St Botolph’s without Bishopsgate
This is a small but popular green space to the east of the City, close to Liverpool Street station and right on buzzy Bishopsgate. The garden is made up of the churchyard of St Botolph without Bishopsgate and land donated from the Common Council in 1760. There are tennis and netball courts which are open all year round if you fancy a more active lunch hour!
What to picnic on: Polo 24 Hour Bar is handily located at 176 Bishopsgate and they do a mean range of made-to-order sandwiches including hot salt beef, gherkins, mustard, mayo and slaw or their famous FLT – fish fingers, tomato, lettuce and tartar source on bloomer bread. There’s also pulled pork, Philly steak or chicken caesar on flatbread to choose from, not forgetting their freshly made brownie to follow
St Dunston’s Hill
This is one of the city’s real hidden gems: set in the ruins of a church, it is lush and green and bursting with ornamental vines and exotic plants; its cobbled paths and bright flowers really set this garden apart.
What to picnic on: A stone’s throw away in Leadenhall Market is the new Hai Street Kitchen & Co sushi burrito bar, the only one in the country. Pick up a customised hand-rolled sushi burrito with chicken katsu, prawn tempura, steak, pork or portobello mushroom or a rice or salad bowl and an Hibiscus tea to enjoy among the greenery of St Dunston’s.
OK, so it’s not exactly hidden or secretive, but it is one of the loveliest al fresco lunching spots with great views over the city centre.
What to picnic on: Melrose and Morgan picnics were practically made for a sunny afternoon on Primrose Hill, so maybe better for a weekend rather than a work lunch break, especially as you need to order them 24 hours in advance. But what a picnic it is; designed for two it includes handmade scotch eggs, greenslaw, quinoa salad, cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and a dark chocolate brownie. It comes in a smart cream canvas bag with disposable plates and cutlery. £39.95 for two people.
Finsbury Circus Garden
Another secret green arbour in the city is Finsbury Circus Garden, which is the oldest public garden in the city. At 2220 sq metres it is also one of the largest green spaces in the city, and although part of it is currently closed off due to the Crossrail project there is still plenty of space to perch with your picnic.
What to picnic on: K10 on nearby Appold Street does a great takeaway sushi set deal. For £6.50 you can feast on a sushi set or one of their hot dishes including salmon or chicken teriyaki, edamame beans and a soft drink or water.
One of London’s favourite open spaces, but we couldn’t miss this one off. At 78 hectares there is plenty of space for picnicking; sit in the shade under one of the ancient trees or by one of the three ponds.
What to picnic on: For balmy summer evenings you can’t beat a picnic supper on the Common and we recommend grabbing a blanket, a bottle of something chilled and dinner from Brew’s Home Brew menu. It offers eclectic combinations of unusual ingredients with influences from the owner’s travels to Israel, Turkey and New York. Regulars rave about the chorizo scrambled eggs on sourdough toast; spicily satisfying any time of day.
If you’ve just moved to London, and your social life’s a bit too quiet, give InterNations a go. They run an expat community with more than one million members, so you’ll make some friends in no time.