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Gate in China Town

Everything You Need to Know About Chinatown, London

London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting well over 19 million international visitors a year. The city is split into distinctive areas of North, West, South, and East London, as well as commercial and tourist hubs with each offering unique characteristics. Whether you enjoy sightseeing or shopping, there’s always something to see and do.

Tucked right in the heart of London’s West End is Chinatown – a bustling district that offers a glimpse into East Asian culture, with its wide selection of restaurants and shops.

What makes Chinatown unique is that it feels nothing like London. Tourists are instantly transported to a place that is immediately unrecognisable from the surrounding areas. The streets are lined with red paper lanterns and signs with Mandarin writing. Elements of traditional Chinese architecture are also present, including what’s known as a Paifang or a gateway with an elaborate frame.

If you have any future travel plans for London, you’ll definitely want to add this district to your bucket list. Here’s everything you need to know about Chinatown in London.

China Town London

History of Chinatown

Just like the city of London itself, Chinatown (nicknamed ‘The Imperial City’) has a rich history that’s filled with interesting facts.

The original area of Chinatown wasn’t in the West End. It was actually located in Limehouse in the East End. Chinese sailors from the East India Company had settled near the end of the 19th century and had established a community. Around thirty businesses opened in 1914, mostly to supply goods to Chinese sailors. But a decline in shipping along with destruction to the area during the Second World War forced the district to dwindle significantly.

It was during the mid-20th century that the Chinatown we know today started to develop. A handful of Chinese restaurants opened on Gerrard Street in the West End. Other businesses opened up soon after, and over the next few decades the neighbourhood blossomed into a hub for Chinese culture and became what it is today.

Chinatown is now home to over 80 restaurants featuring a range of East Asian cuisine from dim sum to hot pot, as well as cafes and bars. There’s also no shortage of supermarkets filled with authentic ingredients imported directly from Asia and other businesses that offer an array of services.

What initially started as a small community to cater mainly to Chinese sailors is now one of London’s most vibrant destinations and a must see for any traveller.

Getting to Chinatown in London

Chinatown in London is located right in the West End, and is close to popular attractions such as Soho and Leicester Square. Its central location makes it easily accessible by public transport, as there are several Underground stations and numerous bus routes a short walk away.

Here’s how to get to Chinatown:

Address: 55-57 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0BL, United Kingdom.

Tube: Leicester Square is the closest Underground station from Chinatown, as it’s only about a minute walk away. Ride the Tube to the station, and take exit two. Then turn the corner and you’ll be right in the middle of the district. You can also take Tottenham Court and Piccadilly Circus; both are less than half a mile from the main areas.

Train: Charing Cross is the closest train station and is about a 10-minute walk away. Follow the street signs or ask for directions if you get lost.

Bus: There are numerous buses that drop passengers off near Chinatown, including routes 14, 24, 27, 27, 134, 168, and C2. Note that these routes do not travel directly through Chinatown. Be sure to pay attention to where your bus is travelling to or ask the driver which is the closest stop on that route.

Alternatively, taxis are also readily available, but expect to pay a higher fare than public transport. Simply tell the driver you want to visit ‘Chinatown’ and they’ll know exactly where to take you. Chinatown is a relatively small area in the West End. It’s possible to walk down all of its winding streets in only a few hours but you’ll want to allocate at least a half-day trip for a more immersive experience.

Chinese New Year in Chinatown, London

Chinatown is accessible all year round with most restaurants opening at 12pm and closing at midnight. Have a sudden late night craving for dumplings? Some restaurants are even open 24 hours. It’s a good idea to check business hours first, if you have a specific place in mind you want to visit.

One of the best times to visit is during Chinese New Year – a major Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of Chinese New Year, which falls between mid-January to late-February. The actual days the celebration falls on varies each year, as it’s based on the lunar calendar instead of the more widely used Gregorian calendar.

Chinese New Year in 2019 starts on 5th February and will last until 19th February, running for a total of 15 days. The celebration is said to be the biggest outside of Asia, with most of it taking place in Chinatown.

The dragon is seen as an auspicious animal in Chinese culture, which brings good luck and prosperity. Visitors to Chinatown during Chinese New Year can watch dragon dances. Performers in traditional garb hold up a long figure of a dragon with wooden poles and mimic its graceful movements down the streets.

Even the restaurants and cafés partake in the celebrations, as special menu items are offered during this time. There are also plenty of food stalls and stages set up along Charing Cross Road for musical performances and martial art displays.

If you’re visiting London during these dates, then you won’t want to miss this spectacular event.

Chinese New Year lantern

Best Restaurants

No trip to Chinatown is complete without eating at one of its many restaurants. From Cantonese cuisine to Sichuan specialities and dim sum, there is a wide selection of places to try. Here’s an overview of the different cuisine that can be found in Chinatown, and recommended restaurants:

Cantonese

Cantonese cuisine originated from the Guangdong Province in southern China and is one of the eight culinary traditions. Its prominence is largely thanks to emigrants from the Guangdong region who have set up restaurants outside of China including Chinatown in London. Cantonese cuisine is distinguished by its use of ingredients like soy sauce, cornstarch, vinegar, and sesame oil to enhance flavours. Roast meats such as duck and steam buns are also popular dishes.

Be sure to make a visit to these restaurants for Cantonese food:

  • Four Seasons: Four Seasons has a wide selection of Cantonese cuisine, but travellers come here for their world-famous roast duck with its crispy skin and tender flesh. The Financial Times even rated this restaurant as having the best roast duck in the world.
  • Plum Valley: Plum Valley is another popular destination for Cantonese cuisine with its varied menu. The restaurant is located near Piccadilly Circus and offers a more upscale dining experience with its minimalist style.

Dim Sum

Dim sum (translated to ‘touch your heart’) consists of bite-sized dishes such as dumplings, buns, and rolls that are served in steaming hot baskets. Dim sum is prepared in different ways and is best enjoyed with a group of people to share the dishes.

Here are some restaurants that specialise in this cuisine:

  • Dumplings’ Legend: Dumplings’ Legend serves nine varieties of Xiaolongbao (translated to ‘soup dumplings’) in flavoursome broth and fillings from pork to crabmeat and more. If that’s not enough, the restaurant also serves an impressive 47 variations of dim sum dishes.
  • Leong’s Legend: Can’t seem to get enough dim sum? You’re in luck as Leong’s Legend offers all you can eat dim sum for a fairly modest price. Leong’s Legend offers a wide selection of mouth-watering dishes so you won’t go hungry here.

