I’ve found my happy place in London. And it’s no other than Kew Gardens – which I have worked and lived near for the past 4 years, but somehow only just managed to visit for the first time last year (crazy right?!)
I think we don’t always see or appreciate the beautiful spaces that lie in front of us all the time. With Kew I always thought ‘Oh yeah I really wanna go there some time’ but there was never a concrete plan or urgency cause ‘it’s just around the corner anyways and I can go there any time’. So this ladies & gentlemen is my excuse as to why it’s taken me so long to finally visit!
There’s so much to see at Kew Gardens that a single visit is hardly enough. If I’m totally honest: I could spend an entire day alone in the Princess of Wales Conservatory! Stunning plants from all over the world, with different climate areas – just absolutely beautiful. It always shows you what of a difference humidity can make! Honestly been sweating at 20 degrees in the tropical part, then freezing 2 minutes later at 20 degrees in the desert area, crazy right?!
Kew is definitely not only a place to visit when there’s nice weather. On my second visit it’s actually been raining nonstop for 4 out of the 5 hours we visited – and we still got to see loads and did not get bored of it.
The greenhouses are simply so diverse & I could get absolutely lost in them.
There are 3 main buildings: the Palm House, the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Temperate House.
Besides these, there are multiple smaller buildings including Kew Palace, which is surrounded by a wonderful herbal garden (oh I love touching and smelling all the wonderful herbs here!) & The Orangery, which is a beautifully floral decorated café.
It’s difficult to pick out my favourite of the 3 main buildings to visit – as they’re all different and each has its own charm, so if you get the chance to visit all 3 of them – take it!
The Palm House – Palm Tree Heaven
The Palm House was the first I had ever visited at Kew and I was instantly stunned by the impressive palm trees and other plants growing in this greenhouse. Be prepared for the hot and moist temperature though – best wear layers when you visit Kew so you can easily adapt to the different climates 😉 the humidity in the Palm House is partially so high, that I was struggling to use my camera at times – it would simply constantly fog up!
The Palm House is home to plenty of different large plants, including lots of palm trees (which gives the building its name) from all over the world. The Palm House is divided into different sections for plants of each continent – and you can also find plenty of tropical plants here, such as cacao, coconut, papaya, banana and many more. Stunning to see these in real life, when in nature it would be difficult to get to see all these.
Something that I did not know upfront was that there are also animals living in the Palm House. Well, at least there’s one that I’ve seen there (upon second glance I might have to add) – I wasn’t even sure what animal it was, but it was definitely a reptile and he was super chilled whilst I was taking some photos of him/her.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory
The Princess of Wales Conservatory holds plenty of different climates that are all divided by glass doors to maintain the different temperatures and humidity that the plants thrive in.
My favourite was definitely the desert area, filled with plenty of cacti of all shapes and sizes – but the carnivore plants were also stunning to look at. The Conservatory is also home to plenty of large tropical plants and the most beautiful flowers you will ever see. There are even water lilies as big as a car (tbh they looked like massive plates!) and a room that rains once an hour to maintain its climate. All in all super interesting and a place to get amazed and also totally lost in (yes, it did happen!)
This conservatory definitely let’s you sweat and then feel freezing cold the next moment when switching rooms! Weirdly however, when checking the thermometers in the rooms, you’ll find out that the temperature is mostly similar throughout the rooms, but it’s the humidity that differs massively. Oh what a difference it makes in how hot/cold it actually feels!
The Temperate House
The Temperate House is probably one that you have seen if you’ve seen if you’ve ever checked photos of Kew Garden’s online. Its distinct architecture makes it an absolute masterpiece, and I’ve even heard that it’s featured in architecture literature all over the globe (a friend of mine studies architecture and she told me that they covered the Temperate House in uni!)
Despite amazing expectations for this building, I probably spent the least time here. Simply as it’s super easy to go from start to end, pretty airy and mainly features extinct or nearly extinct plants from all over the globe (= there’s less plants to view in total)
Even though it’s already been my second visit to Kew Gardens, there’s still plenty to see. I’d really love to make use of a nice autumn day to stroll around and see the forests corners that I have not visited yet and also the Great Pagoda, which was closed for restoration the first time I visited (the second time was a rainy day without umbrella and I did not make the journey down to that end of the botanical gardens)
I’m sure also the Bamboo Garden and Alpine House are worth seeing – as you can probably tell, I already have plenty on my to-do list for the next visit! There are also fantastic events on at Kew throughout the year – I’ve been told that the Christmas lights there should be absolutely outstanding!
Vegan Options at Kew
Aside from all the wonderful plans and beautiful architecture to admire at Kew, there’s one thing that is lacking: a selection of vegan food options! Both the cafe near the main entrance and the one near the Pagoda did not have any main courses available that were vegan. There are a couple of 3rd party snacks being sold, but both cafe’s give more of a canteen feel rather than a lovely countryside sit-down cafe.
They do however have non-dairy milk options available in both locations – and as Kew allows for you to bring your own picnic along, the lack of vegan options is not a big issue when you plan ahead.
Last but not least: who’s gonna join me next time?
Find our more about Kew Gardens and their attractions, events, opening times, prices & co here!