Sometimes the pace of London life can all get too much. We all feel it: it’s why Siobhan Wall’s Quiet London book was such a success. Its soothing pages directed frazzled Londoners to quiet spots in the capital to meet and talk, and sit and think.
In three new books, Siobhan has unearthed many more hidden, peaceful gems. Quiet London: Culture explores some of the city’s best bookshops, galleries and libraries, Quiet London: Food and Drink looks at relaxing spots to enjoy and shop for gastronomic delights, while Quiet London: Quiet Corners picks out gardens and green spaces to enjoy and places to relax and recuperate. There are 300 recommendations to work through in the book. Here are the ten Insider London will be seeking out for some well-deserved peace and quiet.
East India Docks. Image credit: Reading Tom
Once a busy hub receiving shipments from all over the world, East India Dock Basin’s industry has been replaced by a salt marsh, wildflower meadows and now tranquil waters. As a nature reserve managed by the London Wildlife Trust, you can spot the likes of kingfishers and herons, all with Canary Wharf and the 02 dome still in sight.
Here’s one we didn’t know about when we wrote about London’s rooftop gardens. Built on top of the Brunei Gallery, part of the School of Oriental and African Studies, it was created as a place of quiet contemplation for students and visitors.
We’ll be using this to relax after one of our Silicon Roundabout tours, as it’s situated just off City Road, near the famous roundabout. These gardens provide an oasis of green, complete with cherry trees, and world away from high tech business.
The Cloister Cafe. Image credit: J Mark Dodds
Open daily in the gorgeous 15th-century cloisters of St Bartholomew the Great’s church in Smithfield, this cafe promises excellent coffee, tea and cakes, as well as house wines and ‘monastic beers’. We’re heading over straight away.
Sound as much fun as pulling teeth? This small museum will help convince you how lucky we are to enjoy the dentistry we do today. Its 20,000 items include 19th-century tongue scrapers and the leather mitts designed to stop children sucking their thumbs.
Calthorpe Project Gardens. Image credit: Ewan Munro
This is a green oasis near King’s Cross, with a thriving programme of community projects. The many activities offered include encouraging local residents to grow their own food, classes for kids and a new composting system that shows gardeners how to make energy from their waste.
Another of London’s fab small museums, this building was once an ice warehouse, built for an ice cream maker, back in the days before refrigeration took over. You can peer into a canal boat and learn about their fascinating history but, to be honest, we’re all about the ice cream sold in the museum shop.
Another place to escape the frantic pace of Old Street, this garden has been a public space since the 1870s and it’s still a peaceful spot to sit for a while on one of the wooden benches and appreciate their beautiful flowers in the summer.
Inside Paul Rothe & Son deli. Image credit: Stacey Shintani
This Marylebone deli opened back in 1900 and remains a great spot to pick up your gherkins and sliced meats. They open at 8am each weekday, so Siobhan recommends coming for breakfast and reading the paper while you enjoy your bacon roll.
This is one of the picks from the Quiet London: Culture book. Housed in an old record store, the Ancient & Modern gallery is situated slightly away from other east London galleries on Whitecross Street. This small gallery is a welcoming place to encounter and contemplate contemporary art
What’s your favourite place in London to get away from it all? Let us know in the comments. We promise we won’t come and disturb you.