It doesn't have to be all work and no play. On your next visit to London, why not do as the locals do and make a park visit or art gallery trip a must-do.
No other city beats London for green spaces. While tourists flock to big names such as Hyde Park and St James’s Park, you’ll find more peace and quiet (and leisure-seeking Londoners strolling, cycling and picnicking) in Battersea Park, south of the Thames, facing Chelsea, or in Hampstead Heath, a semi-wooded escape in north London’s rolling hills.
Boosted by its new 10-storey extension designed by Herzog & de Meuron, Tate Modern continues to host acclaimed exhibitions, including a retrospective of Amedeo Modigliani’s Expressionist masterpieces (23 November to 2 April 2018). For an alternative art fix, hit the left-field galleries and graffiti-laced backstreets of Shoreditch. Guided walking tours (shoreditchstreetarttours.co.uk) offer expert local insights.
As well as its character-filled pubs, London has a thriving craft alcohol scene. Dubbed “mother’s ruin” in Georgian England, gin has made a respectable comeback, with City of London Distillery, off Fleet Street, offering tours and tastings. Prefer beer? Many microbreweries open their doors and let you sample the hoppy goods, including Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick, east London.
Gents after a trim – or upscale aromatic oils and creams – should visit Truefitt & Hill near Mayfair. This vintage barber shop bears a Royal Warrant issued by the Duke of Edinburgh and has, in its own words, been “grooming men for greatness since 1805” (said gents include Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill). Women may fancy an appointment at Richard Ward, a hair and beauty salon in Chelsea that has counted Kate and Pippa Middleton among its clients.
For perfect views of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, hop aboard one of the Thames Clippers catamarans that ply the river, carrying as many Oyster card-clutching commuters as tourists. The Regent’s Canal is another beguiling waterway. It snakes through north London for 13 kilometres and the narrowboat journey between Little Venice, near Paddington, and Camden is idyllic.
SEE ALSO: Read Before You Leave – London