Even though London is a wonderful eclectic city full of history, beauty and culture, sometimes you just need a break from it all. The city is so enclosed and built up that it can sometimes be suffocating and, even if you’re only visiting for a short time, you sometimes need a little breather from it all. There are a few areas of London that you can go to experience that countryside feel but without have to go for an hour outside the city itself. This guide looks at the best places to go where you can enjoy the great outdoors, basking in nature while enjoying a beverage or two right in the heart of London.
If You’re Heading to the West
City Barge in Kew is a wonderful pub with deep historic roots that date right back to the 14th century and the current building has welcomed many famous faces such The Beatles back in the day. City Barge is the perfect place to relax in the sunshine with a nice cold drink while gazing over the famous River Thames. Its impressive history is displayed on its walls including sepia water scenes and a ‘Beware of the Weir’ wooden plaque that is a constant reminder of the old patrons of the pub. If you like to be bathed in history while enjoying a drink in the sun then this is definitely a place for you.
A short trip from the hotels in Paddington, between Hammersmith and Putney is the delightful Victorian pub Crabtree. The summer sees locals and tourists flock to its garden for the stunning views and coveted spot underneath the weeping willow tree, you need to get there early to make sure you nab them. There is a large decked garden that slopes down to the river which is a lovely place to be in the summer sun. Crabtree really is a truly unique country pub right in the middle of London.
Hammersmith is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for an outer city experience with The Dove pub also situated within the borough. The Dove is known as the place to go whenever there is a boat race taking place because it is said too to be in a prime position. For this very reason the Dove has welcomed a wealth of visitors including rowers, dog-walkers, tourists and locals in to its oldy-worldly setting with the vine decorated conservatory that wins the crowd. If you’re looking to visit the city but you want to feel like you’ve escaped to the country, head to The Dove.
Its previous life has seen it dubbed the Waterman’s Inn which was founded in 1786 and, now known as The Ship, it has been a firm favourite of the locals ever since. It is hard to believe that this pub is within city limits due to its relaxing, serene atmosphere where you can sit quietly with a book or have a long, calm chat with friends. The conservatory is perfect for those who enjoy a more livelier time and for those who enjoy a good old drink accompanied with a good, old fashion laugh. The views are breathtaking with the garden looking over Wandsworth Bridge which is the best place to watch the sunset with a cold glass in hand.
Now Over to the East
Even from your hotel near Paddington station you will hear of The Cutty Sark Tavern due to its incredible history. It opened in 1795 and this Georgian pub is so special with its incredibly quaint but well stocked bar and its interior echoes its history with wooden paneled walls, mahogany furniture and even a rickety staircase that leads to another two floors. The best part about the Cutty Sark Tavern is that you can take your pint and sit on the street bench to take in the striking view of the river Thames, the O2 arena and the Emirates airline. It is only a short walk away from the Cutty Sark itself which makes it a great stopping point for when you’ve explored the famous ship.
Mayflower is a darling Jacobean pub that dates way back to the 1620. Its exterior highlights its early roots with traditional black beams and white walls set with diamond decorated windows, while the interior is lit with lamps and candles to ensure that the atmosphere and ambience of 400 years ago is brought back to life today. The terrace looks over the water front but be warned, the price of drinks and food are considerably higher than some other waterfront bars due to the historical experience you get when you visit.
The Prospect of Whitby proudly holds the title of the oldest riverside inn due to it dating back to King Henry VIII. It was previously known as the ‘Devil’s Tavern’ on account of the shady business done there by sailors, smugglers and thieves. Legend has it that, thanks to the infamous Judge Jefferys, convicts would be tied to a post during low tide and left there until the tide would come in and drown them; the pub is also situated near Wapping Old Stairs where many pirates were executed at the Execution Dock. It has a seedy, treacherous past which is what brings customers to its doors today. The interior is what you would expect of a 600 year old pub; mahogany chairs and tables, stone flooring, sash windows, all of which combine together to really give the atmosphere of a sailor’s den from yesteryear. It is well worth the visit simply for the history alone.