Category Archives: Romantic

50: Fall for the views on Saint Paul’s

All it takes to get to the best views on Saint Paul’s Cathedral is to take the glass elevator at the core of the shopping centre One New Change. The open-air public terrace offers a spectacular panorama on the iconic dome and on the city beyond. Icing on the cake, the place tends to be quieter in the weekends, when city boys desert the area.

Image

Tube stations: Saint Paul’s, Mansion House

49: Relish warm scones and delight in the view

There is no wonder why broke Londoners love cream teas: for a moderate price, your cup of tea comes with dainty scones topped with lashings of strawberry jam and sweet clotted cream. For someone who keeps a tight hold on the purse strings, this means a dish as fulfilling as a proper meal, often served in a posh place.

Tate modern’s 6th floor restaurant is a fine place for such a treat. Two warm sultana scones with jam and cream cost less than £5, while the rude staff is compensated by the gorgeous view on the Thames, the millennium bridge and Saint Paul’s standing on the opposite bank. In wintertime, one can enjoy a remarkable nighttime panorama, with city lights glowing in the dark.

Tube station: Southwark

48: Dream of Italy in Little Venice

The water pool where Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet, directly north of Paddington, is affectionately nicknamed Little Venice.  If you actually know Italy, don’t expect to find it back there; you’d be disappointed. The small, quiet canals of Little Venice have nothing in common with the gorgeous ones of La Serenissima. Yet this peaceful area still seems exotic: walking along the canals, you can feel like you’re thousand miles away from London’s hubbub, although you’re only minutes away from busy Paddington.

Little Venice

Follow the canal downstream through the tranquil neighbourhood of Maida Vale and you’ll reach Regent’s Park in half an hour; if you’re brave enough, you can keep on walking all the way to Camden Town to admire Banksy’s graffiti.

Nearest Tube: Paddington station

47: Take a Sunday stroll around Richmond

A recent survey has showed that the residents of wealthy Richmond upon Thames were among the happiest – if not the happiest – of England. This is hardly surprising: only a few miles away from London’s bustle, Richmond is a haven of peace.

Located on a meander of the River Thames, Richmond boasts a large number of parks and open spaces including one of England’s most famous greens (Richmond green).

Richmond Hill rises a few hundred meters south of the city centre. Though only 165 ft (50m) high, the view from its top has inspired such artists as J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds and is one of the best-known on the Thames. You may find that the landscape has changed little since its depiction by these masters two hundred years ago.

Image of the view from the top of Richmond Hill

To the south of Richmond Hill lies Richmond Park. Three times the size of Central Park in New York, it was originally a hunting reserve of king Charles I and is famous for the hundreds of deers it still hosts.

On Sundays, a stroll along the river Thames is a popular activity for families and lovers alike. Even if as a broke londoner, you may not afford to live in Richmond (after all, the council prides itself on being “a favourite retreat of Royalty, the rich and the famous”…), you might still wish to check out why Richmond’s inhabitants are so happy with their lot.

Tube station: Richmond

42: Smell the roses at Queen Mary’s rose garden

Queen Mary's Garden - rose 1

Located in the heart of Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s garden holds one of the finest collections of roses in the country and its access is free of charge.

Queen Mary's Garden - rose 2

Going to a rose garden in the middle of September may not have been my brightest idea, but the blooms of Queen Mary’s garden were still perfuming the air.

Nearest Tube Station: Baker Street

40: Find Mount Street Gardens

benches in Mount Street Gardens

Walking in Mayfair, I was amazed to find these peaceful public gardens, which contrast with the bustle of the urban surroundings. Mount Street Gardens are quite small, but immaculately maintained and the numerous benches invite for a nice break under the plane trees’ shade. With Phoenix Garden, this small shaded green space is one of London’s nicest secret public gardens in central London.

Mount Street GardenNearest tube stations: Green Park, Bond Street

36: Get Zen in Kyoto Gardens

Kyoto Gardens

With July’s warm days, I find myself looking for shade and fresh air in gardens, parks and green spaces of all kinds. An enchanting and often forgotten one of them is Kyoto Gardens. It is set in the heart of Holland Park, a calm and fine park welcoming pigeons and peacocks alike and located in one of London’s poshest neighbourhoods (see the post on Holland’s Park here).

Peacock in Holland Park

The Park is named after Holland House, a mansion visited by Lord Byron and Disraeli in its finest hours at the end of the 19th century. Though no ghost can be found in the sterilised ruins, the new Japanese garden, inaugurated in 1991, is a haven of peace. With its pond and waterfall, stone lantern and small bridge, is a pleasant place to pause.

Waterfall in Kyoto Gardens

Nearest Tube Station: Holland Park