One of the advantages of choosing to stay at one of the London hotels near Chelsea during a short-break (or even a working trip) in the UK capital is that you’re situated not just in a charismatic, beautiful area but also on the doorstep of the centre of the city’s numerous delights. For instance, everything that the South Bank offers…
Tower of London
Having stood on the same spot in the centre on the capital since just after William the Conqueror’s, er, conquering of England in 1066, when construction on it began, the Tower is now almost 950-years-old, which must surely make it the oldest complete building in the entire city (perhaps in the whole country?). It’s also one of the capital’s most historically resonant, significant and popular tourist attractions, with its ghosts of decapitated traitors and queens and exotic animas from far away, Crown jewels of today and, of course, the colourfully-tailored Yeomen Wardens, each of whom make for rather awesome site-guides.
It may be hugely popular nowadays (and for good reason) but this gigantic artisan food market has far from just given itself over to the tourist trail; being full, as it is, with so many great stalls offering up exceptional and delicious, fresh food and drink all day long, seven days a week. Our top tip is to pay the Egyptian food-focused Koshari Street stall a visit – simply delicious (and a must for any San Domenico House hotel Chelsea guests).
One of London’s most visited attractions (to be fair, most years it comes out on top), the Tate Modern’s effectively the UK’s national gallery of contemporary art – and yet, to be frank, it’s as much a global destination for all those beguiled, fascinated and challenged by art from the turn of the 20th Century onwards. Here then you’ll find works courtesy of the greats that are Picasso, Rothko and Monet; as well as many an obscure, even obtuse but always intriguing installation piece (the temporary exhibitions are always huge draws).
One of the capital’s most charismatic attractions, the globe is – of all theatrical venues – definitely the most accurately described as a ‘playhouse’, being a hugely faithful reconstruction of a late Tudor/ Jacobean era theatre – the like of which, yes, Shakespeare’s plays would have been originally performed in. The place’s always impressive bill runs through the spring and summer months and into the first few weeks of autumn (just as well, as it’s entirely open to the elements), but tours take place all-year-round and the cosy indoor performance space that’s the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (based on the design of a Restoration-era theatre) also puts on productions whatever the time of year.
South Bank Book Fayre
An often overlooked gem on lists like these (but certainly not overlooked by those in the know), the book fayre that atmospherically fills the space beneath the iconic Waterloo Bridge (directly outside the BFI; see below) is a delight, indeed, and one of this very blogger’s favourite spots in all London Town; vending, as it does, a broad selection of good-quality second-hand books and prints from yesteryear.
BFI/ National Theatre/ Southbank Centre
Finally, the South Bank wouldn’t be the South Bank without its big-hitting entertainment venues; stretching along from Westminster Bridge to just beyond Waterloo Bridge, you’ll come across the multi-arts destination that’s the Southbank Centre, the BFI (a membership-based cinema complex that focuses on seasons of acclaimed movies, old and new) and the revered National Theatre. Plus, a short walk away – in the Southwark/ Waterloo area, to be precise – lie the likes of the iconic Old Vic theatre, its little sister Young Vic theatre and, of course, the enormous-screen-toting IMAX cinema.