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Alex Merz

Urban beaches in London

Whether you think they're inner-city nirvanas or glorified sandpits, urban beaches are back for 2022 – and we’ve rounded up the decent ones

Written by Alex Sims
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Let’s be honest: urban beaches are in no way as good as real beaches. We’re not going to stand here and try and kid of you of that. There’s no sea to swim in. There’s very limited access to high-quality fish and chips. It’s very unlikely you can go surfing at one.

That being said... you can’t catch the Tube to the coast, so, why not make life a bit easier for yourself and visit an urban beach? They have sand, they have cocktails, they often have beach parties and they sometimes (when we’re lucky) get a bit of sun. We’re not going to turn our noses up at any of that.

Here we’ve rounded up the most decent ones in the city. If you fancy a swim instead then check out these dreamy London lidos and outdoor pools. And if you still aren’t convinced that a sandpit by the South Bank will give you those sweet holiday feels, here are some actual beaches near London you can head to. 

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to outdoor London.

London's best urban beaches

Ruislip Lido Beach
  • Attractions
  • Rivers, lakes and ponds
  • Ruislip

Do not be fooled by the ‘lido’ in this urban beach’s name. You cannot swim in this 60-acre lake in Hillingdon. Although there is a paddling area for lucky kids. (Fuck them, they get all the good stuff.) Adults can, however, relax on London’s most convincing man-made sandy shore. Or they can take a short stroll through the woodland around it. Which, to be fair, does sound quite nice.

Open now. 

  • Things to do
  • pop-ups

‘Fulham doesn’t have a beach!’ we hear you cry. And you’re right, but since 2017, it’s had a very sandy patch of land known as Neverland. You can rent day beds, cabanas and beach huts, drop in for some beer pong, mini golf, shuffleboard and a yoga sesh, or – join a ‘Miami Vice’ party. 

Open now. 

 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Kensington

This ‘secret’ garden swaps its Christmas igloos for sunloungers in the summer. Find them along with barbecued food and booze in the sandpit at Kens Bar (short for Kensington, not a man named Ken) and its one-acre garden. They’ve promised it will be ‘just like a day at the beach’, but maybe don’t get your hopes too high. 

Open now. 

 

The Beach Bar at The Montague
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Bloomsbury

Our mates The Montague are not ones to rest. In the winter the central London cocktail bar becomes a ski lodge fit for toffs with sunburned noses. Come spring though? Beach bar mode is ON. Expect day parties and cocktail-making classes amid palm trees, sand and an attractive Georgian townhouse. 

Open now. 

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  • Shopping
  • Electronics
  • Hendon

If, for you, the best thing about the seaside is the pleasure beach then the massive urban sandy boy at Brent Cross Shopping Centre should be your go-to. (And, let's be honest, who doesn't love a quick whizz around New Look before a spot of sunbathing?) Expect games, rides, a splash zone and beachside snacks. 

Open now. 

The name of this South Bank hangout means ‘relaxing in good company’ in Trinbagonian, and that’s exactly the vibe it plans to bring to London this year. Organisers promise good music, great cocktails and really, really good food. Think: Trinidadian street treats like barbecue sweetcorn, masala chips and aloo pies as well as Caribbean classics like roti wraps and baked sea bass. Get us there now, please.

Open now. 

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