Historic Palaces – Great Value Multiple Ticket

The Historic Royal Palaces is the organisation responsible for managing 5 of London’s best Royal Palaces.  Three of these are in central London:

Tower of London from outside the western walls

Tower of London from outside the western walls

The others are a little bit further afield:

  • Hampton Court; and
  • Kew Palace.

If you are a regular visitor to London – or stay-cation there – or are a first time visitor looking to make the most of your trip by visiting 3 or more of these sites, then make sure you plan ahead and get yourself an Annual Membership.

Membership costs £47 for an Adult or £90 for a family with 2 Adults and up to 6 children (to understand the value that this represents you need to bear in mind that for a single visit by a family with 2 adults and 2 children to the Tower of London it will cost you £67.20, even if you book at discounted online prices – prices validated 11 Jul 2015).

In addition to your entry fees being covered there are extra exhibitions and tours available to members that are not open to the public so make sure to check on the Historic Royal Palaces’ website (click here),  to see what special events are on when you are expecting to visit.

One of the Chandeliers at the Whitehall Palaces Banqueting Hall

One of the chandeliers at the Banqueting Hall

Although most of these events are planned for specific days over the summer, some are available regularly.  For instance, the Tower has New Members tours – taken by one of the Yeoman Guards (a “Beefeater”) – and although similar tours are available to the public, the members tours are smaller and more intimate. The other is a rooftop tour of Hampton Court that runs on alternate Saturday and Sundays through the summer.

In addition to the member events and unlimited entry to all 5 sites, you will also get some other events that include:

  • The ability to skip the queue at entry;
  • A great souvenir book;
  • Money off at some of the food outlets (trust me when I say that the cost of a bottle of water means you will appreciate every discount you can get hold of!); and
  • Discounts on some of the items in the Palaces’ shops.

So if you plan to visit only one of these spots then pay on arrival but otherwise I recommend a little forward planning.

Natural History Museum – More than just a museum

The towers that flank the amazing entrance to the museum

The towers over the amazing entrance to the museum

The Natural History Museum is a great day out but don’t forget to look at the building as well as the exhibits.  This is, in my mind, one of the architectural treasures of London.

Intricately carved columns that flank the entry to the museum

Intricately carved columns flank the entry to the museum

The museum, which was built on the site of the 1862 International Exhibition, is a true case of making a swan from a ugly duckling.  The original building for the International Exhibition was described at the time as the ugliest building in the world, but the same can definitely not be said of the wonderful building that was created on the site in the 1880’s.

The head of a mouse looks out from the bottom of one of the pillars flanking the entrance.

The head of a mouse looks out from the bottom of one of the pillars flanking the entrance

An eagle on the base of a pillar in the museum's entryway

An eagle on the base of a pillar in the museum’s entryway

The terracotta facing, intricately carved animal motifs, and majestic staircase in the main hall, ensure that the building is as big a star at the Museum as the rocks and bones that make up the exhibitions inside it.

If you are visiting in the early summer months  before schools are out, then my advice would be to avoid weekday mornings as the museum is a real “school trip staple”.  It is best to visit in the afternoons when the children have returned to their schools for their end of day pick ups or even on a weekend.

To get to the museum the best tube is South Kensington from which the museum is signposted.  Another of the great offerings within London which is free to visit.