It’s no secret that London can get incredibly crowded in the summer, especially if you’re anywhere close to the city centre. What you may not know is that there are a few semi-secret ways for you to escape the throngs if it all gets too much.
Nearly all of our selections are in relatively central London, offering convenient sanctuaries for you to duck into and either soak up or shelter from the summer sun. So without further ado, here are seven uniquely peaceful places for you to hide out and relax…
Brown Hart Gardens
Built in 1906, this raised garden above the old Duke Street electricity substation provides a welcome oasis for weary Oxford Street shoppers in the know. A brief two-minute walk from the department store behemoth that is Selfridges, this inner-city idyll is even closer for residents of our luxurious Duke Street property, who are less than a minute away from this Grade II listed public space.
Buried deep in the heart of the brutalist beauty of the Barbican, this stunning conservatory contrasts harsh concrete with verdant tropical foliage, and it’s the perfect place to get lost in a peculiarly urban sort of nature on a Sunday – you can even book yourself in for afternoon tea. It may only be open one day a week but don’t worry – few places offer as many quietly calming indoor and outdoor spaces as the Barbican Centre, and the rest of it is open every day of the week.
Take to the water!
What better way to escape the crowds than by surrounding yourself – and up to seven friends – with a body of water? Especially convenient for residents of our Merchant Square properties, you can rent an electric vessel from the fine people at GoBoat – who just so happen to be headquartered in Merchant Square. From there, you’re perfectly located to explore the waterways of Paddington, Little Venice, Regent’s Canal and Camden Lock. We recommend you take an onboard picnic!
The Royal Parks
It may seem obvious, but the hundreds of acres of London’s Royal Parks can provide an expansive respite from crowded city streets. Yes, you are likely to find huge crowds around the Serpentine and in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace or the the Mall – but head off the beaten path a little bit and you can find yourself pleasantly alone on even the most clement of days – as seen in the photo of Green Park above.
Is there anywhere more peaceful than a library? And is there any more impressive in London than the British Library? You can be guaranteed a quiet moment to reflect here, in the shadow of the King’s Library Tower – the building’s glass-encased central monolith filled with the site’s most rare and valuable books, originally collected by George III. And if you feel in need of a bit of historical stimulation, you can always take a look at one of the four surviving original copies of the 800-year-old Magna Carta.
Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
Step out of the sunshine and into the coolness of University College London and the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, which has more than one skeleton in its closet. Established in 1828 by Robert Edmond Grant as a teaching collection of unusual zoological specimens, it is one of the oldest natural history collections in the country and boasts a rare quagga (extinct subspecies of zebra) skeleton, as well as a few bones from the infamous dodo.
Slightly farther afield in Aldgate – halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London – St Dunstan-in-the-East is a 900-year-old church that fell victim to heavy bombing during the Second World War. What remains of the church is structurally sound though, and – left to the ravages of time and nature – allows you to sit in the open air surrounded by the dilapidated beauty of an historic building entwined with trees.