Places to find some peace in London

in... London?

Famed for its hustle and bustle you may be surprised to learn that there are actually a fair few areas of our capital which are decidedly less... hustle-y and bustle-y. In fact you could even go so far as to say peaceful-y. (We've got a strong grip on the adjectives today.)

So if you're in need of a tranquil corner to unplug, decompress, reflect, re-balance your chi or just plug in your iPhone and play Enter Sandman really, really loud, then peruse our list below...

Phoenix Garden
21 Stacey Street, London

AIL Says: Who would have thought that amongst the maelstrom of shoppers, suits and booksellers on Charing Cross Road there was a perfectly still retreat from it all? The Phoenix Garden is a community project that enables the possibility for urban wildlife to flourish. Open every day of the year, the gardens are a step outside the enclosed cocoon of city life, whilst simultaneously sitting in the heart of one of the capital’s busiest areas. Take a book and discover a sweet détente between yourself and the bustle.

  • PARK
Margravine Cemetery
Margravine Gardens

AIL Says: The Margravine Cemetery has everything that a wandering Londoner could want. Think gravestones for that sense of perspective, birdsong for the lifting of spirits and most of all a peaceful habitat that can be enjoyed alone. A ‘place of rest’ since 1951, the Margravine Cemetery now encourages people to join in with the regular bird counts, hedge planting, squirrel spotting and nature talks. This idyllic, leafy oasis couldn’t seem further from Hammersmith.

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National Art Library
Victoria & Albert Museum Cromwell Road South Kensington SW7 2RL
Region: South Kensington
Nearest Station: South Kensington (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: The National Art Library at the V&A is one of those old school places of silence. No bags allowed, phones must be kept silent, conversations are banned and rustling is frowned upon. If you’re looking for somewhere to think or just a place where distractions are at their most minimal then this is it – and it’s got some beauty going for it too.

Curzon Bloomsbury
The Brunswick

AIL Says: Located in the bottom of the Brunswick Centre, Curzon’s Renoir Cinema is not your average movie theatre. Steadfastly arthouse, achingly indie and uninclined to accept any degree of noise during screenings. All this makes it the perfect place for some down time when you’re not looking for all out quiet. Let’s just say this is our version of leaving the TV on for the dog as company when you pop out for a couple of hours.

Royal Observatory - Greenwich
Greenwich Park, Greenwich

AIL Says: There’s nothing like a little stargazing for a hyper inflated sense of solitude and at the Royal Observatory there’s both the real and the imagined sky to enjoy. Home to London’s only planetarium, on a quiet day the indoor space show is a relaxing journey from the self. The views of Greenwich are heart stirring and what’s more if you’re there late enough then it’s the only place to see the official end to the day.

  • USERS 9/10
Highgate Cemetery
Swain's Lane, Highgate

AIL Says: Now home to the spirit of Karl Marx, it seems that the tranquil surroundings of Highgate cemetery have mellowed his soul somewhat, for he seems much less belligerent now he's made his home here. The same seems to be the case for most of its strictly limited visitors, with the old cemetery in particular being an oasis of woodland greenery and serenity. Paths lead through the dense, ancient trees and woodland, as your feet dodge the sprawling ivy and your ears hear nothing but birdsong... peaceful bliss.

The Hackney Cut Canal
Lea Bridge Road to Old Ford Lock

AIL Says: The Cut is an artificial waterway that cuts through the east of Hackney, where the water is flanked by a nature reserve on one side and the soothing stillness of the towpath on the other. Stroll all the way up to Springfield Park (an underrated attraction that could have made it onto this list in its own right) or stop off for a pint at the pub on route.

Tyburn Covent
8 Hyde Park Place, London

AIL Says: Located near Bayswater, the Tyburn Convent is a working convent and home to a small number of cloistered nuns. Guided tours run daily and offer the best way to achieve a true reflection of what life is like in this most holy of places. The fact that this area was once home to the famous ‘Tyburn Tree’ gallows makes it even more eerily calm and atmospheric inside the convent – not to mention the fact that there is a shrine on the bottom floor to the many martyred Catholics of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Eel Pie Island
Twickenham, Middlesex

AIL Says: Once home to a blossoming blues scene – not to mention more recently the Mystery Jets – Eel Pie Island isn’t as noisy as you might expect. No vehicles are allowed on the island - which can only be reached by footbridge or boat – that stands in the middle of the Thames tideway so peace and quiet is more apparent here than most places in London. A truly idyllic place to walk and think.

Chelsea Physic Garden
66 Royal Hospital Road, London

AIL Says: Originally founded in 1673 as a place for the study of the medicinal qualities of plants, The Chelsea Physic Garden is now open to the public for large chunks of the year. Admission fees are charged to non-members of what is London’s oldest botanical garden but it’s worth the entrance fee for the beautifully designed landscape.

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Wapping Beaches
off Wapping High Street, London

AIL Says: There are places beside the Thames in Wapping where one can walk along the pebbled, dirty sands when the tide is low. Once these banks were famed for their smugglers’ connections but these days you’re unlikely to find many bootleggers down there. The sound of gentle lapping water is music to the ears of the silence seeker, which makes the Wapping shores one of London’s premium spots of solace.


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