Between the cancelled flights, last-minute quarantines and heaving British beaches, it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has put a big spanner in the works of most of our holiday plans for 2020. Our advice? Plan a London staycation! We live in one of the most vibrant, diverse and buzzing cities in the world. The ongoing pandemic is the perfect excuse to take a week off and get to know the place we call home even better.
Day 1: Swim, picnic and eat curry in Tooting
This plan is perfect for a sunny day. Get up early and head to Tooting Bec, have a hearty breakfast at Tartine cafe before heading over to the Tooting Bec Lido for a sunbathe and a swim. As the largest open-air fresh water swimming pool in the UK, social distancing is a breeze.
Once you’ve had your sunbathe and swim, you can spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on Tooting Bec common. Then, to really complete your Tooting experience, stroll back to the high street when you’re feeling peckish and order a curry from any of the numerous curry houses that line the streets. In my experience, they all tend to be pretty good, so just go for the one that takes your fancy on the day!
Day 2: Relax, sunbathe and pub lunch in Greenwich
Now to the bustling, upmarket borough of Greenwich. Start off by strolling around the ample park and enjoying the impressive views of the city of London. You can also visit the Royal Observatory if you haven’t done so before, just make sure you reserve a space beforehand due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Once you’ve had a nice walk around the park, head to the Plume of Feathers for a traditional pub lunch. In the afternoon, you can either head back to the park for a sunbathe, or wander around the shops and have a coffee in town.
Day 3: Spa day in Bethnal Green
Take a mid-holiday break from the parks and sun and treat yourself to a spa day. There’s no shortage of luxurious spas in London, but there is a shortage of luxurious spas that don’t break the bank! The York Hall Thermal Spa experience in Bethnal Green is a rare exception. For just £26, you can enjoy their hammam, large sauna, two large ‘aroma’ steam rooms, various hot rooms, a bucket shower, ice fountain and plunge pool.
If you want to take your day of pampering to the next level, you can also choose from over 50 different treatments from facials to deep-tissue massages. Just bear in mind these will cost around £50-60 on top of the entrance fee.
Day 4: Brunch and walk on Hampstead Heath
Nicely recharged after your spa day, you should be ready for some more walking, so day 4 takes us to Hampstead Heath. Set off early and start your day in style with a scrumptious brunch at the Silverberry cafe.
Once you’ve polished off your breakfast, you’re perfectly placed just on the edge of Hampstead Heath to dive in and get exploring. No specific advice on this one, it’s huge and there’s plenty to find, so walk around and see what you can see. There are a few ponds and a lido for you to cool off in if it’s a hot day, so bring your swimming gear!
Day 5: Southbank stroll, visit the Tate and lunch in Borough Market
With fewer tourists than ever, what better time to head to the centre!? Take a stroll along the Southbank and see the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Then get your fix of culture by spending a couple of hours in the Tate Modern. There’s always something on at the Tate worth seeing, but if you make it there this summer, you’ll get to see a particularly cool Andy Warhol exhibition. As with all tourist attractions, you need to book in advance due to new Covid-19 restrictions.
Once you’ve finished up in the Tate, you’re well placed to stroll down to Borough Market for a drink and a bite to eat. The choice is vast and there should be something for everyone.
Day 6: Another pool day at the Parliament Hill Lido
As this is your summer holiday, another pool day is in order. You’ve been to the biggest pool in the UK, now it’s time to visit one of the most beautiful pools in London. This retro-style pool has been helping Londoners escape the summer heat since 1938. Its stainless steel pool liner gives the water a special metallic effect adding to the pool’s unique style.
At about £7 entrance it’s pretty reasonable, but you will need to book about a week in advance online due to Covid-19 restrictions. There’s also a lovely cafe to enjoy a coffee or a refreshing drink after your dip.
Day 7: Brunch, shop and picnic in Notting Hill
Start your day with the last brunch of the holiday. My recommendation for Notting Hill is the Electric Diner on Portobello Road. They serve food all day, so you can treat yourself to a lie-in and still enjoy your brunch.
Once you’ve eaten and you’re raring to go, hit the famous Portobello Market and classic antique shops dotted around and buy yourself a holiday gift. Once you’re tired of shopping, there’s no shortage of charming cafes to recharge in. You’re also perfectly placed to spend the afternoon in Hyde Park if you’ve had enough of the shops.
So there you have it, our perfect 7-day London staycation! If you’re looking for more suggestions on how to enjoy the summer in London, you can also read our article on the best London picnic spots, or, if you want to leave London without going too far, head over to our list of best nearby weekend getaways! Finally, check out our summer reading list for some inspiration on what to read while enjoying those long summer afternoons in the parks or by the swimming pools. Whatever you do, have a great summer!