The Piccadilly Line is a great underground service, but also a great way to explore the city from above-ground, using its stops as a template. By hopping onto your nearest Piccadilly Line stop from your Park Grand Paddington Suites, you can see some of London’s best attractions at every stop along the way. Pick and choose which of these is most appealing, but then either walk or cycle the Piccadilly route and realise not only how the city fits together, but often how close different stops are to one another.
Naturally, we will start at Piccadilly Circus, home to not just some excellent hotels in Piccadilly Circus, but a wealth of entertainment and activity. Here, you get the chance to see the famous LED lit-up billboards which have been a London attraction for the last hundred years as well as a historically significant starting point for the world of advertising in London but also the UK at large. At number 1 Piccadilly Circus, you will find the Body Worlds Museum, which has taken the spot of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum which was there from 2008 until 2017 – a good innings, for sure! Now, an equally if not more remarkable museum sits in its place, offering visitors to London the opportunity to see how their own bodies work, from just beneath the surface layer (or, more crassly, your skin) to much deeper, like the workings of your muscles or the formation of human life from the female womb.
Address: 1 Piccadilly Circus, West End, London W1J 0DA
A square down the road from Piccadilly Circus, you will find Leicester Square, which has been London’s theatre hot-spot since 1670 and has yet to stop putting on a great show, every night of the week since. Perfect for a meal, or a show, or a meal and a show, Leicester Square forms the epicentre of what is fondly dubbed London’s “theatreland”. A few shows on at the moment include (but are certainly not limited to): Mary Poppins, The Book of Mormon, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, The Prince of Egypt and more. If you are more into music, bars and nightlife than dining or theatre, you are still in the right place: nightclubs, bars, casinos… Leicester Square has it all and sparkles brightest after hours.
As soon as you start walking/cycling between Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Covent Garden and the likes, you will realise just how close all these areas are and despite the fact that each seems so succinct and self-contained in its own right, each of these descriptions could actually be for one or the other. However, Covent Garden is indisputably a fabulous shopping destination. The Yards host the majority of Covent Garden’s shopping thoroughfare, and are essentially an outdoor shopping mall with numerous shops dotted along the cobblestone streets of a time gone-by when they were once bustling market streets pedalling fresh flowers and cockles alike.
Address: The Yards 17 Slingsby Place St Martin’s Courtyard, London WC2E 9AB
King’s Cross St Pancras
Right, so now we get a little further North, away from the central Piccadilly Line heartbeat but still inoffensively close in distance. King’s Cross was once an area where nobody would have thought to visit as a tourist: it was industrial, and once upon a time, the best attraction was its train station (which, to be perfectly fair, is pretty immense). Nowadays, you could spend a whole day exploring the area. Starting at Platform 9 and ¾, the Harry Potter Shop and the famous trolly-in-the-wall set-up awaits all Potterheads looking for their next Instagram post. A member of staff will even hold your house-scarf (which you won’t be able to resist buying from the shop) out of the picture, so it looks like you are mid-run through the wall. Alternatively, you could go shopping in the Coal Drops Yard, which are a prime example of how far the area has come, through the fact that they sit in a converted, industrial, 1851-built Great Northern’s western goods yard and are now a hubspot for independent shops and quirky coffee stops. In simple: it is very “hipster”. Those artsy travellers who prefer a good exhibition over retail therapy could head to the House of Illustration, which has a number of rotating exhibitions but also the permanent Quentin Blake display. The book-lovers out there may be so inspired by the works of Blake, whose illustrations lit up the world of Roald Dahl, and will want to head down from Granary Square in which the House of Illustration sits, onto Regent’s Towpath that runs alongside Regent’s Canal, and onto the water: Word on the Water is a floating bookshop on a barge and will not only make your bookish dreams come true, but it will create new ones.
Heading back down south, and across, South Kensington sits below Hyde Park, waiting for visitors to enjoy the marvels of the area. Though the obvious remains: the museums, like the Natural History Museum, the V&A Museum and the Science Museum, there is also a wonderful cafe environment, with little bakeries and coffee shops dotted along a village-like area of extravagant houses and beautiful architecture. You will find the dinosaur-lovers in the museum, the book-lovers in South Kensington Bookshop, a wonderful indie-bookshop which makes the area proud, and the foodies will be firmly planted in 2-star Michelin chef Claude Bosi’s restaurant at Bibendum.
So, next time you are staying in the Paddington Court Suites, make the most of your prime location by exploring the wealth of dining, culture and entertainment all around you. While you can do this by mixing and matching, a fun guideline to follow is one such as this: walking a tube line, following a route which is used everyday by thousands of people who probably hardly realise just how close everything is to the other. Hopefully, now that you understand just how close everything is to one another, you never find yourself on a tube from Covent Garden to Leicester Square, but instead walk the 4 minutes, enjoying the hustle and bustle in between.