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Guidebook for Greater London

John

Guidebook for Greater London

Food Scene
Overlooking Islington Green, Afghan Kitchen is a long-serving local favourite that’s never needed to change its style. The two-floor premises are bright, tidy and compact, with lots of shared tables and a menu of equally straightforward home cooking – think proper breads, hearty, warming stews and filling rice dishes.
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Afghan Kitchen
35 Islington Green
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Overlooking Islington Green, Afghan Kitchen is a long-serving local favourite that’s never needed to change its style. The two-floor premises are bright, tidy and compact, with lots of shared tables and a menu of equally straightforward home cooking – think proper breads, hearty, warming stews and filling rice dishes.
Taking its cue from Alsace, this sparky number from Messrs Corbin & King pays homage to the era of grand cafés. Simple but flawless all-day sustenance is the deal, served against a backdrop of cosy booths, wood panelling, smoky mirrors and flattering lighting. Impeccable service comes as standard. Bellanger on a Tuesday & Wednesday evening for their new steak frites & wine and sausage, sauerkraut & beer specials
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Bellanger
9 Islington Green
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Taking its cue from Alsace, this sparky number from Messrs Corbin & King pays homage to the era of grand cafés. Simple but flawless all-day sustenance is the deal, served against a backdrop of cosy booths, wood panelling, smoky mirrors and flattering lighting. Impeccable service comes as standard. Bellanger on a Tuesday & Wednesday evening for their new steak frites & wine and sausage, sauerkraut & beer specials
It may be a gluten-free zone, but this branch of the Beyond Bread Bakery is a rousing success – particularly if you roll up for a late breakfast. Naturally the staff of life crops up here, there and everywhere, but the kitchen also does a good line in mini pizzas, quiches and cakes.
Beyond Bread
2 Charlotte Pl
It may be a gluten-free zone, but this branch of the Beyond Bread Bakery is a rousing success – particularly if you roll up for a late breakfast. Naturally the staff of life crops up here, there and everywhere, but the kitchen also does a good line in mini pizzas, quiches and cakes.
Old enough and wise enough to deserve the title ‘Islington classic’, dapper family-run Frederick’s just keeps on keeping on – driven along by loyal customers who greatly appreciate its lofty conservatory, striking artworks, secret garden and gently fashionable modern European food. Menus change with the seasons at this ritzy local treat.
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Frederick's
106 Camden Passage
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Old enough and wise enough to deserve the title ‘Islington classic’, dapper family-run Frederick’s just keeps on keeping on – driven along by loyal customers who greatly appreciate its lofty conservatory, striking artworks, secret garden and gently fashionable modern European food. Menus change with the seasons at this ritzy local treat.
A class act in the veggie scheme of things, The Gate charms with its modern, monochrome interior, open kitchen, huge windows and on-trend industrial-style lighting. Every dish is beautifully presented, with bespoke condiments complementing the leading flavours, while friendly staff are bang-on when it comes to allergies and special diets.
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The Gate Islington
370 St John St
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A class act in the veggie scheme of things, The Gate charms with its modern, monochrome interior, open kitchen, huge windows and on-trend industrial-style lighting. Every dish is beautifully presented, with bespoke condiments complementing the leading flavours, while friendly staff are bang-on when it comes to allergies and special diets.
While lacking the intimacy of the Bethnal Green original, Islington’s Little Georgia is still a happy find for anyone craving some indigenous Eurasian cuisine. The colourful dining room is stuffed with vintage Georgian artefacts and plastered with vintage political posters, while Tiko Tuskadze’s menu deals in ethnic classics from her homeland.
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Little Georgia Islington
14 Barnsbury Rd
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While lacking the intimacy of the Bethnal Green original, Islington’s Little Georgia is still a happy find for anyone craving some indigenous Eurasian cuisine. The colourful dining room is stuffed with vintage Georgian artefacts and plastered with vintage political posters, while Tiko Tuskadze’s menu deals in ethnic classics from her homeland.
The location may be respectable N1, but this punk burger chain’s only concession to its Upper Street home is the lifting of an embargo on bookings. Otherwise, it’s business as usual: grungy, warehouse-style interiors, signature dishes including the celebrated Dead Hippie burger, fried pickles, hip cocktails and music cranked up to 11.
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MEATliquor London
74 Welbeck St
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The location may be respectable N1, but this punk burger chain’s only concession to its Upper Street home is the lifting of an embargo on bookings. Otherwise, it’s business as usual: grungy, warehouse-style interiors, signature dishes including the celebrated Dead Hippie burger, fried pickles, hip cocktails and music cranked up to 11.
