Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > London > London/Westminster
- For other places with the same name, see Westminster (disambiguation).
Westminster is a district of central London, at the heart of the United Kingdom's royal and political life.
Westminster is a city in its own right, the twin to the ancient City of London further east and historically they jointly formed the focus of what is today regarded as London. The Palace of Westminster came to be the principal royal residence after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, and later housed the developing Parliament and law courts of England. The neighbouring Westminster Abbey became the traditional venue of the coronation of England regents. Westminster has therefore been the seat of royal, and later parliamentary, government and power for 900 years.
As a result, many of its attractions are of an historical and cultural variety. Even so, Westminster very much retains a bustling, modern feel as the centre of British government and is often used as shorthand for Parliament and the political community (including the elected Government) of the United Kingdom generally.
For the traveller and for the scope of this article, it is important to understand though that the district of Westminster is bounded to the north by Trafalgar Square and Mayfair, to the east by Covent Garden and to the west by Knightsbridge and Chelsea. The district is much smaller in area than the City of Westminster, which also includes Trafalgar Square, Mayfair, Covent Garden, and Paddington.
St. James's is the area of Westminster that encompasses Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and the eponymously named park. This is a very affluent area of the city and has a great deal to offer visitors. Belgravia to the west of Buckingham Palace is probably the grandest residential area in the whole of the United Kingdom. Victoria and Pimlico in the south-west are the least grand parts of the district but still have much to offer including the Tate Britain, some wonderful Regency architecture and a number of good value accommodation options.
To the southeast, there is a smaller area called Milbank, where the view is quite beautiful looking at the ships crossing the river.
Victoria Bus Station, in front of the train station with the same name and is really more like lots of bus stops in one area. Nevertheless, lots of bus routes come through the station and out again to other parts of London.
The district is serviced by the following Tube stations, all in Zone 1:
- Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee lines)
- Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle, District and Jubilee lines)
- Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines)
- Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly line)
- Pimlico (Victoria line)
- St James's Park (Circle and District lines)
- Victoria (Circle, District and Victoria lines)
The nearest mainline train stations are London Waterloo and London Victoria; it is worth taking the Tube from these two stations to arrive at Westminster.
- 1 London Waterloo (WAT, QQW IATA), Waterloo Rd, Bishop's, SE1 8SW (tube: ), ☏ . London Waterloo is a terminus of trains connecting to southwest England and is the busiest train station. South Western Railway operate all the main services from the station including Basingstoke, Reading, Windsor, Weymouth, Portsmouth, Guildford and Salisbury.
- 2 London Victoria (VIC, ZEP IATA), Victoria Street, SW1V 1JU (tube: ). London Victoria is a terminus of trains connecting to southeast England and the second busiest train station after London Waterloo. Southeastern offers services to Dover, Ashford International (with Eurostar connections to France and Belgium), Ramsgate, Orpington. Southern Rail offers services to Brighton, Eastbourne and Portsmouth. Thameslink offers limited service to Sevenoaks in Kent.
- 3 Victoria Coach Station, 164 Buckingham Palace Rd, SW1 9TP (A short walk from London Victoria train station.). 7am-7pm. Not far from the similarly names bus and train stations. Coaches arrive here from across the country and all over Europe. Multiple other coach lines pick up and drop off in the same area, especially on either side of Colonnade Walk, a row of shops and office blocks between Victoria train and coach stations.
National Express and Megabus are the two main coach operators in the UK and are well-served by the Victoria Coach Station. Just about every city or large town in England can be reached and usually at a significantly cheaper price than a train ticket.
Palace of Westminster
- 1 Palace of Westminster (more widely known as the Houses of Parliament), Parliament Sq (tube: ). On the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Palace of Westminster is the seat of Parliament in the United Kingdom. It's often termed the "Mother of All Parliaments" - an exaggeration, but perhaps only a slight one. The present building largely dates from the 19th century when it was rebuilt following a fire in a splendid example of Victorian neo-Gothic architecture. The House of Commons (elected Members of Parliament or MPs) is located to the north of the building and is decorated with green leather upholstery, and the House of Lords (unelected Lords) is located to the south and decorated with red leather upholstery.
Watch committees and debates
While the house is sitting (most of the year), visitors can sit in the Strangers' Gallery of the Commons and Lords. There is no charge to do this.
You should queue at St. Stephen's Entrance (opposite Westminster Abbey). Depending on the popularity of debates happening in the Houses, queueing for admission can take 30 min or more. Avoid Wednesday lunchtime when the Prime Minister takes questions, and you are unlikely to find space at all unless you have a ticket from a Member of Parliament. If you do not wish to visit the Commons, then tell one of the police officers standing guard outside that you only wish to see the House of Lords, and you should be able to enter immediately.
- St. Stephen's Hall. Upon entry, you pass through a metal detector, and are very thoroughly searched. You then proceed into St. Stephen's Hall, where you are seated to wait for admission. A representative of the Sergeant-at-Arms gives you a slip of paper to write your name and address on.
