We Brits know how to ‘picnic’. For centuries now, we’ve been picking grass out of our sandwiches and popping warm bottles of our favourite tipple. With that said, apparently it was our neighbours the French who first came up with the informal al fresco concept. The idea soon cottoned on.
In the nineteenth century a rather fashionable group of Londoners created the Picnic Society and its members met in the pantheon on Oxford Street just around the corner from us here at OneEighty – a picnic therefore feels fitting for our residents! Let’s face it, what better way to enjoy London than by making the most of some of the world’s best parks and green spaces.
Obviously, we are very lucky here at OneEighty being slap-bang in all the action yet bordered by a plethora of picturesque picnic spots. Get outdoors and make a date with one of our parks – good for a moment of calm or else as an alternative for a social or work gathering. Sometimes we can take this for granted so we thought we’d share some of our favourites below:
St James’s Park
For a historic jaunt, head to London’s park with history – St James’s Park. Just a 10-minute walk from OneEighty, the oldest of London’s Royal Parks, St James’s is of course home to the glorious the Buckingham Palace’s flower beds, The Queen Victoria Memorial, and The Mall, with great spots to pop your picnic mat dotted throughout. We’re sure you’ve seen them before, if not, keep an eye out for the park’s unusual residents – the pelicans that are free to roam throughout.
Instantly recognisable for its listed mock-market-cross building, which looks far older than it actually is given it was built in 1926 to hide an electricity substation! We often walk past this beautiful little iconic spot (just a 15 min walk from OneEighty) and yes, it does get busy, but when the stars align, what a great little corner of Soho. It’s been a public park since 1954 and before that was called King Square after Charles II. Often the location for free open-air performances, so if you time things right. Before it became a public space it was kept by painter Frederick Goodall, then poet W.S. Gilbert.
Take a long lunch break and explore the 350 acres of green space at Hyde Park, just a 20-minute walk from OneEighty. Stroll leisurely through Piccadilly, stopping of at El Pirata for a takeaway picnic basket brimming with fresh tapas, before finding a comfortable patch of grass to enjoy your delicious food. Choose from the Rose Garden where you can dine amongst the spectacular flower beds, or for a waterside lunch head to the Serpentine Lido.
The closest ‘big park’ to OneEighty, Green Park is sometimes overlooked by tourists who tend to opt for neighbouring Hyde Park, if given the choice. One of the official Royal Parks, and despite its popularity it’s actually a peaceful triangle of mature trees and grasslands offering a quiet spot away from city life.Plus with lots ofmemorials, fountains and statues you probably haven’t noticed before.In the 17th century King Charles II’s wife ordered that the flowers were to be removed from Green Park indefinitely, after she caught him picking blooms there for another woman. To this day there are no formal flowerbeds yet springtime there are often around one million daffodil bulbs in bloom across this 40-acre spot.
Natural History Museum
Picnics don’t always have to take place in parks. One of our favourite places to pitch up is the Natural History Museum, where you can tuck in surrounded by the majestic eighteenth-century architecture, after a visit to the museum.
For tree-lined pathways, formal gardens and wildlife, head to Regent’s Park. Tuck into your alfresco treats on Primrose Hill, which offers incredible views across the city skyline and amazing sunset vistas in the summer months. Work off the picnic food by hiring a boat and spend the afternoon rowing lazily around the lake. Why not make the occasion extra special with a delicious picnic hamper from our neighbours Fortnum & Mason’s?
Picnic Hampers: What to Take
Here’s some other picnic inspo…
Head to nearby Paul and grab a box full of pastries and cakes or else a take-away salad or sandwich of your choice. Pick your own selection of treats or else opt for one of Paul’s take-away sandwich and cake platters, macaroons and other fancies, too, if there’s a few of you.
Price: £15 per person
You’ll find a fancier picnic hamper from Mayfair’s Corrigan restaurant. Containing several seasonal dishes including homemade bread and hand churned butter. Expect things like grilled sardines, new potatoes, Heritage beetroot, goat’s curd, and smoked mackerel and desserts such as summer berries, shortbread and creme fraiche.
Price: £100 for two people
Head to nearby Le Deli and build your own hamper with the very best in quality French products from Le Deli Robuchon. You’ll find baked pastries, breads, salads, sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie boards.
Price: starts at £25 and fully customisable