Thoughts of London conjure up an image of a vibrant city that is always on the go. From the millions that ascend on the city centre to the busy roads all over the capital, it can be hard to find a moment’s peace. But there happens to be a more relaxed and tranquil side to the city, one that sits away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus. It’s not always obvious where to go to find a calming atmosphere, but we’re here to help you with our seven picks for relaxing in London.
More than 130 hectares of landscape and gardens set the tone in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kew Gardens provides a getaway from regular London life and implores you to wander around treetop walkways and stroll through the tropical glasshouses. However, there is one caveat: it’s not free, with tickets costing £15 for adults and £3.50 for children. We certainly think it’s worth it, though; in return, you get access to art galleries, water-lily pools, lakes and a selection of cafes and restaurants within the gardens. It’s one of the calmest days out that you can have out in the capital.
The winding cobbled streets, Edwardian houses and boutique shops of Hampstead village offer their own slice of relaxation, but if you want the complete laid-back experience, Hampstead Heath should be your destination. Spread over 790 acres of open space, meadows and hilltops, it’s ideal for sweeping views of the city or a lazy Sunday afternoon lie-down by one of the many lakes. The Heath can be particularly busy during the summer, but its vast size means there is always a secluded section where you can enjoy some quiet time.
Escapism can come in many different forms, including immersing yourself in a good book at one of London’s many libraries. Sure, there are plenty of popular athenaeums in the capital, but Carnegie Library in Herne Hill, South East London, affords plenty of charm and style. Set inside a Grade II listed building the library has an excellent selection of books, and acts as a retreat from the typical sounds of a big city.
It’s not easy to envisage beauty within such a harsh industrial setting, yet the Thames Barrier offers a rather odd combination of steel and serenity. The sci-fi looking piers dominate the scenery, but perch yourself on a nearby bench to take in the quiet atmosphere that is almost eerie, and you will notice just how secluded and calm the area is. There is also a visitor’s café where you can read about the history of London’s flood management system.
Within the confines of Soho Square, you will find peace and tranquilly – although not in the traditional sense. Compared to other green spaces in the capital, this small park area located just off the back of Oxford Street has relatively high noise levels. But Soho Square provides an escape from the shopping mecca, with the surrounding tall buildings blocking out most of the thunderous noise of the high street. It’s an ideal getaway for those who need 15 minutes to think for themselves before heading back into the cauldron of central London.
400,000 workers sprawl around the City of London during the week, creating an environment that you wouldn’t dare enter unless it was necessary – it’s one of the busiest places in the whole of the UK. During the weekend, however, it’s like a ghost town. Saturday and Sunday afford the chance for visitors to wander the almost empty streets, admiring historical buildings such as St. Paul’s.
Eel Pie Island has roots steeped in Rock n’ Roll with the likes of Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Eric Clapton, who all performed there in the early 60s. Today it’s a traffic-free island nearby Twickenham. Residents might want to keep it for themselves, turning their nose up at visitors, but that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing this peaceful gem. Easily accessed by a footbridge, the walkway is the only section available to the public – but it’s enough to admire this secluded haven.April 14, 2017 rentonomy London Living