Category Archives: Attractions

What can you do in Marble Arch?

A better question might be what can’t you do? The Montcalm Marble Arch is located right in the heart of London;everything the city has to offer is laid out on your doorstep.Perched at the top of Hyde Park and Oxford … Continue reading

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Our top 5 attractions near Serpentine Gallery

Hyde Park really is a focal point for London and at one point on your trip you will find yourself there. And in the middle of this vast green space is the majestic Serpentine Gallery, a must for all art enthusiasts. If you have enjoyed the delights of this attraction, you may be looking for something to fill your afternoon nearby, so check out some of our top tips below.

Kensington Palace

This royal residence is right round the corner and it should be on the top of any itinerary. Having stood as an official residence for the royal family for the past 400 years, it is actually now the home of Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry.

The palace's story originally began as a simple two-storey Jacobean mansion, that was built in 1605 by Sir George Coppin. A decade later, it was purchased by the 1st Earl of Nottingham, and then passed onto William and Mary who assumed the throne as joint monarchs in 1689. Over the next two centuries, various monarchs added to the site, expanding it vastly, but it did also sadly face neglect, and by the end of the Victorian era the State Rooms has been abandoned.

After a large restoration project, the State Rooms were opened to the public in May 1899, serving as a museum for the city. Visitors can now enjoy hundreds of objects, such as 18th-century dresses worn by Queen Victoria, ceramics, an expansive art collection and antique furniture. Tourists can actually choose between four different routes through the palace, experiencing interactive displays and audio exhibitions along the way. There is even an exhibit on the wardrobe choices of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. Finish off by walking around the original landscaped gardens – stunning stuff.

Kensington Palace is just a ten-minute walk through Hyde Park to the space's western edge.

Buckingham Palace

Another palace, but this place really needs no introduction. Having served as both the office and residence for British monarchs since it was built during the reign of Queen Victoria, the palace is one of the few working royal palaces in the world.

Over the summer, the site will be opened to visitors, as they get to tour the 19 State Rooms, see treasures from the Royal Collection by the likes of Rubens and Rembrandt, come close to Sevres porcelain and encounter sculptures by Canova and Chantrey. All year round, there is also the Changing the Guard ceremony outside, all set to music – very pompous stuff!

To get to Buckingham Palace, walk through Hyde Park until you reach the Hyde Park Corner station, and then walk up the Mall to the palace – it should take around 30 minutes.

Victoria & Albert Museum

You may not know it but the V&A is the largest museum in the world centred around decorative arts and design. Housing over 4.5 million objects, the museum was established in 1852 and it was named after the then Queen and Prince.

Spanning 12.5 acres and 145 galleries, the attraction looks at around 5,000 years of art across the cultures of North America, Asia, Europe and North Africa. Visitors can enjoy perusing glass objects, textiles, costumes, ceramics, jewellery, medieval objects, sculptures, prints, among many others. Fans of post-classical sculpture, in particular, will be happy to hear that the largest collection of them resides here, while there are more Italian renaissance pieces here than anywhere outside of Italy. To top it all off, the museum is completely free to enter!

To get here from Serpentine, take the main road south in the park to the southern exit, and head straight onto Exhibition Road. Take a left on Thurloe Place and you will find the museum on your left – in all, it is a 15-minute walk.

Royal Albert Hall

This iconic venue is probably one of the most famous in London, holding over 5,000 seats and hosting over 350 events a year, including classical gigs, sports, award ceremonies, ballet, opera, charity performances and community events. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, this stage has seen some of the biggest names in the world grace it, and now you can walk around this historic place.

Most notably, the venue is where The Proms concerts have been held every summer since 1941, and the Grade I listed site is in itself an attraction, with its stunning architectural designs and spectacular mosaic friezes. Be sure to check online what may be playing during your visit as you can incorporate a show into your itinerary.

The Royal Albert Hall is on the same route as the V&A – when you have left the park, take a right onto Kensington Road and you will see the site on your left.

Institute of Contemporary Arts

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is a cultural centre that is situated in Nash House. Boasting galleries, two cinemas, a bookshop, bar and a theatre, you can easily spend a whole day just checking out the various productions and exhibitions.

Recent exhibits include The Remote Control, which looked at the influence of television on contemporary art, and works by Billy Childish, Pablo Bronstein and Mark Leckey.

