The Botanical, Kew Gardens
Summer is made for English gardens. Walk among the impressive glasshouses and enjoy the exotic plants and trees at Kew Gardens in south west London. Make sure you stay for lunch. Launched this year, The Botanical restaurant serves locally-sourced British food. Many of the ingredients have been foraged from the gardens themselves. If you’re looking to eat a piece of a World Heritage Site, try the Botanical Garden Salad, which comes with elderflower and lime dressing. It comes with a great view of the lake and the Victorian Palm House.
When? From the end of May
Nearest tubes: Kew Gardens
Where to stay: The Rembrandt in the west of London is a tube ride away from Kew. Its Knightsbridge location affords a certain elegance and the hotel, with its historic façade and afternoon tea, fits right in.
The horses, the hats, the silks, the champagne. Royal Ascot is a great chance to ogle high society (recognisable by their royal enclosure tickets) and even spot the Queen toasting the fast-paced fun of horse racing on the flats. Place a few bets, have a few drinks and see if you can spot the most ridiculous hat. Pick an enclosure, or watch it all with a picnic from the heath opposite the stands. A truly British day out.
When? 20 – 24 June
Where? Ascot Racecourse
Nearest tubes: Waterloo – for onward travel via National Rail
Where to stay: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is right by Waterloo Station, making it easy to visit the races by train. It’s a chic, contemporary hotel with an indoor pool and spa.
“The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Les Miserables and Wicked performed all-singing all dancing renditions of their best bits – al fresco.”
On a hot, lazy day in London there’s no better remedy for lethargy than its many green spaces. Hyde Park, central London’s largest, even houses its own galleries – the Haywood and Serpentine are both pioneering modern art venues. Every year they commission a temporary pavilion to stand in the park. Zaha Hadid and Ai Weiwei have created beautifully barmy buildings and this year’s offering is designed by Burkino Faso’s Diébédo Francis Kéré. Strolling around and enjoying their strange designs is one of the great perks of Hyde Park.
When? 23 June – 8 October
Where? Hyde Park
Nearest tubes: Knightsbridge
Where to stay: The Queen’s Gate Hotel is set in a Victorian townhouse and is walking distance from Hyde Park. You’ll find some of London’s best museums nearby.
Inspired by nature
The first African architect to design the Serpentine Pavilion, Francis Kéré’s design resembles a tree that can be used as a meeting point.Book flights to London
Did you know?
Jumpsuits have only recently been added onto the dress code for women at the very strict Royal Enclosure at Ascot. Men are still stuck wearing suits.Book your trip to London
Sing along to your favourite songs as West End casts perform their best bits.Find London hotels
West End Live
If you can’t pick just one West End show, watch 31 live on stage over a glorious June weekend in Trafalgar Square. Last year, huge casts from The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Les Miserables and Wicked performed all-singing, all-dancing renditions of their best bits – al fresco. Then there’s food, face painting and a whole lot of audience participation from a 500,000 strong crowd. Jazz hands, everybody.
When? 24 – 25 June
Where? Trafalgar Square
Nearest tubes: Charing Cross
Where to stay: Amba Hotel Charing Cross is in the heart of London’s West End. Enjoy a Nespresso coffee in your room before you step out into the centre of the capital.
The Championships, Wimbledon
So much more than a tennis competition, Wimbledon is an institution. Queue up for day seats and soak up the jolly atmosphere even before you get to the courts. Strawberries on Henman Hill, watching the big screen, champagne in the posh bar, or sitting very still during an important point court side are all quintessential experiences. Put on your best straw hat and your sunglasses and enjoy Wimbledon village’s own celebrations, from tennis ball inspired floral displays to rooftop bars screening the big games.
When? 3 – 16 July
Nearest tubes: Wimbledon
Where to stay: K+K Hotel George is in a Victorian townhouse in leafy west London. It’s easy to pop down to Wimbledon on the district line from Earl’s Court Station, which is near the hotel.
Anyone for tennis?