Hot Pot

Hot pot is another Chinese cooking method and is prepared with a simmering pot of soup. Ingredients including meat and vegetables are placed on small plates, and are then cooked in the broth. Just like with dim sum, hot pot is another example of communal dining so it’s best enjoyed with others.

Here are the places worth checking out for hot pot:

  • Shuang Shuang: Shuang Shuang is the first restaurant in London to serve hot pot and is unique from other restaurants in that it features a conveyor belt. Simply pick and choose the ingredients you want to add to your pot, and ignore those you don’t want. Shuang Shuang offers a fun and enjoyable experience.
  • Hot Pot: Looking for something a little different? Hot Pot is actually the name of a Thai restaurant and is well known for its hot pot. Diners can also choose from other dishes including curry, rice noodles, and stir fry. If you enjoy spicy dishes then you’ll definitely want to put this restaurant at the top of your list.

Sichuan

Sichuan cuisine originates from Sichuan Province in China, and features bold and spicy flavours from heavy use of chilli peppers. There are different local variations within Sichuan Province, which include Chongqing, Chengdu, Zigong, and Buddhist vegetarian. Dishes from each region all have distinctive and complex flavours.

Here are some of the best restaurants for Sichuan cuisine:

  • JinLi: Conveniently located on Leicester Street, JinLi serves authentic Sichuan food including its signature grilled fish in chilli oil dish. Griddled dishes from cooked duck tongue to king prawns are other specialities that JinLi offer. And if you love singing, there are authentic KTV karaoke rooms right upstairs available for hire.
  • Baozi Inn: Baozi Inn specialises in spicy street food including skewered meats and vegetables loaded with lots of different spices. You’ll also want to try their signature Sichuan spicy beef noodles, which pack a savoury broth and large cubes of tender beef.

The first few restaurants may have only served Chinese cuisine in the beginning. But other eateries have since opened up that offer other cuisines including Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Malaysian, and even some European dishes. Visit Chinatown on an empty stomach for the chance to sample a variety of cuisines.

Some of the more popular places are busy especially during rush hours so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance. That way you won’t have to wait too long to get seated.

Feel like having a drink? There are plenty of cafes and bars around Chinatown that are perfect for any occasion. Candy Cafe offers Asian desserts and bubble tea – a milk tea drink from Taiwan that contains chewy tapioca balls. Or if you prefer having a cocktail, there’s a speakeasy bar hidden behind a door on Gerrard Street called The Experimental Cocktail Club. Other enjoyable bars include the Opium Cocktail and The Light Lounge. Both offer fun atmospheres and a great selection of drinks.

Dim Sum

Accommodation in Chinatown

It’s possible to walk around all of Chinatown in a single afternoon. But if you want to experience all that this charming district has to offer, you’ll need at least a few days. Accommodation is fairly limited in Chinatown but there are plenty of nearby hotels in Leicester Square, Soho, and Covent Garden.

Some of these hotels include:

  • Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire
  • Hotel Cafe Royal London
  • St Martins Lane
  • Premier Inn London Leicester Square
  • The Savoy, A Fairmont Hotel
  • Royal National Hotel
  • The Piccadilly London West End
  • W London Leicester Square

 

These hotels place you within walking distance of Chinatown, including its many restaurants and bustling supermarkets. Chinese New Year is one of the busiest times of the year so if you plan to visit around mid-January to late-February, be sure to book rooms in advance.

Chinatown in London offers a unique look at East Asian culture and is a must-see. Indulge in some of the top rated restaurants in the world or simply walk around through the many delightful shops. There’s plenty to see and do here.

At Premium Tours, we offer a fantastic range of guided London tours that take you through some of the best spots in the city. Contact us today for booking information and our travel experts will be happy to help.

London at night

These Are the Best Things to See and Do in London in January

January can be a cold and dreary affair. The excitement of Christmas has long since passed and the celebrations of New Year’s Eve are over. But in London, despite the grey skies and persistent fog, there’s actually a lot going on to keep your spirits up and to make January an exciting month, rather than a slow month.

If you don’t want to leave the Christmas cheer behind then luckily London clings onto the festive spirit throughout January, with many markets and ice skating rinks still very much in full swing for the first few weeks of the month. The famous January sales will give you endless shopping opportunities across the city, while there are plenty of fantastic exhibitions and shows to experience. Explore the warm interiors of the many museums or palaces and enjoy London at a time of year when most other visitors tend to stay away.

To inspire you to visit the capital at the start of the year, here are the best things to see and do in London in January.

New Year’s Day

Start the New Year in style by witnessing the iconic London New Year’s Day Parade. Held without fail on 1st January each year – no matter how long the city has stayed up for the previous night – this is a colourful and lively experience to get your year off to a great start. With thousands of performers and floats descending onto the streets, it’s a real spectacle not to be missed, and it’s completely free to watch.

Shop at the January Sales

The January sales are, for many, a highlight of the month and London’s many shops go all out to bring in the customers. You can find some incredible bargains along the high streets with many retail outlets offering exceptional deals. Of course, with the cold streets outside not being too inviting, who wouldn’t want to head into the warmth for a little retail therapy? For the true January sales experience, head to Oxford Street, as long as you don’t mind pushing your way through the crowds for the best deals.

Oxford Street

The Last Christmas Markets

Although Christmas has long gone by the time January rolls around, many of London’s Christmas markets don’t seem to ever want to acknowledge that fact, and they stay open for as long as they can, making it a wonderful opportunity to relive that festive spirit. Many of the best, such as Christmas in Leicester Square and Winter Wonderland, stay open until the end of the first week of January and many stay open even longer.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Harry Potter fans can rejoice in the fact that Hogwarts in the Snow also stays open well into the New Year. The popular Warner Brothers Studio keep its Harry Potter world covered in snow, ice and festive decorations right up until the end of January, giving you plenty of time to explore the delights of the wizarding phenomenon in all its glory.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

For many iconic tourist attractions, life in January continues on as it does through the rest of year, with the cold weather and dreary skies being no hindrance to the stoic London spirit. At the world famous Buckingham Palace, you can brave the chilly outside air to experience the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, without fail, every day of the week. Get there early for a good spot, because this is a sight that is always popular, no matter the time of year.

