Sure, it may require a short train journey from London proper (either via an Overground or London Underground train), but there are so many things to recommend a day spent visiting Richmond-upon-Thames – in fact, here are five of them…
Fabulous fauna and flora
First things first, you can’t go wrong with Richmond Park. Easily the biggest of London’s Royal Parks and at least three times larger than NYC’s Central Park, it’s basically the countryside brought to the capital and so one of the London best attractions – only, of course, it’s actually 2,500 acres of parkland appropriated centuries ago – and thus saved from devastation in the desire for urban development – by King Charles I; yes, the one who had his head lopped off for getting too high and mighty (see, he did do one thing worthwhile!). It’s perhaps most revered for its many deer that roam free throughout, but also boasts foxes, rabbits, bats and almost 150 different birds and exotic flowers and plants in the marvellous Isabella Plantation. An hour or two spent here’s time well spent, indeed.
Heavenly retail therapy
Let’s face it; what’s the point in getting out of Central London and heading west (maybe from a Kensington London hotel like the Park Grand London Hyde Park?) if your destination doesn’t offer some decent shopping options. Don’t fear; Richmond’s certainly got your back here. Not only are there decent-sized H&M and Waterstones stores, you can also choose between high-end fashion shops such as COS and Jack Willis, brand outlets like the perfume and scented candle specialists Jo Malone and stylish stationery vendors Smiggle, while who could say no to an excellent department store like House of Fraser? Who, indeed. Moreover, unlike, say, on Oxford Street, you can wallow in the appealing, charismatic architecture of it all as you dart from shop to shop.
The play’s the thing
When it comes to cultural heritage, nothing speaks quite so nobly as a grand old Victorian theatre and Richmond’s playhouse is a fine example. Ever since it opened in 1899 with curtain-up on a performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Richmond Theatre has been delivering an enviable platter of quality plays, musicals, ballets and comedy performances, as well as an annual pantomime for all the family featuring household-name entertainers. A Grade II-listed building constructed of red brick with buff terracotta, the theatre encapsulates the elegance of Richmond’s collective architecture.
Ah, there’s nothing like messing about on the river, is there? Well, you don’t have to actually get on a boat to enjoy the Thames as it winds its way through Richmond; instead you can just take in the fantastic riverside views by strolling along the towpath, picnicking on a patch of grass or sitting outside a glorious old-fashioned British pub or a sophisticated restaurant serving up a delicious dish to feed your fancy – and sate your appetite!
Food, glorious food
As mentioned – just to give you a taster (sorry!) – Richmond is brimming with high-quality restaurants and eateries. The likes of Paul and Itsu fall into the latter category and are excellent for grabbing a quick snack-like bite or topping up a picnic hamper, while the cakes at Hummingbird Bakery are pretty much to die for. Alternatively, should you be in the mood for something icily smooth as opposed to pastry- or sponge-based, then make for Gelateria Danieli. Meal-wise, the Bavarian restaurant Stein’s is always a winner, as are the menu and cocktails at No.1 Duke Street, while both Jackson & Rye and The Bingham are also highly recommended.