Monday, July 18, 2011

London: St. Pancras Hotel, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery

The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel opened in May, 2011 after years of restoration. I think it is the most fabulous hotel I've ever seen. And it was free, sort of. We were able to use Mark's Marriott points. When I was making hotel reservations for the trip, I had trouble finding a place in London that would take points on such short notice. The St. Pancras had availability, lucky for us.

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel

The hotel with the British Museum next door (in front on the pic)

The side of the hotel-It's huge

St. Pancras Hotel lobby

The hotel is in a terrific location, there are restaurants just down the street and it sits directly on top of the London-St. Pancras Rail Station. When it was time to head to Paris, we just had to take the elevator downstairs and board the Eurostar.

Friday was our first full day in London. We took a taxi to The National Gallery. Eight pounds for two people, plus tip--not bad. The Underground would not be much less. The National Gallery and all major museums in London have free admittance.

National Gallery

The museum borders the popular Trafalgar Square.  What a fun place. We hung out for a bit and took some photos. It was busy, but not too crowded and had such a pleasant atmosphere about it. 

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

We loved the National Gallery. It has elegant leather benches in most of the rooms that are great for resting/viewing. The small Renoir wall was my favorite portion of the place: At the Theatre, The Umbrellas and Gladiolis Still Life. All three are gorgeous. My other favorites were by Monet, Gainsborough and Van Gogh.

Paige's favorite was Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. Once she explained that the magic is in the tiny details, I was persuaded, too.

After a lovely lunch at one of the museum restaurants (though Paige was joking about the yucky gooseberry custard for the next few days) we walked over to the National Portrait Gallery. Dame Judi Dench's life-size portrait holds the most prominent position in the place, with younger versions of brothers William and Harry positioned just around the corner. I found it interesting that the portrait of Charles and Diana is not flattering of Diana at all, and it was not easy to spot. There are portraits of every king and queen to ever sit on the throne, and hundreds of other famous folks: Handel, Jane Austen, John Keats, J.S.Bach, Robert Louis Stevenson...

Next stop: The Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral


The Prude said...

I want to go to London more each time you post.
I am laughing though- I'm a skim reader and at first it looked as though you were staying at the Pancreatic Resistance hotel.

Great photos, Paige!

Robin J. Steinweg said...

As Paige said, "the magic is in the tiny details." Your writing is full of the most enticing little details. Thank you for taking us to London with you!!!!