Small but lovely: London’s garden squares to enjoy in the sunshine


Anyone who has visited London regularly, which is a no-brainer when you take a look at some of the deals on London hotels, will know that there is no shortage of greenspace, despite being a bustling metropolitan city filled with roads and skyscrapers. Most obviously, London has its royal parks, which include Kensington Gardens, Richmond Park, Bushy Park, St James’s Park, The Green Park, The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park and Hyde Park – as guests staying in hotels near Paddington will know all too well given its proximity. 

That said, regular visitors might also find themselves wondering where the locals living or working in central London find some green tranquility when a trip to one of the large parks is a little out of sync with the 30-minute break available. This is when the humble garden square comes into the picture. A garden square is a communal garden which can be found in an urban area that is either full or part surrounded by buildings. Basically, it is what people living in homes without gardens or working in office blocks need to stay sane! Here are some of the best garden squares in central London. 

Kensington Gardens Square

Don’t be fooled by the name – Kensington Square is not linked to Kensington Palace… Well, other than its proximity, of course. If anything, their names only correlate because of their location in the neigborhood of Kensington. In 1692, its construction began on land which had been bought in 1685 especially for a garden and on its completion, it became the oldest such square in Kensington. Elsewhere in London, Bloomsbury Square Gardens, Covent Garden Piazza and St James Square came before. 

Unlike the others listed below, the Kensington Square Garden is private, meaning the public are not able to visit it on a normal day. However, it regularly takes part in the annual Open Garden Squares Weekend event which happens every Summer, where visitors can explore a diverse collection of green spaces which are not usually accessible. 

The funds raised help the London Gardens Trust, which makes lists like this possible. Attending this event means you have access to hundreds of gardens, including: Carlton House Terrace, Portman Square, Eccleston Square, Barbican Wildlife Garden, Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden, BMA House Garden and more. 

Opening hours: Private, limited to Open Garden Squares Weekend

Postcode: W2 4BE

Russell Square Gardens 

Russell Square is located in Bloomsbury, a neighborhood in Central London, near Russell Square tube station. Those staying in accommodation in Paddington London can therefore access the garden in about half an hour by tube. It is worth visiting not just because of its natural beauty, but because it is close to attractions like the British Museum, Covent Garden and Oxford Street and a day can be made out of a visit. 

It was mostly built by the firm of James Burton, who was one of the most successful property developers of Regency and Georgian London. While Cadogan Square in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the largest garden square in London, Russell Square is the second largest and its central plaza, water feature, lawns and picturesque planted archway demand a selfie!

Opening hours: Daily 7.30am-10pm

Postcode: WC1B 4JA

Soho Square

Since 1954, Soho Square, located just off Tottenham Court Road, which is now very accessible for guests staying in hotels near Paddington owing to the shiny new Elizabeth Line, has been a sanctuary for people needing a break from the mania that is Soho – especially after a sale on Oxford Street! 

It was originally called King Square after Charles II, and to this day there remains a Tudor-style gazebo in the center. Rumours have flown over the years, with one fully disproved one claiming the hut was a secret passageway to Buckingham Palace, but many people do not realise that despite the signature look, this is not a Tudor building, largely owing to the fact that it is too young. It was built in 1925 and the Tudor-look was a disguise for the Charing Cross Electricity Company. Nowadays, it does not have a specific purpose – other than to look rather good in the back of an Instagram post!

Opening hours: Daily 8am opening with varied closing times depending on season. 

Postcode: W1D 3QN

Norfolk Square Garden

Norfolk Square Garden is unique in shape, with its 0.26 hectares stretching out in a rectangle shape. Between the bars, shops, hotels, activities and restaurants near Paddington Station, Norfolk Square Gardens only adds to the many reasons why accommodation in Paddington London is always a good idea. 

Not only can you just sit back and enjoy the pocket of greenery, but you can also visit the statue of one of the most famous residents of Paddington… Paddington Bear. This is a perfect natural reprieve if Hyde Park’s 140 hectares is a little more than you need. 

Opening hours: Daily 8am opening with varied closing times depending on season. 

Postcode: W2 1RU

Brunswick Square Gardens

Tucked behind the Brunswick Shopping Center, you will find Brunswick Square, which can sometimes be overlooked given its proximity to Bloomsbury Square. But overlooking it would be a big mistake, because this 1.2 hectar garden has its own charm to offer as well as plenty of natural history. Like Russell Square, it was also built by James Burton between 1795 and 1802.

Though the statue of Thomas Coram, a philanthropist who created the London Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury, is certainly worthy of a visit, the real historical gem in Brunswick Square is The Brunswick Plane. Tha is right – a tree! In 2008 it was acclaimed as one of the ten Great Trees of London, owing to the fact that it is assumed to have been planted when the garden was built, making it over 200 years old. The only older plane tree in London is the one in Berkeley Square, which was planted in 1789.

Opening hours: Daily 7:30am–8pm

Postcode: WC1N 1AX