What did you hear? birdsong? Listen, brighter, warmer weather must be (finally) here! As the morning rolls on, there’s plenty to do in the capital ahead of the first team meeting of the day. Whether it’s a pre-work stroll, bird watching or practicing sun salutation, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do before 8am. So set your alarms, seize the day — and tell everyone.
Bird watching in Regent’s Park
Grab your binoculars and channel your inner Alan Partridge into the 395-acre Royal Park, where signposted birding trails lead you to some of the best spots to catch a glimpse of its many winged inhabitants. Beginning at Clarence Gate at the top of Baker Street, the walk includes the opportunity to spend time overlooking the park’s tranquil lake and, depending on the month, spot new species of birds each time you return. The most common birds you’re likely to see include Ruddy Ducks, Honkers, Gray Herons, Mute Swans, Blue Ducks, and Pintails (we didn’t have any).
Open year round at 5am, Regent’s Park, NW1 4NR, royalparks.org.uk
coffee at the monastery
If drinking coffee that first morning feels like a religious experience, then we suggest you save it for The Wren Coffee, where you can enjoy a cup of the good stuff in one of the city’s most beautiful surroundings. Just a short walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, this coffee shop is located in St Nicholas Cole’s Abbey, so you’ll be mesmerized by its soaring ceilings, wood paneling, stained glass windows and ornate gilding while getting your day’s caffeine fix quota. Proceeds go to keep talking to help spread the good news, if that’s your hobby.
Mon-Fri 7am, St Nicholas Cole Priory, 114 Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 4BJ, www.thewrencoffee.com
Attend an Early Morning Photography Workshop
Take advantage of that fancy camera you bought but never used and book a weekend photography course with Anthony Epes. Taking place on Saturday and Sunday mornings in June, he’ll take you on a tour of central London, the City of London and the East End, showing you his favorite filming locations for iconic and lesser-known spots. Starting at Westminster Bridge, expect to gaze at the camera at Leadenhall Market, Tower Bridge, Columbia Road and more. You’ll learn how to take advantage of the changing morning light, hone your creative composition, and get live feedback from Anthony on set. You’ll be Bill Cunningham in no time.
24-25 June 7am-11.30am Westminster Bridge, SW1A 2JH, anthonyepes.com
go swimming in the pond
Spending your first waking hour on a cold, muddy pond with some ducks might not sound like the most relaxing start to your day, but there must be something in the water, because Hampstead Heath )’s swimming pool attracts loyal waders year after year, as does summer month by month. There is a mixed pond (on the Hampstead side of the heath), and separate ladies’ and men’s ponds (both on the Highgate side), and be prepared to be cold in there, so if you’re not used to being in For swimming in cold water, do some research ahead of time. Oh, and you need to book a slot. Don’t forget to bring a pair of pants!
7am, Hampstead Heath, NW3 2SN, www.hampsteadheath.net
Breakfast in style at The Wolseley
If you want to start your day on a grander note, hop over to Piccadilly for breakfast at The Wolseley. It began life as a car showroom in the 1920s, later became the home of Barclays Bank, and you can now enjoy breakfast in its restaurant under its Venetian and Florentine marble arches. Specialties include bubbles and squeaks, grilled kippers and mustard lamb kidneys – but you can also enjoy an English breakfast, or opt for something from the viennoiserie (bakery) and smoothies if you’re feeling a little more restrained.
Monday to Friday 7am, 160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB, wolseley website
Feed your inner florist
Nothing says your life together like spinning a flower game at home and there really isn’t a bigger place than the new Covent Garden Market where 20 wholesalers set up shop every day offering a curated smorgasbord of flowers Not just for florists, wedding planners and market stall owners, but for you, the general public, too. Depending on the season, you’ll get any flower you want – and if you’re new, fear not, as expert traders are happy to pass on their hard-earned knowledge. It can be overwhelming, so if you need a breather, just step back and appreciate the work of this incredible community.
4am, Monday to Saturday, New Covent Garden Market, SW8 5BH, www.newcoventgardenmarket.com
Take a group morning walk
For a slightly slower but equally good start to the day, why not try joining the Poplar Union team for their weekly Friday morning walk? Led by a group of people who work at the Arts and Community Center in Tower Hamlets, this walk aims to bring people in the community together to start the day in a positive way, which includes some exercise but most of all, the opportunity to with other walkers. No reservations required, just make sure you get to the Poplar Bakehouse by 7.30am and be sure to get an after-walk reward when the doors open at 8am.
Every Friday at 7.30am, Poplar Bakehouse, 8a Cotall Street, E14 6TL, poplarunion.com
make your sweat
With 11 sites in London, there’s really no excuse not to take classes at 1Rebel. Concepts include Ride (spinning), Rumble (boxing and HIIT), Reshape (reshaping hell on earth) and Reformer (Pilates), and over 45 minutes, you’re guaranteed to come out drenched from the beets. If you’re after a hyper experience, some Ride classes are musically themed – think S Club 7 v Steps, techno v rock, Britney v Christina – and even the cynics among you will find yourself rapping before breakfast . Show off at the office with a branded smoothie after your workout.
At 6.30am, locations across London, 1rebel.com
Have a drink at Borough Market
Your eyes won’t deceive you – you can really enjoy a drink at The Market Porter bar in Borough Market before noon. This traditional Victorian pub is not to be missed, situated on the corner of Stoney Street, opposite the market. This is the place to be if you’re looking for a novelty beer between 6am and 9am, as the bar keeps its doors open for the staff to set up their stalls after a long day at work. Word to the wise: we’ll probably save it for a day off just to be safe.
Monday to Friday 6am, 9 Stoney Street, SE1 9AA, themarketporter.co.uk
Do sun salutations in Peckham
Want to challenge your body but quiet your mind? Then head to The Bussey Building in Peckham for one of their early morning Yogarise classes – Dynamic Flow. During the one-hour sessions, you will be led through the sessions by one of the many teachers who will work with you on continuous breathwork and movement. The class begins with sun salutation, including standing and seated asanas (asanas), and ends with savasana (relaxation). Don’t be fooled by your preconceived notions about yoga—be prepared to sweat.
7am, Units b1.1 + b1.2, Bussey Building, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN, yogarise.london
Experience it at Brockwell Lido
It’s not every day that you can take a dip in the Grade II listed pool – but the Brockwell Lido may open up to seven days earlier for swimmers to use its Olympic-sized pool. Summer tickets run from April to September, or, for those brave enough, you can buy an annual pass for unlimited access throughout the year. After swimming, you can also use the on-site café or visit the gym. IMPORTANT NOTE: When the team reports how cold the water is, please tweet in the morning. You’re welcome.
Monday to Friday 6.30am, Brockwell Park, Darwich Road, SE24 0PA, fusion-lifestyle.com
Grab a 24 Hour Bagel
After you’ve debated which Brick Lane bagel shop is better, you can feast on a bagel at Beigel Bake, which is, you guessed it, open 24 hours a day. A plethora of fillings awaits – from peanut butter and peanut butter, to eggs, chopped herring, tuna, avocado and smoked salmon. But the OG filling has to be corned beef with gherkins and mustard. If you’re craving something a little sweeter, croissants and other treats abound, but we’ll stick with the classics. Whether you’re starting the day or ending the night, this is a stop guaranteed to satisfy you.
24 hours, 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB, bricklanebeigel.co.uk