London’s reputation as a city that contains plenty of rolling green spaces is well-established. And more often than not, it’s the likes of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Greenwich Park that gain much of the credit – wide open areas of velvety grass and well-established landmarks. However, while these places are glorious and well worth exploring if you’re staying in the city, they do tend to hog the limelight. Why not stray off the beaten track and locate some of the city’s hidden yet gorgeous, glorious gems? We’ve got a great list below for you to check out.
The majority of visitors to St Paul’s Cathedral never stumble across the beautiful Postman’s Park, a verdant space chock full of plants and trees located a stone’s throw from Christopher Wren’s famous monument. Within the boundaries of this quiet and quaint little sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll find the fascinating Watts memorial to self-sacrifice. This landmark’s history is a fascinating one and it’s well worth reading up on it beforehand if you want to appreciate it in all its glory. The people it recognises have all died in extraordinarily heroic circumstances and their abbreviated stories can be read on the monument. You’ll undoubtedly leave feeling a little bit humbled.
Office lunchers and kissing couples are huge fans of this intimate secret garden in central London. Managed by volunteers who take an innovative approach to wildlife gardening, there are always a variety of creatures willing to keep you company, and despite its location on the edge of Covent Garden, Phoenix feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. What’s more, the beautiful skyline incorporates elements of both modern and old London, making for some pretty striking photography for those who are so inclined. Phoenix Gardens is easy to reach for those staying in The Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel.
Greenwich’s rose and herb gardens
We have, of course, already lauded Greenwich as one of London’s best wide open spaces, and it’s very famous for its proximity to the Royal Maritime Museum, the Observatory and stellar views over Canary Wharf. Less well known is its incredible collection of rose and herb gardens, which make for more intimate areas to explore. These are tucked away right at the top of the park and make for a gorgeous little haven from crowds of footballing students, speeding cyclists and throngs of tourists. Failing that, experience the intimacy of the little herb garden near the Crooms Hill entrance.
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
Not as elicit as it sounds, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens first opened in the 1600s and at the time featured all manner of delightful attractions including lion tamers, clowns, fire walkers and ventriloquists. It’s an altogether more sedate and quiet location today, but is even better for this fact. Located a stone’s throw from Vauxhall train station itself and the banks of the Thames, the Pleasure Gardens play host to the locals who use them for regular meetings. You’re more likely to see a group of octogenarians trying out yoga than a crowd of chattering tourists, which only adds to the charm.
Ah, the Barbican Centre. Is it possible to find a more tangled jungle of concrete and cement? And yet, right in the heart of the complex, you will find an utterly gorgeous secret garden that is home to London’s second largest conservatory. Not bad, eh? Wandering around, you’ll be struck by the extraordinary specimens of plants to be found here. Some 2,000 tropical specimens can be identified and their perfumed buds makes the air smell absolutely incredible. Since the conservatory is covered, it makes a good rainy day option. Barbican Conservatory is open to the public every Sunday and on bank holidays.
Kensington Roof Gardens
When it comes to open green spaces, Kensington is already doing pretty well, boasting the outrageously gorgeous Kensington Gardens and adjacent palace. And that’s where the majority of people flock to when they want a breath of fresh air. They never think they might be able to rise above the urban sprawl of London to stand high above the cityscape. Even better that they can be surrounded by all manner of plants. Welcome to Kensington Roof Gardens, a beautiful spot spanning 1.5 acres that feels like a super-exclusive hideaway beyond the bustling city streets.