Places in London that Feel Like You Have Escaped the City
Sometimes London feels a bit too big and you may want a break from all the madness from the city. Luckily, you don’t have to always travel far to feel like you’ve gotten away! Here is the list of my favorite places to go when I feel that I want to take a breather from the business and vastness of wonderful London.
Holland Park is a real treat, a place that has an atmosphere unlike any other. With multiple different themed gardens inspired by countries around the world, you can find your fancy in at least one of these gardens!
Kyoto gardens present a tranquil area in which you can relax on a bench, watching the carp swim along in the pond while listening to the calming waterfall. Or you could head over to the Dutch gardens and enjoy the bright tulips, organized in beautiful patterns. Who would have thought that this would all be present within the city? Whatever sort of atmosphere you are looking for, I am sure you can find it somewhere in Holland Park!
The British Museum:
The British Museum has so much culture and history under its great glass tile roof, one could get lost and forget where they are. The museum is also known as the “World Museum”. This is because there are so many different archaeological artifacts from around the world, from Aboriginal Australia, to China, to Canada. Thus, there’s so much to see and learn. You can get lost in all the history that you forget you’re in the present!
Now, you may recognize this bridge from a Harry Potter film, but this bridge is still just as great and camera-worthy in real life! Walk along the river Thames and take in the beautiful sights of central London. You will be snapping pictures that will make all of your friends and family jealous. The steel suspension footbridge was built as part of the UK’s millennium celebrations. Check out the famous “wobbly bridge” and see views of the London skyline that almost seem distant although in the middle of the city. You will feel as if you are in a movie while on this movie star bridge.
Victoria and Albert Museum:
Much like the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum is not only a museum filled with many different amazing artifacts and cultural pieces. The building itself is stunning! You can enjoy both the wonderful exterior of the building, with the grand red brick and perfect arches. There is also the sophisticated, bright interior that helps to showcase all the artifacts.
No matter what mood you are looking for, you can get it just right with all of the different exhibits. The V&A have many classic European sculptures, but also different works from all over Asia. You can once again get lost in history when at this museum.
If you would like a pop of color, you absolutely need to check out Neal’s Yard! Tucked into an ally way near seven dials, this colorful getaway is the perfect place to get that fun atmosphere. It is one of the most vibrant areas that you can find in central London. With such fun colors, what better place to hang out? This colorful escape makes you forget about the hustle and bustle of the city that is just steps away.
Hampstead’s protected wild park is a wonderful grassy public space that you can just go and relax on. It is located in Northern London and consists of 320 hectares of land, including many different biking and hiking trails. The view of the Central London from the park is phenomenal. With the wooded areas and meadows surrounding you, you will forget that you are a short tube ride from the main part of the city.
Yet another South Kensington gem, Kynance Mews is a beautiful picture spot in the spring and summer that isn’t extremely popular. You can always go to a park to see blooming flowers, but at Kynance Mews, you get to experience wonderful cobblestone streets, traditional architecture, all enhanced by various flowers and trees. It is a quaint area that is the perfect spot for some fun and springy photos that feel far gone from the touristy areas.
Enjoy this blog post? Check out our other posts as well here. You can also join us on our treasure hunts, available at both the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum and discover wonderful treasures from around the world with some friendly competition!
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Upon first glance, you might expect this alleyway to be filled with witches and wizards shopping for wands at Ollivander’s, school robes at Madame Malkin’s, or buying new spell books at Flourish and Botts. Unfortunately, this charming street is not Diagon Alley, the center of London’s Wizarding World in Harry Potter series, it is actually Goodwin’s Court!
Located a short walk away from the Leicester Square tube station, Goodwin’s Court was clearly a key inspiration for the wizarding world! If Diagon Alley isn’t designed to look like Goodwin’s Court, then Knockturn Alley (the dark wizard’s Diagon) was definitely inspired by this London alleyway. It is believed that the Harry Potter film team could not use Goodwin’s Court as a filming location, due to the fact that it was too narrow, but they took major inspiration from the alleyway still.
Take a look at these clips from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone in America) and from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Can you see where Goodwin’s Court provided inspiration?
Diagon Alley Scene – Harry Potter
Diagon Alley – Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
The Harry Potter movies aren’t the only ones to use Goodwin’s Court in some film capacity – the movie Mary Poppins Returns actually used the alleyway in a scene (click here if you’re interested in more iconic London film locations)! As Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda traipse through London with grand musical numbers, they dip into an alleyway looking for a hidden door. This alleyway, you guessed it, is Goodwin’s Court! The charming street looks just as perfect within the Great Depression era of London, as it does in a magical wizarding world!
Check out this video: London Film Locations 2 – Covent Garden: Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, Superman and more! to get a sneak peak into the different films shot at Goodwin’s Court!
This charming piece of London offers a window into the past with gaslit lamps, ornate window fronts, and exclusive foot traffic fit for Charles Dickens and eras past. According to a plaque at the entrance of the alleyway tells us that Goodwin’s Court was built in 1690 (Wow!) and was previously known as Fishers Alley. The buildings are believed to be over 300 years old – older than the United States of America even!
