mahabis relax // finding a city oasis in a concrete jungle

photo: oliver wendel


Feeling suffocated by the busy city streets and overwhelming architecture? Fear not, London has an extensive network of secluded green spaces hidden away in the most unexpected places. Forgo the obvious parks and fields and seek out a more sophisticated city oasis.


Spending time amongst greenery is proven to help calm and destress, whilst also boosting creativity and productivity. For those of us that live in the middle of bustling cities, particularly London, it can seem that our green space is limited. Far from rolling hills and traditional English country gardens, the city streets appear dull and monotonous with concrete spreading as far as the eye can see.


 photo: jay mantri


Be seeking out calming and colourful green spaces within your city, you allow yourself a brief respite from the sea of concrete. City parks and botanical gardens offer welcome oasis’s where locals can wander or sit and relax. Within London, you’re spoilt for choice with both large and small parks, but where can you go to find a glimpse of green and be amongst plants with a more serene atmosphere?


Perhaps the most luxurious garden in the city, Sky Garden offers panoramic views from 155 metres above the busy streets. Visitor numbers are strictly limited, so whilst the relatively new attraction is currently incredibly popular, you won’t be elbow-to-elbow with tourists. The garden was designed to provide a calming and restful spot to be at one with nature whilst admiring the spectacular view of the city from above. The huge glass windows allow natural light to flood in whilst you meander around the plants or pick a spot to sit and relax. Ignore the top tiers of bars and restaurants and lose yourself amongst the shrubbery.


The Barbican has long been one of our favourite spots, combining twin loves of Brutalist architecture and the arts. Visitors flock here to view the latest exhibition or watch a theatrical performance, but many don’t realise that one of London’s most spectacular conservatories is nestled amongst the layers of concrete. Barbican actually houses the city’s largest conservatory after Kew, housing thousands of tropical plants, birds and fish underneath a glass roof. You could spend hours here, wandering among the plants or finding the perfect secluded spot to sit down and catch up with a good book.


photo: wikimedia

If you watched the film Closer, then Postman’s Park may already be one of your favourite London secrets. Named for the local postmen who used to spend their lunch breaks relaxing here, the park is a tranquil haven in the midst of a busy city. In amongst the plants, you’ll discover a small fountain and beautifully planted flower beds, providing a peaceful spot to replicate the postmen and enjoy your lunch outdoors. Take time to admire the Watts Gallery, where stone tablets commemorate small yet important acts of bravery by everyday people.


Visit Petersham Nurseries to enjoy rustic-inspired fine cuisine in the relaxing environment of a Victorian greenhouse. Stroll around the neighbouring meadow, wander through the nurseries and admire the plants before settling down to one of the most relaxing meals that you can enjoy in the capital. You’ll leave relaxed and calm, feeling as though you’ve spent the afternoon in the countryside.


 photo: herry lawford 


If you work around Canary Wharf, pay a visit to Crossrail Station, where the roof gardens provide the perfect respite from a gruelling day in the city. The station won’t receive trains until 2018, so it’s still relatively unvisited despite the peaceful gardens area. Take your lunch and a magazine and spend an hour above the streets surrounded by greenery.


When wandering around Holland Park, make the Kyoto Garden your destination. This beautiful blooming garden may be small and isn’t an obvious choice for spending time outdoors in the city, but it’s one of the most serene spots that we know. After admiring the botanicals, the koi carp and the peacocks, settle down close to the waterfall and allow the sound of the cascading water to lull you to sleep.


There are plenty more hidden green retreats in London, just waiting for you to discover them. Make time at least once a week to escape the concrete jungle and enjoy unwinding in a calming haven.


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