Among London's many great landmarks, Big Ben is arguably the most recognisable, not only for its appearance but the sound of its chimes. There's a great choice of lastminute.com hotels near Big Ben offering a breadth of accommodation to suit your taste, and your wallet.
The name Big Ben has become synonymous with the Gothic Revival Elizabeth Tower that stands imperiously at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. In fact, Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell which is housed within the tower and although rarely seen, it's certainly heard far and wide. Ascend a swirl of stone steps, 334 in all, to the top of Elizabeth Tower and experience a rare opportunity to hear the Great Bell strike from within. Come face-to-face with the clocks, visit the mechanism room and discover how something completed in 1858 operates today.
Within a one-mile radius of Elizabeth Tower is a cradle of influence that includes political, royal and religious authority. The Palace of Westminster comprises both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Across the water stands Lambeth Palace, residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England. Enjoy a scenic walk to Buckingham Palace that takes you via Horse Guards' Parade, Downing Street and along The Mall before arriving at the Queen's London residence.
While staying in Westminster, what more appropriate place to dine than in Parliament Square itself under the auspices of a Michelin-starred chef? Roux at Parliament Square has the style and service you would expect but just as importantly, the food gets a majority vote. An appealing contrast to the elegance of the Roux is Regency Café, a venerable eatery that has been going strong since 1946. The Art Deco exterior conceals décor that has an equally retro look, this time hailing from the 1960s. Not that this matters a jot, just ask the high rollers and the builders who rub shoulders while tucking in to the satisfying food. Enjoy a right royal time partaking of Afternoon Tea in the Palace Lounge of The Rubens as you overlook the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace.
London's superclubs, such as Ministry of Sound, Heaven, Fabric and XOYO, are within easy reach of Westminster. And there are great venues for live music too, including the Brixton Academy, the O2 Arena, The Borderline and Ronnie Scott's – all of which are also very accessible.
Europe's busiest shopping street, Oxford Street offers hustle and bustle and more shops than you can shake a stick at. Carnaby Street, Regent Street and Soho are all easy to get to. So too is Camden Town for a bit of boho-chic. And for the UK's third-largest shopping centre and its vast array of stores, head over to Westfield London.
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