Goodwin’s Court is a great photo location — duel your friend as if you were Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, or click your heels in the air like Mary Poppins, Jack, and the Banks kids (you’ll get the chance to pose for a pic on our London Street Fun hunt!). This slice of history is not only a window into the past but a window into some of our favorite movies! Explore Goodwin’s Court and make a little magic of your own by adventuring out on our new London Street Fun treasure hunt!
If you liked this blog post, you may also like our other THATMuse post Four Iconic London Film Locations as well!
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Both cities also have their share of landmarks that have been lost to time. For example, the huge Tuileries Palace in Paris was burned down during the Paris Commune of 1871.
In this post though, we’ll discover five London and Paris landmarks which were almost destroyed, but lived to tell the tale. With a bit of luck, when the current crisis is over and we can wander the streets of Paris and London once more, we’ll appreciate what we have.Read More
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Since I moved to London, almost 5 years ago, people have been asking me what I miss most about Italy. Well, the list is long, of course. I miss the sea, the weather and my family, for a start. But most importantly, like most Italians abroad, I miss the food. While there’s nothing like my grandma’s ragu’ or my dad’s cannoli, there are some wonderful Italian restaurants in London that make me feel (almost) at home.
As lockdown’s slowly lifting, making plans:
You’re right, during lockdown restaurants have been closed a long time. But, hey! Surely, we can make plans for when we return to the new normal! When people say that pasta and pizza are always good, no matter what you put on top of them, the heart of all Italians ache a bit… If you’ve tried some authentic Italian food, I’m sure you understand the difference between a good and a mediocre pizza. In case you don’t know where to get a real taste of Italy, let me tell you about the three best Italian restaurants London has to offer!
1. La Mia Mamma, For the Best Pasta in London
La Mia Mamma is one of my favourite Italian restaurants in London, and is definitely the home of the best pasta in London. The restaurant literally ‘imports’ Italian Mammas from all different regions of Italy. There is a rotation of moms taking over the kitchen and creating a great selection of regional dishes. Other than making fresh food every day, the mammas welcome all guests singing Italian patriotic songs or hugging you when you arrive, just like a real loving mom would do. With Italian music in the background and loud Italians debating at the tables around you, it really feels like being in the Bel Paese. Located in Chelsea, I usually enjoy a nice walk after dinner. And remember, they have a super long waiting list, so make sure to reserve your table far in advance!
Until restaurants are allowed to open, La Mia Mamma are also offering deliveries of “survival packs”, DIY packs and more!
2. Santa Maria Pizzeria, for Authentic Italian Pizza
Is there anything that makes Italians happier than eating a real Napolitan pizza? The answer is no! We might be able to get used to London’s windy and rainy weather, but not to a life without pizza. Angelo and Pasquale, both from Naples, imported a wood-fired oven from Italy (without which you wouldn’t be able to make the perfect pizza). Soon afterwards, they opened Santa Maria in the borough of Ealing. I guarantee that the pizza you eat there tastes just like the ones you would eat in the top pizzerias of Naples. One of the things I love the most about Santa Maria is that it is a place for anyone! From penniless students to famous singers, to politicians and VIPs, this pizzeria welcomes everyone. Also, Santa Maria is the place to go if you’ve had a light lunch and need your daily carbs intake: the pizza is HUGE!
Of course, all of the Santa Maria Pizzeria restaurants are currently closed. But you can still order online through Deliveroo!
3. Ristorante Orsini, a Delightful Italian Restaurant in London
Ristorante Orsini is another authentic Italian restaurant in London that I love. This small, family-run restaurant is perfect for both lunch and dinner. Located in South Kensington, many people like to go there during their break from a visit to either the V&A or the Natural History Museum. There’s a familial vibe and it is incredibly hard to choose from the wide selection of authentic Italian dishes that they offer. Of their delicious plates, I tried their amazing homemade pasta, and fell in love with their tagliolini, served with plenty of seafood. They’re also famous for their ‘fritto misto’ (fried fish). But… perhaps my favourite thing was the dessert! So… if you’ve got room, don’t forget to order their gelato or Tiramisu’.
Sadly, this restaurant is fully closed during lockdown. But once restaurants and bars open again, it will be important to support local businesses, so remember to stop by!
Transforming your Home into an Italian Restaurant
It’s true that it’s possible to eat good Italian food in London. But… be careful! While almost every single restaurant in London serves pasta, finding ‘real pasta’ in London is not easy. I’m looking forward to being able to visit my favourite Italian restaurants, but for now I’m cooking plenty of Italian dishes at home. For those of you are not lucky enough to be on lockdown with an Italian, don’t worry! Cooking Italian food is really easy. If the ingredients are fresh, they won’t need much elaboration.
Need some ideas for fun things to do at home (apart from making pizza, of course)? Subscribe to our blog for some inspiration!
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