- House of Commons Strangers' Gallery. When called, you proceed from St. Stephen's Hall to the Central Hall, and then upstairs. You must leave all items (bags, cameras, mobile phones, writing and written material) outside and then proceed through to the Strangers' Gallery. Upon entry, you can pick up a copy of the proceedings being discussed in the House that day. You should be quiet, anything above a whisper may lead to you being asked to leave. After leaving the Commons, you head back down to the Central Hall.
- House of Lords Strangers' Gallery. If you head away from the Commons, you pass along a corridor towards the Lords. If you ask to visit the Strangers' Gallery, a representative of Black Rod asks you to complete another slip of paper with your name and address. You then proceed up a staircase to the Lords Strangers' Gallery. Again, all items need to be left outside. Of the two chambers, the Lords is by far the more impressive, featuring the stunning throne (opposite the Strangers' Gallery) upon which the Queen delivers a speech outlining the Government's plans for the year ahead at the State Opening each year. Also, the queue for the Lords is always very short.
- Westminster Hall. After visiting the two Houses, visitors pass back through St. Stephen's Hall, and through Westminster Hall. Westminster Hall is one of the few areas of Parliament in which photography is permitted, and it is a very impressive place, dating back to the 9th century. Plaques on the floor mark where the bodies of deceased members of the royal family lay in state (most recently the Queen Mother in 2002), and significant events which took place in the hall (such as the trial of King Charles I).
- State Opening of Parliament. Probably the most colourful event in the UK's legislative calendar, this takes place in May or June every year, or after a general election, when the Queen travels to the Houses of Parliament to open the new parliamentary session. During this event, the Lords, Speaker of the House of Commons, and other office holders can be seen dressed in their ceremonial robes, and there is always an elaborate procession when the Queen makes her way to the Houses of Parliament from Buckingham Palace. This is one of the few occasions where all branches of the British government are gathered in the same place. Many traditions of the State Opening can trace their origins to a more turbulent past, when the relationship between the monarch and Parliament was sometimes antagonistic. In particular, since the English Civil War, the monarch has been banned from entering the House of Commons chamber, and instead must send a representative (the Black Rod) to summon the MPs to the Lords chamber, where she delivers her speech. Another notable tradition is the holding of a Hostage MP in Buckingham Palace, ostensibly to guarantee the safe return of the monarch, who is released once the Queen has returned to the palace safely after delivering her speech. While attendance at Parliament itself is limited to special guests that have been invited by the Prime Minister, it is broadcast live on the BBC, and you can also view the Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace to Parliament from the roadside for free.
Tours of Parliament
- Summer Opening, ☏ . 28 Jul-27 Sep: M-Sa. While the Houses are in recess, the Palace of Westminster is generally closed - apart from the long Summer recess, during which tours are run through the building, led by Parliamentary employees. Popularity of these tours means you're best advised to book in advance - a stall erected on the green opposite the Palace of Westminster on Millbank sells tickets in the Summer. £7.
- 2 The Jewel Tower, Abingdon Street, SW1P 3JX (Opposite the Houses of Parliament), ☏ . This small tower across the road from the Houses of Parliament is the only part of the original Palace of Westminster still standing. While it is overshadowed in splendour by the surrounding buildings, it's well worth a visit, and has good displays about the early history of Westminster. adults £3.90, children £2.30, concessions £3.50.
- 3 Buckingham Palace (tube: , or ). Summer opening: 31 Jul-29 Sep 9:45AM-3:45PM (closed rest of year). The main residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (reigned since 1952, crowned 1953). Other residences include Sandringham House, Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace and Balmoral Castle. These other residences are generally easier to visit (open more days and less queues), and also of interest is the former Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh where the Queen's bedroom can be seen.
In the summer, 19 State Rooms are open to the public, while the Queen is staying at her Scottish palace at Balmoral. Places are strictly limited, and it might not be possible to just turn up and get a ticket for a specific entry time, visitors should really book in advance to ensure admission. Summer opening: £8.75-15.50.
- 4 St James's Palace (tube: ). Not open to the public, but can be seen from the street. The most senior of the Royal palaces in London (built between 1531 and 1536) and the official seat of the monarch.
- 5 The Guards Museum, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, SW1E 6HQ (tube: or ), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 10AM–4PM. £5 adults; £2.50 concessions; £1 serving military personnel.
- 6 Henry VII Lady Chapel (tube: ). Described as "the wonder of the entire world", this chapel at the eastern end of Westminster Abbey is a breathtakingly beautiful masterpiece of medieval architecture.
- 7 St. Margaret's Church, Parliament Sq (tube: . Next to Westminster Abbey within Parliament Sq). M-F 9:30AM-3:45PM, Sa 9:30AM-1:45PM, Su 2PM-5PM. St. Margaret's is the church of the British Parliament, more specifically, the parish church of the House of Commons.
