The best gardens around the world
There's nothing quite like getting away from the urban jungle when you're on holiday, and being able to bask in lush greenery and breathtaking flora. Whether it's running free in a park, or nestling into soft grass for a picnic, it's that feeling of checking into peace and natural beauty that instantly rejuvenates you. On that note, we decided to consult with LUXE City Guides – the nifty pocket print and digital travel guide for modern sophisticated travellers — on their recommendations for the prettiest, greenest spots worldwide. After all, they're the experts. Don't forget to slot these foliage spots in your itinerary the next time you're on holiday.
Kew Gardens, London
The Brits are renowned for their love of gardens and gardening. So for an unrivalled arboreal experience, look no further than London's regal Kew Gardens. Meticulously manicured into both precise and experimental plantings, this lush swathe of parkland is also home to galleries, a towering pagoda, temples, the famous Tree-Top Walkway and Palm House — in short, it's British horticulture at its bloomin' best.
After the staggering success of Wolfgang Buttress' buzzy 'The Hive' installation in 2016, this year Kew Gardens will also unveil the world's largest Insect Hotel. Tucked deep inside the grounds, it offers an opportunity to get up close and interact with wild pollinators.
If you're feeling hungry, the charming Petersham Nurseries is but a zippy Uber ride away. Fuel up on saffron gnocchi and lamb racks before checking into the gorgeous, shade-dappled teahouse for a cuppa and a slice of something naughty.
Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Behind the shimmering white sails of the Opera House and replete with triff harbour aspects, the Royal Botanic Garden is the most flourishing facet of Australia's Emerald City. This verdant, 64-hectare vale is home to no less than 9,000 species of plants and 4,000 trees teeming with bats, butterflies and cockatoos.
The gardens celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2016, and as a birthday treat, they added a striking stainless steel and glass pavilion, The Calyx. Dominated by a vast living green wall, the architectural space is host to ever-changing theatrical and art exhibitions, as well as seasonal yoga classes. The Royal Botanic Garden also participates in the annual light extravaganza Vivid Sydney — see wondrous nighttime illuminations of the fleur-bulous kind from now until 17 June.
Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone
The hills are alive in Hakone, not with the sound of music, but with the visual feast of the Open-Air Museum's mountainside art park, and the uninterrupted views of its neighbour Mount Fuji. Occupying just seven hectares, the museum is positively petite compared to the other botanic beauties — but definitely not one to be sized down, thanks to its stunning, seamless marriage of art and nature.
Simply put, this is art at its most accessible, with sculptures by the likes of Rodin, Moore and Miro to be touched, climbed onto or into. And when you grow weary of the outdoor exploration, the indoor galleries beckon with an impressive stash including around 300 pieces by Senor Picasso himself. It's well worth the 90-minute schlep from Tokyo, but be sure to pack a few picnic supplies as lunch options are limited.