feel free to ask for the service charge to be removed if you don’t see it fit or if the service was not that good. It can be a bit awkward the first time in asking, but now I often ask for it to be removed, especially if something was not worthy of a tip. They should also never be able to ask you ‘Why?’ when you request this. An easier way to do it is to just pay the amount minus the service charge and leave! ♥

    1. I didn’t know you could ask for it to be removed. We were both strapped for cash because my friend lost all her money in the airport so I had to lend her £200 to last 5 days. The staff were really nice but the waitress pointing out the service charge price when I told my friend the total cost of what we ate felt like we had to pay it

      1. Oh no! I’m sorry you experienced this situation! That was bad of the waitress to say it in such a way – even unintentionally 🙁 At least it’s something you’re aware if for next time! If something is cold, someone is rude, something is missing or anything – it’s okay for it to be taken off 🙂

  5. This looks so cool! London has so many amazing venues, but I love the theme with this one. Also a good point about the tipping thing – I always tip, but it does feel a bit off when it’s automatically added on whether the service was good or not!

  6. This place sound awesome
    I was planning on visiting London soon. I am a kid at heart so this place will be on my itinerary. Thanks for sharing your experience.I agree on the tip issue, I am not use to the service charge being mandatory.

  7. I have been to the Rainforest Cafe in Niagara Falls. I love the whole idea behind it. How the animals move and all the effects. And I agree, if you are with kids they will loveee it!!

  8. I’ve seen a few of these in the US, didn’t realise there was one so close to home though. I’ll have to pay a visit next time I’m in London

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