Hyde Park Winter Wonderland hits London

October 24th, 2012

With the festive season approaching, London is preparing to host some of the best winter events in England’s tourist calendar. The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Festival has an excellent reputation for entertaining groups of friends and families searching for that festive boost in their spirits. Once again, B+B Belgravia is perfectly located to warm your toes after a fantastic evening.

Winter Wonderland Highlights

The festival transforms a large section of Hyde Park near Hyde Park station from the 23rd of November through to the 5th of January, giving you ample chance to experience its myriad of events.

  • Feel the rush of ice-skating in the open air; the ice rink is illuminated by 108,000 Victorian tea-lights for that extra spark of magic.
  • Find unique gifts at the Christmas market.
  • Marvel at the variety of skilled performers at Zippo’s Circus: A highly popular attraction, not just for being heated, which features breath-taking aerobics and illusions.
  • Fill the young ones with anticipation and excitement on a trip to Santa’s Grotto.
  • Refresh and warm up everyone in your group with the tasty Bavarian food and drinks on offer.
  • The Magical Ice Kingdom is a walk-through world of ice and snow where you will encounter woodland creatures and a unicorn-pulled carriage.

Unique festive B+B Belgravia experience 

The morning after such an evening deserves to be complimented with a fine English breakfast in your choice of modern rooms or studio apartments. You are also situated in central London with all of its winter attractions never too far away. Book now at B+B Belgravia and embrace London at this special time of year.

Taking In The Sights Of London On Bike

September 28th, 2012

As London continues to become more accommodating to cyclists, here at B&B Belgravia we find ourselves in a great location for those looking to discover the many landmarks that the capital has to offer.

Despite public transport being comprehensive in London, taking the tube can mean you miss out on many sights, and on a warm day / rush hour it can be hot and uncomfortable; whilst London’s bus network leaves you at the mercy of traffic jams.

Here at B+B Belgravia we are lucky enough to have 3 London Cycle Hire docking stations within a 5-minute walk of our front door, however we would recommend turning right from our front door and walking to the end of Ebury Street. Here you should find many blue Boris bikes available for you to hire for the day. The pricing scheme is unique in that it promotes short travel, and after paying £1 for a 24 hour access fee and removing the bike from the docking station, you are then charged on the time it takes you to return the bike to any docking station across the capital. For every journey under 30 minutes not charged any extra, and those under an hour only charged £1 and so on. For more information on the charges for the scheme click here.

Providing the weather is nice, we would recommend taking an 8-mile route that takes in most of London’s major landmarks including Harrods, Piccadilly Circus, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

  • After leaving our bed and breakfast, start cycling towards Knightsbridge, where you will pass through Sloane Square before reaching Knightsbridge tube station. We would recommend parking up your bike at one of the docking stations here so that you can take in the world famous Harrods department store.
  • Hopping back on your bike, ride through the grounds of Hyde Park up to Marble Arch and then along Oxford Street.
  • After continuing along the world famous shopping street either on foot or by bike, stop at the Oxford Circus intersection, turn right and head Regents Street to pass Liberty London and Hamley’s Toy Shop before reaching Piccadilly Circus. It is worth parking your bike up here and then walking across to Covent Garden, via Leicester Square – don’t worry it’s not a long walk, only 15 minutes or so.
  • After seeing the sights around this part of London, jump back onto a bike and head onto the Embankment, where you will find yourself opposite the London Eye until you reach Westminster where you will come across Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
  • Round Parliament Square to go down past Whitehall and Downing Street before reaching Trafalgar Square. Here you will need to pass through Admiralty Arch to go onto the Mall, heading towards Buckingham Palace.
  • Once at the palace your 8 or so mile round trip of London would be near complete and you would have taken in the vast majority of London’s major landmarks. If you’re feeling a bit tired by now, don’t worry – you’re almost back at the Bed and Breakfast, as we’re less than a mile from the front gates of palace.

If you are considering using this form of transport, you will find that It’s a great way to get fit and to also explore the capital providing the weather holds up. Here are a few tips from Transport For London on how to stay safe when cycling around London.

Image via flickr

London Raises The Bar…

August 15th, 2012

The 2012 Olympic games swept us all of our feet. Going into the games we had the ticketing fiasco and issues with security personnel, mixed with our very British pessimism, which meant many were indifferent to the games. But throughout those 16 days, the nation was glued to their TV screens willing Team GB on, as they brought home 65 medals.

