If you are a current or future guest at the Park Grand London Paddington, Park Grand Lancaster Gate or Grand Royale London Hyde Park hotel, you should be commended for choosing such a well-situated place to stay.
This is because you’re either in or not too far away from Paddington – a section within central London’s City of Westminster that is blessed with many great places to eat and drink, beautiful canals, glorious garden squares, and even a famously friendly bear from Peru…
Meet Paddington Bear
We should probably get that bear out of the way before talking about anything else because for anyone arriving into central London on the high-speed Heathrow Express train, it is one of the first interesting things you’ll come across as you leave Paddington Station.
Head to platform one in the station and you’ll meet a charming bronze statue of the fictional bear, carrying a small suitcase and sporting a bush hat, as if he has just stepped off the train after emigrating from Peru.
Created by British sculptor Marcus Cornish and unveiled in 2000, the statue is a brilliant piece of work that takes plenty of influence from Peggy Fortnum’s original illustrations.
If you’d like a souvenir of your encounter with Paddington Bear, there’s also a shop dedicated to the Marmalade-loving bear on the station concourse too.
Puppet Theatre Barge
This floating theatre does exactly what it says on the tin; it is literally a puppet theatre on a barge.
It moors in Paddington’s Little Venice opposite 35 Blomfield Road between October and July typically, before heading to Richmond for the rest of the year. With only 55 seats available, tickets for performances can sometimes be hard to come by.
Productions can vary from traditional children’s tales like Punch and Judy and Aesop’s Fables to Shakespeare (The Tempest, Macbeth). Regardless of what is playing when you’re in London, it is well worth a visit with Time Out hailing it as ‘one of the most charming theatrical experiences London has to offer’.
The Rolling Bridge
Thomas Heatherwick’s Rolling Bridge is like no other bridge you’ll have ever seen.
Designed by the award-winning Heatherwick Studio and installed at Paddington in 2004, this 12-metre bridge is made from eight triangular segments, which fold into each other to form an octagonal sculpture that stands on one side of the canal towpath.
However, it unfurls to form a crossing every Wednesday and Friday at noon and at 2pm on Saturdays. It sounds crazy and it is.
If you fancy enjoying some high quality street food, head to Merchant Square on a Tuesday or Thursday.
Outside of that, there are some of the best London restaurants like the canal side KuPP, burger and craft beer joint Lockhouse, and Heist Bank, which serves up pizzas cooked on wood-burning ovens.
In the summer months, you’ll find an amazing water maze, as well as three colourful outdoor table tennis tables that are free-to-use, and giant versions of popular games like Jenga, Connect 4 and Chess.
June also sees a floating market take over the nearby canal from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th between 10am and 6pm, comprising barges playing host to sellers of vintage and collectible records and books, as well as arts workshops specialising in origami, poetry and gift-making.