The A-Z of Quiet London

We live in one of the noisiest cities in the world - but you don't need to leave town to escape the cacophony. Just follow our guide to the city's oases of calm.

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    Shhhh! A is for art

    A is for art

    Art & Design at Westminster
    The little known Art & Design Collection on the top floor of the Westminster Reference Library is a haven of quietude away from the roar of the exhausts and sirens of Charing Cross Road. It also offers access to some 40,000 books on painting, architecture, sculpture, antiques, ceramics, textiles, fashion, jewellery, furniture, graphics, interiors and gardens.
    Art & Design Collection, Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s St, WC2 (020 7641 1300) Leicester Square tube.

    Dulwich Picture Gallery
    The south-of-centre location means the Dulwich Picture Gallery is infinitely less crowded than some uptown museums. There’s nothing backwaterish about the collections, though, which include works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Reynolds. The grounds are pretty idyllic too.
    Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Rd, SE21 (020 8693 5254) North Dulwich rail.

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    Read in silence at Daunt Books

    B is for books

    Read in silence
    In central London, at least, Daunt Books stands virtually alone in maintaining a no-music policy. The hushed rustle of pages in the Edwardian interior provides welcome respite from the latest CDs and gurgling blast of the cappuccino machine. Daunt Books, 83-84 Marylebone High St, W1 (020 7224 2295) Baker St tube.

    C is for City cycling

    On your bike – in the Square Mile
    At the weekend, when you don’t have to avoid stockbrokers stepping out into the road or taxis doing sudden U-turns, the eerily quiet streets of the City are a different world.

    From Aldgate tube, ride past Bevis Marks, London’s oldest purpose-built synagogue (circa 1701, pub quizzers) and down a side-street to the Gherkin. The inside-out Lloyds building is across the road, and nearby you’ll find the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange. Take King William Street to Monument, which has one of the best views in London (see page 32). If it’s a scorching day, enjoy having Postman’s Park (near Barts Hospital) or Finsbury Circus (near Liverpool Street) all to yourself.

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