London has officially been designated a “green city”, which means that at least 30 percent of the English capital consists of open green space that is publicly accessible. The city has plenty of parks across its 32 boroughs and with more than 1500 square kilometres to explore, that’s a lot of ground to cover for guests of 5 star hotels in London.
As spring comes into bloom, the city of London lights up with flowers, fields and wildlife, all of which can be enjoyed in the city’s many royal parks. Whether you’re visiting the city for the Crescent Restaurant & Lounge or you’re here for an historic tour, London’s royal parks are never far away. Indeed, they’re so well placed that they are accessible to almost every region of the city in just one tube journey.
The royal parks of London have become iconic attractions in their own rights, offering more than just a shortcut from Paddington Station to the spa at the Montcalm. The parks are home to some of London’s most celebrated festivals and attractions, and provide popular landmarks and peace and quiet in equal measure. This blog will explore all 8 royal parks, how to reach them and what to expect from a visit.
Spanning 350 acres, Hyde Park is probably the best known of the royal parks on account of it being the home of a range of annual festivals. Dating back almost 400 years, Hyde Park has become synonymous with protest movement rallying points, the seasonal Winter Wonderland Festival and British Summer Time Music Festival during the summer holidays. All of these annual events, of which there are many more, are just a small part of what Hyde Park can offer visitors. The Serpentine Lake, Princess Diana Memorial Playground, oodles of sculptures and botanic gardens all allow for a wealth of activities and sports in the green fields of London’s most famous royal park.
Once a part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens was separated during the 18th century so that Queen Caroline of Brunswick could have a garden for herself. Overlooking Kensington Palace, it’s a good thing that it was eventually made public because Kensington Gardens offers a serene antidote for tourists looking to get some peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of neighbouring Hyde Park. Here you’ll find a more formal landscape, incorporating sunken gardens, ponds and lawns amidst the woodland trails. Kensington Gardens is also home to the Serpentine Gallery, a free to visit contemporary art gallery made of two exhibition spaces.
St James’s Park
The smallest of the royal parks, St James’s is situated beside Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, part of the reason why you might see quite a few MP’s hanging around here in the summertime. Nevertheless, the quaint and scenic park is home to a lovely pond and many different water fowl, making it a great stop off during a sightseeing tour of London.
The last of London’s “green lung” of royal parks, Green Park connects the Piccadilly Strand to Buckingham Palace, and is often overlooked despite its beautiful green lawns and tree lined trails. At just over 40 acres, the park was eventually enclosed from swamplands in the 1640s and has since grown into a public byway thanks to its easy access to tube stations such as Green Park on the Victoria and Jubilee Line. Whether you are travelling from East London’s Chiswell Street dining rooms or you’re on the way to Ealing, Green Park is an easy stopover, especially for those who appreciate design and landscaping. Afterall, Green Park was developed by famous architect John Nash.
Regent’s Park is one of the most tourist friendly parks thanks to its easy to reach location between Baker Street, Euston and Great Portland Street. The large, 395 acre park dates back to the early 19th century when the Prince Regent, soon to become King George IV, decided to turn former monastery land into a pleasure garden for the people. This atmosphere still emanates from the beautiful park, its pagoda, lake and rose garden all make for picturesque walks.
Furthermore, tourists and first time visitors can enjoy London Zoo, the first ever scientific zoo and one that still runs successfully today. The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is another famous landmark in this northwestern green oasis and programmes a mix of classic theatre and contemporary writing. Visitors in Regent’s Park might be interested in visiting Primrose Hill to the north of the park, boasting some of the best views of the London landscape out there.
Richmond Park is one of only two royal parks to be situated on the banks of the Thames. Its stunning 2360 acre size makes it one of the best for walking, jogging and cycling – if you can face the commute into west London to reach it. Indeed, Richmond Park was designed to be out of the city’s hustle and bustle, acting as Charles I’s hunting ground when he moved to Richmond Palace to avoid a plague. Though Richmond Palace no longer stands today, the park and its deer have been open to the public since the 1870s, before which disputes over public access abounded for at least 100 years. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy the Isabella Plantation marshland, beautiful woodlands and herds of semi-wild deer.
1100 acres in size, Bushy Park is the second largest of the royal parks and is located beside Richmond Park, almost as a continuation of it when you factor in their similar terrain. Bushy Park though, is close to Hampton Court Palace which, when Henry VIII took it over, led to the naming of three parks that would in later centuries become Bushy Park. Today Bushy Park is home to the Teddington Rugby Club and has specially designed sports facilities for visitors to use and spectate.
Greenwich Park is the easternmost royal park and is highly popular amongst tourists. This is in part because of its stunning views over the River Thames as well as the Royal Maritime Museum being located right beside it. The Greenwich Observatory’s panoramic hill is also home to the Greenwich Meridian Line, from which English time is measured.