Cities are where everything significant seems to happen and are the home of the places to be seen. This is why cities attract celebrities. Nowadays cities like London attract the latest pop stars for their concerts and of course film stars flock here for their premieres.
This isn’t a new phenomenon for London. As an ancient city it has always attracted the wealthy, the well known and the infamous, the movers and shapers of the world at that time. When you are spending time in London and you fancy trying your luck in spotting a Kardashian, then an evening in the West End would be a good place to start. If you’re more interested in finding out about where historically influential people lived, worked and died, then that’s easy enough too.
London makes historic celebrity spotting very easy. If a building has a significant link to a well known person then it is likely to have had a blue plaque fitted on the front by English Heritage to tell you all about it.
Fortunately, the Melita Hotel is ideally located to go ‘Blue Plaque Spotting’, being as it is at the centre of the action. Situated within walking distance of Victoria train, underground and coach station, you can get anywhere in London you need to go to (if you’re interested in that Kardashian spotting, the West End is extraordinarily easy).
The Melita Hotel is located in an area of London known as the City of Westminster, here are a few examples of blue plaques you can find nearby and even walk to from the Melita Hotel.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)
Ok, when you’re thinking about famous historic people you’d like to track in London, the Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda was probably not at the top of your list. However, this is the closest blue plaque to the Melita Hotel, just a few seconds walk away at 63 St George’s Drive.
This should give you a good idea as to what to look out for in terms on the blue plaques. If you’re interested, Mr Vivekananda lived in this building in 1896.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
But Mozart was Austrian, I hear you say! You’re right, he was. But from April 1764 he and his family embarked on a tour of Europe, including spending a year in London.
Unfortunately, during their grand vacation, Mozart’s father took ill and spent a few months convalescing at 180 Ebury Street, just a few minutes walk from the Melita Hotel. This wouldn’t be particularly significant if it wasn’t the location where Mozart, the eight year old child prodigy, wrote his very first symphony!
Just to make it confusing the blue plaque erected here isn’t actually blue, it’s gold! This is because this one was erected in 1939, before a colour for the plaques was fully decided upon (it was re-erected in 1951 after bomb damage).
John Logie Baird (1888-1959)
At 22 Frith Street in Soho, you can find the well known Bar Italia, one of London’s best known cafes. This is a very popular venue, especially when Italian football is on the television. It is also the building where John Logie Baird demonstrated television for the very first time, in January 1926.
Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)
The most famous guitarist of all time lived in the top floor flat of 23 Brook Street in Mayfair from 1968-69, after moving in with his then girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham. He lived in and helped to decorate the flat until he left to tour the US in March 1969. He returned to London in 1970 where he died in Notting Hill.
John Lennon (1940-1980)
Not a famous Londoner of course, but a famous Liverpudlian. However, during the height of Beatlemania, Lennon lived in and around London for extended periods of time. For a while in 1968, he resided at 34 Montagu Street in Marylebone with Yoko Ono, the first home they shared together.
Lennon penned music and lyrics for the White Album whilst living here.
The basement and ground floor flat that Lennon shared with Yoko Ono was originally bought by Ringo Starr and then lived in by Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix before Lennon and Ono moved in. A rich history indeed!
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Having been kicked out of his homeland after writing his famous ‘Communist Manifesto’, Karl Marx came to live and settle permanently in London.
From 1851 to 1856 he lived at 28 Dean Street in Soho. Not the lively area of bars and restaurants that it is today, it is here where he wrote the first volume of ‘Das Kapital’.
Napoleon III (1808-1873)
Okay, so it’s not THE Napoleon, it’s his nephew. But this blue plaque is the oldest surviving one in the whole of London, and is within walking distance of the Melita Hotel.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
One of the fathers of modern science, Isaac Newton lived in London, specifically Jermyn Street, from 1696 until 1709. He lived at number 88 before moving next door to number 87, where the blue plaque now stands.
The original plaque was placed on the original 17th century house in 1908. Unfortunately this was demolished and rebuilt in 1915 and the plaque now stands on the new building.
General Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970)
General Charles De Gaulle led the French ‘government in exile’ during the Second World War which was known as the French National Committee. Their headquarters was at 4 Carlton Street in St James’s, a building that was erected in 1828.
These are just a small selection of historical figures whose plaques are within walking distance of the Melita Hotel. Others include those associated with Ian Fleming, Ava Gardner, Thomas Gainsborough, Rudyard Kipling, Guglielmo Marconi, Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, Samuel Pepys, Mary Shelley and Madame Marie Tussaud. Even this list is only a handful of the over 300 which can be found nearby.
You don’t have to restrict yourself to the City of Westminster either. There are thirty-one London boroughs and The City (financial district) to explore as well. Every one of them can be accessed by starting your journey from Victoria station, a short walk from the Melita Hotel.