Buckingham Palace

Kensington Palace

Nearby Kensington Palace will also give you a chance to escape the cold, with its warm interiors being a delight to explore during January. You can learn all about the Royals that have called this beautiful palace home over the years, but perhaps more so than this, January is the time to visit because the exceptional Princess Diana Exhibition will only be open until February 2019.

Catch a Pantomime

Pantomimes are a much-loved British institution, providing families with fun and entertainment during the cold months of the year. London’s theatres play host to some of the best pantomime performances in the country, with many stars and celebrities taking to the stage to entertain the crowds in famous productions. Many pantomimes go on well into January.

Enjoy West End Theatre Production

Of course, it’s not just pantomimes being performed at London’s many theatres, as many venues continue to put on dramatic shows of classics, musicals and comedies. For an authentic London theatre performance, head to the West End, but remember to book in advance if there is a particular show you are looking to see.

London Short Film Festival

In January each year, film lovers can enjoy the delights of the London Short Film Festival. This 10-day event sees short films from across the country and internationally being shown in historic and iconic cinemas across London. You can watch some of the best up-and-coming directors and producers showcasing their finest work alongside like-minded film lovers.

Cruise the Thames

Even in cold January, the many boats that ply the Thames never stop operating and you might like to enjoy a cruise along London’s iconic river to see the city in all its glory. Although you might find the fog obscures the view every now and then, in its own way, the Thames and the city in January look remarkably beautiful. Rather than standing out on the open deck though, you might prefer to wrap up warm inside.

A river cruise on the Thames

London International Mime Festival

One of London’s more unusual, but resoundingly popular events, is the London International Mime Festival. Held in January, this festival has been running every year since 1977 and is quite unlike anything else you might attend in the city. In venues across London, incredible mime performances and shows are held throughout the month.

London Art Fair

The London Art Festival returns year after year at the end of January to showcase some of the world’s best and most innovative modern art. This is an exhibition that will leave you enthralled and mesmerised, and not only can you peruse the artwork itself, if you have the cash, you can even buy something.

Winter Lights Festival at Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf’s incredible Winter Lights Festival brightens up the dark January skies like no other event in London. Held in the last two weeks of January, the festival sees huge installations that are more art than simply lights being brought to the docks of Canary Wharf. Modern art mixes with bright illuminations, to create a unique festival that will instantly cure any winter blues that you might be enduring.

The Canary Wharf Ice Rink

As well as the impressive light display put on by Canary Wharf in January, this famous area of London also hosts one of the city’s most popular ice rinks, which is set up amongst the glittering skyscrapers and high rises of this business district. This is one of the longest-running ice rinks of the year, as it begins in November and doesn’t end until February. Strap on your skates and enjoy the pleasure of cruising across the ice at Canary Wharf.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

The iconic Natural History Museum also plays host to one of London’s most popular ice skating rinks during the winter months, and their installations remain very much open during January too. You can skate away in the shadow of one of the city’s most elegant and historic buildings, enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee or even mulled wine before seeking the even warmer interiors of the museum itself to experience the many wonderful attractions and exhibits that showcase the diversity of our natural world.

Natural History Museum

National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Also held in the Natural History Museum is the world-famous National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This temporary exhibition returns each year to display the best work of photographers from across the world, and has been running for well over 50 years now. A panel of expert judges pick the best photographs of the natural world that have been taken over the previous year, and the winners and runners-up from the many different categories are all showcased at the Natural History Museum. While entrance to the permanent museum is free, this exhibition does incur an extra charge, but it’s well worth it to view the most dramatic photographs of the world we live in.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Photography lovers may also want to enjoy the visual delights of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition, which is held at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The event actually continues until May, so you have plenty of time to visit, but a visit in January is sure to inspire you for the rest of the year. This is an exceptional exhibition, showcasing the best of the spectacular universe that we are part of.

Getty Images Gallery

If you are looking for even more visual stimuli, then head to the renowned Getty Images Gallery in January too, because this is one of the premier locations to enjoy incredible photography. The galleries are open all through the year, but in January, they showcase the best work of Getty photographers from the previous year in one place, and there are sure to be some exceptional pieces on display from across the world.

Museum of London

The Museum of London is a free museum that tells the always-intriguing history of the City of London. From its humble beginnings to Roman development and through to the turbulent medieval and modern eras, you can discover all that it means to be a Londoner here. You can easily spend hours escaping the cold outside, and in January they usually host some temporary exhibitions showcasing particular details of London’s history, such as the Suffragettes fight to earn the vote for women.

London Adventure Travel Show

If the dreary weather is getting you down, then get inspired for an adventure abroad by visiting London’s excellent Adventure Travel Show. Held in January at Earl’s Court, this event sees speakers, writers, adventurers and photographers from across the world descending on London to give talks and to showcase their latest expeditions to the public. You can even find many tour companies at the show, and you might leave having booked a tour to somewhere more unusual, or perhaps somewhere nice and warm!

London Acappella Festival

Musical lovers will revel in the opportunity to hear some of the best acappella acts from around the world as they descend upon London in January to be part of this unique festival. Held at the end of the month at the Kings Place concert hall, you can enjoy acappella music at its best, from some of the most talented singers and exceptional artists who have made the genre their own.

Enjoy London’s Pubs

When all else fails and you still find yourself with the January blues despite London’s many events, then do as the locals do and seek solace in the warming, homely environments of some of the city’s best pubs. Enjoy some hearty English food, warming roast dinners or stodgy pies alongside a few drinks too of course.

The pub

Burns Night

Held on the 25th January, Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most famous national holidays. While London may seem like a long way south to be celebrating this event, actually, the city hosts some of the best Burns Night festivities outside of Scotland. This is the celebration of the poet Robert Burns and you can expect plenty of whisky, haggis and singing at any Burns Night event. Head to the Scottish pubs for the best atmosphere in the evening and be prepared for a long night of merriment, drinking and eating.

To find out more about the exciting things to do in London during January or to book one of our exciting London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

London Skyline

These Are the Best Places to Eat in London

London is a culinary heaven with a huge array of restaurants, pubs and cafes serving food from across the world. The city’s large multicultural population ensures that you can find almost any dish from any country somewhere in the city, and you can probably dine out at a different restaurant serving a different speciality every night of the year.

