We are very excited to introduce you to one of our hosts of the Althoff St. James's Hotel & Club today. Madeleine Calon, who has returned as Head Concierge and would be delighted to share with you her favorite places and things to do in London.
Madeleine Calon says
As British Summertime draws to a close, it is time to welcome Autumn, my favourite season and I’d like to share with you my favourite places and things to do in London.
The long hot and dry summer of 2022 should provide us with spectacular foliage this year, and the Althoff St. James’s Hotel & Club is fantastically located with three of London’s Royal Parks within a short walk of the hotel. Strolling through Green Park (which can be accessed via a “secret” passageway from the hotel) will bring you to the gates of Buckingham Palace where you can enjoy the pomp and pageantry of Changing The Guard.
From the Palace, walk through St James’s Park towards Westminster and the hub of British Government at the Houses of Parliament. “Big Ben” as the clock tower at Queen Elizabeth’s Tower is better known, provides a great navigational aid.
November 5th or Bonfire night as it is known is a reminder of a plot in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament by Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. The British mark the event with firework displays and bonfire parties.
Opposite the Houses of Parliament you will find Westminster Abbey, the coronation site of kings and queens since 1066.
Crossing Westminster Bridge you will find the London Eye which offers great views over London, the journey lasts only 30 minutes but can give you a different perspective of the layout of London. Throughout September there is Totally Thames Festival celebrating the river.
I love to take a boat from Westminster, as the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral is particularly spectacular from the Thames. The river was previously the main means of transport in previous centuries. Passing under the famous Tower Bridge and seeing “Traitor’s Gate at the entrance to the Tower of London is a great reminder of the history of this World Heritage Site that has served as a Palace, a fortress and infamous prison. There are both sightseeing and commuter services that travel the length of the river and the nearest pier to the hotel is Westminster pier.
The City of London is the oldest part of London, and since the 13th century their Lord Mayor travels to Westminster to swear their loyalty to the monarch. The Lord Mayor’s Show takes place this year on the 12th of November and a parade follows the Lord Mayor’s State Coach made up of local businesses, a selection of the 110 ancient and modern Livery companies that range from the original Grocers, Goldsmiths and Haberdashers through to the more modern International Bankers and Management Consultants Companies. Along with members and bands of the armed forces the day is a great spectacle usually finishing with a firework display on the river Thames.
1 | Spencer House From its conception, Spencer House was recognised as one of the most ambitious aristocratic town houses ever built in London and is, today, the city's only great eighteenth-century private palace to survive intact. Spencer House was built in 1756-66 for John, first Earl Spencer, an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-97). Situated in the heart of St. James’s, Spencer House is a short distance from Althoff St. James's Hotel & Club and is open on Sundays for pre-booked tours.
2 | Burlington Arcade The Arcade epitomises impeccable service, specialist knowledge and elegant surroundings. From the classic to the contemporary, a huge variety of the finest goods are on offer whether searching for a gift, treating yourself or simply window shopping. From the softest cashmere to sparkling antiques, vintage watches, connoisseur writing materials, fine fragrance and top quality leather goods. Burlington Arcade is a welcome retreat from the swirling bustle and noise of London’s streets.
3 | Temple Church The Temple Church is one of the most historic and beautiful churches in London. There are over eight hundred years of history: from the Crusaders in the 12th century, through the turmoil of the Reformation and the founding father of Anglican theology, to some of the most famous church music in London.
4 | The Wallace Collection The Wallace Collection is a national museum in the splendid former London town house of the Hertford Family. In 25 galleries are unsurpassed displays of French 18th century painting, furniture and porcelain with superb Old Master paintings and a world class armoury.
5 | London Silver Vaults The world famous London Silver Vaults, in the heart of London's legal district, is home to the world's largest retail collection of fine antique silver. Behind the huge safe doors and within its vaulted walls, it is possible to find anything from a champagne swizzle stick to a full size silver armchair! Although English silver predominates, there are specialists who deal in silver from every corner of the world. In fact, every period and every style is catered for, in this unique setting.
6 | The Banqueting House The Banqueting House was used to provide entertainment for Charles I, who commissioned the stunning Rubens ceiling. Ironically he was later executed at Whitehall Palace. After the fire that destroyed Whitehall Palace in 1698, it was used as a chapel until 1890. Now there are occasional classical concerts held, and a more impressive venue is difficult to find.
7 | The Chapels Royal The Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace was constructed by Henry VIII and decorated by Hans Holbein in honour of the king's short-lived fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves. Queen Victoria was married in the Chapel, and her marriage certificate, hand-written by the Archbishop of Canterbury and signed by both bride and groom, hangs on the wall in the vestry. I have a personal connection to the Chapels Royal, as my father used to be a chorister there.
8 | The Sir John Soane’s Museum Soane designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. After the death of his wife (1815), he lived here alone, constantly adding to and rearranging his collections. Having been deeply disappointed by the conduct of his two sons, one of whom survived him, he determined to establish the house as a museum to which 'amateurs and students' should have access.
9 | Chelsea Physic Garden Sitting on the Thames Embankment, and sheltered by high walls, Chelsea Physic Garden is one of the oldest and most respected botanic gardens in Europe and the oldest in London. Founded in 1673 by The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London for its apprentices to study medicinal plants and their uses, it became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. Chelsea Physic Garden’s plant collection is unique in being the only botanic garden collection focused on medicinal, herbal and useful plants.
10 | Duke of York Square The Square has over 30 chic stores, both established brands and unique boutiques, along with numerous restaurants offering extensive al fresco dining. Also home to one of London’s best artisan food markets and the iconic Saatchi Gallery, an elegant, historic destination and the perfect place to enjoy retail or beauty therapy, foodie indulgence or a spot of contemporary culture.