If you only have time for one thing while visiting London, then the Central London Westminster area is your safest bet. It has one of the highest concentration of London’s historic and prestigious landmarks including the world famous Big Ben part of the house of Parliament, the Westminster Abbey the place of coronation of British monarchs, Downing Street, home of the British First Minister as well the Buckingham Palace home to the British Monarch . Westminster is the heart of the British politics with the siege of the government and other important political buildings such as the treasury and the Scottish Office. Since the rule of King Canute who first built his palace on this swampy location, to the fight of Winston Churchill during Second World War, Westminster was always identified as a place of power and politics.
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The Westminster district is a part of the Central London area and is within the larger borough of the City of Westminster. Whitehall is main artery that passes through the district from Trafalgar Square and Nelson Column to the north to the Parliament square and Bridge Street further South. To the East lies the Thames River with the House of Parliament and the famous Big Ben at its bank. As for the West, it is bordered with Royal London with the St-James Park and the Buckingham Palace. Further South lies Tate Britain, one of the most famous art galleries of the capital.
Westminster was historically a part of Middlesex and its name comes from the ancient area description around the Westminster Abbey : the West Minster, or monastery church.
Westminster hosts a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the House of Parliament, also called Palace of Westminster, which seats the British government. Nearby on the famous Downing Street, at number 10 is the official home of Britain Prime Minister.
Westminster Top Attractions
The Westminster key sights could be divided into the following key areas, which include from North to South:
- St James area
- Whitehall area
- Parliament Square area
- South Westminster
St James area
St James’s is part of the City of Westminster and is bounded by the prestigious Piccadilly and neighbouring Mayfair to the north, Haymarket and Whitehall (home to the British politics) to the east, Westminster to the South and Hyde Park and the Hyde Park corner (home to the Wellington Arch) to the West. At its heart is the famous The Mall road, created by Aston Webb with the Admiralty Arch at one end and the Queen’s palace at the other.
The Whitehall area covers the northern part of Westminster and is home to many political building including 10 Downing Street and the Banqueting House.
Parliament Square area
The Parliament Square area has some of the most important and prestigious sites of Westminster including the Big Ben, House of Parliament, St Margaret’s Church and Westminster Abbey.
The South Westminster area is perhaps best known as the location of the acclaimed Tate Britain, which is located on Millbank, an extension of Whitehall, on the bank of the Thames River.
Westminster Top sights
Westminster is home to some of the most recognizable attractions in London. The top 20 sights (in alphabetical order) include:
- Banqueting House
- Buckingham Palace
- Big Ben
- Cabinet War Rooms
- Dean’s Yard
- Downing Street
- Earl Haig statue
- Horse Guard Parade
- Green Park
- Guard’s Museum
- House of Parliament
- Jewel Tower
- Parliament Square
- Richards I statue
- St Margaret’s Church
- St James’s Palace
- St-John’s Smith Square
- Tate Britain
- The Mall
- Westminster Abbey
- Westminster Cathedral
- Whitehall Theatre
The Banqueting House situated on the East side of Whitehall is a beautiful building with a Rubens ceiling designed by the famous Inigo Jones, the master behind the Covent Garden Square.
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Located at the end of The Mal, between St-James and Green park, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality, and a major tourist attraction. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.
The Big Ben is often referred as the tall tower and its clock, but it facts its name originally refers to the huge bell inside of the clock. The tower and the bell are located on the northern end of the Palace of Westminster and on the bank of the Thames river. It is said that Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It is now over 150 years old and is by far one of the most know landmark in London.
Cabinet War Rooms
The Cabinet War Rooms situated on the back of King Charles street is home to the famous Churchill Museum and the headquarters of government during World War II.
The Cenotaph is a war memorial placed at the heart of the Whitehall road to commemorate those who fought during the two World wars of the Twentieth Century. It was designed by Edward Lutyens.
The Dean’s Yard is a small oasis often lost along the grandiose sight of Westminster. Located just next to the Westminster Abbey, with many various entrances it is part of a private school established in 1504.
Downing Street which is entered from Whitehall but only with special permission as it heavily guarded by police officers, is where British minister lived since 1732.
Earl Haig statue
The Earl Haig statue situated in the centre of Whitehall is a impressive sculpture of the great British First World War chief. It was designed in 1936 by Alfred Hardiman.
Green Park is one of the Royal Parks of London, covering some 19 hectares (47 acres), between London’s Hyde Park and St. James’s Park. Together with Kensington Gardens and the gardens of Buckingham Palace, these parks form an almost unbroken stretch of open land in central London reaching from Whitehall and Victoria station to Kensington and Notting Hill.
The Guard’s Museum situated next to the Horse Guard Parade on Whitehall offers everything there is to know about her majesty’s royal protectors.
Horse Guard Parade
The Horse Guard Parade is a very well known mounted guard ceremony that takes places twice a day. First in the morning at half eleven and later for the dismounting of the guard at 4PM.
