Visitors to central London staying in the cosmopolitan area of Bayswater have plenty of options open to them when it comes to entertainment and seeing the local sights.
An historic area of the capital bordering Hyde Park to its south, Bayswater is part of the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, making it a truly exclusive place to stay or visit.
Perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of London for visitors and residents alike is Marble Arch, which sits at the entrance to Hyde Park and was originally intended to be the chief entrance to Buckingham Palace.
Designed by John Nash in 1828, the archway was relocated to its current position when the palace was extended. Made of white Carrara marble, the design is based upon the triumphal arch of Constantine in Rome.
Serving to welcome guests to the wonderful green spaces of Hyde Park, Marble Arch presents a glorious reminder of the history and culture of this fantastic city.
Other places of interest for anyone planning a trip to the area include the architectural delights of St Sophia’s Cathedral on Moscow Road, as well as the wide variety of retail options at the capital’s first department store – Whiteleys on Queensway.
St Sophia’s Cathedral is a Greek Orthodox Church that was built in the space of just three years following fundraising by the local Greek community. Its first liturgy took place in 1879, making it an important part of the area’s rich heritage.
The architecture of the building was designed by architect John Oldrid Scott and draws upon a Byzantine revival style that creates a wonderful sense of grandeur and space.
From the outside, the building is perhaps a little unassuming, but when visitors enter, the full opulence and gravitas of the cathedral is truly a spectacle to behold.
Visitors to the capital keen to learn more about the history of the building can now also do so after a small museum was opened at the site in 2006.
An interesting fact regarding the cathedral is that the property became the seat of the Greek government in exile during WW2, and while the building was bombed during the Blitz, it was subsequently rebuilt and restored to its former glory.
Meanwhile, anyone with a hankering for some retail therapy might like to head to Whiteleys, which boasts the title of being London’s first ever department store, having opened in 1863.
Located in an impressive grade II-listed property, Whiteleys provides an array of options for those keen to pick up a memento of their time in the capital; be it a stylish new outfit or a designer keepsake, Whiteleys provides a wealth of opportunities for guests to find something they will love and treasure.
Offering some of the biggest high street and designer names in retail for visitors – Marks & Spencers, H&M, Starbucks, etc – the property is also a centre for other attractions, including a cinema and bowling alley for those looking for a break from shopping.
Built upon the small beginnings of a drapery shop by founder William Whiteley, the building quickly expanded and by 1890 employed more than 6,000 staff to meet the growing needs of customers attracted to the high-end boutiques and retailers on offer.
Devastated by an enormous fire in 1887, the property was then rebuilt into the one that stands today, which was designed at the time by architects John Belcher and John James Joass. It has held its standing of being a grade II-listed building since 1970 and is a wonderful example of Victorian design.
Elsewhere, an intriguing titbit of knowledge and an attraction visitors to Bayswater might want to look out for is that a property on Leinster Gardens holds a secret all of its own.
Between the homes numbered 23 and 24 sits a house that is like no other in the area; as in reality it is not a house at all, but simply a facade that has been erected to hide the fact the Tube runs through this area.
Rather than leaving a gap open for all to see and spoil the aesthetic of the street, local planners instead erected the facade to preserve the atmosphere of the place and to fool unsuspecting passersby.
There really is plenty to keep visitors guessing and entertained when it comes to a visit to Bayswater, with something new to explore around every corner. It’s not just the local attractions that make this one of the most desirable places in the capital to visit though, as the area’s many bars, restaurants, pubs and shops also provide a service that is second to none, meaning visitors to Bayswater are likely to come back again and again should they get the chance.