As well as a vast range of culinary styles on offer in London, the capital has a wide range of eateries that cater to different budgets. From simple curry houses and food markets offering quality at affordable prices, to mid-range diners and Michelin-starred restaurants run by celebrity chefs.

To help you decide where to dine on your next visit to the capital, we’ve put together this list of the best places to eat in London, for any budget and any taste.

The Best Budget Places to Eat in London

Although London could never be described as a cheap city to visit, there are still a great number of budget options available that can help you to save those hard-earned pennies while still enjoying a delicious, quality meal when travelling to the capital. There are some great food markets and some quality street food alongside more traditional restaurants that offer excellent value meals.

Brick Lane Curry Houses

If you are looking for a great curry house serving up authentic British-style dishes for a bargain price, then head to Brick Lane. This is one of the fabled locations where the idea of a good curry began to take off in England, and you find some of the cheapest and best restaurants still here today. Brick Lane is quite literally full of curry houses, and you can wander along the street taking in the delicious aromas and checking out the many menus before deciding which one to eat at. You can find a huge array of South Asian food, but of course it’s most notable for serving up classics that the British have made their own, from vindaloos to chicken tikka masala.

Curry

Camden Market

Camden Market is a favourite amongst tourists and locals alike for its lively atmosphere and colourful demeanour. This is an energetic place and you can find hundreds of eateries and market stalls serving up quality food from across the world. As long as you don’t mind some rustic seating and a few crowds, then this is the perfect place for budget eaters. You can find stalls selling a variety of Chinese and Thai food – they even let you try before you buy a whole portion – while other street chefs are cooking up everything from burgers and hot dogs to Caribbean curries and New York-style pizzas. There are even a few bars for refreshment, too.

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is a street food-inspired eatery that takes inspiration from across the world. Found in Bankside, this is a collection of different vendors, street food stalls and bars that are all under one roof, making it a great place to visit with friends or family who might have different tastes. Order what you fancy and then take it back to the communal seating with a beverage. You can find lots of Asian dishes alongside burgers and other fare, and it’s all at very reasonable prices. Flat Iron Square only opened in 2016, but its unique atmosphere has ensured that already it’s become a hit amongst the locals, so get here early if you want to eat in the evenings when it’s at its busiest.

Borough Markets

Borough Markets have become a fixture on many a visitor’s list when travelling to London. This acclaimed marketplace can trace its history back centuries, but despite its age, it’s become one of London’s most contemporary marketplaces, with a multitude of stalls selling fusion food from across the globe. Of course, you can find some real classics, such as English fish and chips or hearty, meat-filled pies, but you can also find Asian street food, macaroni innovators and much, much more at Borough Market. Everything here is incredibly well priced for London too, with sizeable portions that won’t leave you hungry.

Borough Market

Poppies Fish and Chips

If you are on the hunt for the best fish and chips in London, then one of the prime contenders for the coveted title is Poppies Fish and Chips. This excellent restaurant serves up huge portions of crispy, battered fish alongside chip shop-style chips that will certainly leave you satisfied. Everything is well priced and you can find several outlets across London, including a kiosk for when you need a quick takeaway.

Baozhi Inn

For those looking for a more unusual budget restaurant, then a great choice is Baozhi Inn. This restaurant cooks up delicious food that’s taken straight from the streets of northern China, and although it’s not quite as cheap as eating out in Beijing, compared to other London eateries, Baozhi is a real steal.

The Best Midrange Places to Eat in London

If you’d like to splurge a little but aren’t looking to go full-on gourmet when in London, then there are a great range of eateries across the city offering the perfect menus for those looking to spend somewhere in the middle. From unique restaurants serving enormous pizzas to upscale pubs cooking the perfect Sunday roast, here are our favourite midrange places to eat at in London.

Sunday roast

Kiln

The Kiln is an award-winning restaurant that’s located in the heart of Soho. This Thai establishment is so good in fact, that it was given the title of Best Restaurant at the National Restaurant Awards in 2018. It’s not cheap, but despite its popularity it won’t break the bank either, and you can enjoy their unusual take on Southeast Asian cuisine, as long as you can secure a table. The chefs cook most of their dishes in clay pots – the kiln – giving the food a special taste that’s matched by few other Thai restaurants in the capital.

Marksman

Found in Hackney, the Marksman is a pub that quite simply is a cut above the rest of the competition. Yes, you will pay more for your pub grub and for your beers, but the quality is uncompromising. You can choose from the cheaper bar menu, or take on the full dining experience in the restaurant, where you’ll find classic British dishes with a twist. The pub is also an historic establishment, making this a great place to eat or drink out when in London. Visit on Sundays for their well-regarded roast dinner.

Tandoor Chophouse

The Tandoor Chophouse in central London can claim to be one of the best Indian restaurants in the city, despite being relatively new to the culinary scene. The Tandoor Chophouse focuses on the meaty side of Indian cooking, rather than the curries, although you can still get them here too. This is a restaurant that cooks all its meat in a classic tandoor oven after marinating the cuts for hours in Indian-inspired spices and sauces. It’s a great new take on the Indian dining scene in London, but unlike those curry houses in Brick Lane, a trip to the Tandoor Chophouse will set you back a bit.

Sabor

Located in Mayfair, this is an upscale Spanish restaurant serving up some of the best and most authentic Andalusian tapas in the city. Sabor takes authenticity to the next level, and in true Spanish style, certain tapas items are only available to be ordered and eaten at the bar itself, alongside a great wine pairing, of course. The main restaurant serves up an even larger selection of dishes with regional influences from not just Andalusia, but from Catalonia and the Basque Country, too.

Homeslice

Homeslice specialises in one thing: enormous pizzas. Over the past few years they’ve really taken off and there are now several restaurants located across the city. However, most of the time, you can’t make reservations in advance; you just have to walk in and hope there’s space. The pizzas come in every style imaginable, but the biggest draw is their size, at a whopping 18 inches in diameter. You can buy a whole pizza or just a few slices of each. It won’t cost a fortune but it will cost a bit more than that Pizza Hut takeaway.

Pizza

Burger and Lobster

Burger and Lobster is known for serving just two items: burgers and lobsters. This is minimalism at its best, although you can enjoy your burger with different toppings and your lobster can be cooked in several different ways, with different sauces. Everything is a flat price too, so most people tend to go for the juicy, delicious lobsters over the burgers, but if you are not into seafood, the burgers are still absolutely scrumptious. With soaring popularity, there are now several Burger and Lobster restaurants across the city, but be sure to book in advance.