- 8 Westminster Abbey (tube: ), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Abbey admission: M Tu Th F 9:30AM-3:45PM, W 9:30AM-7PM, Sa 9:30AM-1:45PM (extended in summer to 3:45PM), Su open for worship only, the Abbey closes 1 hr after last admission; Chapter House admission: 10:30AM-4PM daily; Westminster Abbey Museum: 10:30AM-4PM daily; Pyx Chamber: 10:30AM-4PM daily; Cloisters: 8AM-6PM daily. The Abbey charges tourists for entry, but not for worshippers. Attend a church service for free and enjoy some of the finest choral music in London from the choir. Choral Evensong at 3pm (Sa Su) or 5pm (weekdays), depending on time of year, is an especially good bet. The Abbey is the traditional scene for the coronation of British monarchs and the burial place of many past kings and queens. The Abbey contains a good gift shop and the Cellarium Café, which traces its history to the 14th century, is a good place to buy a noontime meal. Westminster Abbey is usually open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year. On Sundays and religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas, the Abbey is open for worship only. All are welcome and it is free to attend services. Visitor access to the Abbey is via the West Gate of the North Green. Adult £24, seniors 65+ £21, children 16-17 £10, students with full-time student card £21, children under 6 free.
- 9 Tate Britain, Millbank (Nearest tube: ). Daily 10AM-5:50PM. This gallery houses the Tate collection of British art from 1500 through to contemporary art. A side wing collects together the gallery's collection of paintings by Turner, including some stunning seascapes. Temporary exhibitions are exceedingly varied: examples include exhibitions of Turner's paintings of Venice and the work of photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. The best known exhibition is the Turner Prize, consists of works by four artists shortlisted for the annual contemporary art prize, which runs from late October to January each year. Free (though there is a charge for temporary exhibitions).
- 10 Green Park (tube: ). In contrast to the other Royal Parks in the area, Green Park can seem a little plain. It has no lakes or buildings and few monuments. It is still a pleasant green, lightly wooded, area in the centre of London, neighbouring two other parks and Buckingham Palace.
- 11 St. James's Park (tube: or ), email@example.com. The oldest of the Royal Parks of London.
Statues and monuments
As the centre of government and a city with nigh on a millennium of history, Westminster is not short of statuary. A lot of this is part of other attractions, such as the statesmen commemorated in Parliament Sq, but many stand elsewhere.
- 12 Wellington Arch, Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner, W1J 7JZ (tube: ; in the centre of the Hyde Park Corner roundabout). Interior access daily: Apr–Sep 10AM–6PM; Oct 10AM–5PM; Nov–Mar 10AM–4PM. The Arch was designed in the 1820s by Decimus Burton as a Roman-style triumphal arch to commemorate victory in the Napoleonic Wars; although money ran out before it was completed. Adrian Jones' chariot statue on the top, "Peace descending on the Quadriga of War", was added in 1912. The original equestrian statue, added in 1846, was widely disliked and now stands in Aldershot. The arch is now owned by English Heritage and is open to the public: it contains exhibits about the arch and English history, while the view from the top is quite impressive. £4.20 adult, £3.80 concessions, £2.50 child.
- The same roundabout is the site of several war memorial sculptures:
- 13 Duke of Wellington (North side). Equestrian statue of the Iron Duke, with four soldiers at each corner of the pedestal, representing regiments that fought under him: a Grenadier, Scottish Highlander, Irish Dragoon, and Welsh Fusilier. The bronze came from melting down captured French cannons.
- 14 Royal Artillery Memorial (West side). A stone howitzer by World War I veteran Charles Sargeant Jagger
- 15 Australian War Memorial (South-west corner). Created by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer and Janet Laurence to remember the Australians who died in both world wars. Made from Australian granite.
- 16 Machine Gun Corps Memorial (North-east corner). A statue of David holding Goliath's sword by Francis Derwent Wood commemorating the dead of the World War I corps.
- 17 New Zealand Memorial (east side). Sixteen cruciform bronze pillars designed by Paul Dibble and John Hardwick-Smith.
- 18 RAF Bomber Command Memorial (Green Park, on the south side of Piccadilly close to Hyde Park Corner. Tube: ). Built of Portland stone and dedicated to the aircrews of Allied nations under Bomber Command during World War II.
- 19 Simón Bolívar, South-east corner, Belgrave Sq (tube: ).
- 20 Thomas Cubitt, Corner of Denbigh St and St George's Drive (tube: ).
- 21 Westminster Cathedral, 42 Francis Street, SW1P 1QW (tube: ). Daily 9.30AM-5PM (or longer). Worth a quick visit if you are passing. The brick and stone neo-Byzantine Catholic Cathedral (not to be confused with the much more famous Westminster Abbey) is near Victoria Station, just off Victoria Street. Construction started in 1895, and some of the interior is still unfinished. The Treasures of Westminster Cathedral exhibition is inexpensive and worthwhile for learning the history of the cathedral, there are interesting exhibits including a 1:28 wooden scale model uses by the architects. Has a café and gift shop. Cathedral: free. Tower: £6 adults, £3 concessions, Treasures Exhibition £2.
- 22 Banqueting House, Whitehall SW1A 2ER (tube: ), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, closed Su, Bank Holidays and 24 Dec-1 Jan (inclusive); The Banqueting House is liable to close at short notice for government functions, telephone to check before you travel. Designed and built in 1619-1622 by the Neo-Classical architect Inigo Jones, The Banqueting House is now all that remains of Whitehall Palace, the sovereign's principal residence from 1530-1698 when most of it was destroyed by fire. Renowned for its architecture and paintings (by Rubens, among others), the building is also famous for being the scene of Charles I's execution in 1649 at the end of the English Civil War. £4, students (with ID) and seniors (60+) £3.00, children 5-16 £2.60, under 5 free.