This 140-year-old tournament attracts the world’s best players.Book flights
If you don’t go to the Film4 Summer Screen, then why not enjoy ‘Film and Fizz’ at the 30-seat cinema, when you stay at One Aldwych?Book a stay
Drama in the park
The popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Jesus Christ, Superstar, returns to the open air theatre for another year. You can also catch two productions of the works of Charles Dickens.Things to do in London
Charles Dickens at Regent’s Park Open air theatre
This charming theatre, right in the centre of a park, is decked out with fairy lights and the stage is lined with a backdrop of trees – a truly open air experience. This year, there will be two productions based on the novels of Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist. The latter is perfect for families with kids over the age of six. Cheer on poor Oliver as he navigates the rough side of the streets of London – by the end of the first half, you’ll be asking for more.
When? 7 July – 5 August
Where? Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Nearest tubes: Baker Street
Where to stay: Melia White House in the north of London is a smart hotel near to Regent’s Park. You’ll have a short journey back after the evening play.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Mesmerising actress Sienna Miller stars as the restless Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ favourite play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The sweltering setting of Big Daddy and his family’s Mississippi home come to London and Layer Cake actress Sienna Miller is hotly anticipated to steal all her scenes. Benedict Andrews, who cast Gillian Anderson in his 2014 version of A Streetcar Named Desire, directs.
When? 13 July – 7 October
Where? Apollo Theatre
Nearest tubes: Leicester Square
Where to stay: Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street is near Seven Dials and Covent Garden, perfect both for shopping and seeing world-class theatre performances on your doorstep. Enjoy complimentary newspapers and a dedicated concierge.
Grab a thermos, a friend and picnic in the courtyard of Somerset House in front of a classic film.Book flights
Did you know?
The bestselling author thought the National Theatre were mad to try and make his book War Horse into a play with life-sized puppets. But six Tony awards and 3,000 London performances later…London city breaks
Be a Prommer
Queue in the day to see the Proms for just £6 per performance. Stand in the Arena (where the acoustics are best, anyway).Book London flights
Michael Morpurgo at the V&A Museum of Childhood
The Butterfly Lion, War Horse, Kensuke’s Kingdom, beloved children’s author Michael Morpurgo has delighted a worldwide audience with his books – many of which feature very special animals. The V&A’s delightful Museum of Childhood plays host to his stories in this special exhibition, perfect for story lovers, animal lovers and budding writers. See his manuscripts and illustrations, and meet Joey, the life-sized horse puppet that was the star of the National Theatre’s adaptation of War Horse.
When? 22 July – 25 February 2018
Where? V&A Museum of Childhood
Nearest tubes: Bethnal Green
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express London – Stratford is a smart, modern hotel in the east of London. Grab breakfast or dinner in the hotel, or enjoy a drink at the bar.
The eight weeks of Proms have been occurring in London since 1895 and get bigger every year. These are informal, democratic performances with something for everyone. Maybe you want to sink your ears into a difficult piece of Wagner, hum along to the infectious film score soundtracks or go to something like last year’s Dr Who themed night. The last night, Proms in the Park, packs out Hyde Park with a big, riotous and surprisingly patriotic event – and a lot of bombastic music from Elgar.
When? 14 July – 19 September
Where? Royal Albert Hall
Nearest tubes: South Kensington
Where to stay: The Kensington Hotel is within walking distance of the Royal Albert Hall, useful if you’re queueing on the day for a Prom ticket. The gorgeous décor of chandeliers and velvety fabrics makes for a sumptuous stay.
Film 4 Summer Screen
It’s not just an outdoor cinema. Actually, Film 4’s Summer Screen hosts UK premieres and red carpet moments – last year Pedro Almodóvar introduced his new film, Julieta in the courtyard, as people got comfy in front of the projected screen. But there’s plenty of more relaxed moments, too. Take a picnic and blankets, snuggle up and enjoy showings of old favourites – last year the line-up went from Trainspotting to Ten Things I Hate About You.
When? Two weeks in August
Where? Somerset House
Nearest tubes: Temple
Where to stay: One Aldwych has a thirty seat cinema for film buffs, a chlorine-free pool and a brilliant bar in the lobby.