the sunday guide to // london
This week, we’re taking our Sunday Guide a little closer to home. Whilst the UK's capital is known more for it's busy streets, vibrant history, bustling transport and tourism, there are plenty of pockets in London for a spot of relaxation and serenity. We've selected some of the city's most peaceful places to spend a Sunday.
One of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, London is a mixing pot of culture. From visiting the traditional sights of Big Ben and the Tower of London, to embracing the alternative scene around Brick Lane, admiring the pastel-hued homes in Notting Hill, and accepting the challenge of negotiating Oxford Street’s shops, each area has its own distinct personality. If you’re seeking a day of rest and relaxation, steer clear of the tourist hot spots and discover London’s many parks, markets and galleries.
Stroll down Columbia Road and eat breakfast at Bistrotheque
If you're a morning person, then a stroll along Columbia Road is not to be missed. Open from 8am to 3pm, head down early to the flower market for the best pickings, or turn up towards the end when the traders sell off what they have left.
Ensure that you wander down the side streets to discover a selection of the best brunch venues in the area. We'd recommend stopping by Bistrotheque for their signature breakfasts and minimalist decor.
Soak up the serenity of the Barbican Conservatory
Escape the busy streets and slip into the peaceful surroundings of the Barbican Conservatory, 'a hidden treasure in the heart of the Barbican'. Admire the brutalist concrete structure as you navigate the walkways, and then spend a while in this city oasis.
Home to over 2,000 species of tropical plants, a pond of Koi Karp and several species of birds, this peaceful paradise is a welcome retreat from the urban landscapes outside. Wander around the conservatory enjoying your surroundings and the warm climate, or sit on a bench and people watch.
photo: henry kellner (own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Sip a flat white at Workshop Coffee
Spend your Sunday sipping the finest coffee in London at Workshop. Choose from one of their four stylish coffee houses around the city, and sit back and relax with a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee.
Workshop ethically source their coffee beans from all over the world and pay close attention to detail throughout the brewing process to ensure that they serve world-class coffees. The minimal interiors of their London locations are ideal for spending a couple of hours catching up with friends or reading magazines.
Browse the shelves at Daunt Books
This old Edwardian book store in Marylebone is one of London’s hidden secrets. Welcoming browsers who simply want to wander along the balconies exploring the collections, it is the perfect place to while away a couple of hours on a drizzly Sunday. Whether you go to admire the architecture or the vast collection of travel tomes that they stock, Daunt is one of our favourite London hideaways to go to escape the crowds.
photo: daniel dalton, via flickr
Absorb culture at Serpentine Galleries
There’s almost a never ending supply of contemporary art galleries to choose from in London, but we highly recommend making the Serpentine your first port of call, especially if you want to experience this year’s Pavilion installation before it closes on the 18th October.
Current exhibitions also include Jimmie Durham’s Various Items & Complaints and Palisades, the first solo London show by Rachel Rose. The two galleries are situated on either side of the Serpentine Lake, making a stroll around the picturesque Kensington Gardens the perfect end to your day.
Check out one of our recent posts on the work of Selgascano, this year's winner of the Serpentine Pavilion installation.
photo: forgemind archimedia, via flickr
Discover Hampstead Heath
Located between Hampstead and Highgate (both offering a variety of cafes and bars suitable for post-walk rests), the Heath is an ancient park beloved of local Londoners who come here to escape city life throughout the year.
In summer, people flock to the lido and swimming ponds, and in autumn the park is ideal for taking in the beautiful views of the city and the seasonal foliage from the top of Parliament Hill. Whether you come for a walk or simply to sit and breathe the fresh air, it is the perfect escape from the city streets.
photo: ashley coates, via flickr
Eat dinner at the Town Hall Hotel
Located in the bustling East End, the Town Hall Hotel is always our recommendation for friends visiting London. Its original Edwardian features are lovingly restored and brought up to date with an abundance of natural light and contemporary styling.
For a relaxing Sunday dinner, the hotel’s restaurant, Corner Room serves simple yet delicious meals in their stunning dining room. It’s worth visiting simply to admire the lighting.
Take a walk down to the Thames Barrier
Whilst it might seem like a somewhat uninviting spot, it's worth walking a couple of miles down the river from North Greenwich to take a look at the Thames Barrier. Stark and industrial, but remarkably quiet, the barrier stands nobly from the Thames and provides a great spot for steel-glinted sunsets.
source: docklands photography
Hop on the Hammertons Ferry
Head West to Richmond and take a ride on the Hammertons Ferry. Starting in 1908, these river voyages have drifted through the idyllic surroundings of Richmond Upon Thames. Linking the North bank at Marble Hill House with the South bank near Ham House, Hammertons Ferry is the last remaining privately owned foot ferry on the Tidal Thames. You can ride for just £1, check out the operating schedule here.
photo: sheila thomson (flickr: richmond)
Find a hidden Japanese roof garden
Home to the Brunei gallery, SOAS University, and this hidden roof garden, this spot on the edge of Russell Square is worth wandering to. Known for their tranquility and history, Japanese gardens make for perfect respite.
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