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London History

Tucked into a curve of the Thames, London began life as Londinium, a small Roman port village connecting the territory of the Trinovantes tribe with that of the Catuvellauni to the north. But importance came at a price and in AD61, the settlement was razed by the armies of Iceni Queen Boudicca.

Next to occupy the site were the Saxons, who took control after the Romans withdrew, and withstood several onslaughts from the Vikings before being ousted by the Normans in 1066. The Saxons left Westminster Abbey behind. The Normans built castles instead, with the Tower of London’s White Tower begun under William the Conqueror. Subsequent years saw the city become England’s dominant metropolis, with Whitehall Palace in the centre of London joining the Tower as England’s seat of power.

But while England’s kings and queens - and occasionally its peasants - continued to bring about changes to the city’s architecture, it wasn’t until the reign of Elizabeth I that it developed a reputation for culture, thanks in no small part to Shakespeare and the famous School of Night.

Although the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was foiled, the next century would be marked by turmoil, with London enduring civil war, plague, fire and the only execution of an English monarch in history. With the advent of the Georgians came stability and empire, with London growing rich. This continued during the Victorian period, with London remaining prosperous throughout the WWI and the Great Depression that followed.

WWII put an end to the party, with the fearsome Blitz unleashed on the British capital reducing much of the East End to rubble. A sluggish economy in the 1960s and 70s compounded the malaise, as did IRA bomb attacks in the 1970s and 80s. Despite their best efforts, London has bounced back, gathering steam in the 1990s and hosting the Olympic Games in 2012. Today, it is one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Did you know?
• Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifestowas first published in Liverpool Street in 1848.
• Cock Lane in Holborn got its name because it was the only street licensed for prostitution in mediaeval times.
• More than 1,000 bodies are buried beneath Aldgate Station in a plague pit dating from 1665.

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The Soho Hotel

Rooms at this trendy hotel are sumptuously appointed in a modern, eclectic style, not forgetting flatscreen TVs, huge, ultra-comfortable beds, and sleek bathrooms kitted out in grey granite, glass and oak. Befitting a hotel nestled in the heart of London’s entertainment district, there is a swish private event space and two private screening rooms. Onsite restaurant Refuel has an attractive dinner menu, as well as serving afternoon tea and an extensive selection of breakfast dishes. 

The Dorchester

Sat beside Hyde Park, the glamorous Dorchester is a stately cavern of old-school British class. Dining includes high-end Asian restaurant China Tang and purveyors of modern British cuisine The Grill at The Dorchester, while the extensive spa in the basement is an exceptional pampering space. For all-out luxury, there’s the baroque and rococo Oliver Messel Suite, perched a-top the hotel, with a terrace offering prime views across the London rooftops. 

Point A Hotel Westminster

This no-frills Asian hotel chain in the heart of Westminster is a fantastic option for those seeking value for money in the capital. The concept is simple: by stripping out costly extras, such as room service or windows, you can enjoy staying in a clean room with an ensuite bathroom for very little money. If you want extras, such as towels, toiletries, an in-room safe or a window, you simply pay for them. There are four hotels in the capital but this one in the centre is excellent if you want to be close to heart of the action.

The Savoy

A haunt of London’s moneyed elite since the late 1800s, London’s Savoy re-opened its grand doors in 2010 following a three-year overhaul. Costing around £220 million, the spangly improvements have been enticing high-profile clientele from across the world, with revamped areas including the lavish guest rooms, the American Bar, and the famous Savoy Grill, which is overseen by TV kitchen king Gordon Ramsey. One thing that’s not changed is the stunning view across the Thames.

Rosewood London

 Rosewood London is a five-star hotel which blends English heritage with contemporary sophistication. The Edwardian Grade II-listed building has been renovated to create a luxury hotel with the ambiance of a stylish London residence. The hotel’s amenities include; a gym, a spa and a bar/lounge. The hotel also offers airport transportation and conference facilities.

Park Grand - London Lancaster Gate

The Park Grand is a boutique hotel located between Paddington and Lancaster Gate underground stations. Featuring modern guest rooms, a club lounge for executive visitors and a well-stocked bar. The hotel also offers links to Heathrow airport and major train stations.