As London expanded from the 1700s onwards, the West End of the city rapidly developed into an affluent, attractive area away from the hustle and bustle of the city, attracting aristocratic families, Dukes, Earls and the generally wealthy.
Today, much of London’s West End remains affluent, though not completely exclusive. It features a large number of expensive cocktail bars and traditional department stores, such as Harrods, but you’ll also find quirky coffee shops, vegan cafés and vintage stores. The annual Notting Hill Carnival also takes place in the West End: a colourful, lively Caribbean street party that attracts thousands every year.
West London is famous for its beautiful Victorian townhouses and terraces, but it is also abundant in parks, gardens, tree-lined streets and hedges. This means all the usual causes of hayfever will be present: tree, grass and weed pollen.
In particular, London plane is common, as it is across most of London. With such a history of wealth and grandeur in this area, you’ll also find plenty of exotic plants and trees. Weed pollen may be slightly less abundant as West London is fairly well-kept, but inevitably nettles and docks will pop up here and there, and grass pollen is almost unavoidable.
The West End in general may therefore be more problematic for hayfever sufferers than other areas of London. Particular areas to avoid include:
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. These two parks sit right next to each other and are popular hotspots for tourists and locals alike. They contain open grassy spaces, large ponds, and a large number of trees, including lime, plane, elm, beech, birch and willow
Notting Hill. Famous for its beautiful terraces and large Victorian townhouses, this is now a particularly affluent area of London. Large, private gardens back each of the terraces so that the whole area is full of greenery
Holland Park and Kyoto Garden. Holland Park is a large park containing semi-wild woodland, the ruins of Holland House, beautiful gardens, and, in its centre, an exotic Japanese garden called Kyoto Garden. There is a huge range of plant life here, meaning it is a likely trigger for hayfever
Wormwood Scrubs Park. This huge open grassy area is often used for local sporting events and tournaments, as well as sunbathing and wildlife spotting. It is also home to the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. It is mostly grassy, though it is lined by trees and there is a small patch of trees in the middle of the park
Gunnersbury Park. This park contains a golf course and museum. It has huge open grassy areas that are lined by thick trees, including beech, plane, sycamore, ash, oak and pine.
Luckily, there are plenty of things to do in West London to keep you occupied. Being a largely wealthy, residential area you may find it more of a struggle to find things to do simply by wandering around. Here are some suggestions of places to try:
The West End has several museums that are definitely worth visiting, including: the Natural History Museum, which explores the natural world of today and throughout history (including the dinosaurs!); the Victoria and Albert Museum which features fascinating exhibitions about British history, as well as art; and the Science Museum which explores the science and inventions of our history
Pick up something unusual at Portobello Road Market. There’s everything from vintage clothes, to jewellery, antiques and food; plenty to keep you busy!
Fan of Harry Potter? Then visit the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford. Here you’ll find props, sets, costumes, insider information, interactive exhibitions, a café (where you can try butterbeer!) and a shop for all your Harry Potter memorabilia
Check to see what’s on at the Frontline Club. Mostly focused around the journalism industry, you’ll find events, workshops and talks on issues like censorship, ethics and photography, as well as topical issues such as the unrest in countries like Turkey and Syria. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re interested in that kind of thing you’ll be in for a treat! And if not, there’s a great restaurant and bar inside too
Get some retail therapy at the Westfield Shopping Centre, where you’ll find plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and cafés to keep you occupied away from the pollen. There’s also a cinema and a variety of events for all the family. Have a look at their website to see events are coming up.
Our hayfever products are usually stocked in Holland & Barrett, of which there are plenty around West London – in Westfield Shopping Centre, in Kings Mall Shopping Centre, on Portobello Road and on Brompton Road near Harrods.
You can also try your local health food stores such as: Pestle & Mortar, not far from High Street Kensington Station; Nutri Centre near Earl’s Court; or Baywood Pharmacy near Notting Hill.
What you eat can have a dramatic effect on your hayfever symptoms. While anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine foods can help control your symptoms, foods containing dairy and foods rich in sugar can actually make them worse.