Strolling along the banks of the River Thames is one of the most essential ‘must do’ things in London. This is a waterway that has played a major role in London’s development, and has witnessed incredible sights.
There are great riverside walks to be had on both sides of the River Thames from Tower Bridge down to Westminster, connecting all the major sights of the city. As you stroll along, you may see people walking in the mud flats beside the river. Don’t be tempted to join them! Apart from the fact it is really muddy down there, these are people who know what they are doing. They are the mudlarks, who have a traditional right to search the river banks for hidden objects and who are familiar with the vagaries of the river. The Thames is a tidal river, and water levels can change fast.
The northern bank of the Thames contains some superb architecture such as the art nouveau style Shell Mex house with its iconic clock, best seen from the river. You can also get some brilliant views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the statue of Boudica and Big Ben. In addition, hotels in Bloomsbury London gives the tourist quick access to these places of importance.
Cross the river at Westminster and stroll back along the South Bank. This offers the opportunity to explore the South Bank Centre with its host of cultural pursuits as well as the Hayward Gallery and its arts exhibitions. Not too far from hotels near Covent Garden London is the British Film Institute that offers access to countless film viewings, while a bit further along the river, the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe provides insights into Shakespearian London and an opportunity to watch a play amid the incredible circular thatched theatre. Take a look at the superb painted decorations on the walls, as these are quite unexpected as well as the stage reaching out into the auditorium. Actors certainly performed at close quarters to their audience!
Enjoy the fun of the buskers to be found along the South Bank, and browse the Parisian style second hand book stalls for something to read. Food trucks offer plenty of snacks to keep hunger at bay or you can drop into the riverside Anchor Pub to relax with a glass of beer.
For some contemporary culture, head out of your room at the Regency house hotel London for the Tate Modern located in the former Bankside Power Station. This vast space with three levels of galleries, houses all manner of modern art installations and paintings. From the upper levels, you can get some superb views across London.
Hidden in Craven Street, is a Georgian terraced house which was the home of the American statesman and a key founder of the United States – Benjamin Franklin. This was effectively the first American Embassy to be situated in London, as he attempted to reconcile the varying views and interests of different groups. Definitely worth a visit as you get a guided tour from Polly, Benjamin Franklin’s landlady’s daughter accompanied by a variety of sound effects and visuals. Franklin was more than just a statesman – he even created a new type of stove designed to save fuel, and bifocal spectacles!