London is a big, bustling, busy city. There are people, hotels, bright lights, loud noises, it’s a city that brashly displays everything it hasto offer whilst seeming to shout “Look at me, look what I’ve got for you!”
It has things to see and things to do and it seems to want to tell you all about them, keeping nothing in reserve. It’s hard to imagine that a heaving, pulsing metropolis such as London could harbour any secrets, but it does.
As well as being a thriving modern city London is also a historic one. Historic cities tend to have lots of nooks and crannies, hiding places and unknown treasures. Places where not everyone gets to venture.
One of those hidden treasures is of course the Melita Hotel. On a quiet street in Pimlico that could never be described as heaving or pulsing, but is literally minutes away from where it is. The Melita is a well maintained, family run townhouse hotel which offers you a home away from home. Your own hidden gem from which you can uncover the other secrets of this capital city.
Kensington Roof Gardens
As a city, London has an extraordinary number of parks and green spaces where you can relax and unwind in relative peace and quiet. They’re generally huge, beautiful green open spaces and they are certainly no secret. The Roof Gardens in Kensington however, is a little gem that isn’t so easy to find. Especially from the ground.
Situated 100ft above the city, this really is an area where you can get away from it all. Originally opening above a department store in the 1930’s, this is 1.5 acres of astonishing landscape. The outdoor space consists of three themed gardens: Spanish Garden, Tudor Garden and English Woodland, each with its own unique style and feel.
Within the English Woodland setting there is a pond where you can find several species of exotic ducks, as well as being a hangout for a group of Flamingos, naturally.
This oasis is just minutes away from the Melita Hotel and is completely free to enter. There’s even a restaurant there so you can make a day of it.
Imagine getting back from your trip to London and telling your friends all about it. You’ll get the usual questions.
“Did you go to the Tower of London?”
“Did you go on the London Eye?”
“Did you get me a ‘My friend went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ t-shirt?”
You will probably be able to say an emphatic “Yes” to all those things, but you could also tell them what an amazing cemetery you visited. Bear with me…
Yes, there are some famous people’s memorials here at the East Cemetery, George Eliot, Karl Marx and Douglas Adams to name three. But it’s the mysterious West Cemetery that’s the real secret place to see.
It’s around 25 minutes tube travel from the Melita Hotel and you have to book a tour in advance, but it will be a tour you won’t forget. First opened in 1839, the cemetery is hidden by thick foliage, keeping it well hidden from London’s prying eyes.
The cemetery is a secret garden, made up of eery catacombs and vast gothic tombs. The architecture in the Victorian Pharaonic tombs and mausoleums is a must see and the entire place is a Grade I listed national treasure.
Keep on your toes here however, there is a rumoured occult past to the place, and it is the site of the notorious Highgate Vampire. Best get back to the Melita Hotel before midnight.
A little touch of Italy in London, kind of. The reference to the famous Italian city is a nod to the beautiful waterways and boats, as opposed to any other kind of Latin similarity.
Situated just to the north of Paddington, the Regent’s Canal and the Grand Union Canal meet and create a positively picturesque corner of the capital.
Unique waterside restaurants, pubs and cafes are in abundance. Boat trips on the canal are also available, some of which can take you from Little Venice to Camden Lock Market in less than an hour. Not the quickest way to get there, but so much more relaxing than another journey on the tube, especially in summer, phew!
If summer is the time of your visit then you’ll find plenty more going on in and around Little Venice. There’s a puppet theatre on a barge as well as an amphitheatre which puts on events throughout the year.
If you are a fan of sport then the spiritual home of cricket, Lords, is just a little further up the canal. If you are visiting from abroad please note, do not try to understand the rules of cricket before your visit, just roll up to a game and enjoy the atmosphere!
Crystal Palace Park
You’ll not find many London guidebooks encouraging you to venture south of the river. When viewed from the London Eye the South looks like a flat desolate place whereas the North looks like a place of tall buildings, flashy lights and historic wonderment. But secret gems are often where you’d least expect them.
Victoria station is a few minutes walk from the Melita Hotel, but this time we are not going on the tube. South London is obviously too inhospitable and deserted to have a tube line running to it (you may hear some Londoners grumble in a sarcastic tone).
Instead we’re going to jump on a good old fashioned British Overground train and stay on it until we reach the handily named Crystal Palace station.
As the name suggests, Crystal Palace Park was the resting place of the famous Crystal Palace, after it was moved from Hyde Park after the Great Exhibition. Unfortunately, the great building burnt down in 1936 but the name and the park remained.
As well as the remains of the Crystal Palace itself, the park also boasts a cafe, children’s play area, a maze, a fishing lake, a concert bowl.
However, what sets Crystal Palace Park apart from other parks in the capital, is it houses the remains of a Victorian theme park. A dinosaur theme park, the Victorian equivalent of Jurassic Park.
The dinosaur models are local icons and were put there by the founder of the Natural History Museum. They’ve been enjoyed for over a hundred years and what gives them added modern interest is that they are so spectacularly wrong!
The scientists of the day unfortunately put a fair amount of dinosaur bones in completely the wrong order which means these models look nothing like the dinosaurs they are based on, something that makes them very unique!
Fortunately, modern day plaques have been erected to show you how the dinosaurs should have looked.
These are just a few examples of the many secrets London hides within its sprawling borders. There are many more to find and we don’t want to reveal them all at once!
Whatever the reason for your visit to London, setting up base at the Melita Hotel puts you in the perfect position to thoroughly explore everything it has to offer.