Tom Oldroyd was chef-director of Russell Norman’s tentacular hit Polpo before going it alone with this diminutive and deceptively laid back solo debut in Islington. Small plates and high-impact flavours from Italy, France and Spain are the kitchen’s calling cards. Wines and cocktails are also seriously good.
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Oldroyd
344 Upper St
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Tom Oldroyd was chef-director of Russell Norman’s tentacular hit Polpo before going it alone with this diminutive and deceptively laid back solo debut in Islington. Small plates and high-impact flavours from Italy, France and Spain are the kitchen’s calling cards. Wines and cocktails are also seriously good.
Even if you’ve never heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, you can’t pass the flagship branch of his café-deli empire without stopping to admire the sight. Fronting the long all-white dining room is a huge window display, while each dish is a masterclass of eclectic flavours and clashing cuisines.
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Ottolenghi Islington
287 Upper St
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Even if you’ve never heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, you can’t pass the flagship branch of his café-deli empire without stopping to admire the sight. Fronting the long all-white dining room is a huge window display, while each dish is a masterclass of eclectic flavours and clashing cuisines.
Given its meaty moniker, you’d imagine plenty of rare-breed blood-and-guts action at this sibling of The Smokehouse – and you wouldn’t be far wrong. However, this is a handsomely tricked-out gastropub, not an abattoir, so also expect fine-tuned seasonal cooking backed by some impressive craft beers. Fish fans and veggies aren’t ignored, either.
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The Pig and Butcher
80 Liverpool Rd
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Given its meaty moniker, you’d imagine plenty of rare-breed blood-and-guts action at this sibling of The Smokehouse – and you wouldn’t be far wrong. However, this is a handsomely tricked-out gastropub, not an abattoir, so also expect fine-tuned seasonal cooking backed by some impressive craft beers. Fish fans and veggies aren’t ignored, either.
The owners may be holed up at POTL’s offshoot in Padstow, but this original branch still pulls the crowds with its offer of briny fresh seafood served in a buzzy neighbourhood setting. Menus depend on the day’s catch, although glistening platters of fruits de mer steal most of the limelight.
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Prawn on the Lawn
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The owners may be holed up at POTL’s offshoot in Padstow, but this original branch still pulls the crowds with its offer of briny fresh seafood served in a buzzy neighbourhood setting. Menus depend on the day’s catch, although glistening platters of fruits de mer steal most of the limelight.
The Almeida Restaurant (opposite the namesake theatre) has been refashioned with help from star chef Francesco Mazzei (of Sartoria fame). Swooningly pretty by design, Radici majors in classily reinvented trattoria staples inspired by the chef’s native Calabria, with support from tip-top antipasti and ‘molto, molto buono’ pizzas
Radici
30 Almeida St
The Almeida Restaurant (opposite the namesake theatre) has been refashioned with help from star chef Francesco Mazzei (of Sartoria fame). Swooningly pretty by design, Radici majors in classily reinvented trattoria staples inspired by the chef’s native Calabria, with support from tip-top antipasti and ‘molto, molto buono’ pizzas
Bigger, lighter and brighter than the Shoreditch original, but with the same white-walled minimalist design and an identical menu, Rök Islington majors in Scandi-tinged dishes smoked over the coals, with much emphasis on pickled, cured and recherché ingredients. Brilliant staff are on hand to decode the intricacies of the menu.
Rök Islington
149 Upper St
Bigger, lighter and brighter than the Shoreditch original, but with the same white-walled minimalist design and an identical menu, Rök Islington majors in Scandi-tinged dishes smoked over the coals, with much emphasis on pickled, cured and recherché ingredients. Brilliant staff are on hand to decode the intricacies of the menu.
As friendly as its name, this family-run bistro has a trump card up its sleeve in the shape of chef Christoph Lange. Having worked at big hitters including Maaemo and Noma, it’s no surprise that his beautiful, thoughtful dishes are shot through with fancy new-Nordic magic – although the prices are mercifully restrained. Check out the roasted beef sirloin in the mains and scallops with black pudding in the starters.
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Salut!
412 Essex Rd
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As friendly as its name, this family-run bistro has a trump card up its sleeve in the shape of chef Christoph Lange. Having worked at big hitters including Maaemo and Noma, it’s no surprise that his beautiful, thoughtful dishes are shot through with fancy new-Nordic magic – although the prices are mercifully restrained. Check out the roasted beef sirloin in the mains and scallops with black pudding in the starters.
