A reminder of the wealth of cultural attractions available to our apartments to rent in London visitors is always welcome.  A rather brilliant truth about London is that you can always find new venues to explore, many of which you never knew existed!   There are some real gems out there just waiting to be discovered, old and new and some free of charge.

Westminster Abbey Museum – a brand new gallery

Wandering around the astounding Westminster Abbey is a favourite of many of our apartments in London visitors and from 11 June 2018 you will be able to visit the brand new Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. This new addition to the Abbey will be found 16 metres up in the medieval Triforium and will display the treasures and collections of this ancient and historic place to the public for the very first time.  Not to be missed will be the excellent views out over the Palace of Westminster.

The Old Operating Theatre –  surgery in the 1800’s

This fascinating Old Operating Theatre  will be of particular interest to all fans of medical dramas, medical students and future surgeons who are renting one of our apartments in London.  You will be grateful that you live in times of reliable anaesthesia once you hear the stories told in the weekly talks held here. The theatre is located in an attic in what was once an old church in St Thomas’s Hospital and it is reached via a spiral staircase.  This is the oldest surviving theatre of it’s kind to be found in Europe.

The Order of St John Museum – ancient healing Knights and a modern charity

This ancient religious order had it’s beginnings in 11th century Jerusalem, caring for ailing pilgrims in the holy land. The international first aid charity St John’s Ambulance takes it’s name from this same order, with it’s famous cross logo. The cross was found on the robes of those first healing Knights and is now recognised as a symbol of humanitarian care.  To learn more about Shakespeare’s and Dickens’s connection to this unique museum, visit this beautiful Tudor building and enjoy a stroll around the lovely Cloister gardens.

The Old Bailey – London’s historic criminal court

The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, better known as The Old Bailey, is a fascinating and historic place.  It is one of the functioning courts of London and part of The Crown Court.  Major London criminal cases are heard here and it is open to the public, with strict security measures in place at all times.  An inscription at the entrance reads: “Defend the children of the poor and punish the wrongdoer.”  The judge is addressed as My Lord or My Lady, just in case you find yourself called on to testify!

Handel & Hendrix Museum – two of London’s musical icons!

I bet that most of our London apartment rentals visitors don’t know that the much loved German composer Friedrich Handel lived the last 40 years of his life in Mayfair and that Jimi Hendrix lived next door for a while, 200 years later!   Two lovely Georgian townhouses in marvellous Mayfair were home to these musical giants who changed music forever.  Their former homes are now a gorgeous museum where live music plays an important role. Enjoy baroque concerts, rehearsals, musical talks and late night openings here in the heart of London.

We all know Buckingham Palace with it’s famous balcony, but these other fascinating buildings in central London were royal palaces and home to a reigning monarch, once upon a time. A day trip spent visiting castles and grand country houses outside London is popular with visitors to our London apartment rentals –  it’s worth knowing that you don’t have to get on a train to find old royal residences to explore.

St James Palace – King Henry VIII’s hunting lodge and hideaway

Surprisingly, St James Palace is the most senior royal palace in London.  It lies close to the lovely St James Park and was built in the 1500’s.  This solid, red brick castle-like palace was used by King Henry VIII as a hunting lodge and an escape from royal duties. Queen Victoria married her beloved Prince Albert in the Royal Chapel here. These days, this historic royal retreat is home to various members of the royal family.

Magnificent Whitehall, Europe’s grandest palace

The name Whitehall is synonymous with politics.  This famous road runs towards Parliament Square and is the home of government.  It was named for The Palace of Whitehall which was once the most spectacular palace in Europe, rivalling The Vatican and Versailles for royal luxury and splendour. A devastating fire destroyed most of the palace in 1698, leaving only the beautiful Banqueting House to remind us of it’s past glories.

Big Ben in Westminster Palace

In the City of Westminster lies Westminster Palace, also known as the Houses of Parliament. This ancient royal palace was built in the eleventh century, named for Westminster Abbey. Once again, it was fire that destroyed part of the monarch’s home and after restoration, it became home to parliament instead. The Queen still owns this political palace and the iconic clock tower that is home to the famous bell, Big Ben, is named after her.

The Tower of London – palace turned prison

The Tower conjures up visions of damp dungeons and misery – not much palace over that!  This castle was originally built as a medieval palace, however, furnished in royal splendour and comfort for the king. Officially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, it was later used primarily as a fortress and prison. It is home to The Crown Jewels, The Beefeaters (warders of the Tower) and some very important ravens.

