London’s Quietest Spots

Need to get away from the city's hustle and the noise? Here's where you can head for...

Living in a big city, there might come a time when you crave a bit of quiet. In 2011 a book of London’s quiet places made headlines for being a comprehensive guide for those who wanted to eat, drink, read, and even shop with a minimum of noise. It was therefore only natural that we decided to come up with our very own list of spots to enjoy a bit of silence, from quiet pubs to the most tranquil green spaces.

The Uxbridge Arms
Of an afternoon, this could well be London’s quietest pub. It may be in Notting Hill, home to a plethora of trendy, flashy bars, but stepping into The Uxbridge Arms feels a little like going back in time. There’s patterned carpet on the floor, a fireplace, and a wooden, old-fashioned bar of the kind which has a shelf with glasses hanging down. Also, there is no food, music or any other form of background noise other than the sound of the odd punter shuffling the pages of a newspaper or putting a glass down on the table.

The City at the weekend
During the week, in the areas surrounding Liverpool Street and Bank you can’t move for suits. At the weekends it’s a ghost town, made all the more eerie by the towering bank-owned skyscrapers that dominate the view, with hardly a single person on the streets. It’s a little like the scene at the start of 28 Days Later when the hero leaves the hospital to find a deserted London, minus the horror of finding out the capital has been taken over by zombie chimps obviously – it’s a calming experience, honest.
Lisson Gallery
Lisson Gallery’s bright, airy space is perfect for an hour or two of quiet pondering (and chin-stroking). The art displayed is contemporary, often conceptual, and the gallery has pioneered many new, striking artists since its opening in 1967, among them Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, and in later years Anish Kapoor, Bill Woodrow and Julian Opie, the latter known by the masses for his album cover for Blur: The Best Of, where he portrayed the four band members in his characteristic, ultra-simplified style. The gallery is unusually split into two venues on opposite sides of Bell Street, just off Edgware Road.

Parks
Most parks in central London are busy at weekends; on a sunny day it’s practically impossible to move on Primrose Hill for picnic blankets and tubs of hummus. During the week it’s a different matter, however somewhere like Green Park which is un-crowded in the mornings is a popular lunchtime spot for office workers. Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath are the most “wild” and therefore feel a little more like the countryside than a green space in a huge metropolis, however the canal-side trail within Lea Valley Park runs all the way from Homerton to Upper Edmonton, and you’re guaranteed an undisturbed walk. In West London, Ravenscourt Park seems to be largely undiscovered, check out the Walled Garden to immerse yourself in greenery.
Margravine and Tower Hamlets Cemetery
As well as being peaceful, these two cemeteries are well maintained – Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is a conservation park. Margravine Cemetery, near Barons Court tube station, is full of greenery and wildlife; the Friends of Margavine Cemetery are very active where preserving the area’s rich flora is concerned. There was some controversy in 1965 when a large number of tombstones were cleared away and grass was laid down, however this does mean that there is a mixture of tombstones and grassy areas for relaxing. Tower Hamlets Cemetery is accessible via Bow Road or Mile End stations. It’s filled with sycamore trees and is popular with bird spotters as 35 different species have been discovered in the area. Fans of butterflies and foxes will also enjoy this park.

K Spa’s kuddles
It goes without saying that a relaxation room in a spa is going to be fairly noiseless. At the K Spa (situated within the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush) mobile phones must be turned off and you are asked to “moderate your voice”, in other words, keep quiet. But the spa’s kuddles go one further. These soft suede loungers are ideal for a siesta in total comfort. They are fitted in archways in the wall, offering a feeling of seclusion, and two people can share one, making it possible to go with a partner. Stars are projected onto the walls and ceiling to aid your relaxing, or perhaps hinder it if you’re distracted by twinkly lights.

Arbutus
This chic restaurant may be in the heart of Soho, and admittedly it does get busy, but it’s ideal for solitary diners who wish to indulge in a Michelin-quality meal and a book. Furthermore, Arbutus offers every single wine on the list by the glass, therefore they clearly have the lone customer in mind. The menu has British and European dishes such as saddle of rabbit and cottage pie, and Marseille-style lambs’ tripe parcels and trotters, so it’s not the best place for vegetarians. If dinner is too raucous (you need a reservation as it gets booked up easily) then head there for lunch, when they offer a three course set menu for £20.

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