London is famous for its royal history. For hundreds of years, the city has been known for its long-spanning monarchic dynasty. From the iconic films made about Kings and Queens such as Anne Boelyn, Elizabeth I and Richard III to the Royal portraits found in the National Portrait Gallery, Kings and Queens have captured the global imagination for hundreds of years.
For some tourists visiting the city, it might be the very reason you’re staying at our luxury hotel suites in London. What with hotels such as the Park Grand Hyde Park and Marble Arch being located close to some of the most popular palace and royal residencies in London, the world of the Royal Family is right on your doorstep.
With London’s history dating back for almost two millennia, it’s not surprising that many of the relics from its feudal past can still be found, whilst many of the still operating palaces are open to the general public. Many that are no longer in use have also been refurbished as museums and Grade listed relics, making for even deeper a dive into the city’s past. Below are just some of the unique buildings that have made London’s royal history the tourist draw that it is today.
Probably the most famous of the royal palaces, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II herself and has parts of it are open throughout the summer months for tours and visits.
Dating back to 1703 when it was known as Buckingham House the palace was bought by King George III in 1761 and became the official royal residence of Queen Victoria, possibly the most famous of English queens. Since then, the changing of the guard has become a daily draw for tourists who want to watch the iconic red-clad palace guards swap shifts through an orchestrated march. If the crowds of tourists outside the palace gates wasn’t enough of an attraction, the garden parties, banquets and receptions held by the Queen, usually three times in the summer, often sees members of the public invited to join the royal family in a celebration of drinks, music and food fit for a king (and queen!)
Whilst it may not resemble what it did in the 17th century, Kew Palace is still a staple of the London Royal Palace collection, in part because of the breathtaking gardens surrounding it. With a short royal habitation, lasting from around 1728 to 1818, royals such as George III (the famous Mad King) whilst his predecessors King George II and Queen Caroline also brought the house to fame. The house’s pagoda and Royal Kitchen’s have been opened to the public, under the eye of the Historic Royal Palaces charity.
Kensington Palace is the royal residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and is located close to Buckingham Palace. Based in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, this beautiful red-bricked house has staterooms that are open to the public, alongside the beautiful Kensington Gardens that surround them, which date back to the 18th century. Connected to the Serpentine Lake and Hyde Park by the beautiful sunken gardens, Kensington Palace is a prime attraction for nearby customers at the Park Grand hotels.
St James Palace
Whilst no royals still live in this heart of the city palace, it is still used by the Accession Council to decide and formally acknowledge the death and replacement of a monarch. With a history dating back to the 1530s’, St James Palace is built in the Tudor style and was frequented by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Nowadays, however, the palace still functions as a branch of the monarchy and houses the Queen’s Chapel, still used by the royal family for functions. It is also the home fo the Gentlemen at Arms, Yeomen Guard and the Queen’s Watermen, all of whom work for the royal family in historic roles. Unfortunately, this means that the interior of the historic palace is not visitable by the public, but the stunning courtyard can be walked through on your way to St James Park or Buckingham Palace.
Windsor Castle is one of the most famous of the royal castles and dates back to the Norman Invasion of 1066 which makes it the longest-occupied royal palace on the continent. With such a long history, it’s no surprise then, that such monarchs as King Edward III, Richard II and Henry V all used the castle for much of their reign. The castle is now a hugely popular tourist attraction and sees hundreds of thousands of tourists visit each month.
Located just under an hour outside of London, Windsor Castle has grown in size over the last Millenium and its perpendicular architecture, beautiful gardens and stunning interior have helped it stand out as one of the top attractions on the outskirts of the city. With plenty of tourist attractions at Windsor Castle, you can expect to find cafes serving food and cakes to rival our own afternoon tea London City.
Originally built for Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, Hampton Court Palace became known for its beautiful pre-Copernican clockface and its use by Henry VIII. Based in Richmond, this magnificent palace is in zone 6 of the London train fare area and is reachable from Waterloo within half an hour. With tours, reenactments and plenty of nearby green spaces to explore, Hampton Court Palace is one of the most popular historic castles in the city that are not still regularly used by the current royal family.
Easily reachable for guests at the Barbican Rooms Chiswell Street, Lambeth Palace has been the official home fo the Archbishop of Canterbury for almost 800 years now. That’s a lot fo history to explore! The beautiful palace is located to the south-east of the Palace of Westminster, making it one of the most central royal residences in the city. With a broad variety of Church of England related figures now working and living there, the surrounding area of Lambeth Marsh and adjoining Garden Museum are often overlooked by monarch mad tourists but is well worth a visit for its Tudor architecture and idyllic pockets of greenery.