The exclusive Belgravia region is one of the most fashionable and desirable residential areas of central London. Anyone staying at the boutique Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel can now discover the area’s best kept secrets on two wheels thanks to Kingston Bicycles.The four bespoke bicycles can be borrowed free of charge along with a local cycling guide to Belgravia and beyond created by London cycling specialists ‘Tally Ho! Cycle Tours.’ The classic ‘Belgravia’ bike model has been redesigned exclusively for the hotel with red, white and blue fittings.
The quintessentially British bikes come in two different designs and sizes and feature well-known icons such as red telephone boxes, Coldstream guards, teacups, umbrellas and of course the Union Jack flag.
Belgravia and beyond
Find out why Belgravia is recognised throughout Europe as the largest and best preserved urban Regency estate on this cycling tour which starts and finishes at Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel. The suggested route takes cyclists past the Star Tavern (legend has it this is where the Great Train Robbery was planned) and towards Belgrave Square – one of Belgravia’s leafy garden squares which houses a large concentration of embassies and statues of great historical importance. Admire the classic Regency style of squares, streets and crescents, aligned to overlook private gardens surrounded by unified palazzo façades.
You’ll then pass some boutique-style shops including “The Fine Cheese Co” an artisan cheese merchant which sells both local produce and cheese from around the world. If chocolate is more your thing then “Rococo Chocolates” sells an incredible selection and delicious hot chocoloate drinks to warm you up on those chilly days.
Next up is Wilton Crescent which has been home to many VIPs over the years including Alfonso López-Pumarejo – twice president of Columbia – who lived at No. 33. If it’s time for a refreshment then keep your eyes peeled for The Grenadier – a popular haunt of the guardsmen from the nearby barracks.
The route then passes the Wellington Arch (which was built to celebrate the victory at Waterloo in 1815) and the Achilles statue (in Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War) before heading into the wonderful and scenic Hyde Park. (Read more in A Day and Night in London.) Pop into the Serpentine cafe for lunch before cycling past the Serpentine Lake and a number of famous memorials (Princess Diana memorial fountain and the Albert memorial). The tour concludes on “Route du Roi” which runs between St. James and Kensington Palace.
In and around the leafy gardens and squares of Mayfair and Belgravia you can find a series of hidden gems either on foot or by bike. How about a visit to the Grosvenor Film Festival? The outdoor cinema screens show classic films throughout the summer months until September.
The Duke of York Square Fine Food Market although not in Belgravia itself, is within cycling (and walking) distance from the hotel. The Duke of York Square is the area in front of the Saatchi Gallery and this food market takes place every Saturday from 10am – 4pm.
Join the SW1 Runners for weekly Tuesday lunchtime running through the streets of Belgravia. It’s free to join and described as “easy-paced.”
The Chelsea Physic Garden is hidden away on the banks of the Thames and known as one of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens which dates back to 1673. It offers a fascinating collection of herbal and medicinal plants, the garden also has a delightful café serving a lovely homemade afternoon tea.
Boisdale of Belgravia is a lively Scottish restaurant in the heart of Belgravia where you can find traditional Scottish dishes and the finest whiskies in its Macdonald Bar. It also has a secluded cigar terrace and hidden courtyard garden but what most people visit for are the nightly jazz performances. Boisdale has been presenting live music every night, except Sundays, for over 15 years.
The Michael Hoppen Gallery is situated just off the famous King’s Road and specialises in showcasing the works of established and up-and-coming fine art photographers. Entry to the gallery exhibitions is free and there is always somewhere there to explain more about the photographs and the artists behind them. Previous exhibitions have included images by fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, American novelist Hunter S. Thompson and English photographer Mary McCartney.
For those keen to indulge in some retail therapy, Belgravia boasts a plethora of luxury boutiques including well-known brands such as shoe designer Christian Louboutin, womenswear designer Louise Kennedy and milliner Philip Treacy. The world-famous Knightsbridge department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols and the luxury brands of Sloane Street are also just a stone’s throw away. Guests looking for an accompanied tour can arrange a personalised experience with Tally Ho! Cycle Tours through the hotel concierge team.
For more information on Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel, visit http://www.jumeirah.com/jlh