The waiters have tattoos by default, the beers are craft and the aromas from a fired-up grill permeate the aesthetically battered, Shaker-style dining room at this ultra-hip gastropub. Top-quality meat, fish and veg are smoked, roasted or grilled over coals or oak, and there’s rare-breed beef with all the trimmings on Sundays.
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Smokehouse
63-69 Canonbury Rd
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The waiters have tattoos by default, the beers are craft and the aromas from a fired-up grill permeate the aesthetically battered, Shaker-style dining room at this ultra-hip gastropub. Top-quality meat, fish and veg are smoked, roasted or grilled over coals or oak, and there’s rare-breed beef with all the trimmings on Sundays.
Highbury’s star Italian has made the restaurant biz look like child’s play since day one by combining irresistible food with spot-on service and affordable prices. It’s home to some of London’s best pasta and there’s brilliant stuff from the charcoal grill too, while a comprehensive all-Italian wine list emphasises Trullo’s true calibre.
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Trullo
300-302 St Paul's Rd
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Highbury’s star Italian has made the restaurant biz look like child’s play since day one by combining irresistible food with spot-on service and affordable prices. It’s home to some of London’s best pasta and there’s brilliant stuff from the charcoal grill too, while a comprehensive all-Italian wine list emphasises Trullo’s true calibre.
Ignore the functional decor and go for the Chinese burn at Yipin, where the vast menu highlights the spicy, earthy flavours of Hunan province alongside more familiar Cantonese dishes and full-frontal peasant-style specialities from Sichuan. Just remember that this is an upscale Chinese in upscale Islington, so the prices aren’t cheap as chips.
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Yipin China
70-72 Liverpool Rd
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Ignore the functional decor and go for the Chinese burn at Yipin, where the vast menu highlights the spicy, earthy flavours of Hunan province alongside more familiar Cantonese dishes and full-frontal peasant-style specialities from Sichuan. Just remember that this is an upscale Chinese in upscale Islington, so the prices aren’t cheap as chips.
New on City Road
Bodean's BBQ Old Street
201 City Rd
New on City Road
Arts & Culture
The pioneers of this part of town were artists like Gilbert and George and Michael Craig-Martin, who brought their studios here, and gallery owner Maureen Paley, who opened up shop in 1984.
Vyner Street
The pioneers of this part of town were artists like Gilbert and George and Michael Craig-Martin, who brought their studios here, and gallery owner Maureen Paley, who opened up shop in 1984.
It's a mixture between the economics of the area and the sort of urban forms that we get in this part of London which suits artists and creative people.
Kemistry
43 Charlotte Rd
It's a mixture between the economics of the area and the sort of urban forms that we get in this part of London which suits artists and creative people.
Getting Around
STOP XL. Eagle Wharf Road Bus Stop on New North Road opposite Wimbourne Street. Here you can catch the 21, 76, 141 and 271 buses to Moorgate and Finsbury Square.
New North Road
STOP XL. Eagle Wharf Road Bus Stop on New North Road opposite Wimbourne Street. Here you can catch the 21, 76, 141 and 271 buses to Moorgate and Finsbury Square.
Old Street Underground is a local underground station on the Northern Line
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Old Street
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Old Street Underground is a local underground station on the Northern Line
The Angel Station is also on the Northern Line
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Angel Station
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The Angel Station is also on the Northern Line
Overground Train Station
Essex Road Station (Stop EB)
Overground Train Station
On New North Road on the right as you come out of Eagle Wharf Road. The 271 bus route heads North towards Highbury and Islington station.
Eagle Wharf Road
On New North Road on the right as you come out of Eagle Wharf Road. The 271 bus route heads North towards Highbury and Islington station.
Essentials
Local tesco
Tesco Express
Local tesco
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Co-op Food
136 New North Road
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Launderette, Post Office, Cafe, Grocery Stores, Pharmacist as well as Fish and Chips are all 2 minutes walk away.
Wenlock Street
Launderette, Post Office, Cafe, Grocery Stores, Pharmacist as well as Fish and Chips are all 2 minutes walk away.
Drinks & Nightlife
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XOYO
32-37 Cowper St
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Aquarium Studios
122 Wardour St
The Craft Beer Co. Old Street
235 Old St
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Barrio Shoreditch
141-143 Shoreditch High St
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Top end cocktail bar, need to book
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Nightjar
129 City Rd
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Top end cocktail bar, need to book
Parks & Nature
Tucked behind Charing Cross Road, this is a super spot for a leafy lunchtime break. Look out for frogs and sparrows, which are thriving thanks to an enthusiastic conservation initiative.