- 23 Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, Clive Steps, King Charles St, SW1A 2AQ (tube: ). Daily 9:30AM-7PM (last admission 5:45PM), closed 24-26 Dec. A branch of the Imperial War Museum, the Cabinet War Rooms preserves the underground corridors and rooms from which Churchill and the cabinet directed the war against Hitler and the Nazis, maintained almost exactly as they were left in 1945. In 1984, IWM opened the rooms to the public for the first time. In 2005, the attached Churchill Museum was opened as the world's first permanent museum dedicated to the life and wartime achievements of Sir Winston Churchill. Audio guides are included in your admission. No cloakroom, no rucksacks, no suitcases. Café is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Hot food is served until 3pm. Adult £19; children 5-15 £9.50, under 5 free; seniors and students £15.20; group concessions available.
- 24 Downing Street (tube: Westminster). Site of the London residences for the Prime Minister (No. 10) and the Chancellor (No. 11).
- 25 Household Cavalry Museum, Horse Guards, Whitehall, SW1A 2AX (tube: , ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Apr–Oct: daily 10AM–6PM; Nov–Mar: daily 10AM–5PM. £7 adults; £5 concessions.
- 26 Whitehall (tube: , ). This street runs between Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square, and is the site of several British government buildings. Horseguards Parade, and the heavily guarded entrance to Downing Street (see above) are on the west side. Banqueting House is on the east side. In the centre of the street sits the Cenotaph, a war memorial erected following World War I, which is the centre of the annual Remembrance Day ceremony on 11 November.
Due to the number of palaces, government buildings and barracks in the area, there are several opportunities to witness guards and the ceremonies related to them. Buckingham Palace and some other royal residences are guarded by the Queen's Guard while the Queen's Life Guard are on duty on the other side of St James's Park, at Horse Guards Parade near Whitehall. Along the same lines, there are also the less ostentatious armed police guarding Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, but they do not perform any ceremonies.
The Queen's Guard are usually drawn from one of the five regiments of Foot Guards in the British Army, wearing their dress uniforms of red tunics and bearskins (or a grey overcoat in poor weather). Occasionally soldiers from other regiments, including those of Commonwealth nations, form the Guard instead. When the Queen is in residence, there are four guards on duty outside Buckingham Palace; at other times there are just two. Guards are also on duty outside St. James' Palace.
The Queen's Life Guard is drawn from the Household Cavalry which is made up of two regiments, the Life Guards and the Blues & Royals. The Household Cavalry are the monarch's official bodyguard. When the Queen is in residence in Buckingham Palace, there are fifteen guards on duty; at other times there are just twelve. Both regiments have similar uniforms but the Life Guards wear red tunics and the Blues & Royals wear blue tunics.
The five regiments of the Queen's Guard wear very similar dress uniforms but they can be recognised by little details. The shoulder and collar badges of each regiment are different but this may be hard to spot for many travellers. The key clues are the buttons on the tunic and the plume on the side of the bearskin. Each regiment arranges the buttons in groups, with a different number of buttons per group for each regiment. Each regiment also wears a certain colour of plume on a certain side of the bearskin (except the Scots Guards who wear no plume at all).
|Grenadier Guards||Singly||White (left)|
|Coldstream Guards||Pairs||Red (right)|
|Irish Guards||Fours||Blue (right)|
|Welsh Guards||Fives||Green and white (left)|
Although the Queen's guards may look relatively harmless and even quaint or ridiculous, and their famed stolidness in the face of almost all potential stimuli might hint that they can take a joke and are used to interference from tourists, it's important to remember that they are actual guards rather than purely ceremonial figures there for the sake of tourism, they tend to carry actual guns with live ammunition and that touching them or getting too close to them will get you bellowed at with a bayonet pointed in your direction. There are plenty of YouTube videos of tourists who have discovered this the hard way.
- 1 Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace (tube: Green Park or St James's Park). May-Jul 11:30AM daily; for other times, see website. Each morning between May and July at 11:30AM the guard changes outside Buckingham Palace. The rest of the year, the guard changes on alternate days, weather permitting. A board is placed outside the palace in the morning to say whether the Changing of the Guard ceremony will take place or not. There is no charge to view the Changing of the Guard—simply turn up and stand at the fence in front of the Palace, but it is worth getting there early to ensure a good view, particularly when the weather is fine. Free.
- 2 Changing of the Guard, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall (tube: Charing Cross or Westminster). M–Sa 11AM; Su 10AM. Each morning the guard is also changed at Horse Guards Parade. As this changing of the guard is less famous than the Buckingham Palace affair, the crowds are usually smaller; plus there are no railings here to spoil the view. The ceremony does not take place in very wet weather. The cavalry are based at Hyde Park Barracks and can be seen proceeding through the park, under the Wellington Arch, along Constitution Hill and The Mall each morning.