Buck House and a pretty palace in Kensington

Buckingham Palace was once a grand country house built by the Duke of Buckingham, known as Buckingham House. It was acquired and expanded by the royal family and Queen Victoria was the first monarch to move into the shiny new palace in 1837. The Changing of the Guard is a famous attraction for visitors to our apartments in London and as you know, if the flat is flying, the queen is home!

Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace which was also home to Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally known as Nottingham House, the building was modified by Sir Christopher Wren into one of the prettiest palaces in the capital, with the delightful Kensington Gardens alongside.  We recommend our London apartment rental tenants stroll through these much loved gardens up into Hyde Park, anytime of year.

 

London is a busy, bustling capital city in motion.  Moving around town from your London apartment rentals means joining the merry throng of people on foot, on public transport and on escalators!  Here are a few rules of the road for all you out-of-towners to help keep you alive on those mean streets and enjoying the ride.

LOOK BOTH WAYS

You can’t be too careful when crossing the road, even if you are familiar with London – it is not always clear which side traffic is passing or coming from.  For many visitors, cars drive on the “wrong” side of the road in the UK and London’s streets and one way systems are complex.  On some main crossings you will see large lettering painted on the ground telling you which way to look – the smart pedestrian looks that way first and then the other, several times.  Always find a proper crossing to use, don’t jaywalk and never cross from behind parked cars.

KEEP RIGHT

Avoid looking like a tourist and go with the flow on the escalators underground.  If you want to walk down the moving escalator, you do so on the left.  If you want to stand still and catch your breath as you descend, you do this on the right.  Anyone planting themselves firmly on the left will be told in no uncertain terms to move or be shoved aside by commuters in a hurry behind them.  Don’t come to a dead stop when you step off the escalator, either!

MIND THAT GAP

While we’re underground, here are a few things to keep in mind to help make your tube journey hassle free.  Avoid main stations at peak travel times if you can, especially if you have luggage with you. Tube train doors open automatically and it is customary to allow passengers to get off first, before you get on. The strange sounding “mind the gap” instruction means that there will be a space between the train and the platform when you are getting off, so take care and watch where you step.

BEWARE OF CYCLISTS!

If you have stayed in our apartments in London before, you may have noticed that some cyclists can be a little crazy here; it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them and be aware of them around you.  When you are crossing the road, getting out of a taxi or getting off a bus, cyclists and motorbikes may come whizzing past close by. Cyclists don’t always obey the rules of the road and sometimes cycle on the pavements (this is not allowed!)

NOW RELAX

Moving around can be a challenge for any visitor to our apartments to rent in London, especially if you are caught up in rush hour.  The delights of this great capital city make it all worthwhile however –  it’s easy to find a place of refuge away from the crowds and traffic roar.   The cultured calm of a museum or gallery can be a life saver.  Amble around at your own pace in one of the Royal parks or garden squares or enjoy an evening stroll down by the river.  Take your pick from the many cafes dotted around town; there’s a quiet corner table and a nice cup of tea waiting for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Make use of these handy apps cleverly designed to inform, educate and entertain, making your stay in London apartments more interesting and fun. Whether it’s moving around town, visiting a museum or spending the day by the Thames,  you are covered.

RIVERSIDE LONDON

Nothing as magical and fun for the whole family as a day spent river-side.  Use Riverside London to plan your day out from your London apartments in historic locations such as Southbank, London Bridge or Bankside. Find out about upcoming events by the canals, check out the best places to eat and drink as you watch the boats go by or plan a trip on a water taxi.

ABOUT THE UNDERGROUND

Visitors staying in our apartments in London find transport information particularly useful. The station master app equips you with practical and intersting facts about the underground.  This app does not plan your journey, but informs you of public facilities in stations, entrances and exits, stairs and escalators, accessibility, etc. You do not need Wifi to use it and it covers DLR and London overground, too.

RECHARGE AND CHILL OUT ON THE TOWN

Many of London’s cultural hotspots offer space for visitors to relax and recharge their batteries. Catch up on some work or just check your messages, with free Wifi and charging points in a calm and cultured environment.  The Barbican, The British Library and The Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre offer this service; now use London free wifi to find more obscure venues.

TUBE MAP JOURNEY PLANNER

This one does plan your journey. TubeMap is an award winning app from London transport that gives you real time travel information and vital updates about closures, delays and disruptions. Find the three closest underground stations to you wherever you are in town and plan the quickest and cheapest route for your next journey across town. Easy to use, also without internet connection.

NATURAL HISTORY AND MORE

Don’t just wander around London’s great museums and galleries staring open-mouthed at the wonders before you! Use a visitor’s app like this one from the Natural History Museum before you arrive and while you’re there. Find out which displays interest you most and book ahead from our apartments to rent in London and get practical and useful info about the museum cafe, shop, lifts, toilets and other public facilities.