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The Phoenix Garden
21 Stacey St
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Tucked behind Charing Cross Road, this is a super spot for a leafy lunchtime break. Look out for frogs and sparrows, which are thriving thanks to an enthusiastic conservation initiative.
Time to head to the Japanese Roof Garden at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Built in 2001, this serene space is dedicated to forgiveness. A period of repose among the artfully placed rocks, pebbles and combed sand will set you right
Japanese Roof Garden
Time to head to the Japanese Roof Garden at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Built in 2001, this serene space is dedicated to forgiveness. A period of repose among the artfully placed rocks, pebbles and combed sand will set you right
A short walk from St Paul's Cathedral lies one of London's most touching monuments: George Frederic Watts's 'Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice'. Within the quiet Postman's Park, nestled beneath a tiled roof, are just over 50 ceramic plaques, each commemorating an ordinary person who lost their life trying to save others. Many of the descriptions are truly heart-breaking, and you can easily spend an entire lunchbreak contemplating their selflessness.
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Postman's Park
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A short walk from St Paul's Cathedral lies one of London's most touching monuments: George Frederic Watts's 'Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice'. Within the quiet Postman's Park, nestled beneath a tiled roof, are just over 50 ceramic plaques, each commemorating an ordinary person who lost their life trying to save others. Many of the descriptions are truly heart-breaking, and you can easily spend an entire lunchbreak contemplating their selflessness.
Originally intended to give Southwark children from nearby tenements a space to play, this Victorian garden has been restored to its original design, complete with pond, cottage, bandstand and formal borders. It’s an important fixture in the capital’s social reform history. While relaxing in the restored bandstand, gazing up at the glass prism of the Shard it’s hard to imagine the view back in 1887 when it was surrounded by workhouses, factories and slum dwellings.
Red Cross Garden
Originally intended to give Southwark children from nearby tenements a space to play, this Victorian garden has been restored to its original design, complete with pond, cottage, bandstand and formal borders. It’s an important fixture in the capital’s social reform history. While relaxing in the restored bandstand, gazing up at the glass prism of the Shard it’s hard to imagine the view back in 1887 when it was surrounded by workhouses, factories and slum dwellings.
Designed to reflect diverse Muslim cultures, these contemporary gardens lean more towards the minimal than the wild. The result? A peaceful collection of landscaped rooftops and courtyards crafted with pleasing symmetry, hard surfaces and geometric shapes. The burbling waterfalls and narrow waterways of the Garden of Life echo the Mughal Empire, while the patterned screens in the Garden of Light are inscribed with Persian poetry and extracts from the Quran
Aga Khan Centre
10 Handyside St
Designed to reflect diverse Muslim cultures, these contemporary gardens lean more towards the minimal than the wild. The result? A peaceful collection of landscaped rooftops and courtyards crafted with pleasing symmetry, hard surfaces and geometric shapes. The burbling waterfalls and narrow waterways of the Garden of Life echo the Mughal Empire, while the patterned screens in the Garden of Light are inscribed with Persian poetry and extracts from the Quran
This sustainable urban garden actually uses waste products from the building works as planters. Pumpkins and beans spring from skips, and chillies and tomatoes grow out of polytunnels while chickens enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
Skip Garden
1 Tapper Walk
This sustainable urban garden actually uses waste products from the building works as planters. Pumpkins and beans spring from skips, and chillies and tomatoes grow out of polytunnels while chickens enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
Creep through the overgrown woods of Abney Park Cemetery, past the crumbling gravestones, and you will eventually emerge into a large central clearing dominated by the menacing shell of a derelict chapel. The impressive gothic-revival building dates from 1840, but was gutted by fire in the 1970s and closed. This of course just adds to its eerie allure, and you half-expect to hear sinister organ chords and a clap of thunder as you step out of the trees and into its shadow.
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Abney Park Cemetery
215 Stoke Newington High St
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Creep through the overgrown woods of Abney Park Cemetery, past the crumbling gravestones, and you will eventually emerge into a large central clearing dominated by the menacing shell of a derelict chapel. The impressive gothic-revival building dates from 1840, but was gutted by fire in the 1970s and closed. This of course just adds to its eerie allure, and you half-expect to hear sinister organ chords and a clap of thunder as you step out of the trees and into its shadow.