To get here, it is a 40-minute walk. Walk through Hyde Park until you reach the Hyde Park Corner station, and then walk up the Mall and it's there.

If you need a place to stay for your trip, there are so many hotels near Serpentine Gallery that you simply will be spoilt for choice.

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Chase the Butterflies in the Glasshouse

All year round, the Glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley is a dazzling spectacle, brimming with tall palms, lush leaves, blooming florals and tree ferns releasing luscious aromas into the air. However, it is in January that the glasshouse becomes truly alive as hundreds of butterflies are released into the jungle-esque environment.

Running until March 8th, the scheme allows visitors to come up close and personal with various varieties of the inset, including the mighty 'Gladiators', the Giant Owl, the Malay Lacewing, Blue Morpho and the King Swallowtail. The butterflies will be feeding on the nectar plants in the greenhouse, while a puparium will be on display to highlight how creepy caterpillars can be transformed into majestic creatures.

Furthermore, there will be special themed craft workshops running for half term holidays, between February 14th and 22nd, where your little ones can learn more about these fascinating animals, all while having loads of fun in the process.

Entry is included with the admission, which is £11.55 for adults, £4.95 for children and £29.70 for a family of two adults and two children.

If you want to learn further about the various animals which call this intricate planet home, take the kids to the free Natural History Museum. It’s full of massive animals fossils and dinosaur bones, need we say more? There are loads of intriguing exhibitions on that will quench the intellectual thirst of even the most curious children. The cocoon and the creepy crawly research section are bound to go down well with the kids and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year display is always a popular favourite with families.

If you need a place to stay for your visit, consider the comfortable and luxurious Montcalm hotels – they are affordable while also giving you easy access to both the RHS Garden Wisley and Natural History Museum.

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Take a tour of the iconic Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium is undoubtedly one of the most famous stadiums in the world, and you have the chance to explore all the hidden rooms and tunnels for yourself!

Take a tour around the stadium, which will see you enter England's changing rooms, walk in the steps of giants through the players' tunnel, stand in front of the Royal Box with The FA Cup, and be able to walk the hallowed turf itself. There is also a special FA150 Exhibition, which celebrates the long history of The FA – highlights to look out for here include the 1966 Jules Rimet Trophy – aka the winning World Cup – and the Original Rules of Association Football dating back to 1863.

We've all dreamed of walking on the pitch of Wembley Stadium, and now you can by booking onto a tour. Tickets cost from £16 for adults, and £9 for children and concessions. Groups of over 30 individuals are eligible for a 15 per cent discount. Tours depart hourly from 10am to 4pm, and is open every day except December 25th and 26th, January 1st and major event days. For more information on rates, discounts and opening times, check out the official website.

If football is not really your thing, the stadium also hosts regular large-scale concerts – and with the likes of Coldplay, Take That and the Rolling Stones all having played here; who knows who you will light up the stage next? Some world-class acts have played at this historic venue so check the website for full listings.  Whatever you decide to do at the stadium, be sure to consider your accommodation options in London early to avoid any disappointment.

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Flying high – aviation museums in London

If you are into your aviation, you're in luck, as London has a wealth of plane-centric attractions that offer a further insight into this nation's fascinating history up in the skies – here are a few of our top picks.

Royal Air Force Museum

Known as just the RAF Museum, this site is situated on the former Hendon Aerodrome and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. Spanning five major buildings and hangars, the museum is home to 36 aircraft openings and is the result of an increasingly-expanding collection from various smaller RAF museums across the country. In total, there are over 100 aircraft, including one of the only two surviving Vickers Wellingtons in the world, the Avro Lancaster S-Sugar, the only Boulton Paul Defiant on the planet, and a Consolidated B-24 Liberator from Cosford.

The five main exhibition halls are focused on Milestones of Flight, The Bomber Hall, Historic Hangars, The Battle of Britain and the Grahame-White factory. There is also an interesting National Cold War display that houses all three of the V Bombers.

Note that if you still haven't got your aviation fix filled after this, there is a second collection of exhibits housed at RAF Cosford, just five miles north-west of Wolverhampton.