- Dismounting Ceremony (Four O'Clock Parade), Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall (tube: Charing Cross or Westminster). 4PM daily. In the late afternoon at Horse Guards an officer will inspect the guards, after which the mounted sentries return their horses to the stables for the night. They are replaced by two dismounted sentries. This ceremony was born as a punishment detail in 1894 but it was retained as a tradition when the 100-year punishment period ended in the 1990s.
- 3 Trooping the Colour (The Queen's Birthday Parade), Horseguards Parade, Whitehall (tube: Charing Cross or Westminster). Held annually on a Saturday in June, beginning around 10AM. A ceremony performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies to mark the official birthday of the Queen. The Queen travels by carriage down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, where she inspects the troops and then entire Household Division performs a march past the Queen as she receives their salute. Tickets to Horse Guards Parade are awarded by ballot but the parade along the rest of the route can be watched for free. Up to three tickets can be requested by sending a letter (this is by post only), enclosing a self-addressed envelope, to the Brigade Major of the Headquarters Household Division, in January or February; these will be entered into the ballot and those chosen will be sent offer letters which contain payment details. Those without a ticket can get their best view by standing on The Mall, along the edge of the parade, or on the edge of St James's Park by Horse Guards Parade. Arriving before 09:00 is recommended. About £20 if successful in the ballot.
- There are two rehearsals for Trooping the Colour:
- Major General's Review. The Saturday two weeks before Trooping the Colour; usually in late May. Tickets are made available by the same ballot as Trooping the Colour. Free but tickets are still required..
- Colonel's Review. The Saturday the week before Trooping the Colour. Tickets are made available by the same ballot as Trooping the Colour. £10.
- Beating Retreat, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall (tube: Charing Cross or Westminster). Held on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings before Trooping the Colour. This began as a 16th-century tradition for recalling troops to a castle at sunset before the gates closed. Today, the ceremony has evolved into a military pageant of music and precision drilling, while also serving as practice for military bands. The proceeds from ticket sales go to charity. £15–40.
- 4 Cineworld Haymarket, 63-65 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4RL, ☏ (high cost number). Slightly off the main area for cinemas and entertainment around Leicester Square and Theatreland this cinema offers projections of recent movies on three large screens.
- 5 Vue Piccadilly, 19 Lower Regent Street London SW1Y 4LR, ☏ (high cost number). Multi screen of the Vue network very close to Piccadilly Circus.
Outside of Leicester Square and Covent Garden, there are several important theatres in Westminster, most notably near Victoria Station. For current programmes please check the relevant theatre website or the Official London Theatre listings. Budget travellers should look for last minute bookings and off-peak performances. Most of the booking office numbers given will only work from within the United Kingdom. If you want to make a booking from overseas, use the relevant website.
- 6 Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Rd, SW1V 1LG (tube: Victoria), ☏ .
- 7 Trafalgar Studios (Whitehall Theatre), 14 Whitehall, SW1A 2DY (tube: Charing Cross or Westminster).
- 8 Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria St, SW1E 5EA (tube: Victoria), ☏ .
- 9 St John's Smith Square (SJSS), St John's Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HA, ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 10AM-5PM. Former baroque church by Thomas Archer. From the 1960s, converted into a concert hall and featuring world class classical music performers with daily concerts from September to July.
- Free Walking Tours, Duke of Wellingon Arch (tube: Hyde Park Corner exit 2). Daily 11AM and 1PM. There are a number of regular free walking tours in London but the most well known leaves from The Duke of Wellingon Arch twice daily and covers many of the important sights in Westminster. Duration about 2½ hours. Free/donation.
A lot of the land in this district is owned by a small number of entities—most of Belgravia is owned by the Duke of Westminster via his family's Grosvenor Group property company and a lot of the rest comes under the Crown Estate, the Royal Parks, or central government—and the residents prefer exclusivity, so chain stores have mostly been kept out of the northern, more upper class, areas. Victoria, on the other hand, hosts a lot of the common high street shops found elsewhere in the UK, as do the riverside areas Pimlico and Millbank.
- 1 Cardinal Place, Victoria St (tube: Victoria or St. James's Park). High street shops like Marks & Spencer and a selection of chain restaurants.
- 2 Les Senteurs, 71 Elizabeth St, SW1W 9PJ (tube: Victoria or Sloane Square), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Specialist perfumery.
- 3 Retromania, 6 Upper Tachbrook St, SW1V 1SH (tube: Victoria), ☏ , email@example.com. Charity shop specialising in vintage and retro clothing.
Perhaps the world's most famous shirts are made in Jermyn St, SW1, running parallel south of Piccadilly and between and tube stations. The street's resident shirtmakers include:
- 4 New & Lingwood, 53 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6LX, ☏ . M–W 9AM–6PM; Th 9AM–7PM; F 9AM–6PM; Sa 10AM–6PM.
- 5 Turnbull & Asser, 71 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6PF, ☏ .
- 6 Hilditch & Key, 37 Jermyn St, SW1 6DT, ☏ , fax: . With another branch at 7 73 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6NP
- 8 Harvie & Hudson, 77 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6NP, ☏ . M–Sa 9:30AM–6PM; Su closed.
- 9 Charles Tyrwhitt, 100 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6EE, ☏ . M–Sa 8AM–8PM; Su noon–6PM (browsing from 11:30AM).
