We love our north London neighbourhood, and because our guest accommodation is so popular we presume the people who stay with us do too. But there's so many places to see in the British capital and since many of our guests are tourists, they’re often asking for recommendations as to great days out in less well-known parts of London.
So today we’re taking a look at Richmond because, in many respects, we think it’s got a lot in common with our Hampstead neighbourhood - it’s quiet, leafy, charming and has a ‘village’ feel to it. It’s also home to a huge green expanse, in some ways similar to Hampstead Heath - named Richmond Park,
Richmond is in the west of the city, a short drive from Heathrow airport, and one of the most affluent parts of London. It’s popular with families, because of its clean air and green spaces, and because it’s on the River Thames. And it’s easily reached from us via the overland (not to be confused with the tube!) so it’s not going to be a huge trek to get there…
Here are some of the things we’d recommend doing and seeing in this charming part of London, which is so pretty and peaceful you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the English countryside
Wander in Richmond Park
Richmond Park is one of the eight Royal parks in London and is a huge green expanse, covering 2.500 acres, and home to all kinds of wildlife, including birds, bats, beetles, and wildflowers.
It’s famous for its deer (there are about 600 of them, so you should get to see one) which you can see roaming wild and free, particularly early in the morning (when it’s quiet). Try to stay around 50 metres from them, so as not to scare them or make them angry when they’re protecting their babies…(long or zoom lenses are great for photos).
It’s also home to the Isabella Plantation, a gorgeous woodland garden which was planted in the 1830s but only opened to the public as late as the 1950s. It’s full of azaleas which surround the streams and ponds within it and in spring (particularly May) is a beautiful sight.
For the best views of London, climb King Henry’s Mound (which some archaeologists think was once a prehistoric burial ground). From here, you have spectacular views of St. Paul’s Cathedral - ten miles away! Use the telescope provided there for a better view.
Take a walk along the river, cycle, or hire a rowing boat
Richmond is situated on the river and so perfect for taking walks.
There are different walking trails you can explore, including one that goes to Hampton Court and another to Putney.
The paths are good for cycling or mountain biking and, of course, perfect for runners. And between March and October, if the weather is good, why not hire a rowing boat and float along the waters, enjoying the scenery?
Buy a ticket for a Thames river cruise
Richmond has a landing stage and a very popular activity for tourists visiting London is taking a river boat along the Thames, to places like Kew Gardens (30-45 minutes) or Hampton Court Palace (60-75 minute).
But these river boats go further - in fact, all the way to Westminster, next to the Houses of Parliament. This journey takes about 2 hours but it’s a fantastic trip and, of course, you’re then close to many central London attractions and plenty of tube stations too.
Boats run every day and there are a variety of tickets to be purchased, including ‘hop-on, hop-off.’
Enjoy a drink in a local pub
Richmond’s got a quaint village area and - like all English villages - boasts a few historic pubs, which are perfect for having a quiet pint, a Sunday roast or even some non-alcoholic cocktails.
The White Cross is elegant and has a riverside terrace and the Rose of York has a casual vibe and river views. The Victoria Inn is a cosy place with craft beers and the Mitre is a vintage ale house with a beer garden.
You can’t really understand English culture without spending time in an English pub, and whether or not you drink alcohol is not the issue - it’s all about the atmosphere.
Visit Kew Gardens
Just round the corner from Richmond is Kew Gardens, the largest botanical gardens in the world, with over 500 acres of woodland and an incredibly diverse collection of exotic plants. It’s an incredibly beautiful place to visit although it can easily take up an entire day because it’s so large and there’s so much to see.
Top attractions in Kew include the Palm House (a beautiful Vicotorian glass and iron structure) the Princess of Wales Conservatory (an enormous glasshouse, home to extraordinarily beautiful lilies, orchids and tropical specimens) and a Treetop Walkway, affording you views from above.
There’s also ‘the Hive’ (a multi-sensory experience, inside a hive-shaped building, showing you just how bees live) an Orangery, where you can eat lunch, and a Bonsai house.
Kew also allows you to bring your own food and drink so pack a picnic and head off into nature.
Tour Strawberry Hill House and Ham House
Another beautiful place to visit is Ham House, just south of Richmond. Set on the River Thames, it’s a 17th-century house with stunning gardens. Built in 1610, this atmospheric Stuart mansion has remained more-or-less unchanged in the last 400 years and houses a collection of art, textiles and furniture which have been there for centuries.
Ham House even has a kitchen garden, with lots of heritage ingredients (including cherries and pomegranates) which are used in the food served in their cafe. Nestled by the river, it’s a lovely place to explore and really feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
If you want to reach Richmond from Hampstead, you can either take the London underground (Northern line and then District line) or walk to Hampstead Heath overground then head straight there.
And if you’re looking for a hotel in Hampstead in North London, we offer comfortable and reasonably-priced accommodation in the heart of Hampstead. We’re family-owned and family-run and pride ourselves on our hospitality and warmth - to find out more about us or to book a room directly, take a look at our website.
Have a great day out!