Discounting the football, the show kicked off with Danny Boyle’s celebration of our past and present, with the British countryside, Industrial Revolution, British literature and our National Health Service playing big roles, before we were then greeted by the site of our neighbour – the Queen and James Bond skydiving into the stadium.

Being in London’s Belgravia district we were never too far from the action, with the Triathlon, Marathon and Cycling Road Races all finishing a mile down the road from us at the Mall. However after the disappointment of the mens road race, it took several days for Team GB to register their first gold with Helen Glover and Heather Stanning beginning the rush. But from then on, no one could’ve predicted the gold glut that saw Team GB finish in 3rd place, only behind superpowers China and the USA, in their largest haul since 1908.

Arguably the finest day was ‘Super Saturday‘, which saw Team GB pick up 6 golds. Britain started the day by picking up 2 gold’s at Eton Dorney, which also saw a new record set for most medals by a country in the Olympic Regatta, before 1 more was added at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park for the women’s team pursuit. And then we were treated to the finest night of Athletics this country has ever seen. Within the space of an hour, ‘face of the games’ Jessica Ennis won her Heptathlon in style, by winning the 800-metre race in front of an electric and partisan 80,000 crowd. Greg Rutherford then picked up gold in the long jump, before Mo Farah powered through to win the 10,0000-metre race.

Throughout the remainder of the games, the heroes of Team GB helped bring in a regular stream of medals, as the remarkable 29 gold medals ensured the achievements in Beijing were bettered, alongside the largest medals tally set in over a century. One notable achievement was Sir Chris Hoy smashing the record for most Olympic gold medals won by a member of Team GB.

And then it was onto the Spice Girls, The Who and many other globally recognised British acts to wrap up the show in a showcase closing ceremony that marked the end of a remarkable 2 weeks for our small country. In what has been a magnificent year for Britain with the Diamond jubilee and Olympics, we can only hope that this continues with the Paralympics!

Go Team GB!

Is Formula 1 Coming To The Streets Of London?

July 12th, 2012

As the Formula 1 circus visited Britain last weekend, McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were championing an idea put forth by their principle sponsor – Santander, for a race to be run through the streets of London, around many of the iconic landmarks.

It comes just in a weekend where Silverstone showed its inability to deal with the unpredictable British weather, and would certainly be a glamour race in the same vein as Monaco.The course is currently pencilled in to take in the likes of Embankment, Parliament Square, Trafalger Square and the Mall, however because of its apparent impracticality – especially with such a narrow gap at Admiralty Arch – it has not been taken seriously up to now.

But the proposal seems to be getting more momentum after Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says that its no joke and that he could even be prepared to waive the £35 million hosting fee for London, to force this idea through.

Some commentators have said that the cost of implementing the changes needed to host the Grand Prix would top £200million, with changes to the street furniture and such needed, however with the fee waived and an estimated £100million+ for London to make from the weekend, it is interesting how this will develop.

Then the view of the Londoners has to be taken in consideration. Will they put up with disruption of this kind for 1 long weekend every year, or is the upcoming Olympics enough for their lifetime? Here at B+B Belgravia we have our fingers crossed, as we wouldn’t mind seeing one of the fastest sports in the world on our doorstep.

Travelling by Tube in London – A Tourist’s Guide

May 17th, 2012

Whether you’re visiting London for business or pleasure, the chances are you’ll have to take the Tube at some point to get from A to B. Central London’s so vast and the roads are incredibly congested so the Tube is often the most practical commuting solution.

For first-time Tube riders a number of emotions may creep over them before embarking on their first underground pursuit; excitement at riding on London’s iconic transport infrastructure, anticipation at the thought of being underground and general confusion at trying to navigate the system. The fact is; there’s a sort of unwritten code of conduct on the Tube that savvy commuters always adhere to which ensures safety and efficiency for travellers using the underground. The best thing you can do as a newbie is read this simple guide so you don’t have “lost tourist” written across your forehead.

Underground Fares and Ticket Debunking

The London Underground can be a confusing concept to grasp in terms of fares and tickets. Firstly, you need to establish which zones you will be travelling in; Tube tickets are priced according to how many zones you will cross and how many single journeys you will make in a day.

