"When living in such a vast and vibrant city like London, sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole other world that exists outside the urban sprawl. In fact, you don’t have to go very far to find a little peace and quiet and a change of scenery," Tremayne from London city guide HG2 tells me. Read on for his review of a ziptrip to Kew.
"As a member of Zipcar it’s wonderfully easy to broaden your horizons a little and set off on a mini-adventure – ok, day trip – just a short drive from town. Kew is only seven miles away from Charing Cross Station, but what a difference a few miles can make. Famous for being the location of the Royal Botanical Gardens, (Tel: 0844 482 7777 www.hrp.org.uk/KewPalace), more commonly known simply as Kew Gardens, this World Heritage Site boasts the world’s largest collection of living plants. Kew is also home to one of the most intimate and remarkable royal palaces in England and was once the home of “wayward” Prince George. Packed full of interesting things to see and family-friendly activities, take a snoop around The Royal Kitchens, Queen Charlotte’s Chair and the Princesses’ bedrooms.
After a ramble around Kew Palace, hop back in Zipcar Harry or William or Elizabeth and set off for The Glasshouse, (14 Station Parade, TW9 3PZ. Tel: 020 8940 6777 www.glasshouserestaurant.co.uk), a hugely popular local lunch spot just a short drive from Kew Gardens. Despite holding a Michelin star since 2002, The Glasshouse (owned by the team behind London’s Chez Bruce and La Trompette) retains its local roots and neighbourhood vibe, serving exquisite French cuisine with a Japanese twist.
If a traditional pub lunch is more your thing, then head off to the City Barge Pub just a short amble downstream from Kew Bridge. Incredibly quaint and wonderfully located, “The Barge” is a local favourite – its riverside position providing the perfect setting for a wholesome bite and cold drink as the River Thames flows by just metres away.
If the sun is shining, make the most of the occasion and opt for a relaxed, al fresco picnic. Stop off at The Original Maids of Honour (288 Kew Road, TW9 3DU. Tel: 020 8940 2752 - www.theoriginalmaidsofhonour.co.uk) on the Kew Road and fill the boot with goodies from their mouth-watering picnic hampers to enjoy in Kew Gardens itself. Selling old English specialities such as scones, tea-sandwiches, sausage rolls and potato salad, this particular establishment has been championing the virtues of traditional baking for well over 120 years. Just remember to bring a rug, unfortunately Zipcar doesn't keep them to hand in the back of the cars (yet!).
If you can bear to wait a little while longer before devouring the contents of your hamper, Syon Park is also a great place to enjoy a picnic – and the drive to get there is a fantastic opportunity to see a little bit more of the local area. Walking up to the magnificent Syon House (Tel: 020 8560 0882 - www.syonpark.co.uk), complete with 200 acres of parkland, it’s somehow hard to believe that you’re only a mere ten miles away from Central London. The London home of the Duke of Northumberland and the last surviving ducal residence, this particular property is a veritable Aladdin’s cave, containing the handiwork of Scottish architect Robert Adam and outside, the Great Conservatory – the crowning glory of the Syon Park gardens.
If in need of a caffeine fix after all that exertion, there’s no better way to revive than with a coffee at Taylor St Baristas (Unit 3, Westminster House, Kew Rd, TW9 2ND, Tel: 07969 798650 - www.taylor-st.com) on Kew Road. Don’t expect your average weak filter coffee here though; the highly qualified baristas see coffee as more of an art form than simply a hot drink and take the entire process, from roasting to pouring, incredibly seriously indeed. We guarantee that after the first gulp you’ll be inclined to hop in a Zipcar to Kew every time you’re in need of a pick-me-up…"
What would you get up to on a day trip to Kew? Are there any other activities that you’d recommend to Zipcar members?