Historic Royal London

There are few cities as rich with royal history as London. With so much to see and do, here are a few of Julie Falconer's (from A Lady in London) favourite Royal London must-sees.

Day one

On day one, I start my trail in South East London, dropping my bags at the Premier Inn in Greenwich and making my first stop the stunning Royal Observatory in Greenwich, one of the most famous sites in London from both a historic and astronomical perspective. 

The location of the Prime Meridian, the observatory has a great collection of historic navigational instruments that brings the history of the place to life. Like many of the visitors to this amazing space, I can’t but help stand on the meridian line for a classic photo. Greenwich has been used as a location for many Hollywood films, for example, Thor, which was filmed at the Old Royal Naval College close by.

Next, I head for beautiful Greenwich Park and soak up the greenery whilst admiring an uninterrupted view of London from the top of the hill, before carrying on my journey by boat. Feeling a bit peckish, I sometimes take a detour through Greenwich Market on my way to the river. The covered market is famous for its food stalls, which sell freshly cooked street food from all over the world. From Indian curry to Argentinian empanadas, you’re sure to find something delicious! 

My appetite sated, I jump on the Thames Clipper from Greenwich to Tower Millennium Pier, passing through financial centre Canary Wharf and the towering office blocks of the City.

Here, it’s onto dry land to explore one of London’s most visited attractions, the Tower of London. An historic palace, it houses everything from the crown jewels to a great collection of armor. The Tower is also famous for being used as a prison where Anne Boleyn and other historical figures were held until their release or execution. Act like an in-the-know local and come after hours to witness the enchanting Ceremony of the Keys, the traditional locking up of the Tower of London that has taken place every night, without fail, for over 700 years. Tickets are free, but must be pre-booked.

After a day of sightseeing I take my weary legs back to Greenwich and enjoy a view of the twinkling Thames from The Cutty Sark Tavern (4-6 Ballast Quay, London SE10 9PD) and refuel with a traditional pint and one of their delicious scotch eggs or pork pies – not to be missed. 

Day two

After a glorious night’s sleep and a traditional full English breakfast to fuel me for the day, I leave the Premier Inn in Greenwich. It’s time to descend into the buzz of the London tube system and journey to Piccadilly Circus to Fortnum & Mason. It has held many Royal Warrants over the past 150 years, and today the department store is known for its incredible food halls, which sell everything ranging from fine teas, fine wines to fresh produce. I always pause here to enjoy afternoon tea in the stunning tearoom on the top floor. Most people don’t realise it’s there, so it’s lovely and quiet, but it serves one of the most classic teas in the city.

I then take a regal stroll down Piccadilly and through Green Park to the London residence of the Queen, Buckingham Palace. It’s famous for the changing of the guard ceremony and annual summer opening. Each year the palace has a special exhibition for visitors to enjoy on their tour of the state apartments and gardens. What I like to do is nip into the Queen’s Gallery, a great hidden gem of a museum tucked away next to the Palace, which hosts a series of rotating exhibitions from the Royal Collection throughout the year. It’s a must for art lovers.

If the weather is on my side, I hop on a conveniently located Boris bike’s and cycle through Green Park and Hyde Park to the Albert memorial in Kensington Gardens. It is a striking Victorian memorial that pays homage to Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, Prince Albert. The Gothic Revival-style memorial was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and opened to public viewing in 1872. I park up my bike, head to the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen for a quick coffee stop, and share my sandwich with the ducks on the lake.  
Or if I’m after a different kind of refreshment, a hidden local gem is The Queen's Arms pub, tucked away on Queen's Gate Mews and just steps away from the memorial in South Kensington. Perfect for a pint!

If I’m lucky, I will end my day with dinner at Mosimann’s in Belgravia, a short walk from Hyde Park and one of the only restaurants in London with a Royal Warrant. Because Premier Inn hotels are so conveniently located, I head to the Victoria hotel as my resting place for the night - just moments away in a famous London black cab. 

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