London is full of great options for accommodation. From global hotel chains to budget-friendly guesthouses, open house hotels with a contemporary feel, and basic backpacker hostels; the possibilities for your stay in London are endless. There’s something to suit every taste and budget. 

But nestled amongst the Hiltons and the trendy boutiques are some secret havens of natural beauty, of the kind you wouldn’t expect to find in the hustle and bustle of London. And there’s something about stepping from the busy streets of London into a calm, quiet hotel with a garden, that can transform the way you feel. 

The healing power of nature

Humans have always intuited that being in nature is good for the mind, body and soul. There’s something about nature that renews us and makes us feel alive, allowing us to feel better and think more clearly. 

Science has shown that when we immerse ourselves in nature, it benefits every aspect of our being. Hundreds of studies have shown that being in nature can have a positive impact on our brains, bodies, feelings, thoughts, and social interactions. Viewing nature is also believed to induce positive emotions and calm our nervous systems, allowing us to become more open, generous, and creative.

No one really knows for sure why nature has such a transformative effect on humans. But E. O. Wilson, an evolutionary biologist, believes we have a genetically determined affinity to the natural world. Wilson’s “biophilia hypothesis” suggests humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life because they are associated with providing food, shelter and comfort.

Being in nature reduces stress

It is strongly believed – and science backs it up – that being in nature, or even viewing it, reduces the physiological symptoms of stress in our bodies. We are less likely to feel anxious or fearful.

Being in nature is, therefore, a great way to settle busy or over-stimulated minds. It provides respite from the modern world, where technology is ubiquitous and constantly pulling for our attention. The feeling of being constantly ‘on’ can lead to mental fatigue and burnout, and being in nature provides the physiological restoration that can bring us back to a normal, healthy state.

Nature brings an overall sense of calmness. When life feels overwhelming, taking a moment to get out into nature can bring a wonderful sense of stillness which allows us to relax.

And it brings us joy

The natural world brings us joy. Feeling the sun on our neck or the breeze on our cheeks, seeing the sky change, hearing the birds sing; it all brings us joy. 

Numerous studies have shown that so many of us feel our happiest when experiencing the natural world. The Mappiness project, developed in the UK by a happiness researcher called George MacKerron, captured in real-time what people were doing and how it made them feel. What he found is that people are extremely happy when they are out in nature. 

Particularly now, with the pandemic affecting people in extraordinary ways, finding space to experience joy is more important than ever. As David Attenborough said in an interview earlier this year, “In times of crisis, the natural world is a place of joy and solace. It produces the comfort that comes from nothing else.”

London is a wonderful, vibrant and exciting city. But it can also be hectic, loud and overwhelming. If you’re on a sightseeing trip, staying in a hotel with gardens allows you to enjoy a peaceful sanctuary in which to rest and recuperate after a day exploring the city. And if you’re in London for work, a hotel with gardens provides a space to quiet the mind after a stimulating day.

At St Katharine’s, we often find that our guests experience a sense of calm and stillness when they first walk into our beautiful enclosed gardens. There are several mature trees within the cloisters and the covered walkways allow visitors to experience it in all weathers. If you want to experience St Katharine’s for yourself, why not book a stay or join us for one of our quiet days or residential retreats.