The British Airways Heritage Collection

Since British Airways was founded, so was this heritage collection, with its aim being to preserve the records and artefacts of the company. There is an extensive archive of memorabilia, objects, models, pictures and uniforms dating back to the 1930s.

Based at the airline's Head Office building, the two floors are home to displays talking about the early days of the company, the Air Transport Auxiliary, a memorial case to aircrew, information about Concorde and various strangely-decorated tailfins.  

The ATA Museum

The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) site in Maidenhead tells the honours and fights of the ATA, especially with so many men and women being employed to fly wat planes between front line squadrons and factories. Even 70 years on, this can be an emotional affair, and with the ATA's headquarters airfield being just two miles from the Maidenhead Heritage Centre, this place is home to one of the biggest collections of ATA records in the world.

These ordinary civilians achieved extraordinary feats as they had to serve their country, and you can learn about individual stories here. For the little ones, there is a spitfire simulator and it is recommended that children take a 15-minute trip on it, while adults can go on it for 30 minutes. Do note that booking in advance is suggested.

Croydon Airport Visitor Centre

Yes, you read that correctly. You can explore an information centre at Croydon airport. Why? Well, this site actually housed the first international terminal in the world until it eventually shut down in 1959. It was here that Amy Johnson made her famous solo flight to Darwin in Australia over 60 years ago. More information on this flight and all others launched from here can be seen at the visitor centre, situated in the control tower.

There is a gift store if you want to buy a special souvenir to remember your trip by, while interactive displays are sure to keep the little ones amused. Tickets are £2 for adults, £1 for concessions and free for children.

Imperial War Museum

If you want a much wider view on aviation and its role in warfare, head with the kids to the Imperial War Museum. You and the kids will learn much more about various historical conflicts such as the World Wars, the Korean War and Vietnam, while you will be able to see how modern aircrafts quickly replaced more traditional methods of weaponry.

This place is so big that you can easily spend a whole day here, and if you want more, there are another two branches in London. Whether it is photos, film, oral history recordings, art collections or military vehicles, there is sure to be something here to suit all tastes.

If you are looking to visit the capital city soon, be sure to book yourself into one of the many London hotels available. You may be flying high at any of these attractions but you will need somewhere to crash your head at night!

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Roam London via helicopter

While the views from the London Eye and The Shard are nothing but spectacular (how could they not be in such a beautiful city?), there is another way in which you can really see the London skyline in all its glory, with both landmarks visible also!

How is that possible you say? Well, a trip on the London helicopter is exactly how and we can’t even begin to tell you just how worthwhile it is – not only is it a rather exhilarating and thrill-seeking way to sightsee, but there is no other way to get such astounding views of the city.

The London Helicopter offers a number of trips which begin with London Buzz for 12 minutes, which takes you over the main landmarks in central London, London Sights, which lasts for 18 minutes and flies you from the West to the East of the River Thames. London Max lasts for 30 minutes and is only available through private hire, but offers you more time to take in the breathtaking views of the capital. It is also worth looking to take a helicopter ride at dusk so that you can see London as it lights up at night, which is a truly magical experience.

See London from a different perspective through a helicopter tour and you will fall in love even more with the wonderful city. Fly above Buckingham Palace and see if you can spot the Queen and give her a wave before taking in the wonderful Victoria Memorial – the sheer size of it is magnified from above!

The Royal Albert Hall is an iconic building which is completely unmissable from an aerial view, as its red bricked round-shape really stands out as it faces the Albert Memorial.

Have your cameras ready as you head down the River Thames and try to make out the shape for the opening credits of Eastenders. This view is just phenomenal as you fly past the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Battersea Power Station to name but a view.

Make sure to really take in the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the air as it really is so fascinating to see such an historic building set among a rather modern part of the city. Its dome is particularly stunning and well worth taking in from above.

Why not try and see if you can spot fellow thrill seekers crossing the new glass walkway on the Tower Bridge? If you are lucky you may be able to spot a boat passing underneath it too! With the HMS Belfast just before it, this is one of the greatest views of the city that you will ever see.

Feel powerful as you rise even higher than The Shard and see for yourself just how tall and impressive the tall building is before comparing it with the Gherkin, which may be slightly smaller, but nevertheless is just as impressive to see!

The Financial District as a whole is a mighty sight and one which really conveys the economical importance of the capital.