- 10 Emma Willis, 66 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6NY, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Sa 10AM–6PM; Su closed.
- 11 Budd Shirts, Piccadilly Arcade, SW1Y 6NH, ☏ . M - F 10AM-7PM; Sa 10AM-6PM; Su 11AM-4PM. Budd, established in 1910, is the only Jermyn Street shirtmaker to still have a bespoke cutting room on site, where shirts are still made.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
Around Buckingham Palace
Around Victoria Station
- 3 Chicken Joint & Taquitos Mexican Grill, 78 Wilton Rd.
- 4 Cyprus Mangal, 45 Warwick Way.
- 5 Westminster Cathedral Cafe, 42 Francis St, SW1P 1QW. Weekdays 10AM-4PM, closed on Mondays. The cafe in the basement of Westminster Cathedral is one of the cheapest places to have lunch in the area. Simple tasty hot lunches (Jacket Potatoes etc) cost under £5. Get in through the Cathedral main entrance.
Near Westminster Abbey
- 6 The Laughing Halibut, 38 Strutton Ground, SW1P 2HR, ☏ . M–F 11:15AM–8PM; Sa 11:15AM–4PM. The classic shop for fish and chips.
- 7 Pataka, Grosvenor Gardens House, 50-52 Buckingham Palace Rd, SW1W 0RN, ☏ , email@example.com. M–F 12:30–2:30PM & 5–10:30PM, Sa Su 11:30AM–11PM. Opened in 2021, Pataka serves modern Indian food.
- 8 Cardinal Place, Victoria St (tube: Victoria or St. James's Park). A selection of chain restaurants together in the shopping centre. Includes Browns Bar & Brasserie, La Tasca, Leon, Nandos, Royal Quarter Café, Wagamama, and Zizzi.
- 9 The Ebury Restaurant and Wine Bar, 139 Ebury St, SW1W 8NA (tube: Victoria), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Sa 11AM–11PM; Su noon–10:30PM. French/European restaurant.
- 10 Seafresh, 80–81 Wilton Rd, SW1V 1DL (tube:Victoria or Pimlico), ☏ , fax: . M–F noon–3PM, 5–10:30; Sa noon–10:30PM. Fish and chips restaurant and takeaway.
- 11 Oliviomare, 10 Lower Belgrave St, SW1W 0LJ (tube: Victoria), ☏ , email@example.com. M–F noon–2:30PM, 7–11PM; Sa noon–3PM, 7–11PM; Su noon-3PM, 7–10:30PM. Sardinian seafood restaurant. Part of a small, local chain found only in this area. £17–30 main course.
- 12 The Orange, 37 Pimlico Rd, SW1W 8NE (tube: Sloane Square), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su–Th 11:30AM-11PM, F Sa 11:30AM-midnight. Modern gastropub, you can eat in the ground-floor bar but the best dining is in the first-floor restaurant. With four comfy en suite bedrooms. B&B double £110.
- 13 Quaglinos, 16 Bury St, SW1Y 6AJ (tube: ), ☏ . Owned by famed designer Terence Conrad, it serves standard food with a menu that changes frequently. It features live jazz every night and on Sunday lunch.
- 14 Zizzi, 15 Cardinal Walk, Westminster (across from the Westminster Cathedral), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11:30AM-10:30PM. A cozy Italian restaurant next to the Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Station, with a huge wood fired pizza oven that creates a welcome atmosphere on its own. Pizzas between £12 - £16, and various pasta dishes and salads. Fairly large portions, so one main dish per person suffices for a meal. Suitable for families with kids.
- 15 The Cinnamon Club, The Old Westminster Library, 30–32 Great Smith St, SW1P 3BU (tube: Westminster), ☏ , email@example.com. Indian restaurant. Housed in a converted Grade II listed library.
- 16 Hunan, 51 Pimlico Rd, SW1W 8NE (tube: Sloane Square), ☏ . M–Sa 12:30–2PM, 6:30–11PM. Chinese restaurant with no menu. Diners tell the staff what they don't like and how spicy they want it; the kitchen prepares a range of dishes to match. The food comes in a long series of tiny portions.
- 17 Wiltons, 55 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6LX (tube: Green Park), ☏ . M–F noon–2:30PM, 6–10:30PM. Oyster bar, game and seafood restaurant. Traditional fine English dining in a restaurant established in 1742.
Like neighbouring Knightsbridge, Belgravia was built with its pubs out of sight down side alleys and mews. They were intended for the household servants rather than their masters, who did not wish their views spoiled by such unsightly establishments.
- 1 The Grenadier, 18 Wilton Row, SW1X 7NR (tube: Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner), ☏ . Daily noon–11PM. An oddly quiet and secluded pub in the centre of the city due to being tucked away in a side street of another side steet. It was built in 1720 as an officer's mess for the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards and became a pub in 1818. The pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of a junior officer who was caught cheating at cards and flogged to death.
