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Guide to the ultimate London staycation

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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 - staying in 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 must-visit rooftop bars/ al fresco restaurants/ outdoor cinemas/ city beaches. What with the ever-increasing cost of venturing abroad, 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 secret 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…

Alfresco dining

A holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a spot of excessive overeating, and there’s no better place to do it than at the ever-Instagramworthy Coppa Club. Transformed into a surfer's paradise for the summer, the you can expect a VW camper van bar, a surfboard swing and tropical plants aplenty. 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, a South London community celebrating over 50 independent local businesses. Sample everything from modern Cantonese cooking to 28 day aged grass fed beef and forget about the calories - after all, they don't count when you're on holiday. If you’re looking for somewhere similar in central, Kingly Court’s three al fresco 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 best rooftop bars. Back by popular demand, Pergola Paddington offers up a slice of sunny paradise in the heart of West London complete with day beds, fully stocked bars and 4 self-service restaurants to pick from - perfect for when you want to upgrade from a picnic in the park. What's more, this year they're offering a brand new bottomless brunch every Sunday... if you're up early enough, that is.

For more sky-high fun, The Queen of Hoxton’s biannually changing theme is the gift that keeps on giving. This summer the East London hangout has been transformed into 'Las Mexicanas' inspired by the female Lucha Libre wrestlers of Mexico - there's even the chance to learn some moves in the ring. Think frozen Margaritas, tasty tacos and lots and lots of Tequila.

No self-respecting rooftop roundup would be complete without a mention of the Peckham hotspot that is Frank's Cafe. Best known for its ultra Insta-worthy bright pink stairwell (we're talking floor to ceiling, wall to wall), the South London institute serves up classic cocktails, delicious food and good vibes all summer long. Never has drinking on the top of a multi-storey carpark been so trendy.

Stay closer to the ground (probably safer after you’ve had a few…) at one of London’s brilliant beer gardens. Spitalfields is lucky 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, head 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 - 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 serving a predominantly vegetarian and vegan menu, outdoor swimming has never looked better. Other fab spots for a dip include Tooting Bec Lido, the UK’s largest outdoor fresh-water pool and the stainless steel-lined Parliament Hill Lido.

If it's a less chlorinated option you're after, take a dip in one of Hampstead Heath’s many ponds open daily from 7am. Be warned: even in the summer months the water is chilly, but perfect for that ‘at one with nature’ feeling.

Alternative sightseeing

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They say that when a man’s tired of London, he’s tired of life, so give Big Ben and Houses of Parliament a miss and 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? 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.

Bored of the Natural History Museum? Head to the somewhat quirkier Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising for a brief history of our best loved consumer goods. Hidden away quietly behind Ladbroke Grove Station, the museum is small, making it perfect for popping in to one afternoon. This summer the museum will also be home to the interactive instillation 'Your Favourite Brand' which invites visitors to document their most loved brands, building a 'mosaic of memories' for generations to come.

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…


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