London is renowned around the world for its amazing museums and many of the capital’s finest and most prestigious collections are just a few minutes away from the Park Grand London Hyde Park Hotel.
The best part is, most of them are completely free to visit, although you’re encouraged to drop a donation of however much you like in one of the many boxes strategically dotted around the museum. Certain exhibitions and sections command a ticket price.
Here’s our pick of the best:
The British Museum
(Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG) –
2.6 miles, 23 mins, closest Tube: Tottenham Court Road Station (Central line)
We’ll start with the biggest, and we don’t just mean the biggest museum in London but the world! The British Museum has the largest and most comprehensive offering of historic items on the planet, with some eight million works in its permanent collection. Some 6.8 million people flock through its doors every year, making it one of London’s most popular attractions.
Established in 1753 and opened to the public six years later, the British Museum is made up of almost 100 galleries with collections specialising in ancient Egypt and Sudan, Greece and Rome and the Middle East, as well as prehistoric artefacts and prestigious prints and drawings from Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.
It also has a complete set of Pablo Picasso’s Vollard Suite, as well as the Rosetta Stone – the key to deciphering hieroglyphs.
(Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD) –
1.4 miles, 20 mins, South Kensington Station (Circle)
As London is so massive, getting around can be time-consuming and physically tiring.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to head to the Science Museum on the aptly named Exhibition Road – just a 1.4-mile walk from Park Grand London Hyde Park Hotel.
This is because it forms part of a mini district of museums with the Natural History and Victoria & Albert museums in the surrounding area. In short, you get three phenomenal museums for the price of one journey.
It has more than 300,000 items, with some of the earliest remaining steam engines, including Stephenson’s Rocket and Puffing Billy – the oldest surviving steam locomotive. There’s also a recreation of Britain’s first robot – Eric – and areas focussing on space, medicine and agriculture.
Recent years have seen the addition of an IMAX cinema screening science and nature documentaries, many of which are in 3D. Entry to the museum is free but in most cases, you’ll have to buy a ticket for the cinema.
Natural History Museum
(Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD) –
1.5 miles, 21 mins, South Kensington Station (Circle)
Practically next door to the Science Museum is this: the Natural History Museum, home to 80 million items spread across five collections.
Here, you’ll have the chance to get up-close to dinosaur skeletons including a 26-metre cast of a Diplodocus named Dippy.
Other notable items include a 14,700-year-old cup made out of a human skull, a 27.4kg golden nugget worth £1.2 million, a 1.5-metre tall stuffed polar bear, a first edition copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Pompeii casts and a painting of a dodo from 1626 that influenced today’s perception of the extinct bird.
Victoria and Albert Museum
(Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL) –
1.5 miles, 20 mins, South Kensington Station (Circle)
Completing SW7’s trio of phenomenal museums, the Victoria and Albert Museum – or V&A as it’s also known – concentrates on theatre, decorative arts and design, and has amassed a permanent collection exceeding 4.5 million objects.
Some of its more recent temporary exhibitions have focused on Pink Floyd, Glastonbury Festival, the late 1960s and err, underwear.
2013’s David Bowie exhibition attracted a record 1.5 million people, making it the museum’s most popular collection ever. Interest was so high that the exhibition then went on a ten-stop world tour.
The National Gallery
(Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN) –
2.6 miles, 25 mins, Charing Cross Station (Bakerloo)
Okay, the name gives it away; this is more a gallery than a museum, but with more than 2,300 paintings, dating between 1250 and 1900, it is well worthy of even the most fleeting of visits.
It is regarded as one of the world’s greatest art museums alongside the Louvre in Paris and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Highlights include van Gogh’s Sunflowers and da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks. Entry to the main collection is free.
Museum of London
(150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN) –
4.0 miles, 28 mins, St Paul’s Station (Central)
Boasting the world’s largest urban history collection, the Museum of London is home to a model of the Great Fire of London, a Roman bikini, Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, an Aurochs’ skull from 245,000BC and the Lord Mayor’s coach, which takes to the streets every November for the Lord Mayor’s Show.
The museum is due to relocate from its Barbican site to nearby Smithfield Market in 2021, as part of a £70 million redevelopment.
Others to consider:
- Madame Tussauds London (Marylebone Road, NW1 5LR) -1.3 miles, 14 mins, Baker Street (Bakerloo)
- The Wallace Collection (Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN) -1.4 miles, 20 mins, Bond Street (Central)
- Jewish Museum London (Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, NW1 7NB) -2.7 miles, 29 mins, Camden Town (Northern)