Known to all and sundry as a district of Central/ West London for its gigantic, mainline train station, the UK capital’s Paddington area is, actually, a culturally diverse and highly appealing place to pay a visit should you be staying nearby in the city, such as at, say, the Grand Royale London Hyde Park hotel. Indeed, here are some of its many highlights…
Make no mistake, the Little Venice basin is one of the most charming and charismatic spots in all of London. Thought to have been so named by the poet Robert Browning, upon his return from some time spent in Italy (and, yes, Venice especially), it’s a small area dominated by the meeting point of the city’s canals and is filled by charming waterside restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars and boutiques and is particularly resplendent in the spring and summer months. Indeed, it’s a perfect place for idling away an hour or two; you can throw down a picnic rug in nearby Rembrandt Gardens after grabbing snacks for lunch at the Waterside Café (located on one of the many moored canal barges), which is simply ideal should you be staying at nearby accommodation Hyde Park London.
And, talking of the canal boats, why not take a tour up to Camden Lock on one? Between April and September you can catch a boat trip with the London Waterbus Company to wither this locale – or London Zoo – about six times daily and can do so at weekends in winter too. Alternatively, you might want to take a canal barge via Jason’s Trips, whose vessels travel to Camden Lock around three times a day.
(St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street W2 1NY/ open: 10am-1pm Monday-Thursday or by appointment)
Located within St Mary’s Hospital is a small museum dedicated to the career of Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of the attributes of penicillin. The venue not only features displays and a video that explains how he made his discovery and how he developed the chemical into an indispensable medical aid, but also houses his one-time laboratory, which today is restored to how it would have appeared in Fleming’s 1928 heyday.
Home to an inviting amphitheatre named Kerb Paddington, which in the warmer, sunnier months of the year is a venue where you’ll common times come across people congregated viewing movies or major sporting events on a big screen, Sheldon Square’s a more-than-pleasant meeting point and place of leisure in the heart of the Paddington district. It’s also where you’ll discover a number of ping pong tables and where Kerb – actually a street-food collective – serve up delicious treats every other Wednesday between 12noon and 3pm. Yum yum!
Puppet Theatre Barge
Also to be found in the Little Venice basin is a canal boat that serves a very specific, unique function – inside it houses a puppet theatre, where audiences (especially ones) can be beguiled and enchanted by family-friendly shows. It’s important to note, however, that given this venue’s on a moored canal barge, it’s not permanent; it shares its existence between Paddington and Richmond, which is located just outside the western borders of London. That said, this autumn the puppet theatre’s company are putting on a production concerning ‘The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse’ in Little Venice.
Paddington’s garden squares
Should you stroll to the south of Paddington Station, you’ll doubtless notice a number of leafy green squares comprising enclosed gardens during your walk. Now, while these gardens are, sadly, often only for use of their nearest residents, some of them are open to the public, at times. Good example are Talbot Square Gardens and Norfolk Gardens; the former a rather exquisite space with tall, wise old trees and benches and the latter a larger garden which offers picnic spots under its trees, as well as kids’ play area, complimentary ping pong tables and even a statue of the area’s resident ‘patron animal’, Paddington Bear.