The Best Upmarket Restaurants to Eat in London

London is also home to hundreds of well-established, iconic and famous upmarket restaurants offering gourmet cuisine to those who want to treat themselves. There are plenty of Michelin-starred dining choices in the capital, while many of the world’s best chefs choose to set up restaurants here. Here are the best upmarket restaurants to eat at in London.

Veeraswamy

Veeraswamy is an historic Indian restaurant to visit because it’s been in continuous operation since 1926. This can claim to be the oldest Indian restaurant in the country, and really, this could be said to be where Britain’s fascination with Indian delicacies and curries really began. With such heritage, it’s not cheap and it’s not easy to simply walk in and find a table, so make sure you book well in advance to avoid disappointment. The restaurant delivers when it comes to taste too, and you can find many great regional specialities from across India being cooked up by the excellent chefs on duty at Veeraswamy.

Marcus

Marcus is one of London’s premium French offerings, and it’s located within the luxury realm of The Berkley Hotel in the centre of affluent Knightsbridge. This is a high-end dining experience run by acclaimed chef Marcus Wareing, who was not humble enough to leave his name out of the title of his restaurant. Marcus serves up elegant tasting menus that fuse French recipes and cooking techniques with English influences and ingredients to create a fusion that was deemed worthy of at least one Michelin star.

Alain at the Dorchester

Alain at the Dorchester is one of London’s most expensive restaurants, but if you can afford the high price then it’s worth the cost to indulge in a sublime tasting menu crafted by Alain Ducasse, a world-renowned chef who claims 19 Michelin stars in his repertoire. Located in the Dorchester Hotel, the restaurant has 3 Michelin stars to its name alone, and it combines French influences with seasonal produce to create a beautiful blend of dishes.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Well-known celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has several well-regarded restaurants under his name, but one of his finest is Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Opened in 1998, this was the chef’s first-ever restaurant. Since its success, he’s gone on to become a household name, but the quality has never changed. The restaurant gets rave reviews from critics and is often said to be one of London’s best restaurants. For that reason alone, make sure you reserve a table well in advance.

Aqua Shard

The Aqua Shard is a fine dining experience like no other in London. This gourmet restaurant is found high up on the 31st floor of the Shard, offering its guests unparalleled views over the London skyline while they enjoy world-class dishes. The tastes on offer are as dizzying as the altitude, and you can find a wide selection of British meals that evoke a sense of London’s culinary journey in this most iconic of buildings. The Aqua Shard serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but many will also visit purely for the afternoon tea and for the panoramic vistas of London.

Afternoon tea at The Shard

As experts on all things London, Premium Tours can help you to find the best places to eat in the capital. While you’re here, check out our exciting range of London tours.

buckingham palace garden

A Guide to the Main Royal Palaces in and Around London

London is a city awash with royal history, and the British Royal family continually capture the imagination of the world. If you’re looking to delve deeper into the inner workings of this unique historical legacy, then a tour of the royal palaces in and around London is the best place to start.

Of course, there are the city’s most famous royal establishments, from iconic Buckingham Palace to the old walls of the Tower of London. But there are many more beautiful palaces in London and in the surrounding area that have long and intriguing associations with the Royal family. From the leafy gardens of Hampton Court Palace to the historic defences of Windsor Castle, there’s a lot waiting to be discovered in London’s many palaces.

To help you decide which ones you should visit, here’s our guide to the main royal palaces in and around London.

Buckingham Palace

No guide to London’s palaces would be complete without Buckingham Palace being placed firmly at the top. This is the palace the entire world associates with the British Royal family because this is the Queen’s official residence in London. The palace dates its origins back to 1703 when it was built for the Duke of Buckingham, but over the years, it was remodelled, redesigned and extended, and became the primary residence of the Royal family, when in 1837 Queen Victoria moved in.

Buckingham Palace, as well as being the Queen’s household, is where many royal events are held including ceremonies and banquets, while every day, visitors congregate outside the gates to watch the elaborate Changing of the Guard ceremony. The guard is changed 11 am Monday to Saturday, while on Sundays the ceremony takes place at 10 am. Get there early for a good spot.

Although the palace itself is off bounds to visitors for most of the year, every summer the doors are opened to the public for short tours through a selection of the stately rooms to view the royal collection of art & antiquities, but of course, with limited tours and much interest, these sell out extremely quickly. If you aren’t lucky enough to get inside Buckingham Palace, then the view from the outside is still marvellous, while the setting next to glorious St James’s Park and the walk along the Mall is equally wonderful.

buckingham palace
‘Buckingham Palace’ by Jimmy Harris – https://flic.kr/p/4RVae3

Clarence House

Clarence House is a private royal residence, and today is home to the Prince of Wales, the successor to the throne, and the Duchess of Cornwall. Previously, it was the home of the Queen Mother, and of many other notable royal figures since its construction in 1825. Clarence House is found in Westminster and is, in fact, an extension of St James’s Palace, even sharing the same outside grounds.

Unlike St James’s Palace, however, Clarence House can be visited, if only within a short time window each year. During summer, the doors of the house are opened to the public, usually in August. The short tours take visitors through several of the rooms used by the Royal family and even give them a glimpse of the palace grounds. Spaces are extremely limited, and spots are likely to go extraordinarily quickly once the dates are announced and tickets are put on sale each year, so act fast to be able to enjoy a tour of a usually very private royal residence.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the city’s most recognisable sights, and one of London’s most historic locations. The castle and its extensive grounds, walls and turrets are now all part of an attraction that easily takes an entire day to truly appreciate. The Tower of London was built on the banks of the River Thames by William the Conqueror, during the Norman conquests of 1066. He built it as a way to solidify his rule over London, and over the ensuing years of his reign, he laid the foundations for the White Tower, the most prominent tower to be found today within the fortifications.

The Tower was used as a royal residence by several monarchs through English history. In the brutal medieval era, many dark events occurred with its walls that have given the Tower of London the reputation for blood and torture it has today. It was used as a prison for undesirable nobility and important criminals – including Guy Fawkes – and several infamous figures met their fate here. The Tower of London has served variously as a Royal Mint, a garrison, a zoo and even today, the tower continues to hold the valuable Crown Jewels. Visitors can explore the grounds, the museums, the history and be enthralled by the sight of the distinctive Beefeaters, the lavishly dressed, ceremonial guards of the tower who patrol in their bright uniforms with their tall pikes in hand.

