Choosing Paddington as the base for your Central London stay is a wise choice, indeed. Why? Here are just six superb reasons…
A large, white triumphal arch, constructed in 1827 (so a few short years before Queen Victoria ascended to the British throne), Marble Arch is an iconic feature of London. Originally erected just outside Buckingham Palace, it was incongruously relocated to its present position on the north-eastern corner of Hyde Park in 1851; near, in fact, the one-time site of the ‘Tyburn Gallows’, where public executions took place for more 400 years up to the end of the 18th Century.
St. Sophia’s Cathedral
(Moscow Road W2 4LQ)
Just a few steps away from Bayswater Tube station (and so just a quick walk from the Park Grand hotel Paddington), this Greek Orthodox cathedral features a Byzantine revival design – ensuring it contains a quite spectacularly colourful interior and stunning domed roof – and was consecrated in 1882. Nowadays, while it holds regular services at the weekend, it’s also home to a Greek polyphonic choir and beguiling Byzantine music performances.
The largest of Central London’s Royal Parks, this 142-hectare space is home to a vast array of flora and fauna and great for a ramble through nature and to prop yourself against a tree for some quiet book/ e-book- time or a nap, but also where you can enjoy boating on the serene Serpentine lake or a spot of horse-riding – whatever your level of competence. Be sure to try and book a room at the Park Grand Westbourne Terrace that’s just a stone’s throw away if you can – you’ll savour a daily jaunt into its glorious green universe.
Essentially a continuation of Hyde Park (the two are split by the Serpentine), Kensington Gardens is nonetheless considered a separate park and, to that end, has its own distinct feel – an even more family-focused space. Why? Well, there’s the magic offered by the hunt-and- you’ll-eventually-find-it Peter Pan statue, the stylish artworks of the Serpentine Galleries, the friendly, feedable wildfowl of the Round Pond and, best of all, the magisterial kids’ indulgence that’s the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground – complete with its giant, (again) Peter Pan-themed pirate ship-climbing frame. The Peter Pan connection? The titular boy hero’s creator J. M. Barrie liked to take walks in the Gardens and used it as a location in his stories.
At the western end of the Gardens lies this, one of the most famous of Royal palaces. It owes its fame to its inhabitants, past and present – today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and, in years gone by, the Princesses Diana and Margaret. As a tourist attraction, it’s renowned for its digital and interactive presentations and audio sequences, which combine to enhance the gowns, furniture and other memorabilia on display from the hugely extensive Royal Collection.
Finally, something of a cheat – for ‘Albertopolis’ is actually a stretch of South Kensington (just south of Kensington Gardens) that, encompassing the fantastic family-friendly attractions that are the Royal Albert Hall, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, is a real bumper patch of London that’s totally brilliant for tourists of all ages. Who could ask for more, really!