Unsurprisingly, the Tube Hotels blog is extremely popular with foreign dignitaries, royalty, celebrities and aristocrats. Since these people will fill the majority of the pews at the April wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton, we thought it would be nice to offer a little guide to Westminster Abbey and its surroundings, so everyone knows the best hotel bars to sneak out to once the speeches begin.
Apparently first founded in 624 A.D, Westminster Abbey is a lovely big Gothic church that has long been one of the key sites of the Church of England, and a popular choice for royal burials, coronations, and (evidently) weddings. Supposedly a (possibly drunk) fisherman called Aldrich saw a vision of St. Peter on the site, and it soon became tradition for fishermen to make a gift of a salmon to the abbey every year, a tradition continued even today by the Fishmonger’s Guild. It is not known whether the vicar eats it for tea or just throws it in the bin. The Abbey is also the burial spot of, and presumably haunted by, perhaps the longest list of Great Britons ever gathered in one place. Memorials aside, those actually interned at Westminster include Edward the Confessor, Mary I, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Dr. Livingstone, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Laurence Olivier.
Things to Do Around Westminster
For those dreary few not interested in snapping photos of famous gravestones, Westminster is still a fascinating and entertaining area of central London, replete with attractions. Near the Abbey is 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, which is just five minutes walk down the road, though I’m betting those lazy Windsors will probably take the car anyway. Just a little further to the north, leave the nanny with the kids watching buskers in Covent Garden while you dash off to nearby Soho for wedding presents that may bring the smile back to Ms Middleton’s face. Across the river, things are a little calmer, and you can wander up the bank and visit London’s centres of high culture such as the Tate Modern, the National Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall and the London Aquarium.
Where to Stay
So, once Philip has finally collapsed into the punchbowl and the afterparty has ground to a halt, to which of the Westminster hotels does the weary reveller go to sleep in his shoes? Here are three of the best:
The Savoy is one of the finest Charing Cross hotels, and often the first choice for wealthy visitors to the city. As well as being something of a London landmark in its own right, the Savoy has held five stars basically since its inception, and has one of the capital’s best views over the river Thames. The newly refurbished interiors blend Edwardian and Art Deco to mesmerising effect, and the Savoy Grill has recently seen the return of Britain’s most polarising celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay.
If you’re looking for Covent Garden hotels, one of the very best is St. Martins Lane, a stunningly beautiful five star hotel with incredible design work by Philippe Starck. The cocktail bar here is somewhat legendary, and now for each cocktail there is a corresponding chocolate on Asia De Cuba’s inventive Chocolate Menu.
Finally, if you’re one of those penniless aristocrats that are so popular nowadays, you could do a lot worse than the University of Westminster’s International House. Mainly used as student accommodation, International House also doubles as a budget one star hotel, with luxurious “boxed lunches” delivered straight to your door, and shared bathroom facilities that presumably provoke friendship and camaraderie among guests. There’s a very real chance that William and Kate won’t be staying here for their honeymoon though, so please try and conceal your disappointment when you step into the shower.