For example, a daily travel card for zones 1-3 (off-peak) costs £7.70 and enables you to make unlimited journeys within those zones, whereas a single journey within those zones costs £4.30. So if you intend to make more than one trip within those zones you may be best purchasing a travel card.

Alternatively, you can purchase an Oyster Card which basically entitles you to cheaper fares on any mode of public transport in zoned London areas. For example, the regular zone 1-3 single fare would £4.30 as mentioned before, but with an Oyster Card would only be £2.60. If you made various journeys within zones 1-3 your Oyster Card would stop charging you once it hits the daily cap (which is the equivalent price of the daily travel card). It also allows you to top up Pay as You Go style in Tube and train stations as well as at a large number of off licences.

You can also load railcards onto your Oyster Card for further savings; you get an extra 34% off single and daily price caps so it’s definitely worth utilising! You can load a railcard onto your Oyster by visiting any train or Tube, London Overground and certain national rail ticket offices.

Navigating the System
Before even thinking about getting on the Tube it’s highly recommended that you have a look at the Tube map and plan your journey as best you can before setting out. Certain lines only run through certain stations, so you may be required to change lines at particular stations to reach your intended destination.

If you have a smartphone then it’s definitely worth downloading the Tube Map App, not only is it convenient to have on your person at all times but it also calculates your journeys for you! If you put your starting point and intended destination it will pick the most efficient route, informing you of any changes required and providing you with an estimated journey time. Of course if you do get lost there are plenty of Underground staff on hand to help you find your way.

If you’re planning to travel via Tube at the weekend then allow extra time for your journey. The Underground often suffers from partial line closures at the weekend for planned engineering work, so you may have to take an alternate route or endure delays. This is due to the Underground track being rather ancient and needing a refurbishment.

If you’re intrigued by the transport system that is, in its own right a major tourist attraction, then why not watch the BBC documentary series The Tube? It delves into the daily life of Underground staff filling various roles and provides an interesting insight into how it all runs. It also gives Tube novices a fairly good idea of what to expect when travelling on the Underground!

About the author: Stephanie Staszko writes for MF Airport Parking who provide cheap London Heathrow Airport Parking for those visiting the Capital by air.

image via _dChris

Belgravia tops place of most desirable places to live

April 19th, 2012

A survey we carried out recently revealed that of all the places in London to live, Belgravia is the most desirable. It appears that most people would like to rub shoulders with the rich and famous – and perhaps even The Queen!

More than 1 in 3 people said they would choose to live near our B+B – but admitted that they probably couldn’t afford it! So we’re still an aspirational nation, which is comforting. 75% of people said that London was “too expensive”, but what was especially interesting was the differences between generations.

Most young people wanted to live in Canary Wharf, while middle aged people tended to aspire to live in trendy Islington – especially middle-age women. It was actually the over-55s who voted en masse for Belgravia as their choice of abode.

When you think about it, this is probably quite natural – young people want jobs and money, and Canary Wharf has both, as well as a growing number of trendy (but expensive) apartments. Islington has bars and restaurants, and a certain relaxed atmosphere that would be perfect for young families who want to bring their children up in the city itself, without having to move to the suburbs.

Belgravia is known for its upmarket chic, with many famous residents such as Roman Abramovich, Michael Caine and Sean Connery pushing up the value of housing way beyond the million mark. It’s also known for its Michelin-starred restaurants, so if you want a bit of the high-life, it’s the perfect place.

A Dickensian Celebration

February 22nd, 2012

Few can have escaped the fact that this month was the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the great authors of all times, Charles Dickens.

Dramatisations of his works have appeared across the TV network, books have featured in prominent displays in bookstores across London – and the rest of the UK – and new biographies have been released to mark the bicentenary.

Dickens 2012 is an ongoing international celebration of the life and works of the great man and a wide range of organisations have come together to deliver a varied programme of events in his honour.

The Museum of London is hosting Dickens and London until June this year. It recreates the sounds of Dickensian London which inspired his greatest writing with photographs, costumes and other objects on display to capture the Capital as Dickens lived and breathed it. It is also fascinating to see original manuscripts for Bleak House and David Copperfield. A film shows compares for visitors the night time of 21st Century London with that of Victorian times showing what inspired Dickens to write more than 150 years ago.

