In recent years, what with climate change shifting our expectations for summer weather, the sight of people sunbathing in London in skimpy clothing has become much more common than anyone might have thought possible.
The hot weather tends not to last for very long stretches, so locals just try to avoid the Underground if possible, and enjoy the uncommon sunshine and guilt-free ice cream treats.
In June, however, it’s generally not yet unbearable and there are plenty of interesting events happening, so it’s a fine time to visit before the tourist crowds become larger in July and August.
The Lusty (Green) Month of June
Okay, so the famous song from Camelot is really about May, but you’ll see gardens in lush herbaceous splendor in June, so do plan some outdoor time during your stay. Better yet, book your lodgings at a place near a park or by the river, so you can enjoy the early summer sights.
What about a bright and airy Mayfair Penthouse?
It’s a short walk to Green Park station, and very close to Hyde Park (perfect for a morning jog, afternoon stroll, or warm weather relaxing) and Buckingham Palace, plus the posh shopping on Bond Street. Also a perfect location for the Queen’s birthday celebration on 9 June, Trooping the Colour, a two hundred year old event of royal pageantry with horses, soldiers and bright bunting, plus an air show with the Royal Air Force. If you enjoy large horses and vintage cannons firing and men in uniform (I say, who doesn’t), then you must attend.
Is Kew Gardens in your itinerary? In June, it should be: the roses will be kicking into high gear, the enormous ancient woodland trees will be in full leaf, and the historic kitchen gardens will be teeming with fragrant culinary herbs. Richmond is a charming, quintessential London neighborhood, with a number of traditional pubs (I love The Tap on the Line!), and right on the River Thames.
Whitebeam, a cosy B&B is right in the heart of Richmond across from Kew Station, very easy access to central London while being somewhat less congested and noisy, perfect for visitors who like to unwind a bit at night. Or this private (also inexpensive) gatehouse in Chiswick, a short bus or taxi ride (or leisurely walk) to Kew, with splendid garden views to enjoy while you eat breakfast.
Perhaps smaller gardens in London are more to your taste: the Open Garden Squares Weekend event takes place across twenty-seven boroughs in London the weekend of 8-9 June, with open access to some of London’s lesser-known private or hidden gardens, including guided tours, teas, and live music performances. Many kinds of gardens are featured: allotments, walled gardens, rooftop gardens, wildlife gardens, city farms and more. It’s likely you’ll be staying near at least one of these locations, so check out this rare treat for garden lovers, when over 200 garden spaces normally closed to the public open their doors. Notting Hill alone has over fourteen garden spaces listed; why not stay in this bright, sunny Ladbroke B&B (a short walk to Portobello Market), and visit Ladbroke Square Garden on Sunday for tea, or Rosmead Garden?
Foodies and Festival Goers, Unite
The Taste of London takes place 13-17 June in Regent’s Park, featuring forty of London’s best restaurants, tastings of food and drink, and live cooking demonstrations, plus shopping at over 200 food and drink stalls. You can opt for a lunch or dinner session (each lasting four hours) for £17, and there’s a one-hour sit-down menu option at the table of some of London’s top chefs. Here’s a sunny, Scandinavian-inspired B&B in nearby Camden Town, with park views and a sweet little balcony.
Maybe watching powerboat racing in London is your dream come true? That same weekend, the Grand Prix of London takes place at Royal Victoria Dock, the first time London has hosted a portion of the world championship of single-seater powerboats in thirty years, so it’s a bit of thing. There’s a sleek, modern guest house nearby in East London, with lovely terrace views of the river and a friendly host who leaves a welcome hamper full of snacks.
There’s plenty of music festivals happening in June, with two of them happening the very first weekend: Field Day, a brilliant jazz fest in Brockwell Park featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Fever Ray and Princess Nokia; and All Points East featuring Björk, LCD Soundsystem, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, plus many others. Also, you may be aware of a major alternative music festival happening from 15-24 June: “Meltdown” is celebrating its 25th year, curated by Robert Smith, lead singer of the Cure (celebrating their 40th anniversary; yes, I know you feel old, there, there, here’s a dram of absinthe). This year’s artists include Deftones, Manic Street Preachers, The Libertines and Nine Inch Nails on big stages, plus more intimate venues featuring performers like Suzanne Vega, Sigur Ros, The Joy Formidable and Frightened Rabbit, among many others.
Best of the Rest
The London Festival of Architecture takes place the entire month of June, with dozens of events on all sorts of topics. This year’s theme is “Identity” and there are tours, conferences, talks, family events,film screenings, open studios and exhibitions (like this one called “Taking the Biscuit”). The main hubs of activity are London Bridge, Battersea Nine Elms, the Royal Docks and the City of London. This centrally located, charming pied-a-terre near Pimlico and Vauxhall would be very convenient to the Battersea events, as well as many other central London attractions in the Chelsea, Victoria and Westminster neighbourhoods.
Outdoor theatre is a delightful summer attraction during London’s balmier season, and this year Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is presenting a production of Peter Pan inspired by the centenary of the First World War. It looks to be a thrilling production, with eclectic designs, puppets, swashbuckling, aerial stunts, and steampunk aesthetics. Why not stay nearby in this stunning, relaxing Regency apartment in conveniently-located Primrose Hill?