London has many wonderful outdoor spaces but where to go and when? Check out our guide to how to enjoy them at their best…
If you fancy a refreshing dip, the park has its own lido – hardy souls of the Serpentine Swimming Club take a dip on Christmas Day. But the more sensible head there in high summer for a splash. There is also a ‘senior playground’ for older fun-lovers to grab some exercise as well as a free mobility service so everyone can enjoy the park. The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen is a top-notch café for a bite to eat. If you’re there from the end of November to early January, the Winter Wonderland is a magical event with ice-skating, a big wheel and a market. Hyde park is a stone’s throw from the Leonard.
The Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park in Winter
The park is famous for its rose gardens – there are 12,000 of them packed into Queen Mary’s Garden. The best time to see the blooms is usually the first two weeks of June. There is also an open-air theatre (May to September) and a boating lake (remember the famous scene in Brief Encounter? It was filmed there). Kids get their own lake, complete with pedalos. There are plenty of places to eat, including the Boathouse Café with its lovely terrace. The park is an easy walk from the hotel.
This vast park feels a million miles away from London with its deer roaming around the woodlands and lakes. But stroll up to King Henry’s Mound and look through the telescope and you can see the city perfectly framed through the viewfinder with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral glinting in the distance. While you are there stop for tea and cakes on the terrace at Pembroke Lodge. If you are visiting in May, the Isabella Plantation is a riot of rhododendrons and azaleas. From the hotel, take the Jubilee Line to Waterloo, then a mainline train to Richmond. Walk through Richmond and up the hill with refreshment at the Roebuck pub, admire the views, and on into the park.
For something more rugged head on up to Hampstead Heath. There are amazing views to be had over London from Parliament Hill – take a kite if it is windy. There is a small zoo, swimming ponds and a lido as well as a fab adventure playground. On a cold day retreat to the Spaniards Inn for a pint – this 16th century pub was immortalized by Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers. Take the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road, then the Northern Line to Hampstead.
Take in sweeping views of London with the iconic Canary Wharf looming large over the proceedings. Images of this spectacular park were beamed across the word during the Olympic Games, with Greenwich playing host to the equestrian and modern pentathlon events. While you are there, see the Greenwich Meridian Line, Longitude 0°, the centre of world time. From The Leonard, take the Central Line to Bank, then the Docklands Light Railway (kids will love the driverless trains) to Cutty Sark.