While London may be best known for its bustling streets, high-end shops and sophisticated hotels, it is also awash with beautiful gardens. If you are interested in discovering the capital's greener side during your getaway, exploring these is the perfect way to do so.
Indeed, they are situated all over the city and, as there are so many, it should not be difficult for you to find something close to where you are staying. Of course, if you choose an establishment such as the Cumberland hotel, which has a great central location, you can be in the heart of all the action - both in terms of the gardens and main tourist attractions.
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
Among the world's most famous gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew needs no introduction. Covering 300 acres, this vast site includes a wealth of formal gardens, historical buildings and decorative structures. Catering for both adults and children, the Royal Botanic Gardens offer a host of exciting things to see and trails for you to follow, making it an ideal candidate for a day trip.
Over 30,000 types of plant can be spotted here, including species from all over the world. Indeed, if you venture into the Rock Garden - which was founded in 1882 - you will have the chance to see a host of Mediterranean and mountain plants, as well as varieties from Japan, Australia and New Zealand, to name but a few.
Should you have a head for heights, it is also worth walking along the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway, which, as its name suggests, allows you to stroll past the tops of chestnut, oak and lime trees. Situated some 18 m off the ground, it is a unique way to look at these magnificent trees.
Chelsea Physic Gardens
Another interesting option is Chelsea Physic Gardens. These are located closer to the heart of London than the gardens at Kew, and they are quicker to explore, which means they are a good option if you are just looking for a quick visit or brief stroll.
These were the first botanic gardens to be set up in London, founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. During this time, they were used to train apprentices to recognise different kinds of flora, while today they house a marvellous collection of historical, medicinal and edible plants.
Indeed, there are 500 different species here, with rarer varieties helped by the gardens' warm microclimate. Among the things to look out for is Britain's biggest outdoor fruiting olive tree, and the world's most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree.
Hampton Court Palace Gardens
Should you be interested in seeing more examples of formal gardens, Hampton Court Palace is the perfect place to visit. Its park covers 750 acres, while the gardens themselves occupy 60 acres.
Running down to the River Thames, the gardens boast more than 200,000 flower bulbs and picturesque fountains, while there are also some particular gems to look out for. These include the relaxed, tranquil 20th-century garden and the historical Great Vine, which was planted by Capability Brown - a celebrated gardener - in 1768 and still produces grapes today.
There is also a wonderful maze here, which visitors of all ages are bound to love. Surrounded by 7 ft high yew trees, the half-mile of winding paths are a wonderful challenge, and it usually takes around 20 minutes to reach the centre.