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Guide to West London

When it comes to dividing London up into north, south, east and west, things can get a little complicated, particularly when you consider that much of what is considered to be ‘central’ London is actually officially part of ‘west’ London.  A quick internet search of central London attractions will show you a whole host of ways to keep yourselves occupied and so for the purpose of this guide we will stick to those areas which are commonly associated with the west and the attractions which can be found there.

Kensington

South Kensington is the place to head if you want to inject a little bit of culture into your time in London.  It is the home of several world class museums including the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Perhaps rather apt then, that the main road through Kensington was given the name ‘Exhibition Road’.  As well as these three big names, you will also find Hyde Park nearby which is home to the Serpentine Galleries as well as a number of outdoor activities including horse riding, swimming in the lido and boating up the Serpentine Lake.  There are a number of children’s playgrounds here too.  In terms of accommodation, you will find a great choice in Kensington, such as the BW Premier Park Grand London Kensington.  This would be an ideal choice if you wanted to stay somewhere fairly accessible and central to the rest of the city.  The Royal Albert Hall is also situated nearby and is well worth walking past, even if you don’t have tickets to one of the internationally acclaimed shows which take place within its walls.

Chelsea

Together with Kensington, Chelsea forms the Royal Borough and it is to Chelsea you want to head if you prefer art galleries over museums.  The Saatchi Gallery is here, home to new and fresh contemporary works of art, as well as the Michael Hoppen Gallery and the Little Black Gallery too.

Notting Hill

Considered to be one of the trendiest places in the city, this area was largely boosted to fame by the film sharing the same name.  If you are a fan of Notting Hill the movie then be sure to take a wander around and see if you can spot some of the places where the more iconic scenes were shot.  There is plenty to recommend Notting Hill aside from just being the location of a classic romantic comedy however; the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising is here which offers an interesting look at over 12,000 items.  If that doesn’t float your boat then there are numerous chic coffee shops, bookstores and independent boutiques to capture your interest instead as well as the Electric Cinema if you want to try something a little bit different.  Then, of course, there is the Notting Hill festival which takes place every August bank holiday and draws millions of visitors from across the world.  Think calypso music, bright clothing and lots and lots of people and you’ve just about scratched the surface.

Lambeth

You will find the quaint area of Lambeth just across the river from the Houses of Parliament and although it doesn’t generally feature on ‘must visit’ lists it is actually home to some rather lovely and interesting museums.  The Florence Nightingale Museum, set in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital can be found in Lambeth and takes a wonderful look back at Florence Nightingale’s life, her work in the Crimean War and what she did for the nursing profession as a whole.  There are even some of Florence Nightingale’s personal artefacts on display.  Just a little further on from the Florence Nightingale Museum is the Garden Museum which is housed in what was once St Mary’s Church.  There is a beautiful and tranquil garden, and lots of displays which follow the history of gardening for those who are interested.  The London Aquarium and the London Eye are also all within a short distance as is Lambeth Palace, which has been the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century.  Guided tours of the palace are available, but it is worth booking in advance for these to avoid disappointment.

Richmond

Richmond is worth visiting for the park alone, which is the largest of the eight royal parks and the biggest enclosed space in London.  It is also home to herds of red and fallow deer.  Pembroke Lodge and the Isabella Plantation are also tucked away inside the park and Isabelle Plantation is particular offers a wonderfully tranquil retreat for those who want to find a bit of breathing space within the city.  Nearby, just south of Richmond you can also find Hampton Court Palace which was once the residence of the famous Henry VIII and which is now home to stunning 60 acre gardens and one of the biggest mazes in the world.  Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby is also located here as is the London Wetland Centre, Richmond Theatre and Orleans House Gallery.

Kew

Kew is perhaps most well known for its association with the botanical gardens and that is certainly the biggest draw of the area.  Situated within the gardens is Kew Palace which is a lovely representation of a Georgian palace and is, indeed, where George III made his home alongside his queen and their 15 children.  Kew is located very near to Richmond making a visit to both areas possible within one day.  Within Kew you can also discover the London Museum of Water and Steam, the Musical Museum and nearby Strawberry Hill House.

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