We’re very lucky to have such an exciting capital city. In the next four pages we explore what makes it a great destination for groups – there’s even a walking tour for you to enjoy!
SIMPLY THE BEST London been named as the best city to visit in the prestigious Times, Sunday Times and Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards. It’s the fourth year in a row that London has scooped Best City, ranking ahead of New York, Venice, Paris, Sydney, Las Vegas and Dubai. Julie Chappell, Chief Digital Officer at London & Partners, who accepted the award during a ceremony at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, said: “To have won this reader nominated award for the fourth time shows that people really do love this multicultural city which offers a unique visitor experience few other places on earth can match.” A jam-packed autumn season of culture is planned in the city.Major exhibitions include the highly anticipated You say you want a Revolution at the V&A, Rodin and Dance: The Essence of Movement, at the Courtauld Gallery and South Africa: The Art of a Nation at the British Museum. To discover more, go to Visitlondon.com.
BEST IN THE WORLD A recent survey by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company found that 90 per cent of American visitors and 80 per cent of UK visitors, who’d traveled to the capital in the last two years, rated London’s cultural attractions as the best in the world. Find out about travel, accommodation, attraction and restaurant opportunities for groups at www.londonandpartners. com/travel-trade
GO BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE FORMER OLYMPIC STADIUM One of London’s newest things to do is a tour of the former Olympic Stadium. Following Team GB’s amazing medal success in Rio and West Ham United’s blazing start to their first season in their new home, the former Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has opened its doors for visitors to experience a behind the scenes tour of the iconic venue. Visitors can follow in the footsteps of sporting superstars and experience areas of the Stadium never before seen by the public, discovering the story of the London 2012 Games, West Ham United Football Club and UK Athletics. The Stadium will come alive through a 90-minute multimedia tour. Each visitor will have a hand held device that will play video and interactive content on their journey through the venue showing interviews with footballers and athletes as well as highlights from the history of the Stadium, UK Athletics and West Ham United. And of course there will be the opportunity to set foot in areas of the venue where some of sports greatest athletes have stood, including the home dressing room, the dugouts and the pitch side. www.london-stadium.com/stadium-tours
A THREE-HOUR WALK IN CHELSEA & BATTERSEA
This delightful circular walk ambles through the grounds of the Royal Hospital and across the river to Battersea Park, with its romantic Victorian landscaping. It then returns to the narrow village streets of Chelsea and the stylish shops on the King’s Road.* For more detail on sights in Chelsea and Battersea see the new DK Eyewitness Guide LONDON 2017 which includes 890 photographs, 140 illustrations, a pull-out city map and free audio walks.
SLOANE SQUARE TO BATTERSEA PARK From the station (1) turn left and walk down Holbein Plae. The Renaissance painter’s connection with Chelsea stems from his friendship with Sir Thomas More, who lived nearby. Pass the cluster of antique shops (2) as you turn on to Royal Hospital Road. Enter the grounds of the Royal Hospital (3) designed by Christopher Wren, and turn left into Ranelagh Gardens (4). The small pavilion by John Soane (5) displays a history of the area as Georgian pleasure gardens – it was the most fashionable meeting place for London society. Leave the gardens for fine views of the hospital and Grinling Gibbon’s bronze of Charles II (6). The granite obelisk (7) commemorates the 1849 battle at Chilianwalla, in what is now Pakistan, and forms the centre-piece of the main marquee at the Chelsea Flower Show. BATTERSEA PARK When crossing the Chelsea Bridge (8) (1937), look up to see four gilded galleons on top of the pillars at each end. Turn into Battersea Park (9), one of London’s liveliest, and follow the river to enjoy the excellent views of Chelsea. Turn left at the Buddhist Peace Pagoda (10) to enter the main part of the park. Past the bowling greens are Henry Moore’s sculpture of Three Standing Figures (11) (1948) and the lake, a favoured spot for wildfowl. (There
are boats for hire.) Just beyond the sculpture, head northwest and, after crossing the central avenue, fork right and make for the wooden gate into the rustic Old English Garden (12). Leave the garden by the metal gate and return to Chelsea via the Victorian Albert Bridge (13). TIPS FOR WALKERS Starting point: Sloane Square Length: 4 miles (6.5km) Getting there: Sloane Square is the nearest Tube. There are frequent buses 11, 19, 22, 349 to Sloane Square and along the King’s Road. Royal Hospital grounds are open 10am-6pm Mon-Sat, 2-6pm Sun. Stopping off points: There is a café in Battersea Park, by the lake. Cheyne Walk Brasserie, on Cheyne Walk, serves upmarket Provencal food. There are plenty of pubs, restaurants and sandwich shops to be found along the King’s Road. The Chelsea Farmers Market on Sydney Street has several cafés.THE BACKSTREETS OF CHELSEA Over the bridge is David Wynne’s sculpture of a boy and dolphin (14) (1975). Pass the sought-after residences on Cheyne Walk and the statues of historian Thomas Carlyle (15) and Sir Thomas More (16) – this area was renowned for gatherings of intellectuals. Past Chelsea Old Church (17) is Roper’s Gardens (18) with its carving by Jacob Epstein. Just beyond these is the medieval Crosby Hall (19). On Justice Walk (20) are two early Georgian houses – Duke’s House and Monmouth House. Turn left to pass the site of the Chelsea porcelain factory (21), which used to make highly fashionable (and today highly collectable) wares in the late 18th century. Glebe Place (22) has retained much of its original character. Where Glebe Place meets the King’s Road are three early 18th-century houses (23). Cross Dovehouse Green, which used to be a burial ground, to Chelsea Farmers Market (24), an enclave of cafes and craft shops. THE KING’S ROAD Leave the market on Sydney Street and cross into the garden of St Luke’s Church (25), where Charles Dickens was married in 1836. The walk then winds through quaint back streets until it rejoins the King’s Road (26), which was very fashionable in the 1960s. On the left is The Pheasantry (27). Look down the side streets on both left and right to see Wellington Square (28), then Royal Avenue (29), intended as a triumphal way to the Royal Hospital, and Blacklands Terrace (30), where book-lovers will want to visit John Sandoe’s shop. The Duke of York’s Territorial Headquarters (31) (1803) on the right – now home to the Saatchi Gallery – marks the approach to Sloane Square (32) and the Royal Court Theatre.