Founder and Managing Director of Beyond Curated, Linda Hugo, has undertaken a few epic walks during lockdown, clocking up an impressive step count and taking in some of the most gorgeous historic views in the world. Exploring on foot is one of the best ways feel the heartbeat of the capital, intimately connecting with the streets and the hidden treasures that lie in wait to be discovered.
Linda’s passion for history and all things London is woven into the fabric of Beyond Curated and the magical private experiences that she designs. For the past year of lockdown however, the frustration of not being able to take guests on beautiful journeys through London’s most breathtaking historic settings, has given rise to a wave of creativity and determination. Through this creative expression, Beyond Curated’s virtual experiences were born to showcase the wealth of experts and gate keepers to which Linda has access. Our virtual experiences have kept audiences enraptured and delighted. Through this third lock down Linda has filled our Instagram page with gorgeous images snapped during long walks across the city.
In this blog Linda shares a favourite route through London, which takes in three iconic royal palaces, stunning views and sweeping vistas and some of our favourite hotels, as they lie dormant, waiting to welcome returning guests.
From the Tower of London to Kensington Palace
“London is an endless source of inspiration, which makes designing experiences in and around the city an absolute joy. Lockdown has taken its toll on everyone and I’ve really missed welcoming guests, enjoying visits to the stunning historic settings where we would normally be hosting private fine dining, master classes and curated behind the scenes tours. With everything closed, heading out on foot means so much more than getting daily exercise, it’s more about staying connected to the places I love, feeling their magic, even if from afar, and fanning the fire of my love for London. It’s also been quite cool to clock in at 34K steps after the last walk, which now means the next one needs to exceed 36K steps, but that’s a challenge for another day…
The route I’d like to share, and highly recommend to intrepid walkers and London lovers, is incredibly scenic and rich in photo opportunities. The walk starts at Tower Hill and takes in the 1,000 year old World Heritage site of the Tower of London, the setting of one of our signature experiences, the highlight of which is a private dining experience like no other. Wandering past this atmospheric fortress just makes me long for the beautiful evenings our guests have enjoyed within the ancient walls – perfectly magical.
Be sure to take a look back at the amazing statue of Old Father Thames, perched majestically on the former Thames Port Authority building on Trinity Square (the historic and infamous execution site) which is now the gorgeous Ten Trinity Four Seasons hotel. Waving goodbye to the Tower of London and walking along the rivers edge, cross over London Bridge and admire the stunning views towards Tower Bridge. Both bridges have been eerily quiet of late and it’s been so strange to stand, almost entirely alone some days, looking out over the mighty river Thames, watching the tide and feeling its incredible energy.
Once over London Bridge, a stopping for supplies at Borough Market is a temptation that should not be resisted. Fuel up with coffee and the freshest pastries before ambling along the river towards Southbank. Always vibrant, whether crowded or not, this part of London is without a doubt a firm favourite. It has a buzz that is so quintessentially London, it always makes you feel good. Then cross the river again via the Hungerford Bridge which will take you to Embankment tube station. Two minutes walk along the Embankment or the Strand will lead you to the magnificent Savoy hotel, an oasis of elegance and one of our distinguished hotel partners. Today however, we’re turning right at the tube station and up past the Corinthia Hotel, towards Horse Guards Parade. Wave to (and photograph!) the splendid uniformed guards on horseback and walk through the regal parade ground, filled with statues and military significance.
As the parade ground opens up it leads you directly to St James’ Park, which has to be one of the prettiest of London’s Royal Parks. Swans and several hundred types of bird life greet you there, amidst the fountains, daffodils and dappled sunlight (on a beautiful Spring day) it’s easy to forget the stresses of life and lose yourself in the fairytale like surroundings. Once in the middle of the park, pause on the footbridge to take in the view back towards Horse Guards Parade. It’s an iconic, turreted treat for the eyes. It is London as a fairytale backdrop of tranquility – time for plenty of snaps!
Walk up to the Mall, which forms the perimeter of the park and enjoy more stunning views, down through the Mall, towards Buckingham Palace. On the opposite side of the Mall you’ll see splendid Admiralty Arch, which is due to open as the luxurious new Waldorf hotel, which we cannot wait to visit!
Walk along the Mall, past Prince Charles’s London home, Clarence House, and up to the palace. Marvel at the palace, its stunning ornate gilded gates and the beautifully grand Queen Victoria Memorial. Definitely time for more photos! Next, we head up through Green Park, another glorious Royal Park, and meander through the daffodils towards Wellington Arch, a towering regal arch with Hyde Park as its backdrop. Apparently, only royals are allowed to drive through the arch – well, them and millions of cyclists that need to be dodged when crossing this elegant roundabout. Before entering Hyde Park, admire Apsley House on the right, home to the Duke of Wellington, and The Lanesborough hotel, to the left. This iconic hotel is one with which we are very proud to be associated and have been honoured to host several of their guests, who have enjoyed sparkling Beyond Curated experiences.
Entering Hyde Park, turn right and walk along the edge of the beautiful Serpentine. This is the spot where I captured amazing images of swans courting and preening, it’s such a beautiful setting. Keep walking and you’ll reach the Serpentine Gallery which installs amazing pavilions each year, designed by cutting edge architects. A wonderful venue to keep your eyes on.
As you walk through the Hyde Park the pathways will lead you towards Lancaster Gate. Here, the ornate fountains provide a fabulous spot from which to look out, back over the Serpentine. This scene is the lovely setting for Beyond Curated’s home page image, of which we are so proud. It’s always a lovely moment to stand here and ponder the wonderful journey we’ve been on, not only today as we’ve walked across London, but over the past three years of building our sparkling experiential brand.
Walking toward the left now, through Kensington Gardens, we notice the palace in the distance and head towards this stunning royal home. Kensington Palace is a jewel in the crown of the Historic Royal Palaces collection. This former home to young Queen Victoria and numerous royals, including the late Princess Diana, is where we host the start of our royal experience, which features a private curated tour through its glittering halls and history.
Take a moment to admire the fountain and statue of Queen Victoria, designed by her daughter, Princess Louise, and take in the beauty of the park, the palace and the uplifting convergence of history and nature.
The wonderful Milestone Hotel, part of the Red Carnation group of hotels, is just across Kensington High Street opposite the park. Their stylish and delightfully appointed suites are among our favourites in London and we are proud to partner with the hotel for a number of dining and private heritage experiences. Kensington is also home to The Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial, iconic London landmarks definitely worth admiring for their sheer splendour.
It’s been an epic stroll, so now it’s time for some refreshments! As cafe’s and bars are still closed, I love heading into Whole Foods on Kensington High street to stock up on treats, before heading back into the park for a picnic. Bliss! I hope the weather plays along if you decide to enjoy this walk – it is so very much worth it and you’ll feel enriched and inspired by the experience. Much like our delighted guests feel when they’ve enjoyed a Beyond Curated experience. Enjoy!”