Hyde Park has a special place in the hearts of Londoners, offering 350 acres of tranquillity in the centre of London.
It combines a 500-year history with unique attractions and outdoor activities as well as easy accessibility. Henry VIII used it as a private hunting ground from 1536. 100 years later, Charles I was determined that everyone should enjoy the park’s beauty and opened it to the public.
Since then, English royalty has continued to develop the park’s facilities.
Queen Caroline for instance created the Serpentine Lake in the 18th century. And in 2004 our current Queen opened the Diana Fountain as a tribute to the late Princess of Wales. In fact, the Diana Fountain is only one among a number of unique features you can enjoy in the park.
Others include the world-famous Speakers’ Corner where people can speak publicly about any subject they choose. If you don’t find the speakers thought-provoking you’ll certainly at least find them entertaining.
Activities in the park include boating, tennis, horse riding and bowls – though these are obviously more geared up to the summer. If you have a young family, you could also visit one of the three children’s playgrounds.
For refreshments, try the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen or The Lido. If you prefer a café, there’s one by the tennis courts.
Districts such as Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Bayswater immediately surround it, so you’re sure to find a nearby hotel to suit your budget. We suggest a couple that are cherry-picked for you below.
One way to enter the park is by the impressive gateway at Hyde Park Corner. This lies just a short walk from Hyde Park underground station.
Other travel options include four more underground stations which are on or near the park’s perimeter and two main railway stations – Victoria and Paddington. Many London buses also include the park on their routes.
So to spend an hour or even a day in a serene outdoor setting, Hyde Park is probably the most central option. If you’re prepared to venture further afield then Clapham Common or Hampstead Heath may also interest you.
Here are two great Hyde Park hotel options for you depending on your budget, located on different sides of the park.
“I want uncompromising luxury”
If you want an unforgettable experience where you are waited on hand and foot, then The Lanesborough will perfectly fit the bill. It lies just opposite one of the main entrances to Hyde Park.
In addition to this, it has Apsleys restaurant – run under the watchful eye of Heinz Beck (he has 3 Michelin stars in his restaurants in Italy) – who believes in Mediterranean cuisine served with a light and healthy touch.
It’s an expensive hotel (it has one of London’s 4 dearest suites after all) but offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of pure, unalduterated luxury.
It’s also great for some discreet celebrity-spotting. For example, the last time I was in the Lanesborough for a cup of tea, I spotted a distinguished Indian chieftain in full regalia as well as an international rugby player!
“I’m on a budget”
A far cheaper option at the other end of Hyde Park (not far from the varied restaurants of Bayswater and Paddington with its handy Heathrow Express shuttle as well as Little Venice) is the Darlington Hyde Park.
The Darlington is at this time respectably within the top 80 on TripAdvisor (from more than 1100 London hotels). It’s not luxurious but is by all accounts spotlessly clean and provides very good breakfasts.
Best of all, it has lovely prices: rooms start from as little as £75 per night. This is a bit of a steal given its great location.
To cut costs further, they even offer useful “quad rooms” for families which allow you to accommodate up to 4 people. The only complaint is that rooms can occasionally be a bit noisy, so do ask for a top floor one if possible.
We also like that the Darlington Hyde Park is another cheap hotel with free WiFi – putting some of its more expensive competitors to shame.
Photo credits: The Lanesborough, Darlington Hyde Park Hotel.