Which big London park has the best vibes? We rated them all on the stuff that really matters
The real question is does it have the potential to give you a main character moment?
If you’ve been stuck in London for lockdown then you definitely know the pain of trying to “branch out” and visit more spots of the city than you’re used to, but at the end of the day we all know, that besides the parks and the Thames, there’s not a lot else to do.
You’ve also probably read an unprecedented number of articles on “hidden gems in London that you didn’t know existed” and “the best parks to take your lockdown walks” to no avail: those hidden gems are now common knowledge, and the thought of taking yet another uneventful walk makes you want to cry.
But never fear, because we have revamped the system – reworked the big London parks, if you will – to give you the boost we all need to get to the end of lockdown. Prepare to see your favourite-spots-turned-unbearable-routine parks in a way you’ve never seen before with a rating system based purely on vibes:
Being unapologetically biased, the Heath is the best park in London. To start off with, it doesn’t close at sunset like some Royal Parks do, which not only reassures you that it doesn’t have Tory “we don’t want the peasants coming here at night” vibes, but means that you can have a late night stroll or a drink in the evening with good scenery.
Another massive bonus is Parliament Hill – an iconic spot for overlooking the whole of London at sunset. The Heath has an undeniably free spirit and, while all the hills do make your walks more challenging, the vast and interesting space means that there’s always something new to see.
Amount of finance boys likely encountered: Very few to none. Truly blissful.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: So-so. It would be incredible if it did happen, but the chances of them being able to navigate their way around to even find you are low.
Body of water rating: 10/10 – not only are you guaranteed not to die in the specifically designed bathing ponds but you can also go fishing and see some animals!
Potential to drink and get high surrounded by nature: Very high. This may not be your leisure time of choice but if you ever wanted to, goddamn, the Heath is the place to be.
Overall vibes rating: 10/10
The main identifier of Battersea is that it’s regularly frequented by the Made in Chelsea cast. Whether bumping into unbearably rich people and potentially becoming an extra on the show is up your street is for you to decide, but one thing is certain: it is very posh.
Apart from the Tory energy, it is actually a gorgeous place. The pagoda overlooking the river has massive “picnic with your friends” potential, as does the bandstand and the boating lake, and its setting of the Chelsea and Albert bridges and a classically placed Waitrose tells you all you need to know.
Amount of finance boys likely encountered: A stifling amount. They’re completely inescapable.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: Very high, and with any luck they’ll be crazy rich and/or a TV reality star too.
Body of water rating: A solid 6.5/10. Doesn’t have the endless possibilities of the Heath but the boating lake sure is pretty.
Potential to drink and get high surrounded by nature: Sadly low – if you aren’t drinking Grey Goose or champers then you might even get kicked out.
Pagoda rating: 8/10. It’s not mind-blowingly grand and all-powerful but it definitely has good vibes and even an interesting story.
Overall vibes rating: 6/10
A whopper of a park, Hyde is the daddy of London green space. It holds Kensington Gardens, the Serpentine, Winter Wonderland and Marble Arch all in one place. It is the perfectly situated park for London tourism.
However, Hyde Park’s sheer size and lack of varied flora and fauna can make it a pretty boring place to walk around. Who wants to sit in a slightly muddy field with nothing in it? It is also dangerously nearing posh people territory, what with various royal shrines and overpriced tea and cake dominating the space.
Amount of finance boys likely encountered: A decent amount if you happen to find yourself at Hyde Park Corner at the wrong time. You can definitely hide from them though due to the park being so stupidly big.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: Pretty high, especially if you’re by the lake or somewhere else scenic.
Potential to drink and get high surrounded by nature: So-so. It doesn’t close early like other parks do which is a big plus, however you will definitely not be surrounded by nature.
Ducks and swans rating: 5/10. Cute ducks, scary swans.
Overall vibes rating: 6/10
The London unis’ baby and a very happy place – Regents is a London staple that everyone needs to experience. The boating lake, the amphitheatre, the gardens – what better place to walk around (the Heath aside). Everyone also seems to be eternally happy here, which is lovely if you want to people-watch and smile at random dogs passing by.
Its only downside is when you’ve been there enough times, it becomes incredibly boring. You know all the routes, you know all the locals and you’ve even been in the small cafes a bit too often for comfort. The time of bliss is short and sweet, but rediscovering Regents will always make you feel that innocent joy again.
Amount of finance boys likely encountered: A lot of fake uni Econ boys but nothing too serious.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: High as fuck. Sit in the rose garden for extra marriage proposal vibes.
Body of water rating: 6/10. The boating lake is lovely but is definitely not clean enough to swim in – the brown colour is just part of the park’s charm now.
Amount of cute dogs: They’re everywhere you look, it’s incredible.
Overall vibes rating: 8/10
I won’t even lie to you here: apart from being next to Buckingham Palace, this park has absolutely nothing going for it. It is, in fact, just a very standard park. It even has an older and sexier sibling right next door, see St James, who, fun and pretty, really just exacerbates Green Park’s solemnness.
