London: Side Trips
Kew Gardens in West London is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. Unfortunately, it's under the approach for Heathrow Airport and can be anything but tranquil. Its out-of-town sister, Wakehurst Place, in West Sussex shares Kew's mission "to inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide" and is home to the Millennium Seed Bank Project, which stores the seeds of wild plant species. Woodland and garden walks are wonderfully quiet, especially on an overcast weekday, when it's easy to evade other visitors.
If you're in the mood to spoil yourself, stay at nearby Gravetye Manor, a 16th-century house converted into a luxurious hotel.