If someone asked you to think of a busy and chaotic city, London would probably be at the top of your list- at least it certainly would be if you were thinking of UK cities. However, London is often miss-sold on the premise that it is an overly busy city that is over-populated and over-commercialised. Of course it can be viewed as any one of those things, or indeed all three, but there is also a softer side to the city that can be seen almost instantaneously if only you know where to look.
If you are planning a short city break as a surprise gift for a loved one, then you will inevitably want to spend some quality time together, in order to make some precious memories that you will treasure for years to come. To do this, it is best to find a secluded spot where you can escape the hum of city traffic and crowds and really focus on each other. Easy in theory, but is it really practical in a city that is renowned for never stopping, not even for a moment?
The answer, in short, is yes. London has plenty of places where you can sneak away for a while, forget the world and rejuvenate your soul. In fact, you don’t need to look too far at all to find a peaceful spot that’s rich in greenery and fresh air. If you’re staying fairly central, then Hyde Park- one of London’s eight Royal parks is an obvious choice for a bit of relaxation amidst beautifully manicured gardens. However, if you prefer somewhere a little more unkempt and natural then the Camley Street natural park, is an absolute must see. Situated near Regent’s canal, the park that opened in 1985 is leading the way in nature with a mix of natural habitats and marshlands that offer visitors the chance to explore and discover various plants, birds and wildlife.
The park also features a specially designed platform that ‘floats’ on the water where workshops take place that allow visitors to get closer to the many life forms that lives on, and within, the waters there. However, the aquatic life isn’t the only thing to look at here, as you should also look out for many mini-beasts amongst the wild flowers and grasses, as well as plenty of different species of birds that live amongst the branches. It’s the perfect activity for an over-cast day to entertain all of the family- you could even create a little competition to see who can spot the most species!
Places such as these offer London visitors the opportunity to escape the smog of the city and enjoy some fresh air. In fact, there are also plenty of suitable picnic spots too so that visitors to the park can elongate their day to include a spot of lunch too. It makes for a wonderful way to spend a day out with that special someone, or even the whole family, that won’t cost you a penny. (Another huge bonus in a city where eating out can often prove expensive.)
If you’re planning to stay in London for a few days, then you’ll want to look for accommodation that is central to plenty of places of interest so that you can make the most of your trip. However, hotels in central London can often be much pricier than those just on the outskirts, mainly due to the fact that they are in such a prime location. This is easily counteracted by the wonderful travel network that the city has to offer, meaning that you can stay in other districts of the city and still be able to easily access many tourist attractions. Therefore, if you want to make your travel budget go further than it’s a good idea to broaden your accommodation search to other areas of the city- the Park Grand hotel Paddington, is one such example. This hotel offers reasonable nightly pricing but doesn’t compromise on style, or more importantly, comfort. Even better perhaps, is that it is situated near to a tube station, so that getting from your hotel to different areas of the city is quick and easy thanks to the London underground. However, there are plenty of other London hotel deals to be had in places such as Camden or even London’s East end.
If you do plan on utilising public transport fairly frequently during your time in the city, then you might want to consider getting a travel Oyster card to make hopping on and off buses, trains and trams even easier. You simply top up the card before travelling with an amount of your choosing- dependent upon how often you will be travelling, and then present the card as a form of payment when using public transport around the city. It saves you from having to worry about carrying enough cash on you to get back to your hotel after a busy day of sight-seeing, and also takes away the hassle of fiddling with loose change when your hands might be full of shopping bags or small children. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that a theft occurred, the remaining balance on the card would also be protected, offering travellers complete peace of mind when exploring the city.
Once back in the soothing confines of your London hotel room, it will be time to tune the world out and settle down for a good night’s rest. It’s crucial that you allow yourself plenty of downtime between sight-seeing when visiting a new city, so that you will wake up refreshed and ready for another full day of exploring your new surroundings.