Kew is a lovely suburb in West London famous for its acclaimed botanical gardens. It’s also home to tons of lovely independent shops and cafes, so if you’re planning a day trip to Kew Gardens, I’d definitely recommend a few stops on your way. Here’s my recipe for a perfect day in Kew.
Arrive at Kew Gardens station in the morning. Despite serving the London Underground, the station is above the surface of the earth and is pleasantly dissimilar to the grubby litter-strewn station you come to expect when taking the tube. The leafy, open-air platforms are lined with palm trees and flowers and there’s a cosy looking pub with a large ornate curved window that overlooks Platform 1.
You’ll emerge from the station into Kew Village, a sweet little square, with independent shops ranging from a butcher and a florist to an organic wholefood store. The list of shops resembles a nursery rhyme, although the shopkeepers vehemently deny bathing together.
Compiling a picnic
After a little mooch around the shops, you can begin compiling the QUEEN of all picnics. Oliver’s Organic Wholefood Store is filled with delicious salads, cheeses, chutneys, and snacks – all of which, as the name suggests, are organic.
On Saturdays there’s a little stall in the corner of the square where you can buy bread and cakes and other tasty baked things. If you fortuitously visit on the first Sunday of the month, the streets are closed for Kew Village Market – a monthly event with stalls selling seasonal and local produce.
Visit The Good Wine Shop to pick up your tipple of choice. They sell chilled wine, french cidre and locally brewed beer to suit all budgets. The friendly non-snooty staff are always happy to help, even if your request is for something “cold and cheap.”
A vintage bookshop
As you leave the village, wander down the road to Lloyds of Kew bookshop along Mortlake Terrace. Looking like the library of a crumbling stately home, the independent bookshop sells rare, vintage, antiquarian and modern second hand books.
Inside, the tomes are piled high, the till balanced on a desk behind plants and freshly cut flowers. Have a coffee while rummaging for a classic paper back and then proceed to Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens is the largest collection of living plants in the whole world and an important centre for botanical research and conservation. It’s also a stunning place to visit.
I’ve done a lot of wandering around and I think the perfect place for a picnic is the Redwood Grove on the West side of the grounds. This area, planted in the 1860s, is home to some colossal trees known as giant and coastal redwoods. They are the tallest species of tree on Earth, can grow over 100 metres high and live for thousands of years. Pretty bloody impressive! Ask for a map or directions when you get in to find this magical forest.
After a leisurely lunch, have a wander round the botanical gardens making sure you don’t miss the Japanese garden, the lake or the treetop walkway.
My second favourite part of Kew Gardens after the redwood grove is the Palm House. The vast Victorian structure is made of iron and glass and houses hundreds of palms. It’s like stepping into an rainforest, birds will cheep, and the nostalgic elegance of the glasshouse will make your hands twitch to take hundreds of photos.
For more photos of Kew Gardens, visit my post about the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
An evening in Kew
On your way out of the gardens, you can stop in one of the various pubs that surround Kew Green for a cocktail or a G&T. The Coach and Horses usually have a really reasonable cocktail of the day, along with comfy chairs, a roaring fire (in the winter) and a library room.
There are lots of tasty places to eat in Kew, from the Michelin starred Glasshouse, to the French restaurant Ma Cuisine Bistro. The pubs around Kew Green also serve really great food and many have wonderful gardens for you to sit and enjoy the evening sun.
My personal favourite is a Korean BBQ restaurant called O.PPA, located along Kew Road as you head towards Richmond. Each table is fitted with a little barbecue grill which you use to cook your own food! Cue lots of hilaaaaaarious jokes from your boyfriend complaining about going to a restaurant then having to cook your own dinner. Still, I think it’s great fun and a perfect way to end a wonderful day in Kew!