Our Hotel –
We stayed at a lovely boutique hotel in Kensington, near Hyde Park, called The Caesar.
We stayed in a Deluxe room, which was nice because it had a separate sitting area. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable.
There were no drawers, but there was some shelving on the bed side tables and desk area to store items. The closet was an OK size with ample hangers. Inside the closet was a safe that was big enough for a iPad, passports and other valuables. However, I am pretty sure that it wasn’t big enough for a laptop computer.
The bathroom was on the smaller side, but not so small that you were running into things. It had a shower/tub combination. The shower pressure was very good and the water always hot. There was a decent shelf above the vanity and in the shower to place your products on.
The neighbourhood was a mix a residential and other boutique hotels. The streets were tree lined and quiet. It was a nice place to retire for the evening after taking in the hustle and bustle of London. Without a doubt, I would stay in the area again and would also consider The Caesar again.
London Pass –
When we were making plans, we read about the advantages of the London Pass and it was recommended to us by others who had visited London (thank you to the amazing social media followers for their tips!). After really scrutinizing our itinerary, we found that we would not have gotten value out of the London Pass. I do think the London Pass is a great option, but we found that for what we wanted to see, it was cheaper for us to pay as we go. Plus, we didn’t want to be tied to using the pass within the period it was valid. We like to be more carefree with our schedule. Also, although the London Pass boasts about being able to avoid the long lines at various attractions, this may not be true for all. For example, when we visited the Churchill War Rooms (more on that below), they would not allow London Pass holders to jump the cue, citing security issues as being the reason.
Portobello Road Market –
On the Saturday, we attended the Portobello Road Market. I loved it here so much! This is the day where the antique dealers throw open their doors and set out their wares. Along with the multitude of antiquities, there were other vendors pedalling various knick-knacks and tourist items. If your hungry, this is the place to be. There is every imaginable type of food available and if you have a sweet tooth you’ll find some of the best pastries your tastebuds may ever have. Greg almost passed out from the deliciously sweet goodness of a chocolate eclair.
Changing of The Guard –
This was something we were looking forward to seeing. The Changing of The Guard at Buckingham Palace takes place everyday at 11:30 am. We got there around 11 am and already the crowds had formed around the gates to Buckingham Palace. We ended up taking a spot along the roadway to the right of Buckingham Palace (if you are looking at it).
When the Changing of The Guard commenced, we ended up missing most of it because much of what took place happened within the the gates of Buckingham Palace.
So, to get the most out of seeing the Changing of The Guard, I would suggest getting there at least an hour early in order to get a spot in front of the gates and preferably to the left of the centre entrance (if you are looking at the gates). There are three entrances to the front gates and the left side seemed to get most of the activity the day we were there.
Even though we missed much of the ceremony, the site of the soldiers marching in and out of the gates of Buckingham Palace, in their iconic scarlet tunics and bearskin caps, was an impressive sight.
The Royal Mews –
In other words, the Royal Stables. Not only is it where the horses that draw the Royal Carriages are stabled, it is also where all of the Royal Carriages are housed. Four of the Windsor Grey horses, used to draw particular carriages, were at the Mews on the day we visited. They were absolutely beautiful.
But, the main display were the Royal Carriages that have been used throughout history and are still in use today by The Queen and Royal Family. Here are a few photos of some of the carriages that were on display.
Churchill War Rooms –
An amazing piece of history that has literally been frozen in time. This is the actual bunker Winston Churchill, along with members of his War Cabinet and support staff, used to command and coordinate Britain’s fight against Nazi Germany during WW2.
Another part of the museum is dedicated solely to Churchill ’s life and provides a comprehensive overview of his entire life and his amazing achievements.
A great tip…take advantage of the audio tour (it is free). It provides great commentary on each room and area as you pass though the bunker. It really helped to illustrate what the conditions were like for those working underground at the time were and the intense sense of duty they had.
Hyde Park –
We absolutely LOVE big city parks! This is an oasis in the middle of London. The beautiful grounds, fountains and dogs a plenty, off leash and enjoying life, immediately washes you in a sense of tranquility.
Besides the lovely grounds, we made it a point to visit the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. The setting was so peaceful, calming and open; a true reflection of “The People’s Princess”.
We also took a walk over to Kensington Palace and the nearby Orangery Restaurant. We didn’t tour the inside of Kensington Palace or eat at The Orangery Restaurant. However, the grounds surrounding the Palace are impeccable and The Orangery’s patio is a delightful place to enjoy a bite, High Tea or a relaxing drink, while taking in the peaceful greenery. We will do both on our next trip back to London.
Tower of London –
Along wth its infamous history of being the prison that housed and eventually executed Ann Boleyn (2nd wife of Henry the 8th), among others, it also houses the Crown Jewels. But, before venturing off on our own, we took advantage of the Yeoman Warder (aka “Beefeaters”) tour (this is free).
During the one hour tour, a Yeoman Warder takes visitors through an interesting, humorous and entertaining historical journey on of the Tower of London. Just don’t call them “Beefeaters”. However, at the end of the tour it was explained why they are called “Beefeaters”.
Following the tour, we continued to explore the Tower of London on our own. The Crown Jewels was definitely the highlight. It puts a whole new twist to “put a ring on it”.
After the Tower of London, we hopped onto a river boat and cruised the Thames River, where we exited at the London Eye Pier. From there we took in the sights of the Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben), Parliament and a little further up Westminster Abbey. We were too late to tour Westminster, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Bomber Command Memorial –
This was special moment for Greg. During WW2, both of Greg’s Grandfathers served in the Air Force for Britain (Royal Air Force) and Canada (Royal Canadian Air Force) respectively. His one grandfather, Berg Jensen, was specifically attached to Bomber Command and was a Flight Engineer. He was fortunate to have survived the war.
This memorial is a tribute to those who served in Bomber Command and who made the ultimate sacrifice.