City of Westminster: Parks and Open Spaces

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There is no denying that London is a busy capital full of hustle and bustle!  It isn’t a city for the faint hearted, and locals often talk of the stresses that come with living in such a hectic urban place.  You only need to travel on the London Underground during peak hours to observe the sea of office workers all bearing the same solemn and strained expressions while getting to and from work.

Nevertheless, the capital continues to thrive as a tourist destination, with both domestic and international tourists descending in droves to explore its sights all year around.

Given the industrious nature of the capital, it is quite an irony that the city actually contains a huge number of open spaces and parks.  The inner London Borough City of Westminster alone contains 116 parks and open spaces, ranging from tiny gardens and squares to vast expanses that are true urban oases.

So, if you are planning a trip to London in the New Year, then staying in this borough would be a sensible choice.

The Royal Parks

To being with, Westminster is the home to no less than four Royal Parks – Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

Hyde Park

At 350 acres, Hyde Park is immense and occupies several locations.  It is hugely popular with Londoners and tourists alike, and you can expect a hive of activities going on all year around.  Festivals and outdoor theatre in summer, winter wonderland and Christmas market in winter, there is always a reason to come to Hyde Park.

Right in the middle of the park is the Serpentine, which is a large manmade lake and one of the most photographed spots in London.  Many water birds call this place their home, and apart from feeding them, you can also hire paddle boats to go around the lake or simply sit on a bench nearby and do some people watching.

As Hyde Park is one of the most revered and visited tourist attractions, you might want to consider staying in hotels near Paddington London.  Not only will it give you convenient access to Hyde Park and the other Royal Parks, you will also enjoy convenient airport transfers via the Heathrow Express.

Green Park

A much smaller expanse, Green Park covers only 47 acres and is wedged between St James’s Park and Hyde Park.  Unlike its neighbours, Green Park features few monuments, no buildings and no lakes.  However, don’t let its lack of sights fool you – Green Park is wonderful if you need some respite from the demands of a hectic modern city.

St James’s Park

St James’s Park offers tranquil gardens and is a perfect antidote after a trip to the nearby sights Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.

You will notice school groups and office workers relaxing in this park during weekdays, and there is also an abundance of wildlife that calls this park their home.  Its most famous wildlife resident is the pelicans, which were introduced way back in 1664.

Kensington Gardens

Another perfect day out is to combine a trip to the museums in South Kensington with the nearby Kensington Gardens.  Known as the museum quarter of the capital, South Kensington boasts big names like the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National History Museum and the Science Museum.

The 242-acre Kensington Gardens is charming and features many points of interest.  You can easily spend an entire afternoon exploring the Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue and the Serpentine Galleries.

Other parks and open spaces

While the Royal Parks tend to be on every traveller’s itinerary, there are a number of smaller parks and opens spaces where locals love to spend their time.

Paddington Recreation Ground

If you have decided to stay in hotels near Paddington London, then the Paddington Recreation Ground in Maida Vale is a convenient alternative to the Royal Parks being just north of Paddington.

It features the largest area of parkland within the City of Westminster, and is a Site of Local Importance for nature conservation.  You will find an athletic track, tennis courts, two artificial grass pitches and two bowling greens.  There is also a café if you want a quick coffee or some homemade food.

Leicester Square

The small park in the middle of Leicester Square is a surprisingly pleasant retreat from the neon lights and carnival atmosphere surrounding this entertainment district.  In the centre of the gardens lies a statue of William Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins, and there are many park benches from which you can sit and observe the crazy goings on in this vibrant part of town.

Victoria Embankment Gardens

Located near Charing Cross Railway Station, the Victoria Embankment Gardens is a manicured park with gorgeous flowerbeds throughout.   Due to its location, its main visitors tend to be workers employed in nearby offices.  There are four sections to the garden – the Temple Garden to the east, the Main Gardens to the west and two other sections following the bend of the River Thames.

Mount Street Gardens

Another hidden gem, the Mount Street Gardens is a public garden off Mount Street in Mayfair.  Perfect as a quiet retreat after a day spent shopping in the area, the garden has a number of London Plane trees, which is the main tree you will see throughout central London due to their hardiness in coping with the heavy pollution that the city used to experience.