London is one of the world’s busiest cities, meaning it can get very crowded at times and you can find yourself in need of a little fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of the shops, the financial district and theatres.
Luckily, the UK capital is also home to some wonderful outdoor spaces from exquisite gardens to rooftop bars, so there are plenty of places to enjoy the city from a different perspective, all within easy reach of the five-star luxury of the Montcalm Hotels.
Hyde Park, Richmond Park, St James Park, Battersea Park, Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill – these are just a few of the green spaces that London has to offer, each providing the perfect place for a walk, a jog or simply a lazy afternoon with a picnic during a visit to the capital.
The city is home to eight Royal Parks in total, meaning their quality can be guaranteed. We recommend taking a stroll around Richmond Park to see if you can spot the herd of fallow deer that roam the park, boating on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park and admiring the breathtaking view of the capital that you can get from the top of the 98-metre high Parliament Hill.
There are also a whole host of interesting statues to be found in London’s various parks, with the Bomber Command Memorial at Green Park commemorating the work of aircrews during the Second World War, and the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens (another of the royal parks) marking the spot where The Boy Who Never Grew Up is meant to have landed next to the Long Water in the classic JM Barrie tale.
The River Thames
The River Thames is surely London’s most famous outdoor space. The 346-kilometre stretch of water has a fascinating history, from tales of folk in the 17th century ice skating on the river during particularly cold winters, right up until the celebratory flotilla that took place in 2012 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
A walk along the Thames provides a jam-packed (and free) sightseeing trip, as you’ll be able to take in sights including Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Coca Cola London Eye all from the river’s banks.
Boat trips take place on the river every day, allowing you to pass under iconic structures including the Millennium Bridge and Westminster Bridge, providing you with a view of the capital from a completely different perspective.
The intensity of London can get a little claustrophobic at times if you’re not used to so much hustle and bustle, but there are some beautiful outdoor drinking spots dotted throughout the city where you can enjoy a few drinks of an evening amid more chilled-out surroundings.
Proof in Hackney is a great rooftop spot to visit for a cocktail at any time of year; in the winter, warm yourself with a whisky-based drink under one of the snuggly blankets provided by the bar; in the summer, you can take part in a range of quirky outdoor pursuits, including flamingo croquet a-la Alice in Wonderland, while enjoying a burger from the rooftop barbecue.
Meanwhile, the Golden Bee rooftop bar in Shoreditch allows visitors to enjoy an outdoor cinema screening all-year round, complete with warm blankets during the winter months and all-you-can-eat popcorn whatever the weather.
If you’re after more of a luxury option, the Madison rooftop bar close to St Paul’s Cathedral has an extensive range of cocktails and stunning views of the iconic landmark. For a drink befitting your surroundings, we recommend a ‘Sex on the Roof’ featuring vodka, mango, lemon, lime and elderflower or a ‘Rooftop’ made from prosecco, lime, apple, elderflower and a dash of Hendricks gin.
If you’re looking for some lovely surroundings in which to walk off a sore head after a night at one of the capital’s rooftop bars, why not take a turn around some of the capital’s many gorgeous gardens?
The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are a gardening fan’s dream, with more than 30,000 different types of plants housed within 300 acres of land at this World Heritage Site.
Kensington Palace Gardens, which is essentially the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s backyard, is another glorious hub of flora and fauna for lovers of everything from traditional English roses to more exotic plants as well.
The Chelsea Physic Garden offers something else a little bit different, and may be of particular interest to any visiting doctors and nurses. This garden was founded in 1673, especially for growing plants to be used for medicinal purposes. Today, it is home to a Garden of World Medicine, as well as a special Pharmaceutical Garden.
Finally, if you’re not afraid of getting a little dizzy, the classic Tudor-style maze at Hampton Court Palace Gardens is a must-visit – just watch out for the peacocks.