Whether you're a lifer or a first-timer, London can be a lot. Between the everyday grind, the crowded streets, people rushing around, the noise, and more, it can be hard to catch some peace and quiet. That's why our guide to a relaxing weekend in London is geared towards those looking to relax and unwind with stress-free activities and calm places to visit. From secluded sights and serene restaurants to pampering indulgences and verdant landscapes, our guide to a stress-free weekend shows you a different side of London.
Guide to a relaxing weekend in London
In this guide
- Where to rest up
- Sightseeing without the usual crush
Frankie says relax
- Spas & day spas – Pamper yourself
- Massages – Let experts take matters into their own hands
- Yoga – Breathe in, zen out
- Skuna Boats – Hot tub float machine
- Parkland Walk – Walk it off
- Arty activities – Unleash your creative side
- Cycle routes – Pedal your troubles away
- Bookshops – Curl up with a nice book
- Enjoy a meal in peace
Where to rest up
This luxurious five-star hotel in Marylebone is suffused in traditional Japanese hospitality. The Prince Akatoki London features a clean, minimalist aesthetic with soothing natural elements, and its rooms and suites come with all the contemporary amenities you need for a relaxing stay. The hotel also offers a 24-hour gym and exquisite dining and drinking options, among its other facilities, and its proximity to Marble Arch station helps make getting around easier as well.
Calm accommodation in North London
Stay in a cosy Victorian-style guest house nestled in a picturesque, tree-lined street in North London at Mount View Guest House. Enjoy tranquillity while enjoying easy access to London's bustling city centre. The guest house boasts an elegant and sophisticated design, offering luxurious 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, in-room tea and coffee facilities, and both a continental and a cooked breakfast.
Unwind after a long day
Unfortunately, if you're trying to do some sightseeing, shopping, or, well, basically much of anything in London, it's nearly impossible to avoid the crowds, traffic, rush hour, and other such stressors. Staying at a nice spa hotel can offset some of that tension, letting you relax after an exhausting day around the city with an array of wellness services. Of course, you can just spend the entire day getting pampered at your hotel instead too – we won't judge. Here are London's top spa hotels.
Sightseeing without the usual crush
Green oases in the concrete jungle
Green spaces such as Hyde Park or Richmond Park are among the more famous tourist destinations in London, but plenty of other parks offer a verdant escape from the city's streets when you need to take a breather. You can go for a stroll, nap in the sun, have a picnic, or just sit on a bench and watch the world go by in London's many parks, the best of which you'll find in our guide.
Heavenly peace and quiet
You don't have to be religious to appreciate the hushed ambience of one of the most famous churches in the world. St. Paul's Cathedral sees its fair share of visitors throughout the year, but the grand domed building somehow never feels overstuffed or busy. Marvelling at the grand architecture or gazing out at the city from the top of the dome soon makes everyday worries seem insignificant.
Like parks but more intimate, more colourful, and often with a fascinating building attached as well, the various public gardens around London provide a moment's respite from the urban chaos. Kew Gardens, a veritable living herbarium of amazing flora, are the most famous of them, but there are many others scattered around the city, some hidden, some not so much. Find them with the help of our guide to London's most beautiful gardens.
Dive into art
London's many galleries display some of the finest works of art ever made, but that's also what makes them such a draw, and loud crowds, school trips and the like can quickly turn a peaceful gallery visit into an unpleasant experience. Try one of the immersive art experiences instead – usually focusing on a few artists only, they're designed to offer in-depth insight into their works through audio and visual installations in a soothing setting.
World-famous wedding venue
This grand Gothic cathedral beside the Palace of Westminster is where royal coronations, weddings, funerals, and other stress-inducing events take place. Thankfully, your chances of attending one of those are probably extremely low, so just explore the majestic structure at your own pace, discovering its thousand years of history as you enjoy the quiet atmosphere.
A colourful hidden gem
A tube station might not sound very relaxing, but this King's Cross tunnel proves otherwise thanks to the LED art wall that runs the length of it, usually displaying a calming, shifting colour palette. It's also not very well-known, nor is it a major station thoroughfare, so not many people use it. Show up outside of rush hour and you'll only have to contend with a few passersby and the odd Instagram influencer.