With all those wide-open public spaces and all that statement architecture, King’s Cross has really transformed of late. That’s brilliant, but sometimes the heady buzz of progress can start to grate. Find a bit of peace and quiet close to the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras in this two-acre garden on the banks of the Regent’s Canal. London Wildlife Trust volunteers help maintain the pond, meadow and woodland, making it a haven away from all the hectic commuters.
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Camley Street Natural Park
12 Camley St
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With all those wide-open public spaces and all that statement architecture, King’s Cross has really transformed of late. That’s brilliant, but sometimes the heady buzz of progress can start to grate. Find a bit of peace and quiet close to the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras in this two-acre garden on the banks of the Regent’s Canal. London Wildlife Trust volunteers help maintain the pond, meadow and woodland, making it a haven away from all the hectic commuters.
Thousands wander across Hampstead Heath's wild and undulating parkland every year, but very few discover this eerie and elegant pocket of faded grandeur on the West Heath. Built by Lord Leverhulme at the start of the twentieth century as a setting for his extravagant parties, it includes impressive gardens and a dramatic elevated walkway, where overhanging plants create a lush canopy and tangled roots twist around smooth stone columns. A little window into the world of the Edwardian super-rich.
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The Hill Garden and Pergola
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Thousands wander across Hampstead Heath's wild and undulating parkland every year, but very few discover this eerie and elegant pocket of faded grandeur on the West Heath. Built by Lord Leverhulme at the start of the twentieth century as a setting for his extravagant parties, it includes impressive gardens and a dramatic elevated walkway, where overhanging plants create a lush canopy and tangled roots twist around smooth stone columns. A little window into the world of the Edwardian super-rich.
The party queen of community gardens. Apart from thriving organic fruit and veg and stunning flower beds, there’s a host of activities, including wine tasting, a tea club, and talks on everything from medicinal herbs, to ice cream making.
King Henry’s Walk Garden
The party queen of community gardens. Apart from thriving organic fruit and veg and stunning flower beds, there’s a host of activities, including wine tasting, a tea club, and talks on everything from medicinal herbs, to ice cream making.
Between the generous expanse of Hampstead Heath and the bustle of Royal Free Hospital is a small garden with noble ambitions. The World Peace Garden actually does fulfil its name, it's a really peaceful woodland glade with three ponds and a wishing well. Residents and traders are responsible for rescuing what had been a waste ground area alongside Hampstead Railway Station for over a century, their words and hopes are immortalised in glass and ceramic tiles running across a wall. The garden is also a venue for tea parties, puppetry shows, jazz evenings and regular chess tournaments.
World Peace Garden
6 S Hill Park
Between the generous expanse of Hampstead Heath and the bustle of Royal Free Hospital is a small garden with noble ambitions. The World Peace Garden actually does fulfil its name, it's a really peaceful woodland glade with three ponds and a wishing well. Residents and traders are responsible for rescuing what had been a waste ground area alongside Hampstead Railway Station for over a century, their words and hopes are immortalised in glass and ceramic tiles running across a wall. The garden is also a venue for tea parties, puppetry shows, jazz evenings and regular chess tournaments.
A picturesque waterfall flows into a peaceful rock pool, where koi carp dart beneath the surface and peacocks stalk past on the banks. It might sound like the setting for a Japanese fairytale, but this is, in fact, one of west London's most serene spaces: Holland Park's quaint Kyoto Garden. It's the perfect spot to unwind with a book, linger with your thoughts or fight your samurai rivals to the death.
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Kyoto Garden
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A picturesque waterfall flows into a peaceful rock pool, where koi carp dart beneath the surface and peacocks stalk past on the banks. It might sound like the setting for a Japanese fairytale, but this is, in fact, one of west London's most serene spaces: Holland Park's quaint Kyoto Garden. It's the perfect spot to unwind with a book, linger with your thoughts or fight your samurai rivals to the death.
Sightseeing
The thick stone walls of this bombed-out medieval church have been almost smothered by nature and it makes for a curiously peaceful experience within the throb of the City. Leaves, vines and branches poke, cling and climb to this Grade I listed ruin. Perfect for atmospheric folk/prog-rock band photos and some quality daydreaming.
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Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden
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The thick stone walls of this bombed-out medieval church have been almost smothered by nature and it makes for a curiously peaceful experience within the throb of the City. Leaves, vines and branches poke, cling and climb to this Grade I listed ruin. Perfect for atmospheric folk/prog-rock band photos and some quality daydreaming.