London, and the UK, are home to many incredible buildings. Country estates, mansions and manor houses all play a massive part in our culture and history. But none are more inspiring and appealing to us than a Royal Palace or a dominating castle.
Castles offer us a glimpse into our brutal and battle strewn past- they are living testament to the history that shaped this country. Some of the greatest castles in the world can be found in Britain, From Edinburgh to Dover, and they all offer us a small window into the days of our ancestors. The Royal Palaces of the UK are in another category altogether, with many of them having been preserved, or even still in use to this day.
Now you may be thinking, “how am I supposed to make the most of my Grand Royale London Hyde Park reward scheme and get up to Edinburgh?”. Well let me tell you, some of the UK’s most remarkable palaces and castles can be found within Greater London. That’s right, the next time you are in the city making full use of your Premier Hotel membership programme, you could also be seeing the history and construction of this nation before your very eyes. Every castle and palace included on this list can be accessed easily from the city centre; if, for example, you are taking advantage of your Paddington Court Rooms Loyalty Program, then you would be within an hour of some of the greatest castles and palaces on the face of the planet! Let’s take a look:
The obvious place to start, and perhaps the most famous Palace in the world. Constructed by King George IV in the 1700s to house the Royal Family, the site itself had actually been used for Royal lodgings as far back as Henry VIII in the 1600s. This iconic building attracts tens of thousands of tourists per year. The Mall, straight as an arrow, guides people to the black and gold, wrought iron gates that keep the palace secure- where the Queen’s Guard lie in wait. If you want a real treat then try and time your visit to coincide with the Changing of the Guard Ceremony- pageantry and tradition shaped this incredible military display, and the Royal Marching Band is surely one of the best anywhere in the world.
Hampton Court Palace
This glorious palace has a lot of intriguing, and downright ridiculous history. Originally constructed in 1515, it is the embodiment of opulent Tudor fashion and style. Although many people believe that King Henry VIII had this palace constructed as his holiday home, it was actually built by Thomas Wolsley, the King’s closest advisor. Wolsley constructed the palace as a congratulatory gift to himself! Henry later seized the Palace to use as his humble weekend getaway. Today the palace stands as one of the finest anywhere in the world, the intricate brickwork and gorgeous facade are just the tip of the iceberg. With priceless art, magnificent displays and stunning gardens, you can explore these incredible halls to your heart’s content.
Kensington Palace sits slap bang in the centre of the city. Found in the Kensington district (obviously) it looks out onto the joint parks of Kensington Gardens, and Hyde Park- London’s largest green space. Originally constructed in 1605 as a two storey mansion, it has changed quite a bit. Many wings and structures have since been added to make it the gigantic and glorious building that stands today. Although no reigning monarch has lived there in 250 years, it is the home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate and Wills. Several Royal apartments, great halls and events spaces make up the incredible building, and perhaps the best thing of all is the incredible Kensington Gardens in which the Palace sits. Kensington gardens is made of several stunning gardens, and was actually the inspiration for M. Barry to write Peter Pan.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the oldest standing structures in the city of London. At nearly 1,000 years old, you’d better believe that there are some stories held within those walls. Built by William the Conqueror after his invasion of England in 1066, the Tower was intended to loom over the inhabitants of London, an imposing structure signifying the strength of the country’s new leader. During its life it was used as an armoury, a prison and even a King’s menagerie. Many people were executed on the grounds, and it is said that to this day you can still hear the screams of Guy Fawkes himself coming from the dungeons. The Beefeaters guard the tower, and look after the ravens that are crucial to the survival of the Tower, and indeed, the city itself!
Windsor Castle is perhaps the most difficult place on this list to reach- and at 40 minutes on a direct train from the city centre, it’s pretty damn easy to get there. Windsor Castle is the oldest, largest and longest inhabited castle in the world, having housed members of the Royal Family since the 11th century after it was built. With some incredibly opulent Royal apartments, it is easy to understand why it is now the Queen’s favourite residence. It sits on the banks of the Thames and is the home to some incredible buildings; most notably St. George’s Chapel. There are 10 kings buried in the grounds, and the most incredible gardens. You can also catch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony here too, ofter with a different twist to the Buckingham Palace version!
So, there you have it; 5 incredible buildings that are so easy to access from the centre of London, you’d be a fool to miss any of them. These palaces and castles are steeped in history, and offer such a great insight into the lives of the people who built our great nation. Make the most of your Premier Club Rewards London Hotels stay on your next trip to the ‘big smoke’, and visit some of the country’s best and most prestigious buildings.