Top five places to escape the rat race in London
The busy streets of the British capital can be frazzling. We share our pick of soothing spots to unwind and recharge.
1. Covent Garden hideout
Only a five-minute walk from Covent Garden tube station, the colourfully quirky courtyard of Neal’s Yard has remained one of London’s best-kept secrets. This formerly dodgy backyard was transformed into a wholefood store and alternative health hub in the ’70s by Nicholas Saunders, inspired by a visit to Denmark’s Christiania. Today, Neal’s Yard is a haven for health-conscious visitors, hosting a thriving cluster of restaurants and cafés specialising in healthy food, a walk-in backrub studio, and a Neal’s Yard Remedies organic skincare store and therapy rooms.
2. Quick Detox
Soho-based Detox Kitchen may look as cute as a candy store, but the goodness it offers is of a different variety. First opened in 2012, the healthy eatery and delivery service has gained a devoted customer base among Londoners. Specialising in fresh, seasonal food free of wheat, dairy, or refined sugar, the creative and colourful selection of salads, soups, and juices are not just healthy but also delicious. The location next to Regent Street is particularly convenient for shoppers or gallery-goers craving a quick, nutritious bite.
3. Tranquil treatments
The Marylebone neighbourhood just a few blocks off Oxford Street is one of London’s wellness hotspots. A local favourite is Japanese Chi Yu Wellness Centre specialising in holistic treatments combining acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, and other complementary therapies. “Many Londoners and travellers look for stress relief,” says Mami Tsang, founder of Chi Yu. But as we all experience stress in a slightly different way, Tsang and her team always look for a unique, tailored treatment that will leave the customer feeling relaxed, energised, and ready to take on the world.
4. Posh porridge
The British capital is going nuts over everything hygge, the Nordic concept of cosiness. On the food scene, it’s the humble bowl of porridge that is at the forefront of the culinary cosiness trend, and Covent Garden-based café 26 Grains takes the formerly overlooked dish to new heights. Combining wholesome grains with traditional Nordic spices and topped with lashings of fresh berries, fruit, honey, and nuts, these hearty bowls are the ultimate comfort food. The “Nordic Pear,” a fusion of coconut milk, oats, spices, and pear, comes highly recommended.
5. Secret garden
The residential area of Maida Vale is home to picturesque Little Venice, best known for its canals and river boats. Tucked away between the terraced houses is London’s oldest garden centre, Clifton Nurseries. Home to an astonishing array of plants, the garden also boasts a café that has become something of a local institution. Housed in a former greenhouse, this leafy sanctuary is ideal for a wholesome, healthy brunch or lunch, or a lovely afternoon tea.
Text Amanda Soila Photos Amanda Soila and Chi Yu Wellness Centre