Top 10 luxury picnic spots and shops in London

The trouble with living in Britain is that when we do finally get a bit of sunshine, we don’t know what to do with it! But one thing we Brits certainly do well is picnics. And London has parks in abundance. So picnics in the park are a combination made in heaven if you know the right idyllic locations to enjoy your picnic.

London picnic

And I’ve also suggested my favourite gourmet delis to grab your picnic goodies close to each picnic spot, to save you having to trawl your hampers halfway across London!

  • Foodie heaven of course is Borough Market, which furnishes wonderful materials for a picnic with its cheese, charcuterie, pies and other goodies. But you have to be clever to find the right gardens – there are no Royal Parks here. While the Bankside Urban Forest with its community garden in the new Market Hall may not be quite appropriate for a picnic, there’s a sunny garden at Tate Modern; or you could visit St George’s Garden in the old churchyard at the end of Borough High Street, or perhaps Redcross Park which was set up by Octavia Hill (a founder of the National Trust) for local people to use in what was then one of London’s poorest areas.
  • Fortnum & Mason is another foodie sanctuary and you can get a ready made hamper there, admittedly at a price. Or you could visit the less expensive Mount Street Deli, which even offers an afternoon tea hamper with scones and little sandwiches – the tea is iced, which is exactly what you need in the sunshine. Both of these outlets are conveniently located for GreenPark, where mature trees will shade you from sunburn while you’re picnicking.
  • If you want a good walk and wildlife with your picnic then head out to Richmond Park, where the deer will regard you curiously as you lay out your blanket. The Richmond Hill Bakery in Friars Stile Road is the place to go – not just for bread, but for sandwiches, cakes, and salads.
  • Out in East London, Victoria Park is a good place for a picnic; the Regent’s Canal and Hertford Union Canal are the boundaries on two sides of the park, and the cool breezes from the canal make a stroll along the towpath particularly relaxing on a hot day. The Deli Downstairs in Victoria Park Road has pies, tarts, quiches, salads and a range of branded ice creams including offbeat flavours such as pear and chocolate, and rhubarb.
  • Kensington Gardens is a huge expanse of greenery with lawns to sit on, alcoves, ponds and the shade of mature trees. Try Ottolenghi Kensington for fine deli foods with a Mediterranean and Levantine flavour – the deli will even send dishes in a taxi to your home, office or hotel room. There’s another Ottolenghi in Notting Hill, which is larger and has a broader range of stock, but it’s not so conveniently located either for Kensington Gardens or Holland Park.  For the truly decadent (or romantic) among you, the nearby Milestone Hotel does a Picnic in the Park brought to the spot of your choosing.
  • Hampstead Heath‘s huge attraction for me is that you can have a swim in one of the ponds (ladies’ or men’s, or the lido), and then have your picnic – virtue first, gluttony later. Of course the Heath is a huge space, so there are numerous places you could get a picnic, but Benedict Cumberbatch apparently frequents Giacobazzi’s deli in Fleet Road (near Hampstead Heath tube station), and what’s good enough for Sherlock is good enough for me. It’s a real Italian deli that does takeaways. Or in the same street, you could visit Beetroot deli for a Polish take on the picnic – sandwiches on rye bread, Polish cakes, salads, charcuterie and cheese. And yes, Beetroot does picnic boxes.
  • Greenwich Park involves a bit of a climb up from the town, but it’s worth it for the extensive views of the Isle of Dogs and the River Thames flowing up towards the centre of London. There’s the Observatory to visit or the Royal Naval College or the Queen’s House, so you could make your picnic the focal point of any number of different cultural visits, or just come for the greenery and the views. Head down to The Cheeseboard for bakery, cheese and wine – cheese toasties with gorgonzola are certainly a maverick take on the standard recipe.
  • Holland Park is one of my favourite parks – less frequented and smaller than the great Royal Parks, quiet and intimate, and with a superb Japanese garden which breathes the spirit of Zen. On your way from the Tube, pass the local branch of Paul to get French patisserie, a sandwich or a quiche; and on your way back, grab a traditional Italian ice cream from the original branch of Gelato Mio (mine’s a stracciatella please though their elusive fresh mint is also a treat when they have it).
  • St James’s Park, oddly, isn’t well served by delis or groceries. So bring your own picnic (and some nuts to feed the squirrels), or else pop into Inn the Park – you can either eat in or they’ll apparently box you up a picnic if you really want to eat outside.
  • Two little tiny spaces are favourite secret picnic spots of mine – Soho Square with its half-timber, Tudor-style gazebo, and Finsbury Circus with its bowling green and pavilion. Both Soho and the City are well provided with places to get your lunchtime comestibles. And of course anywhere you go in London, Marks & Spencer’s has all the basics for a picnic, including, should your taste run that way, pretty acceptable sushi. There are branches at many mainline stations as well as in most High Streets.

Not in the mood to organise a picnic?  You may prefer a spot of alfresco dining as an alternative or perhaps a rooftop bar like Vertigo 42 Champagne bar.

Enjoy the summer while it lasts!

Rajul Chande is Owner of London Hotels Insight.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Comments (5)

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  1. Kiki says:

    I love F&M’s hampers, they are gorgeous. I’ve seriously thought about getting one while in London, but it’s just too much hassle to bring them back. I settled for their insulated picnic sets (sort of a zip around cooler bag)– not as cute cute as a basket, but they do have plates tipped in their signature F&M blue inside, along with silverware and glasses. And they fit nicely into my suitcase.
    Hampstead Heath is my favorite picnic spot.

  2. Raquel says:

    I love Holland Park, but Soho Square is too crowded in summer. For the rest, I promise I will try one this weekend. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Darla says:

    My husband and I love taking picnics! We’ve never been to London but I imagine this being an absolutely fantastic way to spend the day. I’ll surely keep this list handy for whenever we do make it across the pond!

  4. Anastasia says:

    Now isn’t it great that the great and good with luxury hampers want to join the rest of us in ways of gathering ants and wasps.

    The one ant that goes back and tells the rest of the city underground.

    The one wasp that stays and stays.

    Cover everything, leave nothing open and use trays, because grass is never entirely flat.

    There are lots of nice covers as of old for bowls and plates of food.

    That favourite sweet dessert is also the most beloved of the city of ants marching upon you. Keep it in a nice plastic box and munch it quick.

    Designate the nearest child for the fun of swatting the air to keep flies and wasps at bay.

    And never leave the top off the bottle of bubbly, someone will upset it and lose all that ambrosia nectar.

    And talking of nectar, honey is the one thing all creatures love.

    And then watch out for those dratted London pigeons, crows, starlings and, best of all, low flying sea gulls (so sit down to eat, not stand up).

    And then there is those little grey bandits, the American squirrel. Watch out for cheeky tails creeping up on your unawares.

    So pleased old traditions live on.

  5. Tiberiu says:

    I’ve been to Greenwich Park. Never took a picnic there but the view is fantastic! You should all try it out sometimes!

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