Life in the Slow Lane: a Chilled-Out Tour of London

You can’t help but relax and take things slow in a beautiful space like St John’s Lodge Gardens in the Regent’s Park
You can’t help but relax and take things slow in a beautiful space like St John’s Lodge Gardens in the Regent’s Park | © Chris Dorney / Alamy Stock Photo

We’ve dialled down the pace on your typical city break in London to reveal the British capital’s calmer spots, from parks and gardens to a bookable, rejuvenating spa hotel.

To paraphrase the famous quote: if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. However, what it doesn’t say is that living in London itself can be exhausting. So, it’s important to smash that pause button once in a while and carve out some me-time, free from the daily grind of life in the capital.

“Slowing down isn’t often synonymous with city life; that’s where meditation is a game-changer,” says Jillian Lavender, co-founder of the London Meditation Centre. Some of her favourite places to tap out include the V&A Museum or a bench by the Serpentine. “But anywhere you can sit comfortably and safely close your eyes becomes the perfect meditation spot. You can even meditate on the Tube or a double-decker bus.”

So, slowing down in the big city doesn’t have to mean staying still. There are ways to recharge while still exploring London at a leisurely pace. From walking tours to night photography lessons, we’ve picked the best top slow-travel experiences and blended them with a relaxing, wellness-minded hotel for a chilled-out city break with a difference, all bookable right here on Culture Trip.

 London is a great city for a pleasant bike ride in the park |
 Relax at Kew Gardens, one of the capitals most peaceful spots |

Where to Stay: the Hotel

1. K West Hotel and Spa

Spa Hotel, Hotel

K West Hotel and Spa
Courtesy of K West Hotel and Spa / Expedia

The strikingly modern, shimmering glass-and-metal form of the K West Hotel certainly stands out among the genteel red-brick townhouses of its leafy west London surrounds. Its suburban setting on a quiet residential street in Shepherd’s Bush makes for one of the capital’s more peaceful places to stay while still being just a short stroll from a Tube artery straight into the heart of London. Once the BBC Kensington House Recording Studios, the building has hosted the talents of many a musician, thanks to its proximity to Shepherd’s Bush Empire – keep an eye out for regular decorative nods to its musical heritage. But it’s the urban spa where this hotel really shines, with everything from a steam room, sauna and hydrotherapy pool to the rather special snow room (yes, with real snow). Guest rooms are spacious, especially by London standards, and feature tablets where you can arrange click-of-a-button room service, spa treatments or a late check-out. And as there’s no rush, you might as well stay just a few more hours.

What to Do: the Experiences

2. London Royal Parks Bike Tour

Activities, Tours

The UK capital is one of Europe’s greenest cities in terms of parks, and one of the best ways to explore these royally anointed green spaces is on two wheels. On the London Royal Parks Bike Tour, you’ll get to experience Central London’s tree-lined, fountain-graced folds – together with its top landmarks – all in a half-day. You’ll pedal past the likes of Big Ben and Nelson’s Column and through four of the city’s beautiful Royal Parks, all on your choice of a trusty bike, each named after famous British personalities.

3. Kew Gardens and Westminster Walking Tour

Tours

There’s surely nothing more “slow travel” than a leisurely stroll, though this fabulous walking tour still manages to fit 15 of the capital’s top attractions into just a few hours. Walking from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, you’ll learn plenty of fascinating historical titbits from your guide en route. After exploring the urban metropolis, it’s over to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to immerse yourself in nature, where you’ll find 50,000 living plants and flowers, making it one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world.

4. Night Photography With a ‘National Geographic’ Photographer

Activities

Photography is a discipline that demands you slow down and focus – especially in challenging light conditions. Led by a National Geographic photographer, this experience takes shutterbugs on a tour around some of London’s most photogenic locations. It’s a masterclass on night photography, starting on the River Thames at dusk and covering all the fundamentals of shooting in low light. You’ll also be taught how to choose the perfect shot, ensuring you come away with some fantastic keepsakes.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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