Paddington’s waterways are still as busy today as they were when they were first built. The only difference is that they’re better known now as places where wildlife flourishes and where you can find hidden, out of the way and totally unique places to sit and rest your legs.
The Grand Union Canal
The Grand Union Canal snakes its way through London and onwards all the way through to Birmingham. It was built in stages, before finally being finished in the 1930s. It stretches over 137 miles through the country, but the Paddington branch runs for 13 miles through London. There are no locks to get through, so pedestrians might like to take an amble on the towpath, watching narrowboats glide by, before heading back to the Grand London Paddington hotel.
In a boating mood? Lots of places will let you rent a canal boat for a day so you can travel up and down the canal, taking in the atmosphere that is very much busy London mixed with surprising patches of greenery.
Paddington Basin has become a place of huge regeneration recently, and is really convenient if you’re staying close by in the Grand London Paddington hotel.
Merchant Square has recently been redeveloped and is now a hub of activity which includes paddleboarding and watersports, kinetic bridges that move to let boats pass, various shops and cafes and games—including giant chess and jenga—for the kids.
If you’re looking for something a little quieter, step down into the brand new sunken garden, which promises to be a lush place filled with flowers and plants on the water where people can relax. Or just hang back and watch the bridges move.
You can even hire a GoBoat with your family, which is a self-drive boating experience unlike anything else in central London. Travel on Paddington’s canal network, either east to Camden or west to Kensal Green and beyond. Spend hours investigating and exploring before coming back and heading onto the solid ground of the Grand London Paddington hotel.
Regent’s Canal is so called because it straddles Regent’s Park for much of its trek. The canal passes through an area of London called Little Venice—otherwise known as Maida Vale, where the Browns lived in Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books. This is the place where Paddington Basin, the Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal meet, which the locals affectionately call the ‘lagoon’ after its Venetian namesake.
Nobody is quite sure how Little Venice got its name, but it’s a wonderful place to explore from your base at the Grand London Paddington hotel. Take the waterbus line to London Zoo or continue on down to Camden, or take in a show at the Puppet Theatre Barge or the Canal Café Theatre.
There are several pubs lining the canalway which are grade II-listed, and you could even sit and watch the world go by as you start celebrity-spotting. Robbie Williams, Bjork, and Richard Branson all have homes nearby!