I know us lot living in London are often on the first Eurostar to Paris when we want a romantic break, but I’m here to tell you that London does have some pretty amazing hidden London romantic gems right on your doorstep!
I wanted to share some of my personal favourite places (all of which I’ve visited/discovered through my many years here!) which I think make the perfect spot to visit for a cultural, romantic day out, date night or perhaps even a London proposal…
I visited this only recently (although, sadly winter isn’t the best time to view it!) but I can’t wait to come back in the Spring as this location is just SO stunning. A slightly secretive looking staircase has you strolling along the pergola, a raised walkway, where you are amongst the trees and flowers with expanded views over leafy Hampstead and you feel a million miles away from the city and more like being a character in an Edwardian Novel. It has a slightly faded grandeur about it, which only adds to it’s charm and character which personally I love. Highly recommend bringing a picnic to make the most of the visit (and a camera, it’s seriously photogenic).
Cosy up in a corner of The Hollybush pub which is more than 200 years old, you don’t get a more traditional and old fashioned pub than this.
Greenwich is so underrated by us Londoners. Yes it’s across the river, but it’s such a lovely place to visit and lots to see and do. It is a bit touristy (Cutty Sark!) but such a great place to make a day-trip of. Bonus points as you can reach it by boat (whilst having afternoon tea on board) or by hopping on the Emirates Air Line cable car (if you don’t mind heights!).
It’s worth making the journey to Greenwich Park and the (steep, this calls for no heels!) climb to the top of the hill to feel like King (or Queen) of the Castle. This vista quite possibly beats any London view for me (head to the statue of General Wolfe for the best spot). The photo above may fool you into it being a quiet spot, but sadly it’s unlikely you’ll be alone.
The Royal Observatory is the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), so for those history and geographical lovers, you can stand on The Meridian Line (Longitude zero, where every place on Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west from this line). You do need to book for this though. Maybe you can make a pun of it being ‘About Time’ if you are proposing… geddit?
For something a bit more hip (by hip, I sort of mean hippy) in the summer months, head to Farmopolis on Greenwich Jetty for seriously good locally sourced organic food on a floating restaurant. Note the toilets here are far from romantic. You’ve been warned.
Oh St Pancras. Once a place I used to be scared to walk through and now, one of my favourite areas, much more than just a travel destination with it’s amazing architecture and atmosphere.
However if you, like me, can’t make it out of the right exit from the trains without having an argument (don’t get me started on the vortex that is the Kings Cross underground exit systems, argh!) then the best thing to do is head into the amazing architecture that is the St Pancras Renaissance hotel (designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott) through the lovely lobby and out into the station on the upper level ‘Grand Terrace’ concourse. Make your way to the imposing ‘The Lovers’ statue, which makes for a very romantic rendevouz…. ‘Meet me at The Lovers at 8pm’ has a pretty nice ring to it.
Whilst I’m no train spotter, there’s something about trains, and travel that feels romantic, and with the imposing and impressive statuesque Kissing couple you can’t not feel a little bit loved up. Lucky for you it’s a great spot to have a cocktail in the glamorous Booking Office restaurant, or if you really want to go the whole hog, maybe Oysters a glass of bubbly at Searcy’s Champagne Bar the longest Champagne bar in Europe apparently!
Brownie points if you can play the piano and serenade your date on the Sir Elton John Piano in the station concourse (in front of hundreds of strangers, no pressure?). There HAS to have been a proposal like this….?
Finish with dinner and a cocktail just next door in the decadent 1920s inspired Great Northern Hotel at Plum & Spilt Milk or GNH bar or there’s plenty more exploring to do nearby at Granary Square, a great hotspot on the canal with a theatre, lots of restaurants and a fancy fountain display that I dare you to run through.
I am shamed to admit this, as perhaps one of the first things tourists do in London in the summer is head here, but it’s taken me 15 whole years to experience this, and I now regret not doing it sooner!
A walk through Hyde Park and the picturesque Italian Gardens soon lead you to the Serpentine Boating Lake, where you can have fun and frolics in a pedalo or rowing boat (for the more brave). When it Rome and all that… grab an ice cream and queue up (sorry to burst the bubble, chances are if the weather is nice, it’ll be busy but don’t worry the queue goes quite quickly) and wait for your turn to take to the lake, away from the clueless who don’t seem to be able to move far, head to the bridge and back and take in those taking a dip in the Serpentine Lido!
After exerting that energy, Walk through the romantic Rose Garden (don’t be tempted to offer her one, you’ll have the guards on your back) and then take in some art and architecture at the Serpentine Galleries (free entry!) before evening dining at the Zaha Hadid designed The Magazine restaurant at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Image: House & Garden
The rooftop at One New Change in the city is perhaps my biggest secret hidden gem in London. You take the lift up and suddenly you are on a rooftop space (for FREE!) with the most stunning view of St Paul’s, almost as if you could reach out and touch it. Great to watch the sunset from, and to take the city view in.
Images: Not Quite Enough
Just a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge, well and truly hidden by the surrounding office buildings is the very atmospheric St Dunstan in the East. This Church, having been destroyed in the Great Fire of London was rebuilt, in keeping with its gothic style and a steeple designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but it was later hit by the 1941 Blitz and since then has remained as a shell of the original 1100 building. Since the 70s it’s been open to the public as a garden, and the overgrown trees, shrubs and plants that cover the building, winding their way around doorways and the once stained glass windows, make for a very secluded and fascinating hidden gem.
After writing this I definitely had a ‘I LOVE LONDON’ moment, and I hope some of you get to enjoy a few of my favourite places whether you live here or are visiting, this city really does have some romantic gems…