Taking to the skies of London in a helicopter really is a phenomenal experience and one that should not be passed upon. After all, it is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity and you can tell your friends and family that you genuinely did get the best view of London! It is also a very rewarding way to experience and take in the different perspectives of some of the greatest and most recognised landmarks in the world.

If you don’t fancy getting quite that high up in the air while visiting London, then the London Eye is another great option and offers views that spread far and wide across the city. Each rotation of it takes 30 minutes, which gives you enough time to soak in the atmosphere and feel of London. From here you have fantastic views across the River Thames of the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Canary Wharf and St Paul’s Cathedral, to name but a few.

The London Eye also offers a fantastic 4D Experience which allows you to discover London through a variety of multisensory special effects. From bubbles, wind and smell, your senses will be heightened and London will be brought to life in a very unique and exciting way.

As the tallest building in London, it only makes sense that the views from The Shard are out of this world – we have heard that you even get a fantastic view of the city from the toilets! The building itself stands at 310 metres tall and offers three viewing platforms – each of which promise you some jaw dropping sights. If you are really brave, try the open-air floor on Level 72!

The View from The Shard offers you fabulous views of Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and Battersea Power Station to name but a few, and should you have the chance to do so, try and experience it at night.

Of course, if all of the above options give you a dose of vertigo, then play it safe and go for a London tradition by sitting on the top deck of a double decker red bus! We won’t lie, the view isn’t a birdseye one, but it certainly is fun and by touring through the streets of London you will learn so much more about the city than you ever thought possible. It is also a great way to discover areas that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought to have visited otherwise and while it isn’t the same as seeing the city from the sky, the view is still amazing.

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Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre announces next season

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is an experience that is completely unmissable and one that you will remember for life. Not only is it award-winning, but it has also become something of a London landmark, which sees hundreds flock every … Continue reading

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Romantic London Hotels with Five-Star Room Service

If you are planning your honeymoon in London, you have to make sure that you stay in one of the best hotels in London. There are many options from which you can choose, but one of the best hotels is … Continue reading

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Watch films while mingling with the stars at Madame Tussauds

London has always been a good place for a bit of star-spotting, with many of the world’s biggest A-list celebs either living or hanging out in the city. Of course, if you don’t manage to track any down then there’s … Continue reading

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Step into the world of Sherlock Holmes in London

Ever since Arthur Conan Doyle first introduced the world to Sherlock Holmes at the end of the 19th century, the famous sleuth has remained at the forefront of popular culture, solving mysteries both on the page and the screen, and captivating readers and audiences around the globe.

However, while Holmes and his sidekick Watson may have a reputation for being able to crack even the toughest of cases, the fact remains that the characters remain somewhat shrouded in mystery themselves, with very few people being aware of the detective's background.

For instance, what inspired Conan Doyle to create him, and what elements of Victorian society is he supposed to represent.

The good news is that all will be revealed later this year, thanks to a fantastic new exhibit at the superb Museum of London, dedicated entirely to Sherlock Holmes.

Opening on October 17th and running for six months, the display will transport visitors back to Victorian London, enabling them to step into the world of the famous detective and discover exactly what it is that makes him tick.

Using photography, early film, paintings and original artefacts, the exhibit – which is the first to focus exclusively on Sherlock Holmes in more than 60 years – aims to shed light on the influences which led Arthur Conan Doyle to create the crime-solving duo.

At the same time, the display will attempt to enlighten visitors as to how Holmes has remained so popular even to this day, by indicating the ways in which he relates to our lives and appeals to our imaginations, more than a century after he was first created.

The Museum of London is located within the so-called Square Mile of the City of London, and is surrounded by a number of Victorian buildings that provide the perfect backdrop to a journey into the world of Sherlock Holmes.

It is also easily accessible from many of London's top hotels, so there really is no excuse not to visit when this fantastic exhibit is on.

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Selfridges Christmas store already up and running

London is a fantastic place to be if you’re a shopaholic at all times of year, although even the most obsessed retail fanatic probably wouldn’t dream of starting their Christmas shopping in August. However, if you do fancy getting a … Continue reading

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Step into a mind-altering world at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens has long been considered a world leader when it comes to botanical knowledge and research, and is the place to be if you like the idea of discovering the most exotic plants and ecosystems on the planet without … Continue reading

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