Discover the Beauty of London’S Hyde Park

28 May 2024

London has a well-deserved reputation for dazzling diversions and entertainment. But amid the hustle and bustle of new shows, gallery openings and haute cuisine, there’s another side to the capital. London is one of the world’s greenest major cities, with an abundance of parks and gardens offering an alternative to its urban allure. Hyde Park, The Connaught’s westerly neighbour, is its most famous greenspace.

When life gets busy, which (even on a relaxing break) it so often does, how can we find a way to reset? For many, the answer is deceptively simple. Find a slice of greenery and wildlife, and let nature do its work. Perhaps that’s why Henry VIII first acquired the land we now know as Hyde Park in 1536. A passionate outdoorsman, Henry used the land as a private hunting ground, but also as a place for lavish banquets.

A hundred years after Henry seized the land during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Charles 1 opened the park to the general public. To this day it remains a Royal Park, but it’s a space that’s intricately bound to everyday London life. Across history, its use has constantly changed. It’s seen deadly duels and executions, hosted May Day Fairs and coronation parties, and been the backdrop for everything from family picnics to major music events. 

It came to me that Hyde Park has never belonged to London - that it has always been, in spirit, a stretch of countryside; and that it links the Londons of all periods together most magically - by remaining forever unchanged at the heart of a ever-changing town. - Dodie Smith, Capture the Castle

An oasis through the ages

The face of the park has gradually evolved too. Gone are the deer herds, replaced by landscaping and pathways, formal gardens and monuments. The most famous addition is the Serpentine, a long curving lake stretching across the centre of the park. Today it’s a hive of activity. Visitors can hire a rowboat or pedalo for a leisurely turn about the lake, or, for the more adventurous, there’s the Serpentine Lido.

The iconic Lido is the oldest open-water swimming club in Britain. Members enjoy year-round access, and while a December dip may not appeal to all, the lake is stunning on winter mornings, mist rising from its mirror-like surface, while the city still slumbers. For the less hardy, a summer swim may be in order – day tickets are available between May and September. Afterwards, cold drinks and ice creams are on hand at the Lido’s café.   

View of bridge over The Serpentine, with trees in the background
Three walkers in hyde park and one runner, up a pathway
Three swans swimming one behind the other in Hyde Park's Serpentine

Set your own tempo

Away from the water, there are plenty of things to do in Hyde Park, which is home to a multitude of sports, cafés and play spaces for children. Even a short stroll reveals the roster of activity: horseback riders and roller skaters, cyclists and scooters, frisbee games and football matches. Start the day with a game of tennis, or try your hand at padel, a cross between squash and tennis (one-on-one and small group coaching is available). Children will love the table tennis area, and for younger ones, the pirate ship at the Diana Memorial Playground will set imaginations alight, while adults can relax on the side lines.

The park is also a welcome haven for visitors more inclined to rest than recreation. If doing nothing at all is on the agenda, there are plenty of spots to while away a few hours. Dive into a book under the shade of an ancient oak, bring a blanket for a picnic on the grass, or simply lay back and soak up the sun.

In the Italian Gardens, fountains and water features create an aura of serenity, while the 400 meter-long Flower Walk bursts with colour, no matter the season. The park has a wild side too. In the central area, naturalisation has been encouraged, making it the best place to spot songbirds and butterflies. As a riot of wildflowers nod gently in the breeze, and the streets of London recede, peace reigns, shoulders relax, and blue skies roll overhead.

Plan your perfect day

Part of the park’s appeal is that it can be fully enjoyed without any planning. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from The Connaught to the park’s eastern edge, and the park is open every day of the year. 

But for guests who want to make the most of their time, our Concierge Service is on hand to book facilities, arrange picnics or dining, and provide advice on seasonal activities.

For those who fancy a full day out, a short stroll from The Connaught to the southern side of the park will take you within reach of our sister hotel’s in-house patisserie – Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley. Armed with fresh coffee and one-of-a-kind pastries, you’ll have plenty of fuel for the day. Once evening draws in, extend the fun with a cocktail (or two) at The Berkeley’s Blue Bar.

View of colourful flowers and grass in Hyde Park
View of Cedric Grolet at The Berkeley, with rows of pastries
Martini in a martini glass with an olive, image taken in the Blue Bar at The Berkeley

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