Tower of London
‘Tower of London from Thames’ by August – https://flic.kr/p/mjMHp

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace dates its origins back to the early 17th century when it was constructed by an English nobleman, before passing into the hands of the monarchy in 1689. Since then, it has been used as a residence by many notable members of the Royal family, is the birthplace of Queen Victoria and today, the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live in a house within the Kensington Palace grounds.

The main palace can be toured by visitors, who are allowed to walk through the many lavish, stately rooms all through the week. There are many temporary exhibitions held throughout the year at Kensington Palace, usually of course, with a royal theme that delves into the history of prominent members of the family through history. The main, permanent exhibition is dedicated solely to the iconic figure of Princess Diana and, in particular, her fashion sense. The exhibition is open daily and is called ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’, and through displays of her clothing and dresses, it traces how her style changed from her early years through to her unfortunate death in 1997. It’s an intriguing insight into the life of one of the most well-known figures in recent royal history.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was one of the infamous King Henry VIII’s many royal palaces, and today it’s one of the best preserved that still stands from the Tudor days. Found in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, a location that was once very much the English countryside but is now surrounded by London’s huge expanse, a visit to Hampton Court Palace makes for an excellent day out.

The palace is no longer a royal residence; the last monarch to live here was King George II in the 18th century. It has a host of different architectural styles, and remnants from the different eras it has seen and the different designs it has undergone along with a wealth of artefacts are on display, from Tudor through to Georgian times. While the rooms and corridors are fantastic to wander around, don’t miss the extensive Hampton Court Palace Gardens surrounding the palace. The green, leafy grounds are the site of the famous Hampton Court Maze, which was planted as far back as the 17th century. Many events are held here too, including the Hampton Court Flower Show and spooky ghost tours that allow visitors to delve into the darker history of the palace at night.

Hampton Court Palace
‘Outside Hampton Court Palace’ by Edwin Lee – https://flic.kr/p/oAqyB

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is found on the outskirts of the city itself, in the town of Windsor in the county of Berkshire, but is easily reached from London. The castle is an imposing place to visit, and a place that conjures up images of a medieval era long since past, with its towering walls and impressive turrets. Windsor Castle has long been a royal residence and its origins date back to the early years of the Norman conquests when it was built as a simple wooden fort to defend London. Since then it has of course expanded into the huge structure that can be visited today and is still used by Queen Elizabeth II herself, who enjoys spending long weekends away from the city.

The castle is found on the banks of the River Thames, and there are many separate towers and wings to the layout, making it a huge place to enjoy for the day. Not everywhere can be visited of course, as this is still a palace used by royalty, but tourists can enjoy leisurely strolls through the perfectly pruned grounds, admire many of the delicately designed staterooms and even visit St George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married.

St James’s Palace

Located in the heart of Westminster, St James’s Palace is one of the lasting constructions of Henry VIII. Built in 1536, it was intended to be a small home, a getaway almost from his larger palaces. Although hardly small, the palace is still somehow hidden away from the streets of bustling Westminster and is still officially the highest-ranking royal residence in the country, despite the fact the Queen lives elsewhere, because this is the official headquarters of the Royal Court.

Consequently, the palace is home to many other members of the Royal family, including the Princess Royal, the Queen’s eldest daughter. Because of its current importance and because so many members of royalty reside here, like Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace is off limits to visitors. The grand Tudor architecture can be seen from outside the gates, however, and is an excellent sight to see. From the gates too, visitors are welcome to observe the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony. Of course, it’s very similar to the same ceremony that’s held at Buckingham Palace, but at St James’s Palace, it’s a much more intimate affair to observe.

St James's Palace
‘St James’s Palace’ by Paul Robertson – https://flic.kr/p/6nMpiD

Kew Palace

Kew Palace is found within the beautiful grounds of Kew Gardens, to the west of London in Richmond. Although this was once a sprawling royal complex, dating back to the early 17th century, over the centuries its status diminished and today just a fraction of its original buildings have survived. It’s no longer a functioning royal residence, as the last royal to live here was as far back as 1844.

The Dutch House is the main, surviving attraction within the grounds, a grand multi-storied house that has many a royal story to tell. Next to the Dutch House, are the royal kitchens, which have been well looked after, despite the fact that the last time anyone cooked for royalty here was in the 19th century. You can explore the kitchens, as they would have been used over two hundred years ago, a fascinating insight into the daily life of the old royalty who once lived here.

Within the grounds too, can be found Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a quaint and charming little house that is hidden away in Kew. This little hideaway was meant as a rest stop during long walks in the grounds, and today it can be toured and enjoyed as it would have looked in the late 18th century.

Bushy House

Found in the area of Teddington, around the Richmond area of Greater London, Bushy House is the charming former home of King William IV, who ruled until 1837. The house dates back in some form to the early 17th century when it was built as a house for the chief ranger of Bushy Park – which was a prestigious title to be given – a huge royal park that was formally kept for the sole preserve of the monarchy.

The house was gradually improved and rebuilt over the years and remained the residence of the Bushy Park Ranger. Many royals have held this title though and lived in the house, including the future William IV, who was, in fact, staying here when he received news that his father had died and that he was now the king. After his death, the house changed hands and was even given to exiled French royalty for a time.

Aside from visiting Bushy House, the huge grounds of Bushy Park make for a wonderfully picturesque place to spend the day exploring, with many interesting and historic lodges to visit, as well as the chance to spot deer roaming across the paddocks.

Bushy House
‘Bushy House, Bushy Park’ by Peter C – https://flic.kr/p/7XzRXV

Here at Premium Tours, one of our most popular tours is of the two official residences of the Queen; Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. If you’re interested in visiting London, do have a look at all of our London tours which you can book online and will help make your visit extra special.

London

Here Are the 37 Most Beautiful Places in London

London, one of the most famous and iconic cities in the world, is a wonderful blend of historical and modern landmarks. It’s a mixing pot of cultures with a liberal sprinkling of greenery, yet it still retains its quintessential Englishness.

