Guide to the ultimate London staycation
Don’t have your bags packed for a chic city break? Not being whisked away to a Greek Island retreat? Nope, us neither. We’re joining the hoards and staying firmly put in London this summer. But never fear - not venturing outside the city doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the sun, sea and sangria that comes with holidaying. And why is that? I hear you ask. Enter: the staycation.
The clue’s in the name: a staycation is essentially a holiday spent exploring your own home town, a brilliant way to discover hidden gems and tick off that ever-expanding list of spots to visit. What with the capital's soaring temperatures and with countless fun activities at our fingertips, there's never been a better time to book a week off work and holiday at home.
Cheaper, less stressful and a great way to discover the city's more unique spots, you’ll come back feeling all the joy of a holiday, minus the jetlag and piles of foreign currency shrapnel.
So, how should you fill your week? Read on to find out…
A holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a spot of excessive overeating, and there’s no better place to do it than at Coppa Club. Potentially one of the most Instagrammable spots you’ll ever visit, this modern European destination covers its sun-facing terrace with ‘Paradise Pods’ (AKA stunning glass domes decked out in complete tropical beach style) come the summer months. Go for a lazy brunch and stunning views over London.
If it’s a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights you’re after go to Pop Brixton, an East London community housing over 50 local businesses. Sample everything from modern Cantonese cooking to 28 day aged grass fed beef and forget about the calories - they don’t count when you’re on holiday, anyway. If you’re looking for somewhere similar in central, Kingly Court’s three alfresco storeys has numerous offerings including Shoryu ramen and jerk legends Rum Kitchen.
Just a stone's throw from Kings Cross station, is The Lighterman, one of central London’s best gastropubs. Expect to find all the pub grub classics, as well as an excellent grill selection, served up in their tree-lined terrace. Can’t get a seat outside? Not to worry - their wraparound terrace on the first-floor provides stunning panoramic views of Regent’s canal.
For chilled out - but still excellent - dining, the converted bike shed that is The Rochelle Canteen serves up a daily changing menu in a pared back setting. Think aged wood furniture, simple decor and sensational flavours.
Unwind with a drink
No guide to summering in London would be complete without a mention of some of the city's top notch rooftop bars. Back for their second year, Pergola Paddington (from the people behind Feast & The Prince) offers up a slice of sunny paradise in the heart of West London complete with day beds, fully stocked bars and 5 self-service restaurants to pick from. Perfect for when you want to upgrade from a picnic in the park.
For more sky-high fun, The Queen of Hoxton’s biannually changing theme is the gift that keeps on giving. This summer their immersive ‘Lost Vegas’ decor boasts everything from an abandoned school bus to vintage slot machines and even a Little Vegas Wedding Chapel - just don’t go overboard on the cocktails and pull a Ross and Rachel (#hitchedinvegas).
Find yourself in a bit of a pickle looking for the perfect drinks spot? Play it cool as a cucumber and head to Piculpeper at The Culpeper Rooftop who have transformed their east London hangout into a veritable haven for all things pickle related. Sip cucumber-infused gins under the shade of a giant 8ft gherkin - it’s a pretty big dill (sorry…).
Stay closer to the ground (probably safer after you’ve had a few…) at one of London’s brilliant beer gardens. Spitalfields is luck enough to lay claim to The Water Poet, an independent boozer complete with unpretentious food and sun-drenched beer garden. For something a bit different, go to Battersea’s Magic Garden pub. Think shabby-chic bric-a-brac shop meets Alice in Wonderland.
Catch some rays
No need to book expensive flights to hear the water lapping against the shore and feel sand between your toes (and just about everywhere else) - London has plenty of offerings when it comes to urban beaches and outdoor swimming spots. Visit the pastel-hued tropical escape of Neverland Fulham for crisp white sand, awesome beach games and street food traders and you’ll almost forget this Thameside spot is well… Thameside.
If you’re looking for somewhere to cool off after a long day of sightseeing, head to Brockwell Lido. With an Olympic sized pool and excellent cafe, outdoor swimming has never looked better. Other top notch spots for a dip include Tooting Bec Lido, the UK’s largest outdoor fresh-water pool and the stainless steel-lined Parliament Hill Lido.
Or, opt for the less chlorinated option and take a dip in one of Hampstead Heath’s many ponds. Be warned: even in the summer months the water is chilly, but perfect for that ‘at one with nature’ feeling.
They say that when a man’s tired of London, he’s tired of life, so give the predictable sights of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament a miss and instead head somewhere a bit more off the beaten track. Ever would’ve guessed the largest Hindu temple outside India was hidden away in north-west London, for example? Us neither. Made using 2,000 tonnes of Italian marble carved by over 1500 sculptors, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was built using entirely traditional methods and materials. Religious or not, it’s a must visit for stunning architecture and complete serenity.
Skip the Natural History Museum and head to the somewhat quirkier Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising for a brief history of your best loved consumer goods. Hidden away quietly behind Ladbroke Grove Station, the museum is small so is perfect for popping in to one afternoon, and the shop is a treasure-trove for all things retro inspired.
A great alternative to the somewhat hackneyed London eye, the UK’s first urban cable car, Emirates Air Line, provides stunning views across the city. Hop on at the Greenwich terminal near the O2 arena and let yourself be carried over the Thames. Top tip: use your Oyster or contactless card for a cheaper single fare.
And what about one for the thrill seekers? Thames Rockets offer a speedboat sightseeing cruise, incorporating London’s much loved attractions (fine, see them if you must) with the added thrill of travelling at 35mph. For an alternative date idea, book your place on one of their Thames Lates experiences and explore the city by sunset. Who knew speed boats could be so... er… romantic?
Now who can say they’d rather be on a beach? Not us…