Even for the Google Maps description no one can find anything good to say about it – they’ve settled with “tall trees and deckchairs”, which is a pretty honest depiction of all that is there. Unless you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s corgis or a mysteriously handsome royal taking a stroll in their dramatic breakaway from the hardships of life, don’t go here.
Amount of finance boys likely encountered: Too many.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: Pretty good odds unless you’re trying to be mysterious on a deckchair (?)
Body of water rating: -1/10. Absolutely zilch.
Overall vibes rating: 2/10
St James’ Park
Green Park’s cooler older sister, this park has the added bonus of being a classy palace park while still actually being interesting. You’ve got statues, you’ve got a boating lake, you’ve got a bridge over a boating lake, and more importantly, you have a lot of ducks.
However, just because it’s better than Green doesn’t mean it actually gives off good vibes. The likelihood of undercover (and quite frankly, very obvious) Tories is not only unbearable, but there’s not a lot of substance to the place – funnily enough, just like the people who frequent it.
Amount of finance boys likely encountered: They’re more likely to hang out at Green Park so you’re safe there, however old-money rich white men are in abundance so you can decide what’s worse.
Potential to drink and get high surrounded by nature: If you’re a fan of living dangerously and smoking downwind from Downing Street and Scotland Yard then it’s decent. Try not to get arrested though.
Ducks and swans rating: 2/10. They look cute but will murder you without anyone even noticing.
Overall vibes rating: 4/10
Okay I know it’s a massive trek, but once you actually get over the commute to Richmond you are guaranteed the best day out you have ever experienced in lockdown. Unlike the London parks it is not neat, pristine and overall pretty boring, but actually has character, wildlife and a whole lot of walking trails.
It’s definitely not one for your white Nike trainers, which unfortunately just means that posh families have a field day in their “hiking gear” consisting of tweed, Barbour coats and wellies. If you overlook this downside, however, there’s a lot to do. Spotting deer, visiting the plantation and going to the lake are all big bonuses.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: Pretty iffy – it’s a lovely setting but doesn’t exactly scream “fall in love with me” if you’ve got mud all the way to your knees.
Deer rating: 10/10, majestic creatures that hardly ever kill people.
Potential to venture in, disappear for weeks and end up living off the grid in a wooden hut: Very high temptation, speaking from personal experience.
Overall vibes rating: 7/10
The scary East End vibes may not be ideal but in terms of fun to be had, this place is golden. It isn’t just your bog-standard London park by far, and it actually ticks off pretty much everything you could want: bandstand, skate park, pagoda, lake, paddling pool, gardens, fountains, tennis courts, playgrounds – I could go on.
It’s the kind of place you can happily sit with your friends on a sunny day with some tinnies and admiring your grown-up London lifestyle, if you’re able to ignore the screaming children and frequent sightings of roadmen. A classy place with a not-so-classy setting, it’s one of the more down-to-earth parks in London that don’t make you want to die if you’re not earning triple figures.
Amount of finance boys encountered: Extremely low. Happy days.
Body of water rating: 9/10 – canal, lake and paddling pools all in one place. Incredible.
Potential to drink and get high surrounded by nature: The vibes for this kind of evening are immaculate, however you’ll have to dodge quite a lot of people in order to feel them.
Pagoda rating: 6/10. Not as impressive as the London Peace Pagoda but it has its own little island, which is indeed very cool.
Overall vibes rating: 8/10
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Further east than Victoria, the Olympic Park would seem a very sketchy place to be for some, but oh how wrong you are. You will enter expecting a sea of roadman asking if you want to buy coke, and leave seeing very few and instead enjoying nothing short of a serene stroll.
With a quiet calm vibe and gorgeous canals running the length of the park, as well as some classic sights such as the ArcelorMittal Orbit and London Stadium, Stratford’s pride and joy lives up to its name. The underdog of the London parks is usually fairly unexplored by uni students, however is definitely one to visit.
Potential to find a life partner while mysteriously reading a book: Very high – sit by the canal and lap up the calm stillness around you while a certain Mr Right approaches with a twinkle in his eye. Bonus – they might even be an Olympic Swimmer if you hang out by the Olympic pool.
Body of water rating: 10/10, the canals are a wonder.
Dog rating: 7/10/ Generally speaking, the people walking around here aren’t students, which has one important consequence – many of them own dogs. Sadly, the working professionals tend to be busy, so are less inclined to let you play with their precious puppies, but if simply seeing a heck ton of dogs is enough for you, you now know where to go.
Overall vibes rating: 9/10
We sincerely hope this vibes rating system has given you all a new lease of life to explore the big London parks before lockdown starts drawing to a close. It’s been a long and hard slog throughout the winter, but give the old gals some credit, for a lot of us the parks have been a lifeline for the last few months, so their vibes should be appreciated in full.