Even the most die-hard Soho-ite, might not have heard of this little gem. Tucked away just behind the junction of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, it’s a little oasis of calm in the hub of the city. It’s also got its own slice of history - originally a WWII bombsite and later a car park, it was then taken over by the Covent Garden Open Spaces Association. Granted it’s not as pretty as one or two of the other parks in London we’ve included (there are no manicured lawns and neatly tended flowerbeds here), but though it's a bit rough and ready, it's also a lovely little place to hang out. Best of all, while Soho Square and Golden Square are jam-packed with people weekend and weekday, Phoenix Garden is almost always pretty quiet, and can even be hired out completely for your own private summer party.
Address: 21 Stacey Street, WC2H 8DG
Chelsea Physic Garden
Founded in 1673, the Chelsea Physic Garden is the second oldest botanical garden in Britain. It's home to over 5,000 different types of medicinal plants and herbs, many of them rare and endangered species. They’ve also got the largest fruiting olive tree and the world’s most northerly grapefruit tree. After pottering around the pomegranates, the gingkoes, the mulberries, and the eucalyptus, the place to make for is the award-winning Tangerine Dream Cafe where they serve the most amazing afternoon teas in the most fragrant of surroundings. It's not hard to see why it's one of Anya Hindmarch's favourites.
Address: 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS
St John’s Lodge in Regent’s Park
Lovely as Regent’s Park is, hundreds of bikes, children and dogs don’t always make for the most peaceful of strolls or relaxing of picnics. Which is why we’ll generally be found sneaking off to the inner circle to the St John’s Lodge garden. The lodge itself belongs to the Sultan of Brunei and the half-open gate implies it might be a private garden - except it's not, it's totally open to the public and absolutely beautiful. You can head down the pergola walk, to a large circular garden and the most perfectly manicured lawns. With a tinkling fountain and pond and lots of hidden pockets of green, both of which are bathed in sunshine and under shaded trees, it’s the perfect place for a wonderful lazy summer's afternoon. Frankly, it's so lovely, we’re not entirely sure why we’re sharing it...
Address: Regent’s Park, NW1 4NR
Kyoto Gardens – Holland Park
Originally the grounds of Jacobean mansion Holland House, Holland Park is one of our favourite parks in London for a long, lazy picnic. The ruins of Holland House are now the backdrop for the wonderful open-air Holland Park theatre and half of the park's 22 acres are now semi-wild woodland - both are really quite beautiful. For a more secluded picnic, the place to head for is the zen-like Kyoto Gardens. Built in the park, the gardens were laid out by specialists flown in from Japan and feature ponds filled with carp, a waterfall and hundreds of Japanese trees.
Address: Ilchester Place, W8 6LU
London Open Squares Weekend
If you’ve looked longingly into the cool leafy Notting Hill-style garden squares and always wanted to have a look, then this is your chance to actually go inside. On Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June, they’re opening up 212 of the private gated gardens across 27 of London’s boroughs. In a nod to the Jubilee they’ll be opening up the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden on the Southbank, which has been specially designed in partnership with the Eden Project.
Address: All over London; for more info and to buy tickets, go to: Opensquares.org.
Like our pick of the best hidden parks in London, but fancy something a little more lively? Check out our pick of the best rooftop bars in London.