Beautiful solitude: the best places in London to be alone

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Helen Booth
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In this week’s #ThisFrenchLife column, Audrey Diwan, editor-in-chief of Stylist France, reflects on the importance of spending time alone

Conquering solitude - even in the midst of a busy city like Paris or London - is an important right of passage. Sharing the advice she received from a friend, Audrey says: "a person only reaches the age of maturity the day they learn to master their solitude."

So, in our quest to become a little more French ourselves, we've selected some of our favourite spots in London to spend time alone at any time of the day - places where we truly enjoy and embrace the independence of solitude.

10am: Breakfast at Granger & Co

Start your day of solitude with one of the best brunches in London by heading to Granger & Co (Stanley Building, 7 Pancras Square, N1C 4AG), which serves a leisurely, Aussie-style breakfast until 12pm. 

You don't need company to enjoy the Instagram-famous ricotta hotcakes, served with banana and honeycomb butter. The relaxed surroundings - with bar seating and high windows that look out towards Kings Cross and St Pancras stations - are perfect for doodling in a notebook or simply planning the rest of your day.

11am: Visit a secret garden

While London has many famous and beautiful parks, St. John's Lodge Gardens is one of the best.

This secret garden lies in the middle of Regent's Park, but it would be easy to walk right past if you didn't know about it - it's accessed by an unassuming gate along the Inner Circle, near the park office.

Once inside, you'll find a small but beautifully kept public space full of statues, pretty plants and benches where you can spend an hour or two reading a book or getting to know your own thoughts - the space was originally designed as a garden 'fit for meditation'.

1pm: Lunch and a film

When you start feeling peckish again, head to the recently renovated Picturehouse Central (corner of Great Windmill Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7DH) to enjoy lunch in the ground-floor cafe or first-floor restaurant and bar.

After that, head to the cinema to catch a new release or classic screening - the screens are some of the comfiest and best in London.

4pm: Nails did. Hair did.

For the ultimate afternoon of pampering, spend a few hours at the new Cheeky salon in Shoreditch (1st Floor, 64-66 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP).

The impressive three-floor space has a beauty parlour offering pedicures and manicures, as well as a hair salon where you can get everything from a “no strings cut” to a “fully committed colour”.

7pm: Learn something new

Sign up for an evening course at The School of Life (70 Marchmont Street, WC1N 1AB) and you'll end the day with some valuable life advice and guidance.

Upcoming sessions include Introversion - A Superpower and How To Find A Job You Love, and all the classes are perfect for attending alone.

10pm: Late dinner at Frenchie

To wrap up the evening with a truly Parisian experience, grab a seat at the bar at Frenchie (16 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH).

This is the London outpost of a small chain which hails from the Rue du Nil in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement, and serves a seasonal menu of small plates and indulgent mains, as well as an impressive wine menu.

Bon appetit!


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Helen Booth

Helen Booth is a London-based writer, digital editor and part-time maker who loves interiors, crafts and keeping tabs on trends. She also co-founded the weekly newsletter Lunch Hour Links.