It’s a city like no other: frenetic, buzzing, colourful, and yet serene. The fast-paced lifestyle, crowded streets, noisy traffic and sheer size of this sprawling capital city sometimes make it hard to stop and appreciate its beauty. A tour of London will allow you to stop and appreciate every aspect and every moment.

Here are the 37 most beautiful places in London definitely worth taking time out to see.

1. The View from Waterloo Bridge

Offering one of the most beautiful views of the Southbank, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster and Canary Wharf, Waterloo Bridge is one of the best places to capture the very essence of London. Even more spectacular at sunset – just ask the Kinks!

2. The Shard

If you want a spectacular view of the entire city, head to the tallest building in Western Europe: the Shard. On a clear day, views from the 310-metre high building stretch as far as Windsor Castle, 40 miles away.
To appreciate the stunning views across the capital, you should visit twice: during the day, then return in the evening to see this magnificent city illuminated at night.

the shard

3. The Sky Garden

Right in the heart of the City, at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, the Sky Garden is a unique and lovely venue offering 360-degree views across the City over three floors of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Enjoy the views and the lush greenery of London’s highest public garden from the viewing platforms or dine out at one of the exclusive rooftop restaurants, Fenchurch Restaurant or Darwin Brassiere, each with its own beautiful interior and fabulous menu.

4. St Paul’s from the Inside

Although photography inside the cathedral is not permitted, the sight of its overwhelming beauty will stay in your mind forever. Just don’t forget to look up! The byzantine mosaic artwork and the paintings of St Paul by James Thornhill, especially when viewed from the Whispering Gallery, are quite literally breathtaking.

5. St Paul’s from Millennium Bridge

One of the best places to appreciate the beautiful dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren, is from the Millennium Bridge. The bridge itself is a masterpiece of modern architectural design. With the backdrop of St Paul’s, it’s a beautiful blend of history and modernity.

st pauls

6. The Great Court at the British Museum

Spanning over two million years of human history, the treasures of the British Museum are awe-inspiring in themselves. But the truly breathtaking feature of this incredible museum is the magnificent Great Court with its mystical glass ceiling made from over 3,000 unique panels of glass.

7. Leadenhall Market

Another impressive ceiling can be found at Leadenhall Market. This beautiful indoor market is covered with an ornate Victorian wrought iron and glass roof. That, with the cobbled streets and quaint shop fronts, are why Leadenhall was chosen to feature as Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter film.

8. Hintze Hall, The Natural History Museum

Speaking of Harry Potter, the magnificent stone staircases in Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into one of the movies. The central hall is just how you’d imagine Hogwarts to be. You can almost believe the staircases move!

9. The Hogarth Staircase, St Barth’s Hospital Museum

On the subject of staircases, check out the Hogarth staircase located in the Museum at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Smithfield. The stunning mural leading up the staircase was painted by William Hogarth in the 18th century, free of charge! The paintings depict Christ at the Pool of Bethesda healing those with diverse ailments. Apparently some of the figures in the paintings were based on real patients of the hospital.

10. Shoreditch Street Art

Shoreditch is now one of the trendiest and liveliest areas of London, filled with wonderful markets, eateries and colourful streets. Don’t miss the incredible street art where artists from all over the world have left their mark projecting a magical kaleidoscope of colour and positive energy.

street art

11. Little Venice

This has got to be one of the most picturesque spots in London. The colourful canal boats, waterside pubs, quaint shops and eateries create a wonderful feeling of calm and tranquillity in London’s very own Little Venice.

12. Kynance Mews

London is well known for its fashionable, cute mews. But one of the prettiest has got to be Kynance Mews in South Kensington; a narrow cobbled lane of lovely 19th century wisteria-clad cottages.

13. Belgravia

Belgravia is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in London, and it’s easy to see why. The impeccable streets lined with magnificent white stucco townhouses simply ooze elegance and luxury.

14. Notting Hill Gate

Some of the prettiest streets in London can be found at Notting Hill Gate. You can’t help but fall in love with the rows of pastel coloured houses along Kensington Park Road, also home to some of the best restaurants in the area.

notting hill

15. The Churchill Arms, Kensington

This has got to be one of the most beautifully decorated pubs in London, both inside and out. During the spring and summer, the pub is adorned with 190 flower baskets and pots, replaced at Christmas with a magical display of twinkling fairy lights.

16. The Oak, Westbourne Park

Talking of restaurants, if you want to enjoy fabulous food in beautiful surroundings, you can’t get more sumptuous than The Oak in Westbourne Park. The dark red curtains, gold-framed mirrors and squashy sofas make you feel like you’re in a fabulous drawing room on a large country estate rather than a gastropub in the West End of London.

17. Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden

Beautifully presented, exquisite dishes served in the lovely candlelit courtyard conservatory which features a magnificent open fire and hanging blossoms, make this idyllic French restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden one of the most beautiful and romantic in London.

18. Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, Regent’s Park

One of the most tranquil and loveliest spots in London can be found in the heart of Regent’s Park. Queen Mary’s Rose Garden is home to over 12,000 roses, Mediterranean flowers, delphiniums and 9,000 begonias. There are benches along the borders so you can sit, relax and literally smell the roses!

19. Kensington Palace Gardens

The beautiful formal gardens of Kensington Palace are a lovely spot to spend an afternoon. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or light lunch in the orangery within the grounds. The 18th century orangery with its magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows was built for Queen Anne to entertain guests in elegant surroundings.
kensington gardens

20. Richmond Park

Richmond Park has such an abundance of forests, wilderness and herds of deer; you’d never believe you are still in London. Head up to Henry VII’s mound to take in the breathtaking views of the sprawling capital in all its glory.

21. Orleans House Gallery, Richmond

Not only does Richmond boast a beautiful park, but also a stunning 18th century baroque gallery with breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows and ornately decorated ceilings.

22. Green Park

With its magnificent tree-lined walkways, memorials and fountains, Green Park situated next to Buckingham Palace is a haven of tranquillity right in the heart of London. In the spring, the park is an explosion of yellow with over one million daffodils in bloom.

23. St James’s Park

The beautiful, tranquil centre lake of this former deer park is a wonderful place to spot water-loving birds, while the little bridge offers lovely views of Buckingham Palace.

st james's park

24. Greenwich Park

Set on a hilltop overlooking the River Thames, Greenwich Park is a vast expanse of green with flower, herb and orchard gardens offering spectacular views over London.

25. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

The stunningly beautiful landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the world’s most diverse collection of plants and flowers. Highlights include the lovely Treetop Walkway and the magnificent glasshouses: Palm House, Princess of Wales Conservatory and Waterlily House.

26. Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

Kyoto Garden is a Japanese oasis set in the 55-acre grounds of Holland Park. The garden has a lovely waterfall and a little bridge where you can spot koi carp swimming below.

27. Victoria and Albert Museum

There’s over 5,000 years of artwork to see at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but don’t forget to take a look outside. The stunning exterior features 32 statues of great British artists, architects and craftsmen.

victoria and albert museum

28. Postman’s Park

Tucked away near St Paul’s Cathedral you’ll find the lovely little Postman’s Park. But its real beauty lies in the touching plaques located here that commemorate the selfless acts of everyday people who lost their lives trying to save others. It’s a beautiful place for contemplation.

29. The Old Royal Naval College

While in Greenwich, take time to visit the Old Royal Naval College, an architectural masterpiece designed by Christopher Wren. Considered one of the finest buildings in the world, the college features a magnificent Painted Hall whose beautifully painted ceiling has been dubbed ‘The Sistine Chapel of the UK’.

30. St Pancras Station

Exterior scenes of King’s Cross Station in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were actually filmed at St Pancras, and it’s easy to see why. The stunning red brick Victorian gothic exterior was considered far more beautiful and in keeping with the film than the drab exterior of King’s Cross.

31. Tate Modern

The Tate Modern Gallery is one of the finest examples of how ugly can be made beautiful. The decommissioned power station was transformed into a beautiful space, which today displays some of the most famous works of modern art in the world.

tate

32. Liberty, Regent Street

This beautiful wooden-panelled department store was built in the 1920s to resemble a Tudor mansion. Wonderfully quirky, the store is filled with fireplaces and creaky floorboards that only add to its charm.

33. Royal Albert Hall

Opened in 1871, this magnificent circular concert hall was built in honour of Prince Albert, a keen supporter of the Arts and Sciences. Queen Victoria laid the first stone in homage to her late husband. The Grade I listed building has a magnificent glass and wrought iron domed roof and a mosaic freeze around the outside walls depicting several subjects honouring the ‘Triumph of Arts and Sciences’.

34. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

3,000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 1,200 tonnes of Italian Carrara marble were hand-carved in India before being shipped to London to construct this magnificent Hindu temple in Neasden. The temple, inaugurated in 1995, is the biggest Hindu temple outside of India and is a stunning example of intricate Hindu architecture.

35. Southwark Cathedral

Westminster and St Paul’s are impressive, but don’t forget Southwark Cathedral on the South Bank. This beautiful cathedral dates back to the 12th century and was the venue for the royal wedding ceremony of James I in 1423.
The magnificent organ, built in 1897, is a centre point of the cathedral and is still prominent in the music programmes and choir concerts Southwark Cathedral is famous for.
Outside is lovely too. Don’t miss a walk along the Shakespearean Botanical Trails, the ancient churchyard and the sweet-smelling Herb Garden, a wonderful place for calm reflection.

36. Borough Market

Set in the shadows of Southwark Cathedral you’ll find London’s oldest farmers’ market. Borough Market is a food lover’s delight: a riot of colours and aromas where artisan producers sell their wares and beautifully displayed stalls feature traditional British products alongside the best regional specialities from around the world.

borough market

37. Columbia Road Flower Market

London’s oldest flower market, trading every Sunday, is an explosion of colours and aromatic scents where you’ll find the most amazing displays of flowers, plants and craft stalls. Running along a traditional Victorian terraced street, it offers a beautiful, authentic East End experience that you’ll never forget. Just make sure you get there early!

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our London tours.

changing of guard

A Guide to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Brass, bearskins, pomp, and ceremony. If you’re planning to visit Buckingham Palace make sure you don’t miss one of the most popular events: the Changing of the Guard.

The spectacle is not just put on for tourists. It’s an important ceremony in which the on-duty guards (Old Guards) are relieved of their duty and replaced by New Guards of the Queen’s Household Division to protect Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace.

The following guide will tell you more about this iconic British attraction and when to see it.

The Queen’s Guard

The Queen’s Guard is made up of one of the five Foot Guard regiments of the Queen’s Household Division.

The tall bearskin caps and bright scarlet tunics aren’t just for show, and these guys aren’t to be messed with. They are highly trained serving infantry soldiers who also take part in active combat as well as protecting the Monarch.

The regimental flags they carry are known as ‘the Colours’ and are emblazoned with battle honours and distinctions of the regiment.

When the Queen is present at the palace, the Royal Standard flag is flown above and the number of guards is increased.

changing of the guards

History

Elite soldiers have been protecting the Monarch since the times of Henry VII. The guards you see today originate from a regiment that was set up to protect Charles II when he was in exile in 1656.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony has been taking place at Buckingham Palace since it became Queen Victoria’s official residence in 1837.

The Ceremony

Weather permitting, the ceremony takes place on most days throughout the year. Check the schedule for any updates.

10.30 am: After being inspected by the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the St James’s Palace detachment of the Old Guard marches down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace behind a brass band or drum corps.

10.45 am: The St James’s Palace detachment join the Buckingham Palace Old Guard to await the arrival of the New Guard from Wellington Barracks.

11.00 am: The New Guard arrives at Buckingham Palace. Each detachment then salutes their rifles to ‘present arms’ and the keys to the palace are handed over. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the palace security to the New Guard.

11.35 am: Relieved of duty, the Old Guard marches back to Wellington Barracks.

royal guard

Do You Need Tickets?

Not at all. The Changing of the Guard is totally free for everyone to see.

Where Should You Stand?

The best spot is at the railings in front of Buckingham Palace. But be sure to get there by 10.30 at the latest as it gets pretty crowded.

You can also follow the procession on-route between Wellington Barracks, St James’s and Buckingham Palace.

Getting There

Underground:

Green Park

Hyde Park Corner

St. James’s Park

Victoria

Bus:

Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop at Buckingham Palace Road

Train/Coach

Victoria

If you book this tour, you’ll be able to witness the Changing of the Guard and you’ll also get to see London’s other iconic attractions. You can see the other London tours here. If you’d like to read more about Buckingham Palace, why not check out our in-depth guide here.