Officially home to more than eight million residents, the British capital city has a unique vibrancy and ambience that can be matched by few world cities. London has often been described as a large network of ‘villages’ rather than a city in its own right, and away from the best-known areas of Central London this is true to a certain extent.
Although public transport networks such as the London Underground are among the best ways to explore the central areas of the capital, those heading to some of the outer boroughs and ‘villages’ might think about using other methods of transport. Renting a car is a popular choice among arrivals, especially those landing at Heathrow Airport.
Picking up a deal for cheap car hire London gives you the chance to reach the outer London boroughs by using motorways such as the M25 ring road, the M40, the M4 through West London and the M1 through North London. Taking these routes means motorists will avoid Central London’s dreaded congestion charge. Richmond and Kew are two of the outer boroughs offering the most to visiting tourists. Their proximity to Heathrow Airport and easy access from the M4 make them perfect bases for the returning visitor, too.
Nestled between West London and South London, Richmond and Kew are among the more affluent areas of the city. While this might mean a more expensive stay, there is plenty here to appeal to visiting travellers. Many parts of Richmond and Kew are green and leafy. Here, visitor attractions such as Hampton Court Palace, complete with a famous maze and fascinating exhibitions about Henry VIII, are located.
Meanwhile, the huge Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew features glasshouse complexes and a vast range of plant species. Covering an area of 300 acres and dating back to 1759, the gardens are one of seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the capital. There is a small on-site palace, while volunteers conduct free tours of the gardens twice a day.
Life in Richmond and Kew tends to concentrate on the banks of the River Thames, where regular boat trips operate during the summer months. In Richmond, active visitors can even rent a rowing boat from the outlet next to the bridge. Otherwise, Richmond Park is a great spot for keen cyclists. It is the biggest open space in the capital and home to hundreds of roaming deer.
Drinkers will find several riverside pubs with their own outdoor seating areas, such as the Pitcher and Piano ― perfect for long summer evenings. Otherwise, traditional back-street pubs, modern bar chains and gastro pubs can also be found in the town centre.
Accommodation in Richmond and Kew ranges from family-run inns to five-star luxury hotels. As with any accommodation in the capital, it is worth booking well ahead. Guests should also note that rooms may be limited when there is a large event at Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby union. On non-event days, sports fans can enjoy a stadium tour and a visit to the Museum of Rugby, located on site.
Shopping on Richmond High Street differs little from shopping in other affluent London boroughs, with the street lined with all the usual household names and retail chains. However, those that head up Hill Street, and later Hill Rise, will find independent retailers, including boutiques, antique shops and art galleries. There is also the weekly Farmer’s Market (Saturdays) on nearby Heron Square.