Fancy a continental European experience without even leaving the British Isles? You’re in luck!
Just north of Paddington – the home of the fantastic Park Grand Paddington Hotel – is the peaceful little area affectionately known as Little Venice. Why? It’s home to a serene canal network, full of narrowboat cruises travelling between Little Venice and Camden Lock. So it’s no surprise that it’s popular with tourists and London locals alike, as it offers a spot of relaxation and reflection in an otherwise bustling city.
If you’re heading to the capital soon and want to know more about this area, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a mini Little Venice guide full of the top things you need to know.
Fun facts and local history
It’s always good to start with a little info about the area. Here are some history pointers and fun facts to impress your travel companions with:
- A popular myth with the locals goes that the name Little Venice was first coined by the English poet Robert Browning, who was a resident in the area between 1862 and 1887. Consequently, the lagoon where the two canals join is named Browning’s Pool after him. However, it’s largely regarded that it was, in fact, the notorious Romantic poet Lord Byron who satirically used the term to describe the area.
- Famous past residents of Little Venice include code-breaker and computer science trailblazer Alan Turing, whose story was adapted into the Oscar-winning film The Imitation Game. A blue plaque marks the spot in which he was born.
- Over 700,000 tourists visit Little Venice every year!
- In August 2008, British Waterways licensed London’s first paddle-powered water taxi on the Regent’s Canal. These new ‘canal cabbies’ are fairly similar to the gondolas associated with the Italian city.
- Little Venice is a ward of the City of Westminster.
As with most of the city’s hot spots, getting to and from Little Venice is really easy, and it’s well connected both by public transport and on foot if you fancy a scenic walk from Park Grand Paddington Hotel.
From our hotel in Paddington, you can either jump on the Bakerloo line to Warwick Avenue Station, hop on the No. 42 bus to Warwick Avenue (Stop K) or walk 8-10 minutes. The choice is yours.
There’s also a daily waterbus service that operates from Little Venice eastwards around Regent’s Park, stopping off at London Zoo and carrying on towards Camden Town.
Coming from elsewhere in the city? Little Venice is also served by one tube station, Warwick Avenue which is on the Bakerloo Line, and by the No. 6, 46, 187 and 414 bus services.
What to do
There are lots of great things to do in the area to help you while away a dreamy afternoon. Here are just some of our favourites:
- The Canal Cafe Theatre: award-winning Canal Café Theatre has been just on the edge of the Regent’s Canal since the 1970s. It is a celebrated comedy, cabaret and theatre venue and during its lifetime, it has helped launch some of the biggest names in comedy. Names who launched their careers here include the likes of John Oliver to the League of Gentlemen to Miranda Hart. Other famous comedians who have appeared here include Eddie Izzard, The Mighty Boosh, Catherine Tate and Dara O’Briain. Back in 2002, in-house production of Lucky Stiff made records by being the single Fringe Theatre production to be nominated in the Whatsonstage Awards for Best Musical Revival. This 60 seat theatre is based above the lovely Bridge House Pub, which is ideal for pre and post-show dining and drinks.
- Wildlife spotting: you’re sure to see all sorts of nature surviving and thriving among London’s historic canals – moorhens, coots, grebes, tufted ducks, pochard, greylag and Egyptian Geese to name a few, as well as the usual animals like swans and ducks.
- Boat or gondola tours: as mentioned above, Little Venice has a surprising presence of gondolas, just like ‘Big’ Venice. You’ll find gondolas moored at the main intersection of Regent’s and Grand Union canals. If you want something a little more typically British, you could book one of the area’s top canal boat tours. Keep your eyes peeled – there are even themed ones, such as a Great Gatsby 1920s-style option!
- Shop ‘til you drop: it wouldn’t be a list of things to do in London if we didn’t include some great shops to check out, would it?! Clifton Road is the area’s nearest and chicest shopping street, home to the likes of Absolute Flowers, Sheepdrove Organic Butchers, greengrocer Clifton Greens, Raoul’s Deli, Baker and Spice and The Winery. Nearby Joujou & Lucy stocks cute and often cool children’s clothes. On the beautiful Formosa Street is Pipa, a kids’ boutique selling everything your little ones could possibly want.
Where to eat and drink
There are loads of great bars, cafes and restaurants near Paddington and Little Venice. Get your fill of these:
- Park Grand Paddington: looking for an exquisite afternoon tea nearby? This option is an obvious favourite for both guests and locals thanks to our delicious and extensive menu and the sophisticated, stylish surroundings. A great way to start or end your day.
- Waterside cafe: possibly the most famous place in the area to refuel, the Waterside cafe is the first and original floating cafe in London. Enjoy all the classic British favourites from cream teas to lovely light lunches.
- Perfect place for a picnic: why not beat the crowds at the local eateries and have a truly English experience – a picnic?! Take your picnic hamper and enjoy the sunshine encircled by flowers in the nearby Rembrandt Gardens – just watch out for the swans and geese!
- The Warwick Castle: exploring is thirsty work. Head to the Warwick Castle to enjoy their traditional surroundings as you enjoy a well-earned pint or two and a hearty snack from their authentic menu. If you’re heading to the city in the winter, you’ll be pleased to know this pub has a cosy log fire!
- Toast: fancy a coffee instead of a pint? Then head to Toast for some of the city’s best coffee to up your caffeine levels, alongside some typical (and tasty) breakfast and lunch options, as well as baked goods.
That wraps up our Little Venice guide, leaving you with all the information you need to get a taste of Italy right here in London, with the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel as your base. Book now!