Walks are also being arranged to commemorate the great man who spent days and nights strolling around his beloved city. Landmarks which inspired his novels or where he worked feature prominently. It is known he had a virtually photographic memory and his endless walking and soaking up of the atmosphere are captured in many of his best known books.

A series of talks are also being held, primarily this month and are recommended for his ever-growing band of followers.

Further details are available at www.dickens2012.org

Hix Belgravia set to open its doors

January 13th, 2012
Mark Hix

Mark Hix

Belgravia is set to welcome a new restaurant – Hix Belgravia, run by internationally renowned chef Mark Hix. The restaurant will be in the Thompson Belgraves Hotel just off Sloane Street, and will include a “Mark’s Bar” like the equivalent in Soho.

Mark Hix is famous for his original take on traditional British dishes, but promises that Hix Belgravia will take on more of an international flavor. Hix says he has had “fun” with the menu and is going ‘off-piste’ this time, promising his loyal gourmet followers that if they are expecting his signature British style, they can think again.

Belgravia is known for its impressive restaurants, from the authentically French La Poule au Pot and the Michelin-starred Rousillon. Even Marcus Wareing, famous for his partnership and arguments with Gordon Ramsey, is now a Belgravia local, having established himself at The Berkeley.

Hix Belgravia

Hix Belgravia

B+B Belgravia and Studios@82 guests can get a 10% discount on lunch at three local Belgravia restaurants – The Thomas Cubitt, the Pantechnicon and The Orange. The offer is available Monday through to Friday in the First Floor Dining Rooms from 12 till 3pm.

Hix Belgravia will bring something new to the area, something eclectic and adventurous, and will be welcomed with open arms! Mark Hix is famous for his oyster bars and his innovative restaurants in London and Dorset, but it won’t be long before he’s famous for being in Belgravia!

Why London Is Perfect At Christmas

December 30th, 2011

The pretty lights, fancy decorations, anticipation of Santa visiting and excitement of Christmas Day morning all make this a truly magical time of year for children. However, even when you’re all grown up it doesn’t mean that the fun of Christmas has to go. With so much to see and do in London at this time, it’s bound to bring out the festive spirit in anyone.

Every year Hyde Park plays host to one of the most spectacular Christmas events in the UK. Perfect for all ages, Winter Wonderland is the place to find all things merry and joyful. With markets, an ice rink, shows, attractions, activities, rides and plenty of food to go around, this is a day out that will be remembered forever. Visitors can even take a trip to Santa Land where they can tour the workshop, talk to the elves, ride the Santa Express and of course meet the man himself.

If you find yourself near Covent Garden on a Saturday why not head to the Piazza for a spot of Reindeer petting? Alternatively, up until Christmas Eve London Zoo will have their very own Reindeer Lodge. Santa’s furry friends will be taking a daily walk around the zoo and visitors will even be able to pet them while they are in their enclosure.

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to Santa’s Grotto and Kew Gardens is one of the top places to do this according to critics. With the chance to meet Santa, ride a carousel, get their face painted, go on mini vintage car rides and take seasonal walks, there is lots to keep the young ones happy.

Of course there is plenty of festive entertainment around London for adults too. With comedy shows, gigs, cabaret and Christmas markets aplenty, even the biggest scrooge would find it hard not to feel merry at this special time of year.

 

 

 

 

Visit Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

December 7th, 2011
Zipp's Circus in Hyde Park

The famous Zippo's Circus

Each year Winter Wonderland attracts more than a million visitors to Hyde Park. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland can be enjoyed by everyone – it is absolutely FREE to enter Hyde Park and visit Santa Land. Experience the wonderment of the festive season with an array of magical activities, rides and attractions to explore! Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or enjoy the more tranquil experiences – there is something for all.

Soar 60 meters into the London sky in the comfort of enclosed pods and experience spectacular views. See the famous Zippos Christmas Circus, in an awe-inspiring extravaganza for the whole family or skate on the Samsung Galaxy Ice Rink. Winter Wonderland would not be complete without rides like the famous Power Tower, the Snow Jet and the Winter Wonderland Express!

The opening times including Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve are 10am until 10pm, from 19 November 2011 to 3 January 2012. (Christmas Day the event is closed).

Hyde Park London W2 2UH