- 2 The Star Tavern, 6 Belgrave Mews West, SW1X 8HT (tube: Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 11AM–11PM; Sa noon–11PM; Su noon–10:30PM. One of only two London pubs (and seven nationally) to feature in every edition of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide since its first publication; see The Buckingham Arms for the other one. The pub has a seedy past—it was infamous as a hangout for gang bosses and crime lords in the 1950s and 60s, and the Great Train Robbery was planned here, and celebrities of the era would come to socialise with the criminals. Today it is a safer, friendlier and more comfortable establishment that has recently been refurbished.
- 3 Duke of Wellington, 63 Eaton Terrace, SW1W 8TR, ☏ . Oak-panelled corner pub
Pimlico & Millbank
- 4 CASK Pub & Kitchen, 6 Charlwood St, SW1V 2EE (tubeː Victoria or Pimlico), ☏ , email@example.com. M 4–11PM; Tu–Sa noon–11PM; Su noon–10:30PM. One of RateBeer's Top 50 bars in the world, and only one of two in the UK (see The Craft Beer Company in Clerkenwell for the other). A specialist beer bar with a regularly changing selection of real ales and craft beer casks, plus a larger assortment of local and international bottles. Monday to Saturday, gourmet burgers are served by Forty Burgers; with traditional British roasts on Sundays.
- 5 Morpeth Arms, 58 Millbank, SW1P 4RW (tube: Pimlico), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Victorian pub built on the site of the cells of Millbank Prison, briefly Britain's National Penitentiary before being downgraded to a holding facility for convicts sentenced to transportation to Australia. The pub is said to be haunted by the ghosts of prisoners who didn't last long enough for the journey. For the living, the pub is next to the bank of the Thames and very close to the Tate gallery.
- 6 The Rising Sun, 44-46 Ebury Bridge Rd, London SW1W 8PZ, ☏ . Noon-11PM.
- 7 The Albert, 52 Victoria St, SW1H 0NP (tube: St. James Park), ☏ . M–W 10AM–11PM; Th–Sa 10AM–midnight; Su 10AM–10:30PM. A nice, but often crowded, traditional pub, dating back to the 1860s, named in honour of Queen Victoria's husband. Portraits of British prime ministers, many of them signed, hang on the stairwell, and Chelsea pensioners (British war veterans) can often be seen propping up the bar.
- 8 The Buckingham Arms, 62 Petty France, SW1H 9EU (tube: St. James's Park), ☏ , email@example.com. M–F 11AM–11PM; Sa 11AM–6PM; Su closed. One of only two London pubs (and seven nationally) to feature in every edition of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide since its first publication; see The Star Tavern for the other one. The building is a refitted early Victorian pub.
- 9 The Cask and Glass, 39–41 Palace St, SW1E 5HN (tube: Victoria), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 11AM–11PM; Sa noon–8PM. Small traditional pub (one of the smallest in central London, in fact). Good beers and quaint interior.
- 10 Fox & Hounds, 29 Passmore St, SW1W 8HR, ☏ . Noon-11PM. Youngs Pub
- 11 Wetherspoons, 1F, Victoria Station Concourse, SW1V 1JT (inside Victoria Train Station, in the centre, above the island of shops), ☏ . M–Th 7AM–11PM; F Sa 7AM–midnight; Su 7AM–11PM. A pub that doesn't even have its own name and may be missed by many of the 200,000 commuters and travellers who pass it each day, this place nevertheless serves good beer and food (it's part of the J D Wetherspoon chain). There is additional seating on the balconies on either side of the pub. Given its location, it also displays departure boards on its own screens.
- 12 The Willow Walk, 25 Wilton Rd, SW1V 1LW (tube: Victoria), ☏ . M–F 7AM–midnight; Sa 8AM–midnight; Su 8AM–11PM. Part of the J D Wetherspoon chain of pubs, just outside the East side of Victoria Station, a few doors down from the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Serves Real Ale and good food. Entrances on both Wilton Rd and Vauxhall Bridge Rd.
- 13 The Admiralty, 66 Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DS, ☏ . noon-11PM. A Fullers Pub that has been decked out like a 18th century British warship.
- 14 The Lord Moon of the Mall, 16-18 Whitehall, SW1A 2DY (tube: Charing Cross), ☏ . Su–Th 8AM–11PM; F Sa 8AM–midnight. A J D Wetherspoon pub at the top of Whitehall, close to Trafalgar Sq. Serves a good range of cask beers.
- 15 The Red Lion (The Prime Minister's Local), 48 Parliament St, Whitehall, SW1A 2NH (Half way between Parliament Sq and 10 Downing St; tube: ), ☏ , email@example.com. M–Sa 11AM–11PM; Su noon–9PM. A good place to see politicians and political commentators. The pub television shows (muted) debates from the House of Commons, and division bell rings here to summon Members of Parliament to vote on important issues in Parliament.
- 16 The Red Lion, Mayfair, 2 Duke of York St, SW1Y 6JP (between Jermyn St and St James Square; tube: ), ☏ . 11:30AM-10PM. A beautiful Fullers pub with loads of mirrors
- 17 The Speaker, 46 Great Peter St, SW1P 2HA (tube: St James's Park), ☏ . A pub for local workers, including many civil servants and the odd Parliamentarian. The Parliament theme includes political caricatures on the walls. Markets itself as a real pub, with no fruit machines, music or television screens. Guest beers change every month.
