Views of London require a little more dedication and imagination than some of the world’s other capital cities’ famous skylines. You can get a good sense of the scale of the place from any number of the bridges across the Thames, and of course the London Eye, Shard and other more recently constructed landmarks were almost expressly built with the birds-eye vista in mind. Nonetheless, some of the most breathtaking and atmospheric places to watch the city stretch awake or slink into sleep are either the oldest and best-loved, or those where you have to earn the wow-factor (and sometimes both). Here are our top 5 spots for standing still and soaking up the magic of London from above. 

Hiking up a nearby hill is the tried-and-tested method for deservedly beautiful city viewing, and London has a surprising amount of those right in the centre of the city. One is the famous Primrose Hill, perching over the leafy, picturesque and equally famous neighbourhood named after it. The eponymous Hill peaks above the north of Regent’s Park, which is home to over 400 acres of green and flowery loveliness designed more than two centuries ago. Today housing numerous cafes, bars, cricket and football pitches - plus 12,000 roses - there’s space to stroll alone with your thoughts, happy in the arms of another, or somewhere in between, but do make sure you make it up the 256 feet to the crest of the Hill for what is arguably one of the best panoramic views of London. Bring your camera, book, paramour… or whoever’s company you like best. Sunset will put on its palette-pleasing performance of course, but the brave will be equally rewarded with an early-morning hike up to watch quietly as the city blinks into life.

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For a more distinctly vertical climbing challenge without even setting foot on anything related to grass, a trip up The Monument will reward your tenacity up the 311 steps with not only great views, but even a certificate once you make it back down. Standing at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London, The Monument was completed in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666 and in celebration of the rebuilding of the City. Lasting three days from the 2nd to the 5th of September, the Great Fire swallowed up vast swathes of the capital, including thousands of houses, streets, the City gates, churches and even the indomitable St. Paul’s Cathedral. The only buildings to survive in part were those built of stone - such as like St. Paul’s and the Guildhall. Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor General to King Charles II and the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and his friend and colleague, Dr Robert Hooke, were commissioned to provide a design for the enormous Doric column surmounted by a drum and a copper urn from which flames emerged, symbolising the Great Fire. The Monument, as it came to be called, is 61 metres high (202 feet) – the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began in a baker’s shop. The Monument has of course since become a place of historic interest and affords visitors with the chance to see right across London in all directions.

Another Wren legacy and true classic as staggering on ground level as it is from its highest point, St. Paul’s Cathedral itself offers 360° viewing platforms on both levels . Ensuring gasp-inducing views over London and its landmarks, including Tower Bridge, The Globe Theatre, The Shard, The London Eye and Buckingham Palace, on clear days if you squint properly you might just see all the way to Wembley Arch and the Olympic Stadium.

Providing free entrance along with staggering views across London, the Greenwich Observatory sits at the summit of Greenwich Park and within the National Maritime Museum. The official home of the Prime Meridian Line, Greenwich Mean Time and the place by which all other longitudes are measured, the Royal Observatory is one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world, in part because it is, by international decree, the starting point for each new day, year and millennium. Strike a pose with all the other visitors (you’re going to have to, we promise) by placing one foot in each of the East and West hemispheres at once, look out over the capital through the world’s oldest refracting telescope or simply gaze out across the vista of the whole of London, from the West End to Canary Wharf, the Dome and far further still.  

Once the preferred picnic place of Elizabeth I and described by none other than Poet Laureate John Betjeman as “better than [the view] from Parliament Hill”, One Tree Hill is a picturesque, steep mound covered with woods and open grassland. The Oak trees are indeed impressive and some over a hundred years old, and roaming about the 7 acre park surrounding them is an inspiring way to feel you’ve travelled beyond the outer edges of the city and into the countryside proper, when in reality you are only  5 miles south of London Bridge! 

every hotel Piccadilly is perfectly located in the very heart of London to put you in the ideal spot for setting out to find your own top view of London - why not have a look through our latest offers and come and see for yourself?