It’s official. Summertime has finally arrived in the capital and after three weeks of sweltering temperatures and scorching sunshine, London’s flaunting more flesh than you’d see at Stringfellows on a Saturday night. Desperate to catch a few rays before our great British summer inevitably descends into a great British downpour, we Londoners have been cramming ourselves into every sun-drenched spot in town. For those still hoping to even out a patchwork of dodgy tan lines, here are our top tips for tanning in the city.
Head to the hills
Aiming high in the sunshine is great for two reasons: firstly, the breeze. The towering peaks of Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill offer great airflow and in the sweltering 28 degrees you’ll be thankful for the occasional cooling gust. Secondly, a speedy tan. Atop a hill you’re nearer to the sun and that means you’ll tan quicker, right?
Grease up on the grass
Going large on the park front means more chance of grabbing a good-sized sunning space and less chance of bumping into your boss sunbathing topless (awkies). Head to Hyde Park where 350 acres of the spikey green stuff equals plenty of room to spread your blanket, spread your picnic and spread your bat ‘n’ ball boundaries. If the heat gets a little too much, you can make a splash in the nearby Serpentine for the ultimate refreshment.
Bake with cake
Dining alfresco is the ultimate summer satisfaction. Not only are you chowing down on a succulent 30-day aged Aberdeen Angus steak burger, but at the same time you’re bronzing away your adult acne and naturally boosting your highlights. Dwelling in any gastropub garden or park café is a lunchtime well spent, but our favourite outdoor consumption spot is Old Compton Street. Pull up a pew at one of the café’s street-side tables, order a sweet treat and then people watch until the suncream runs out.
Fry at the lido
Who needs a Shoreditch House membership when you can relax and read your book by crystal-clear waters in Tooting Bec instead? Laying by one of the capital’s top outdoor pools (London’s Fields Lido, Brockwell Lido to name just a couple) is the perfect way to practice the Dip/Tan technique. This is the favoured tanning method for those prone to overheating. And a big hitter among those who enjoy spying on scantily-clad swimmers. Get down to your local lido early, however, as the best bathing locations get snapped up pronto.
Sun in secret
The best thing about London’s secret gardens is the tranquil tanning experience. The capital’s hidden green spaces are lush, quiet and often overlooked. Until we let the cat out of the bag, that is. Sorry. Offering better tanning than a St Tropez shop in Essex, our favourite sun-swamped gems are Phoenix Garden next to St Giles-in-the-Fields Church in Covent Garden, Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston and Malet Street Gardens, just a stone’s throw away from Euston.
Sizzle on the South Bank
Possibly one of the worst places to be when the rain pours and the wind howls, the South Bank redeems itself in the summer months. As the calendar flicks to June, an abundance of delicious food trucks, pop-up entertainment tents, outdoor art and open-air bars appear on London’s most popular stretch of river bank. Catching the rays along the South Bank makes for a whole day’s activity, what with The Festival of Neighbourhood hosting a sensational series of outside events and installations this summer.
Toast on Time Out Towers rooftop
Ok, ok, so this one’s not open to the public, but quite frankly it’s one of the best tanning spots in this city. With fabulous views over Bedford Square Gardens, The British Museum and, in a change of direction, Tottenham Court Road Phones 4u, atop T.O Towers is a great place to get that golden look. After weeks of spending every lunch break, water break and faux toilet break splayed across the rooftop, we Time Outers are now looking very much like the cast of TOWIE. Liz Darke
And remember, stay safe in the sun and always wear factor 50!