English writer and poet Samuel Johnson famously said: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. And as much as London offers something for everyone, sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. With international travel still up in the air, and many people postponing bigger holidays to 2022, there has been a surge in UK staycations. From London City Island, it is possible to escape to the coast, countryside or even to another country in a little over an hour, whether it’s for an impromptu Saturday drive or a longer break.
London City Island is located close to the Blackwall Tunnel, which emerges in Greenwich and connects to Kent via the A2. Another option is the High Speed rail line from Stratford International (a 7-minute journey on the Jubilee Line from Canning Town), which whizzes through Kent, connecting to Rochester, Faversham, Canterbury and Whitstable all the way to Margate and Ramsgate. With its annual oyster festival and quaint seaside town allure, Whitstable is an increasingly popular tourist hotspot. Margate has also emerged as an edgy and creative seaside retreat that still retains its quintessentially British charm amid the rise of trendy micropubs, restaurants and boutiques. If you’re spending an extended period of time on the Kent coast, explore rugged walks along Herne Bay, Broadstairs and Westgate-on-Sea.
Other coastal hotspots that are within an easy drive from London City Island include Southend-on-Sea and Mersea Island in Essex. Southend is ‘kiss-me-quick’ fun, while Mersea is a scenic estuary renowned for its world-class seafood and pretty beaches. Driving further north on the A12 will take you to the historic coastal town of Aldeburgh, around 2 hours from London City Island. Located along the Suffolk coast’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Aldeburgh was home to Benjamin Britten, who founded the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948. There’s historical charm in abundance, with plenty of traditional restaurants, museums and pastel-coloured fisherman huts selling freshly caught fish.
London City Island offers plenty of verdant walks within its vicinity, but when you want a proper break from it all, the countryside is within easy access. Britain’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds, spans six counties, but its charming market towns and villages are easily accessible from London. London Marylebone station (a short distance from Bond Street, which you can reach from Canning Town in under 20 minutes) runs a direct train to scenic Banbury. Or from London Paddington you can reach places like Bath, Kemble, Stroud and Charlbury in under an hour-and-a-half to enjoy rambles in unspoilt countryside.
As the ‘garden of England’, Kent also offers plenty of picturesque weekend walks. A particular highlight is the historic city of Canterbury (well worth a day trip in itself) and its bucolic surroundings, including the latest outpost from The Pig boutique hotel group. Located just 3 miles outside of Canterbury, (a 56-minute train ride on the High Speed or a 75-minute drive from London City Island), The Pig at Bridge Place is a food lover’s paradise set in a verdant estate. And for a real romantic getaway, book yourself into the Beaverbrook Hotel, a five-star country house hotel & spa in Leatherhead, Surrey. From London City Island, it’s an easy drive of just over an hour to Surrey via the M4 or M25, making it ideal for an overnight escape to the countryside or long weekend.
Many of us have been well and truly grounded over the past 12 months. But with restrictions slowly easing and countries like Greece and Spain hoping to welcome visitors from May, international travel is tentatively back on the cards for summer 2021. London City Island is ideally located for people who (normally) regularly travel overseas. It’s a 40-minute drive to Stansted and major airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow are well connected to London City Island via Paddington Station and London Bridge. Most handy of all is that City Airport is on your doorstep – literally a 10-minute taxi ride away or three stops on the DLR. From this bijou airport, many capital cities are reachable in just over an hour, such as Edinburgh, Belfast and Amsterdam. In just a few hours, you could also be relaxing at one of Mykonos’ buzzing beach clubs, discover Split’s atmospheric winding streets and Roman architecture, or the breathtaking views across Santorini’s picture-perfect whitewashed buildings into the turquoise Aegean Sea.
With short flight times and a super-short journey to the airport, it means you could book a last-minute weekend city or beach break and make it back to London in plenty of time for the Monday morning meeting.