For guests staying in accommodation near London Airport to accommodate flights to and from the city’s biggest airport, London Heathrow, there is plenty to do. For instance, there are plenty of good restaurants near Heathrow, as well as the National Trust’s Osterley Park and House, a short walk from the hotels near Osterley Tube Station. In this vein, these hotels also have the benefit of being near a tube station and so day-trips into the center of London are easy and accessible. That said, there is still about an hour’s worth of traveling to be done to make this possible, so it is worth knowing exactly what to expect from your attraction of choice so that you make the most of your time there. In the case of the Tower of London, officially known as His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, here are 8 things you won’t want to miss when making the trip from Park Grand Hotel Hounslow.
The Crown Jewels
As many know, the British monarchy is still constitutional, though over the years the power held by the crown has been reduced to a more advisory nature and the British government are, for the most part, responsible for the enforcement of the law. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still relics of the royal world to be enjoyed in the Tower of London, a palace and fortress which was built for William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England. One such sparkly attraction is the crown jewel exhibition, an internationally revered collection of 23,578 gemstones which can be found under armed guard in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. You will head back to your accommodation near London Airport suitably impressed, especially by the dazzling Black Prince’s Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire, and the Cullinan II diamond.
While you may have seen some city pigeons roaming around the hotels near Osterley Tube Station, they don’t quite compare to Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Erin, Poppy, Georgie, Edgar and Branwen – the ravens currently in residence at The Tower of London. It was Charles II who fervently believed that the safety of the Tower was dependent on its ravens never leaving, and this tradition has lived on through the subsequent reigns to ensure the Tower never falls. Nowadays, you can see them going about their guard duty as they can explore the Tower precincts freely during the day.
The White Tower
The White Tower was the Tower of London’s strongest militarily point back when it was functional rather than a tourism attraction, and the fact that we can visit it nearly 1000 years later suggests its reputation for strength was well-founded. It was built almost exactly 916 years before Park Grand Hotel Hounslow, for scale! While in the modern day, we admire its beauty, its Norman architectural aesthetics were designed to look as intimidating as possible and showcase the lord of the castle’s power. Guided tours are available, which ensure you absorb not just the physical presence but the cultural and historical history.
Line of Kings
Henry VIII’s tournament armor, as well as the gold-coated armours of Charles I and James II, can be found in the Line of Kings, a display in the White Tower. You can also admire battle pieces which were made for both noblemen and the common soldiers, and have the opportunity to compare them not just in ornate design but in structural material.
While this may no longer be an actual fortress, that doesn’t mean that the contents of the Tower don’t need protection, which is why you will see guards stationed outside the Jewel House and the King’s House. Admire them, but don’t try distract them – they have an important job to do!
Depending on the time of year you visit, there are a number of temporary events to attend and enjoy at the Tower of London. These include everything from a Halloween show that uses projections and sound effects to make the atmosphere suitably spooky, to an immersive experience which relives the rebellious details of the Gunpowder Plot in the Tower Vaults, a showcase called Superbloom which is a natural landscape in the moat, as well as a Christmas market for the record books. So, depending on when you will be visiting the Park Grand Hotel Hounslow, keep an eye out for what is in store.
The Fusilier Museum
Included in your Tower of London ticket is the Fusilier Museum, which is well-worth your time and concentration if you have a penchant for military history. Within the exhibitions, you can see a collection of twelve Victoria Cross Medals which the regiment won, as well as King George V’s uniform and bearskin, just to name a couple of noteworthy items.
The Imprisonment at the Tower Exhibition
Last, but certainly not least, is the Imprisonment at the Tower exhibition, where visitors can find out why and how people ended up as prisoners in the Tower of London… from within the rooms where some of them were imprisoned! Some of the Tower’s most famous (or infamous) inmates included Elizabeth I, who was locked up for almost a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels, as well as the famously beheaded Anne Boleyn who was accused not just of of incest with her brother buit also of using magic to bewitch the king. The stories to learn from this exhibition are the kind of dinner-table specials that can be whipped out when dining in a restaurant near Heathrow once you return to your hotel.
Top tip: As you may have realized by this point, there is a lot to do and see in the Tower of London and while almost everything is included in the price of your ticket, that is not to say that doing it on your own is wise. By all means, those just looking to wander and absorb as they go should do just that. However, those who don’t want to miss out on any details and who may not have the opportunity to return again should consider either buying a guidebook for £4.99, or audioguide where prices start at £4.