Did you know that the term ‘London Bridge’ doesn’t just refer to the globally-renowned bridge across the Thames, but also to the important district that lies nearby?
Indeed, the London Bridge area is filled with stylish places to go and great things to do, ensuring it’s somewhere well worth visiting if you’re staying relatively nearby at 4 star hotels Hyde Park. But, as for the bridge itself, what’s all the fuss about? Why should an area of London get named after it?
Well, originally, Roman-era timber bridges stood on the ‘London Bridge’ site, until a famed medieval structure built from stone stood there for around six centuries (on which stood many wooden buildings, too). That is, up until the 19th Century, when this bridge was replaced by a stone-arched effort, which itself was replaced in 1973 by today’s box girder bridge. To that end, then, ‘London Bridge’ is therefore the oldest and most renowned of the city’s many bridges across the Thames.
So, the district directly to the south of London Bridge is a bustling, vibrant area that’s not just full of office workers and commuters (thanks to the district’s major railway station), but also full of visitors and entertainment-seekers. Not at all surprising that, though, because it’s also an area packed full of attractions…
Surely the district’s most popular attraction over the last decade or so, Borough Market is renowned far and wide as London’s premier destination for foodies. The aromas, tastes and purchases to be enjoyed here are absolutely second to none; so much so that many millions of visitors have, over the years, flocked to this food and beverage-focused venue from all over the globe. Yes, it’s true, the goodies to be enjoyed come lunchtime – or brunch-time at the weekend – can be on the pricey side, but the flavours are delicious and the assorted eateries, bars and pubs, in addition to all the stalls, are highlights, indeed.
An ever-increasingly popular attraction, this cloud-piercing skyscraper is far from just an impressively designed office building. At its summit is a floor designated for non-business visitors offering perfect panoramas of the city way below. Filled out, too, with bars, restaurants and more, it’s an ideal venue for an evening of cool cocktails, a meal with an unbeatable view or an unforgettable date night.
The Tower of London
London’s oldest and most historically resonant attraction, the Tower effectively dates all the way back to the reign of William of Conqueror, more than a millennium ago. Another of the capital’s most visited venues, it’s played varied roles throughout its long, illustrious history; a fortification, a palace, a prison and execution site, a menagerie of exotic animals and an army barracks.
Also home to the Crown Jewels (technically the property of The Queen herself), as well as many other artefacts including a gigantic suit of armour made for the legendary King Henry VIII, the Tower is a must-visit for the historically inclined, not least because its guided tours courtesy of its colourfully-uniformed Yeomen of the Guard are always awesome fun – especially when preceding dinner at restaurants near Hyde Park.
The Golden Hinde
A full-sized replica of Sir Francis Drake’s original flagship in England’s Tudor navy, the Golden Hinde has, in its time, featured in several historical movies and, today, serves as a fantastic family-friendly attraction, moored in the dry-dock that’s St Mary Overie’s Dock, just off Cathedral Street. It invites visitors – especially the young on a city break at hotels near Westbourne Terrace – to dress up as Tudor shipmen and scamper all over its decks, discovering and experiencing exactly what it was like aboard such a warship centuries ago. Great fun, for sure!
Representative of a much later era of naval history than the Golden Hinde, this battleship moored on the South Bank enjoys a likewise heroic status, though, dating back, as it does, to both the Second World War and the Korean War. Operated by London’s Imperial War Museum, it enables visitors to go below-decks for a learning experience of the impressive technological might that was a mainstay of 20th Century naval warfare.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum
Located on the original site of St Thomas’s Hospital (which is nowadays a major NHS hospital in the nearby Waterloo area), this Victorian-era venue remains in situ in order to educate visitors in the history and evolution of surgery. For it was here that, just under 200 years ago, major surgeries took place before a gallery of watching students – before the existence of anaesthetic. Barbaric? Not back then; it was an era when amputations were performed in seconds to cause the least amount of pain possible. A fascinating, if slightly grisly but very educational attraction.
Following the conversion of a former bankside wharf into an airy, glass-roofed space in the, Hay’s Galleria was born and is today an appealing indoor area of boutiquey shops, restaurants, bars and more. All of which is ideal when the weather turns a little foul. It’s also home to The Navigators, David Kemp’s 60-foot-long exquisitely intricate ship sculpture. Be sure to pop in and check it out during a rain shower (and remember to pack clothes for changeable weather for your stay at Hyde Park accommodations)!
Finally, an outstanding venue, Unicorn Theatre is a space dedicated to putting on inspiring, invigorating, high-quality performances for young audiences. You’ve got to admire somewhere that’s focused on getting kids into theatre, right? Chances are, too, that if you’re looking for somewhere to entertain your young ones for a couple of hours, this place may be just the ticket – pun intended! Renowned for the interactive, compelling nature of its productions, the theatre’s building is also a modernist marvel, being a RIBA-award-winning creation. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.