London has a multitude of phenomenal places to visit and a must for any tourist is Lancaster Gate. Situated in the heart of Central London, in the district of Bayswater, it has a tube station with train running on the Central Line amidst parks, museums, restaurants and shops.
One of its most famous attributes is that it is just north of Kensington Gardens, which has Royal Park status. This means that it is a very special park indeed. It is home to the Albert Memorial, located in the south of the park. This is one of the most ornate statues in London, which serves as a memorial of the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. On sunny days the memorial glistens due to the high quality of the bronzework.
Kensington Gardens has a large recreational lake called The Long Water, which joins to the Serpentine in Hyde Park. The boundary between Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park is the Serpentine Bridge, which also marks the boundary of these two bodies of water. The Long Water was made famous by Sir James. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, as in the story it is where Peter landed after flying out of his nursery window. There is a statue of Peter Pan on that very spot, gifted by Sir James himself; a great find for children who are reading the story and want to capture the magic of the boy who didn’t grow up.
Kensington Gardens’ most iconic feature is Kensington Palace, the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also home to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Anyone who has an interest in Britain’s Royal Family can visit the Palace during opening hours, or even hire some of the rooms for Wedding receptions. The late Princess Diana also had apartments within the Palace. To commemorate her life, a large children’s playground was unveiled in July 2000, next to the Elfin Oak which has been on display since 1930.
To the north of Kensington Gardens, a short walk from Lancaster Gate tube station, lies the Italian Gardens. This 150 year old formal ornamental water garden is breathtaking. The design is influenced by the gardens at Osbourne House in the Isle of Wight, known to be Queen Victoria’s favourite house and legend says that the London gardens were a present to the Queen from her beloved Albert. Knowing how much Victoria loved Osbourne House, it is not surprising that Albert wanted to create a piece of it in the capital for her.
Lancaster Gate is surrounded by an enormous amount to see and do, far too much for one day or even a weekend. The Park Grand Lancaster Gate Hotel is conveniently located a short distance away from the tube station, making it an excellent base for any visitor that wants to explore the area, without having to spend a fortune on transport. After spending the day exploring the vicinity, there is nothing better than sleeping in one of the luxurious rooms in the hotel.
Staying at Park Grand Lancaster Gate Hotel
After a restful night, take a gentle southerly walk through Kensington Gardens, across the Serpentine Bridge and down on to Exhibition Road. Here, visitors will find three of the most famous London museums: The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Each of these are superb for adults and children alike, with each museum offering something different from its neighbours. Entry is free to all three museums, although there are some exhibitions that carry a fee and require booking, so it is worth checking before visiting.
Hidden away on Kensington Road, which is just off Exhibition Road, lies one of London’s most famous venues: The Royal Albert Hall. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in London, world famous for the concerts, shows and galas performed under the gigantic dome. This British institution is a clear reminder of Victorian grandeur at its finest and even if tickets to it sell-out performances are like gold dust, it is worth taking a stroll just to have a look at this amazing building.
London is full of curiosities and Lancaster Gate is no exception. In Leinster Gardens, which is a street and not an actual garden, there is something that can truly be described as an illusion and what a great one it is, for numbers 23 and 24 do not exist, even though the building is there. By looking closely at the windows it suddenly becomes apparent that they are painted on. This is because numbers 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens are known as fake houses. During the building of the line between Paddington and Bayswater in the 19th Century, the real houses were demolished. However to stay in-keeping with the area, a 5ft thick wall was built and painted to look like the houses had remained intact. Behind the wall lies an area of railway track exposed to the outside. This became quite useful as the trains could use this area to vent, ensuring that the tunnels did not become intoxicated with steam and smoke from the engines.
One of the more unsavoury areas of London is found not too far away in Sussex Gardens. Like Leinster Gardens, this is a street not a garden and over the years has gained a bit of a reputation as London’s Red Light District, so it may be worth avoiding this area at night time.
Lancaster Gate has so much to offer to London’s visitors, whether it’s spending a lazy day in the park or soaking up the atmosphere of music venues and museums. Either way, it’s a rather special place.