Frankie says relax
Nothing hits the spot quite like a bit of spa relaxation after a full day of sightseeing or as a way to recharge after a busy week. Leave the daily grind behind, soak up the steam, indulge in a treatment, and let your mind wander at one of London's luxurious wellness establishments, whether it's only for a day or as a longer staycation.
Let experts take matters into their own hands
If there's something weird cramping up your back, who you gonna call? A professional massage therapist, that's who. A visit to a massage parlour is just the thing when you need to relax your body and mind but don't have the time for a full spa escape. Check out the best massage studios in London in our guide and get ready to have the worries pounded out of you.
Breathe in, zen out
What's good for the mind is good for the body and vice versa, and yoga ticks off both boxes. This healthy activity might seem daunting at first, especially if your joints start creaking at the mere thought of stretching, but the wide range of London's yoga studios covers all ages and fitness levels. Beginners and experienced practitioners alike can find the right yoga class with the help of our guide.
Hot tub float machine
Different boat rentals are available around London, from boating lake pedalos to adrenaline-fuelled speedboats, but if you want to be a loose lily floating down an amber river, book a Skuna Boat. You can choose between a boating barbecue or a floating hot tub, with a relaxing experience as you drift down the Thames guaranteed in either case.
Walk it off
This hidden North London pathway used to be a railway line and you can still see the track in certain parts. Nowadays it's a popular nature reserve and walking route that connects Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace, making for a relaxing stroll in a secluded, overgrown corridor that seems miles away from civilisation – even though it runs right through residential areas.
Unleash your creative side
Regardless of your natural talents, spending a couple of hours working creatively in a non-judgmental setting can do wonders for taking a load off. Art classes cover a wide range of techniques, from particularly soothing pottery to life drawing and more, and are available for all ages and skill levels. Check out the best ones in our guide – who knows, you might even discover a new career.
Pedal your troubles away
Navigating narrow streets, busy traffic, and unruly pedestrians on a fragile metal frame seems like the very opposite of relaxing, but bear with us. Different cycle routes run throughout London, many of them through peaceful neighbourhoods and verdant spaces. Check our guide to find the bike route that best suits your needs, strap on a helmet, and pedal away.
Curl up with a nice book
It's hard to beat cosying up with a nice book in a comfy, quiet setting, especially when the weather is being uncooperative. You can find plenty of new reading material in London's bookstores, as well as secluded nooks and crannies where you can read in peace. Find the best bookshops in the city in our guide.
Enjoy a meal in peace
Uchi may lack the usual grandeur seen in many of London's elegant eateries, but that's its unique charm. The tranquil Japanese ambience with white drapes and mellow wood complements rather than overshadows the sushi servings, ensuring a warm, welcoming vibe. There are even slippers to wear if you're seated in the back, contributing to the cosiness.
Nothing to see here
Leave visual stimuli behind at this unusual world-leading restaurant. You'll dine in a pitch-black setting, with nothing to distract you from the flavours and smells of the food. You don't even have to choose off a menu – just state your dietary requirements and enjoy the mystery meal that's served. The meal in the dark also helps free you from inhibitions and engage in authentic, spontaneous conversation with your companions.
Exclusive fine dining spot
A private dining room is a convenient way of avoiding the usual restaurant hustle and bustle, but it usually means you have to come with a group, which kind of defeats the purpose if you're after a calm, low-key meal. Enter 104 Restaurant, a place where you can game the system on account of it only seating 14 people at a time. Yes, it's basically a private dining room, but one where you can show up without having to organise a whole thing for your friends, colleagues, or family.
Caravel is a converted Dutch barge swaying gently on the Regent's Canal. The intimate setting provides a cosy and calm atmosphere as you enjoy a changing European menu with French and Italian inspirations. Dishes include the likes of croquettes or white crab & fennel tagliatelle, with a refined cocktail selection to go alongside.
Take a rest from restaurants
Let's face it, even though dining out is a pleasant experience most of the time, it can often be stressful as well, what with having to find a nice place, making yourself presentable, braving public transport, and so on, only to finally show up and have your nice night out ruined by rowdy patrons at the neighbouring table. Thankfully, if you aren't feeling up to it, there's an easy out – more precisely, a takeout. Our guide features the best takeaways in London, all just a click or a call away.