Fantastic facts: how much do you really know about London?


As one of the most essential metropolises on Planet Earth, London can boast a history, culture and logistical reality that few other cities from any other part of the world can match. So, should you be looking to stay in the UK capital and make use of London hotels special offers by making your base one the many affordable but comfortable Shaftesbury hotels, here’s a slew of facts you may be intrigued to know – and try to remember…!

History and today

  • The Romans were first to settle where London is today; they called it Londinium
  • The Saxons destroyed London Bridge in 1014 by using boats and ropes to tear it down
  • During the Saxon period of occupation London was known as Lundenwic
  • In Medieval England animals were brought into court and tried and sentenced by the judge for any mischief or damage they did!
  • The Blitz and other bombing by the German Luftwaffe during World War II killed over 30,000 Londoners and destroyed many houses and other buildings across London
  • London has 43 universities, the largest concentration of higher education in Europe
  • More than 300 languages are spoken within London.

london road


  • Having opened in 1863, the London Underground – or ‘Tube’ – is the oldest underground railway network in the world
  • 55% of the London Underground is not under the ground
  • Five stations on the Underground system are named after pubs: Elephant & Castle, Angel, Swiss Cottage, Royal Oak and Manor House
  • Angel Tube station has Western Europe’s longest escalator with 318 steps
  • The British Transport Police are responsible for policing National Rail and London Underground services
  • The red double-decker bus is an icon of London; it was recently reintroduced to the city’s roads
  • The Savoy Court, leading into the Savoy Hotel, is the only place in Britain where cars enter and exit on the right; this was changed by an act of parliament, to enable women to exit cars first, since they traditionally sat behind the driver (from horse and carriage days).
  • The traditional colour of taxis in London is black; today ‘black cabs’ come in 12 different colours.

Buckingham palace

Buckingham Palace

  • The ‘Palace’ is The Queen’s official London residence
  • It has 775 rooms; these include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms
  • The Palace gets its name from the then Duke of Buckingham in the late Georgian era; he built Buckingham House for himself as a grand London home
  • In 1761, George III bought Buckingham House for his wife, Queen Charlotte
  • The first monarch to use Buckingham Palace as their official residence was Queen Victoria, who moved here in 1837
  • Over 800 members of staff are based at Buckingham Palace; their jobs range from housekeeping to horticulture, catering to correspondence
  • Some of the more unusual jobs in the Palace include a fendersmith, a clockmaker and a flagman.

big ben

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

  • Big Ben is not actually the name of the clock or the tower’ it’s the 13-ton bell inside the clock
  • The tower is known as St. Stephens Tower but don’t worry; most people refer to it as Big Ben
  • The Houses of Parliament contains 1,000 rooms, 100 staircases, 11 courtyards, eight bars and six restaurants – none of them open to the public (unless, while staying at your accommodation – maybe one of the Shaftesbury Hyde Park International? – and thanks to a UK citizen you know having contacted their Member of Parliament/ MPP, they and you manage to get you inside the building for a look around)
  • The Houses of Parliament are part of the greater Palace of Westminster, built by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin in the mid-19th century in the distinctive neo-Gothic architectural style.

And, finally…

  • 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens in Paddington are dummy houses built to hide the Tube line running underneath (the Metropolitan); the windows are painted on and behind the façade is the track!