5 quiet spots near UCL

2 December 2020

UCL's campus can sometimes seem hectic. Will Roberts, a UCL alumnus, gives us his favourite 5 spots near campus to get away when you need a moment of calm.

quiet spots

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and London life

We understand that some of you may be studying remotely to begin with due to the coronavirus situation and therefore unable to arrive on campus and in London in January.

We hope even if you can't join us immediately, that these articles get you excited for when you are able to join us here in London and give you a flavour of the amazing things to come. 

Currently, even though there is not much activity on-campus due to the current situation, there are still many quiet spots you can choose to visit for yourself when you do arrive back on campus. A lot of on-campus activity will maintain social distancing however it's always good to know about the spots you can visit for when you need some you time! 

Apart from the Quiet Contemplation Room (which is situated on Floor B2 of the Student Centre, located at 27-28 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AW), there are few spaces on the UCL campus or around Bloomsbury where students can relax and reflect in a peaceful environment. I am no mindfulness expert but taking time out of your day to pause, gather your thoughts, and disengage from the immediate stresses of university life is both necessary and important.

Here are some suggestions of where to go when you want to relax, be mindful, or read for leisure. They are all free to visit, though some will be more suitable than others for rainy days.

1. The Wellcome Collection Reading Room, 183 Euston Road

The Reading Room is an attractively laid-out and lit room on the second floor of the Wellcome Collection, and is rarely busy. It contains various interactive exhibitions, objects of interest, comfy chairs, and beanbags – spread apart so you can wander around and explore for yourself. No cramped hallways, dusty books, or angry librarians here.

The Wellcome Collection galleries and Reading Room is open from 10am until 6pm every day except on Mondays. On Thursday, it is open until 9 pm.

2. Skoob Books, Marchmont Street entrance of The Brunswick Centre

Skoob is arguably the best (second hand) bookshop in central London. Its cosy interior contains an impressive array of academic books, rare books, and other objects of interests. Find a corner or stool to flick through some of their collections or – if you’re brave – have a go on their piano.

Skoob Books is open every day 10:30am until 8pm and until 6pm on Sundays.

3. SOAS Japanese Roof Garden, above the Brunei Gallery

The Japanese Roof Garden has been purposely designed for relaxation and mediation. The small but well-designed garden is dedicated to forgiveness and provides a naturally contemplative atmosphere. Benches line the side of the garden and are a good place to put the purpose of the garden into practise. The best time is visit is late spring when the flowers are blossoming.

The garden is open when the Brunei Gallery is open - Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30am until 5pm, Thursdays are open till 8pm.

4. St George the Martyr, 44 Queen Square

Whether you are religious or not, this Church is both well-lit, calming, and contains an unpretentious café that isn’t full of students with Macbooks. They have comfortable, spongy sofas in the nave of the church where you can drink a coffee, pray or even nap.

The St George Café is open from 7am until 9pm daily.

5. Woburn Walk, near Euston Station

Woburn Walk is a pretty pedestrianised street with inexpensive cafés located off the far busier Upper Woburn Place. It’s easy to miss but worth a stroll down to explore the quieter and lesser known streets to UCL’s east.

Enjoy and remember to relax.

By Will Roberts, UCL alumnus, BA History