April and May grace us with bank holidays a plenty and what better way to spend them than by trying something new? In this guide we highlight unique experiences to be enjoyed over a long weekend in the area, with that all-important extra day to explore.
Coffee, alfresco on Jermyn Street
First, grab a smooth and strong americano at 45 Jermyn St. and enjoy slowly whilst catching the morning sun on their street-side terrace. It’s also a prime spot to survey the street scene of locals and fashionistas. Revived, turn right at St James’s Church down Duke of York Street, and amble through the ornate mid-17th century gardens of St James’s Square, with its tropical ferns, palms and banana plants.
See the pelicans in St James's Park
At this time of year, with colourful blossom lining the paths, weekend mornings are an ideal time for a stroll if you seek peace and quiet. While the park dates back to 1532, a central canal was added over a century later – and it’s here that you should head to track down the one bird you can’t miss: the pelican, with its distinctive silhouette. Introduced in 1684 as a gift to King Charles II, there are currently four living in the park, and you may be lucky enough to catch them gracefully swimming in unison past Duck Island. If you’re a wildlife lover, don’t miss the grey herons, geese and coots making floating nests from twigs on the bank too. In all, it’s a thoroughly pleasant racket.
Dine on the terrace at Al Duca
One of our recommended outdoor spots for lunch in St James’s is Italian institution Al Duca, which has been serving regulars for 22 years. The east-facing terrace boasts brasserie-style tables and chairs with views down towards St James’s Square one way, and St James’s Church the other. Our favourite dish for a perfect sunny lunch? A deep bowl of tagliolini with crab, white wine, chilli and garlic. With a glass of pale rosé, of course.
Cocktails outside The American Bar
If you’ve never been to this St James’s legendary drinking haunt, peek inside first. Its cosy nooks are decorated with memorabilia: colourful ties and baseball caps dangle from the ceiling, and paintings donated by previous guests are dotted about. Then head straight outside to the picturesque cobbled courtyard, with its black painted veranda. Take a seat amongst the Mediterranean olives, climbing ivy and daffodils – there’s ample space should you swing by on an especially sunny afternoon. For the ultimate experience, peruse their menu of twelve specially-curated cocktails taking you on an historical journey around the secluded streets of St James’s (complete with stories on the hidden secrets of the area). Or simply plump for a classic sidecar or martini. What a glorious secret spot: one of a kind, indeed.
We hope you enjoyed your alfresco adventure; we’ve certainly loved guiding you through it. St James’s is London’s destination for one of a kind experiences, whether they’re alfresco or not. Click here to curate your very own unique outing in St James’s.