Guest post by @benjaminspall
London is well known to be one of the busiest cities in the world. If I was to hear somebody say “I’ve booked a nice relazing weekend away” London would very rarely flicker on my radar of consciousness.
I grew up in the calming Westcountry, England. Now, that really is the definition of a relaxing weekend away (or eighteen years, in my case). Could it really be possible to recreate this simply relaxing feeling in London?
After living in London for 4 years, I’ve got some ideas. Watch out for the wild card…
1) Hampstead Heath, North London
Only 10 minutes out of the city centre on the tube (easily walked in an hour) you come across Hampstead Heath.
Despite offering stunning views across the city, this is the most ‘outside’ of the city I’ve ever felt while still being contained within its parameters. If it wasn’t for the very faint hum of the city below you could easily believe you were deep within the British country side.
This is a very upmarket part of town. Hampstead village itself is the most perfect example of a village being reached out to by a city I’ve ever seen. It has completely kept its shape and feel as a village, despite being surrounded on all sides by the largest city in the country.
2) Embankment, Waterloo
Embankment is on the south bank of the river Thames, just above Waterloo. It’s a very popular area with tourists due to its location (attractions dotted nearby include the London Eye, and Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey).
Despite the hustle and bustle of the immediate area, if you walk further afield you can discover some beautiful relaxing spots along the river. They’re still busy with people rushing through, but the footfall is substantially less than up near Waterloo. Relax with a drink in one of the classic English pubs along the riverbank.
3) St. James’s Park, Buckingham Palace
Although St. James’s Park is actually one of the smallest parks in central London; I often find it to be the most relaxing simply due to its location.
St Jame’s Park runs in parallel to the Mall, the long road running up to Buckingham Palace. Whether it’s out of respect, or simply because it’s a largely touristy area (tourists who, respectfully, don’t want to ruin the experience for others) I find St James’s Park to be a very calming experience – even when a brass band takes up the band stand from time to time!
4) Behind Oxford Street, West End
This is my wild card. This is both a tip to find a relaxing spot to sit in central London, as well as a tip to avoid the queues if eventually you give in to a bit of shopping.
I worked in the largest department store on Oxford Street for nine months (you know the one), and I was beginning to find it impossible to walk down the street during my lunch break to pick up a sandwich. I was stressed enough with my long days at work, and standing on other peoples toes, having them stand on mine, and generally not getting anywhere fast in a huge line of people was the last ting I wanted to do with my one hour of lunch each day.
I quickly realised that by walking down the parallel back streets I was saving tonnes of time. I was walking done completely empty streets in the height of summer, whilst Oxford Street, a mere 20 meters to my left, was dipping under the weight of people on it.
Benjamin Spall blogs over at Liferapture.com. Follow him as he attempt to create a location independent lifestyle and travel the world financed purely through his entrepreneurial endeavours. Check out one of his most popular post, The A-Z of Lightweight World Travel: 26 Tips & Techniques.