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Giddy-up: celebrating the Year of the Horse in London.

by Elizabeth Hands on February 11, 2014

While London may not immediately spring to mind if you’re thinking about taking a horsey holiday, it actually has some of the best equestrian centres in the world.  Add to that the romantic horse-and-carriage rides you can take around the capital and a royal family with a long affinity with our equine friends, then you have the perfect destination to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse.  Here are just a few of the best hotels in London to enjoy an equestrian-themed break:

In the hoof marks of thoroughbreds…

It’s apt that The Stafford London offers a special horse-riding package, as the rooms and suites in its Carriage House used to be home to nobility’s thoroughbreds.  Now, the building still bears testament to its past with stable doors and rooms named in honour of famous horses.

The Stafford_Master Suite Bedroom

Check rates at The Stafford

The Equestrian Package includes two nights’ accommodation and a ride in Windsor Park. Guests are met by the Riding Club London Concierge and their horses for a two-hour ride through the park, taking in the sights of Windsor Castle.  Or, the Black Caviar Package offers all that along with a VIP tour of the British Military Stables and a master class in either polo, carriage driving or side saddle.  A shopping tour for riding wear and gear is then arranged in Knightsbridge, Kensington and Mayfair.

Picnic in the park…

Hyde Park is the perfect place for a picnic and The Ampersand makes it even more special.  The South Kensington-based hotel puts together a gourmet picnic hamper, including iced tea, champagne, scones and sweet pastries.  After lunch, there’s a guided tour of Hyde Park on horseback, which is home to the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

Check rates at The Ampersand

ampersand

Riding on the common…

Wimbledon Village Stables has some of the best instructors in the business if you want to improve your riding skills.  It’s hard to believe you’re so close to central London when you can explore the trails of Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park on horseback.  The stables have partnered with Cannizaro House to offer two-day short breaks comprising a combination of hacking and instruction in the morning, with afternoons and evenings left free to capitalise on Wimbledon’s shopping and dining opportunities.

Check rates at Cannizaro House

Cannizaro House

A horse-and-carriage tour of London…

While London isn’t like New York, in that you generally can’t just jump in a horse-drawn carriage for a spontaneous spin around the park, with a bit of forward planning you can enjoy an equine tour of the capital.

Westways Carriage Horses, for example, offers a private hire service in the capital tailoring each trip individually, so you can be picked up from your hotel, trot around the sites of your choosing, take in the Royal Parks or be delivered in style to the theatre or opera.  

You could opt to be picked up at The Milestone Hotel for a tour of Kensington Park, before heading back for a cocktail at the Stables Bar, which is decorated with artwork of thoroughbred racehorses.

Check rates at the Milestone Hotel

concierge desk at milestone

The highlight of the equestrian calendar…

The London International Horse Show at the Olympia Exhibition Show is always one of the big draws of the equestrian calendar.  Taking place at the end of the year, you can snap up your tickets from May onwards.  The Hilton London Olympia on Kensington High Street is just 200 metres away from the venue, meaning you’ll have more time to take in all that the packed programme of events has to offer.

Check rates at Hilton London Olympia

Hilton London Olympia

All the pageantry and spectacle of the trooping of the colour…

The Queen’s official birthday celebrations in June are always a spectacular sight, with mounted bands and regiments passing by and stopping in front of the Queen ready for inspection.

The Rubens at the Palace, is the closest hotel to Buckingham Palace.  From the windows, you can see the comings and goings of the guardsmen.  After watching the trooping of the colour, you could head back to the aptly named Cavalry Bar and Palace lounge, where you have panoramic views of The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, which house the Queen’s stables.

Check rates at Rubens at the Palace Hotel

Rubens at the Palace Royal Procession

They’re all incredible options which go to show that you needn’t head to the country to enjoy a break that involves horse riding, or just watching great equestrian performances.  Just pick the right London hotel and enjoy!

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Photo credits: Pistol Peet, The Stafford London, Ampersand Hotel, Cannizaro House, The Milestone, Hilton London Olympia, The Rubens at the Palace.

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