House of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament also known as the Palace of Westminster is perhaps the most iconic and photograph building of the area. This UNESCO world Heritage site which lies on the banks of the Thames river, offers an impressive view on both days and especially at night. As the home of the British government it serves as the meeting place of the two houses of the United Kingdom Parliament : the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The current building replaced the medieval complex which burned down in built in 1834, but retained its original style. The Palace of Westminster still represent today a status for royal residence especially for ceremonial purposes.
The Westminster Abbey situated on the South West corner of the Parliament Square is mostly known as the location of the coronation and burial site of English and later British monarchs. Officially known as the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, it is a Gothic church and is one of the most visited attractions in the capital.
Parliament Square is a piece of green space surrounded with London’s most prestigious sights. Indeed it has the Treasury and Whitehall road to its North, the House of Parliament to the East , St Margaret and Westminster Abbey to the South. The square itself is worth visiting having a couple of beautiful statues of famous personalities including Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.
Richards I statue
The statue of Richards I situated in front of the Houses of Parliament is often regarded as the geographical heart of London. It was designed by Carlo Marochetti in 1860 and depicts the 12 century Lion heart (Coeur de Lion).
Whitehall is by far the most known road in Westminster in London running north south from Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross to Parliament Square. It is home to famous statues at it centre such as Richards I and the Cenotaph memorial. It is mostly know as a Political road lined with numerous ministries and other government buildings. Its name is taken from the vast Palace of Whitehall that used to occupy the area but which was largely destroyed by fire in 1698. Whitehall was originally a wide road that ran up to the front of the palace.
Tate Britain is an art gallery situated on Millbank road in London and is part of the British Tate gallery network with include the famous Tate Modern as well as Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. It first opened 1897 and therefore is considered the oldest gallery in the network, opening in. It houses a substantial collection of the works of J.M.W. Turner.
Westminster Top Hotels
- 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites and Residences
- Blakemore Hyde Park Hotel
- Crowne Plaza – St James Hotel
- Ritz Hotel
- Sofitel Hotel
51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites and Residences
5 stars / 51 Buckingham Gate, London
The 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites and Residences are perfectly located in the heart of Westminster, spreading across three elegant townhouses and offering 86 suites. Each one of the residences offers a fully-equipped kitchen, a separate living area and luxurious bathrooms. Guests at this flagship Taj property may enjoy chauffeur driven limousines, nanny services, personal butlers and award-winning dining venues such as the Michelin starred Quilon Restaurant. Perfect for high-end business travellers, the 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel is an opulent luxury accommodation in the heart of London.
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Blakemore Hyde Park Hotel
4 stars / 30 Leinster Gardens, Bayswater, Westminster, London W2 3AN
Located in the vibrant and culturally diverse suburb of Bayswater, this hotel offers good value in a notoriously expensive city. While London isn’t the cheapest place to visit, the Blakemore Hotel is proof that a good deal can still found in a nice neighbourhood with a unique urban vibe of its own. A 10-minute walk from Paddington Station and only 5 minutes from Bayswater tube, the hotel is well connected by train and bus, with both the main shopping of Oxford Street and Heathrow Airport around 15 minutes away. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are within walking distance as is a swathe of interesting restaurants and pubs. The hotel’s own bar and lobby are also popular places of commune, offering a cozy space in which to congregate for afternoon tea or pre-dinner drinks.
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Crowne Plaza – St James Hotel
4 stars / 45-51 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF
This international class hotel, situated near Buckingham Gate, is a short walk from Westminster. Guests will enjoy easy access to everything London has to offer via the underground rail system, and the hotel is just a five-minute drive from Buckingham Palace and St James Park Tube Station in addition to the financial, commercial, and entertainment districts. The hotel is not far from the shopping areas of Kensington and Knightsbridge. The distinctive rooms are appointed with contemporary amenities that perfectly complement the customary decoration providing an elegant and pleasing atmosphere. The on-site restaurant serves delectable French, Indian, and traditional local cuisine in an alluring ambience. The hotel is also equipped with a vast selection of business facilities. The Crowne Plaza St. James Hotel is the perfect property for guests that want, a convenient location, and international business class accommodation.
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The Ritz is perhaps one of the most respected Hotel in London. It was established in 1906 and named after Cesar Ritz. All 141 rooms at this 5-star hotel are tailored to satisfy guests’ needs. To make each guest’s stay comfortable, all rooms feature non smoking rooms, air conditioning, bathrobes, inhouse movies, hair dryer, internet access. To make each guest’s stay more complete, this London hotel offers room service 24hr, shops, elevator, coffee shop, bar/pub, laundry service/dry cleaning, meeting facilities , restaurant. The hotel provides superior recreational and leisure facilities including massage, gym/fitness facilities. With its commitment to service and focus on hospitality, you’ll enjoy your stay at Ritz Hotel
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The Sofitel is a business class hotel combining Edwardian charm and upscale facilities. It is situated right next to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. It is located in the former Cox and Kings Bank building and part of the French Accor group of hotels. It offers very large, quiet rooms decorated in contemporary style with wide screen TVs and broadband internet access. The Rose Lounge, Brasserie Roux and S. James Bar serve exquisite food and drink and leisure options include a gym and spa. The hotel is within walking distance of the main shopping and theatre districts, St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace.
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