With the West London area having recently undergone extensive regeneration over the last decade, it’s no surprise to find that Paddington is more popular as a London tourist hot spot than ever before. With glamorous hotels such as the Park Grand Paddington Station providing some of the best accommodation in West London, the area has plenty to offer London visitors all year round. Whether you’re visiting for business or on your summer holidays, Paddington offers an eclectic mix of entertainment, culture and history, whilst retaining the unique character of the iconic district.
Whilst your time in the city may be booked up with sightseeing or business meetings, it’s always a good idea to explore the local area. Below are just some of the great spots in Paddington you can take advantage of during your stay.
History of Paddington
With references dating back to the 10th century, Paddington was not technically part of London until it was integrated with Westminster in 1965. Before that though, the area was built up during the mid 19th century; a partially completed plan for white stuccoed terrace and townhouses led to the creation of Tyburnia, an area of West London consisting of Maida Vale, Edgware and Bayswater. Paddington was the first of these areas to be completed and was described by the writer William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair and The Luck of Barry Lyndon as “the elegant, the prosperous, the polite Tyburnia, the most respectable district of the habitable globe.”
The same goes for today’s Paddington. Over the past decades, the area has undergone a lot of redevelopment, leading to renewed town squares, diversity and far more tourist footfall. Below are some of the top attractions 10 minutes from Paddington Station.
Paddington Pawprint Trail
The Paddington Pawprint Trail is inspired by Michael Bond’s Peruvian Brown Bear. Now a cultural icon, Paddington Bear is one of the best examples of how London’s charm, especially West London’s, has inspired creatives the world over. The Pawprint Trail starts at Paddington Station and takes you to many landmarks across the district, all marked out by Paddington Bear related statues and sculptures. Originally commissioned to raise funds for the NSPCC, the Paddington Bear Statue trail takes you through canals, garden squares and beautiful hotel lobbies.
Just an 8-minute walk from Paddington Station is the iconic Hyde Park. This 350-acre green space is full to the brim with memorials, lidos and sumptuous Serpentine Lake-side Cafes. With vast acres of green to explore, Hyde Park is the closest – and most idyllic – way to get a breath of fresh air in the area.
Just a few minutes on the tube, Madam Tussauds is located on Baker Street, and offers one of the top tourist destinations, not just in London, but in the world. Come face to face with famous figures from throughout history and learn more about your favourite A-listers.
Alexander Fleming Laboratory
Open Monday till Thursday 10am till 1pm, the Alexander Fleming Museum is in Paddington’s St Mary’s Hospital on Praed Street. Dedicated to the man who discovered the uses of Penicillin, this museum gives yo0u a glimpse into the medical world of 1928, when it was used as the Nobel winning scientists laboratory and research facility.
Norfolk Square Gardens
Hidden behind Paddington Station, Norfolk Square Gardens is one of the most idyllic spots for relaxing in West London. This green space is full to the brim with beautiful plants and shrubs and is lined with the classic white terraced houses Paddington’s so famous for. Get a taste of West London like a local and take a breather in Norfolk Square Gardens.
What is the Paddington Basin?
The Paddington Basin is the canal basin of the Paddington area, and leads into Little Venice and Regent’s Canal. Back in the early 19th century, the basin was used as a transshipment facility and has since been redeveloped to accommodate for offices, new build apartments and boutique restaurants. All of this comes together to make one of the most beautiful examples of Paddington’s regeneration.
Part of the Paddington Basin regeneration project incorporates the flashy Paddington Waterside. Sprawling over an area around the size of Soho, the waterside incorporates beautiful yet practical sculptures like the Paddington Basin’s Rolling Bridge, alongside new restaurants and even canal boat-based galleries, cafes and bars.
Diana Memorial Fountain
Based in Hyde Park, the Diana Memorial Fountain consists of a large slash through the green of the idyllic park, and represents the mark left on London by the famous princess. Designed by Gustafson Porter, the small canal running through Hyde Park’s South West corner is dedicated to the short-lived Princess of Wales love of Children. This is represented by the fountain’s openness, and allows people to hop over and dip their feet in the beautiful running stream.
Cruise the canal
To get the most out of the Paddington Basin, Little Venice and Regent’s Canal, the best way to explore the West London waterways is of course, by boat. With tours and rentals available from many city event planners, tours of the canals will enhance your perspective of the city and will undoubtedly be a day you’ll never forget.
Puppet Theatre Barge
The Puppet Theatre Barge is based in the Little Venice area of West London throughout the year, before moving to Richmond for the summer months. The 50-seater barge incorporates a stage for marionette theatre, attracting children and adults alike to be captivated by this unique storytelling form. The barge has attracted some of the best writers in the world, bringing the works of Howard Barker, Shakespeare and many others to life through accessible puppetry.
Canal Café Theatre
Another must for art lovers, the Notting Hill-based Canal Café Theatre is one of the best spots in town for new writing and comedy. With its trendy 60 seat stage, the venue has amassed some of the funniest comedy talents of the last 50 years, attracting the likes of the Mighty Boosh, League of Gentlemen and Shapphi Korshandi.