Tranquillity incarnate: escape the London jungle; visit Little Venice
Do, your tip-top accommodation for your summertime London short-break’s all booked, you’ve organised all your travel arrangements and now all that’s left to sort out is an itinerary for what to fill your days with when you’re actually in the UK capital. Hmm, what to do that’s a little off the beaten track (so it’s less clichéd than the usual London things-to-see-and-do) but also great fun and full of diverse colour and with that unbeatable coo, British urban vibe? Well, why not spend one of the days of your trip exploring Little Venice?
So why go to Little Venice – and how to get there?
The small area’s located just north of the major Paddington mainline station (and the district named after it) and, as soon as you’re upon it, you’ll realise just why it’s considered one of the city’s best kept ‘secrets’. That’s because it’s a beguiling waterside area that’s brimming with quirky and charismatic entertainment venue, restaurants and eateries of all kinds and bars and pubs. In terms of actually getting there; either you can do so on-foot from Paddington or Warwick Avenue (five minutes a five-minutes) and also, if you don’t mind a slightly longer stroll from the likes Edgware Road, Maida Vale or Royal Oak. You’ll find that all of these districts are excellently served by public transport – both bus stops and Tube stations – which means Little Venice itself is extremely easy to get to wherever you’re staying in the city (not least one of the best budget hotels in London, like the Grand Royale London Hyde Park).
Canals, cafés, pubs and more
So then based, as it is, around the canal-basin pool where the Grant Union Canal, Regent’s Canal and Paddington Basin all converge, Little Venice is packed full of exquisitely elegant Regency-era architecture and glorious greenery throughout. And, while you’re there (if you’re up for it), you’ll find it’s a great locale for a good old summer’s day walk in old London Town. From the district, you can easily stroll up to the equally elegant Primrose Hill, with its gorgeous panoramas of the whole of the city (to the south), or you can head along the canal’s towpath, which’ll take you right through Regent’s Park (and actually past London Zoo) and then on to the quaintly alternative and highly eclectic Camden Town.
That said; there’s so much to see and do in Little Venice itself, of course. If you’re one for theatrical performance, you must give the small fringe venue that’s the Canal Café Theatre a try; it’s well-recommended for its comedy circuit shows especially – indeed, it’s home to the world’s longest-running live comedy show, NewsRevue, which it hosts every week. And if you’ve young ones in tow then the Puppet Theatre Barge is simply a must; its family-oriented marionette-featuring shows are well reviewed, to say the least.
Are you a foodie? If so, you’re extremely well served by the areas gastro-pubs in the area, including the likes of the Bridge House and Warwick Castle, as well as very popular restaurants, such as the floating Chinese cuisine-specialising Feng Shang Princess, whose red boat you’ll find is right by Regent’s Park and looks quite the sight of the evening when it’s lit up by its Chinese lanterns, with the lapping waves of the river illuminated below. In fact, you might just conclude that this eatery’s the perfect place to dine, before calling it a night and heading home from Little Venice London.