Few visitors to London who discover the delights of the glorious green space that’s Hyde Park are left disappointed, but how many of them also discover the delights to be found a few minutes’ walk beyond its boundaries? Here are just four of them…
The State Apartments
(Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens W8 4PX)
Famous as the one-time home of Diana, Princess of Wales and the current London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and their children) and of Prince Harry, Kensington Palace is undoubtedly one of the most popular and most visited Royal attractions in the capital. One of the chief reasons for this is the State Apartments. Much of their interior décor dates from the Georgian era of the 18th and early 19th Centuries, such as the King’s Drawing Room where the monarch would have received patronage-seeking courtiers, while the rooms are full of wonderful works of art and some of the finest sculptures you’re ever likely to see. Examples include terracotta busts of King George II and his consort Queen Caroline, while the tapestries that hang from the walls were produced by the Mortlake Tapestry workshop, founded all the way back in the early 17th Century by King Charles I.
Serpentine Gallery/ Serpentine Sackler Gallery
(Kensington Gardens W2 3XA)
As with Kensington Palace, the fabulous Serpentine and Serpentine Sackler Galleries are ideal – and terrifically easy – venues to get to should you be staying in accommodation in the Hyde Park-Paddington area (for instance, at the likes of the Park Grand Paddington Court London hotel in Devonshire Terrace). Located in Kensington Gardens, the two contemporary art spaces fittingly take their name from the elegant lake that separates the Gardens from Hyde Park – together they attract as many as 1.2 million visitors each year. The Serpentine Gallery is housed in a Grade II-listed building that once served as a tea pavilion and tends to exhibit works by the likes of Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Henry Moore and Man Ray, while established as it was 2013, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery is a few minutes’ walk away and to be found in a Grade II*-listed gunpowder store from the 19th Century, its exhibit space complemented by a restaurant and shop.
(224-238 Kensington High Street W8 6AG)
Suitably blessing the dignified, design-friendly environs of South Kensington, this venue is celebrates the very best of the history and exciting present of design, in all its forms – industrial, graphic, fashion and architecture. You’ll find its primary, permanent display on the top-floor (‘Designer Maker User’) along with a residency studio, both of which contain and are responsible for fascinating objects and works. The ground floor’s mostly take up by a large gallery space that’s host to contemporary design exhibitions, while the building also houses auditoria, a small cinema space and learning resources (including an enormously extensive reference library). No question then, this place is simply a mecca for enthusiasts of great design.
Museum of Instruments
(Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road SW7 2BS)
Finally, one for true music lovers. Housed within the building that’s also home to the Royal College of Music, this place offers up, at any one time, a wide selection of examples from its collection of more than 1,000 musical instruments. And, make no mistake, it’s an absolutely fascinating collection too – even including, as it does, a clavicytherium, maybe the earliest extant stringed keyboard, as well as trombones once owned by the legendary 20th Century composers Gustav Holst and Edward Elgar. Additionally, you’ll discover manuscripts, letters, imagery and other assorted musical memorabilia. What a harmonious attraction!