- 18 St Stephen's Tavern Pub, 10 Bridge St, SW1A 2JR (tube: Westminster, almost on top of the station), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Th 10AM–11:30PM; F 10AM–midnight; Sa 10AM–11:30PM; Su 10AM–10:30PM. Victorian pub established in 1875 directly opposite the Palace of Westminster and the closest pub to "Big Ben" (from which it gets its name—while now officially known as Elizabeth Tower, Victorian journalists nicknamed it St Stephen's Tower). Often busy with tourists and other visitors to Parliament.
There are lots of small B&Bs in the Pimlico and Victoria areas which offer very good value for this part of London.
- 1 The Wellington, 71 Vincent Sq, SW1P 2PA (tube: Pimlico). Located in quiet area. Rate includes simple breakfast. Internet access available. 10 min from Victoria Station. From £30.
- 2 DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London—Westminster, 30 John Islip St, SW1P 4DD (tube: Pimlico), ☏ , fax: , LONWM.email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A boutique hotel. Offers a restaurant, bar, meeting venue and event offers. From £150.
- 3 Corinthia Hotel London, 10 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD. Comfortable hotel with rooms, suites and penthouses.
- 4 Eccleston Square Hotel, 37 Eccleston Square SW1V 1PB (one block south of Victoria station), ☏ . Smart hotel, lots of gadgets, but some rooms very small. B&B double £180.
- 5 St Ermin's Hotel, 2 Caxton St, SW1H 0QW (tube: St James's Park), ☏ , Reservations@sterminshotel.co.uk. Small but well appointed rooms in a convenient location near Westminster Abbey. From £115.
- 6 Luna & Simone Hotel, 47/49 Belgrave Rd, SW1V 2BB (tube: Pimlico or Victoria), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Small yet comfortable hotel with friendly staff. Double ensuite £70-90.
- 7 Sanctuary House Hotel, 33 Tothill St, SW1H 9LA (tube: St James's Park), ☏ , email@example.com. Small hotel in a lovely old building close to Westminster Abbey, part of a popular Fullers pub. From £195.
- 8 Lime Tree Hotel, 135 Ebury St SW1W 9QU (tube: Victoria), ☏ . Remarkable to find a comfy modern mid-range B&B in pricey Belgravia. Lots of stairs! No children under 5 or dogs. B&B double £120.
- 9 The Ritz Hotel, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR (Next to ), ☏ . One of London's great hotels for more than a century, overlooking Green Park. If you cannot afford to stay here (likely), then a splurge on afternoon tea in the opulent Louis XIV Palm Court is recommended (£54-£90). Dress appropriately - a jacket and tie for gentlemen; smart attire and proper shoes for everyone - otherwise you will not get past the door. £569-£6344/night.
- 10 Artist Residence London, 52 Cambridge St, Pimlico SW1V 4QQ (tube: Victoria), ☏ . Offbeat stylish hotel with ten rooms and two suites, good restaurant. B&B double £300.
- 11 St James Court Hotel, 55 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6AF (tube: St James's Park or Victoria), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 1PM. Four star hotel close to Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament. Has three restaurants, Spa, and Gym. £150.
- 12 The Grosvenor, 101 Buckingham Palace Rd, SW1W 0SJ (tube: Victoria), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Next door to Victoria railway and tube station.
- 13 St James’s Hotel & Club, 7-8 Park Pl, SW1A 1LS (tube: Green Park), ☏ , email@example.com. A luxury townhouse hotel in a former diplomats' club, swell comfort, service and dining. No dogs. B&B double from £350.
- 14 The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens SW1W 0JW (tube: Victoria), ☏ . Very upscale Edwardian hotel in Belgravia, great cuisine. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £480.
- 15 The Stafford, 16 St James Place SW1A 1NJ (tube: Green Park), ☏ . Opulent hotel in a historic townhouse overlooking Green Park, great dining. No dogs. B&B double £400.
- 16 Hotel 41, 41 Buckingham Palace Rd SW1W 0PS (tube: Victoria), ☏ . Top calibre hotel for comfort, service and cuisine, redolent of old money, and overlooking those po' folks at Buckingham Palace who wish they could afford to stay here. B&B double £360.
For £0.25 per message, visitors to the Westminster area can use a toilet-finding service called SatLav. Just text the word "toilet" to 80097 in order to receive a reply with directions to the nearest public toilet.
- Just across the river on the South Bank are the London Eye, London Aquarium and the Royal National Theatre
|Routes through Westminster|
|Notting Hill-North Kensington ← South Kensington-Chelsea ←||W E||→ Covent Garden → The City|
|Wimbledon / West London ← South Kensington-Chelsea ←||W E||→ Covent Garden → The City|
|North London ← Mayfair-Marylebone ←||W E||→ South Bank → East London|
|West London ← South Kensington-Chelsea ←||W E||→ Leicester Square → Bloomsbury|
|END ← Lambeth ←||S N||→ Mayfair-Marylebone → Bloomsbury|
|Routes through Westminster|
|Heathrow Airport ← Kensington ←||W E||→ The City|