There are many neighbourhoods in London known for their prestige and exclusivity- after all, London is one of the world’s most expensive cities! Chelsea is ever-popular with Russian billionaires and flashy footballers, while Knightsbridge is home to prestigious shopping in the form of Harrods and various designers’ flagship stores. But one of the poshest places around is Mayfair, and in particular, Park Lane.
Exiting the Tube at Hyde Park Corner brings one to the surface almost beneath the shadow of Wellington Arch- a beautiful welcome! When I was there last May, the weather was clear and wonderful, which gave the arch an even more glorious appearance. Wellington Arch is a striking piece of architecture, topped with a sculpture of the angel of peace descending onto the chariot of war.
Wellington Arch in the morning sunshine
But Wellington Arch is only a precursor to the rest of Park Lane’s wonders! There are several war memorials in the vicinity, including several at Hyde Park Corner. These memorials include an Australian memorial, a New Zealand memorial, the Machine Gun Corps memorial, and the Royal Artillery Memorial. These memorials really resonated with me, and their presence adds a certain solemnity to an area usually known better for its posh hotels and fashionable addresses.
The New Zealand War Memorial, honouring New Zealand’s dead of the two World Wars
A memorial farther along Park Lane, remembering animals in war. For me this is a particularly beautiful and touching memorial.
Park Lane also has some gorgeous architecture. Buildings such as the Grosvenor House Hotel and the Dorchester are not only famous in name, but are also admirable due to the beauty of their buildings.
The stunning architecture (perhaps neo-Gothic?) of a Barclays Bank outlet
The clean, modern, and distinctive facade of the Dorchester hotel
For countless years, Park Lane has been an exceptionally exclusive and expensive location in London. Benjamin Disraeli (who held the office of Prime Minister during parts of Queen Victoria’s reign) lived on Park Lane. More recently, pop culture icons such as Fred Astaire and Elizabeth Taylor have either lived on or frequented Park Lane. An idea of the affluence of Park Lane can be seen in the fact that Mohamed Al-Fayed, the Egyptian billionaire and former owner of Harrods, is a current resident.
One of my favourite reasons to visit Park Lane is because of its car dealerships! Many times in the past I’ve been by on a bus and have seen elegant Aston Martins and exotic Zondas through the windows of various dealers. Automotive excellence is also always apparent on the pavement of Park Lane- it’s unusual to be there and not see a few Bentleys or Rolls-Royces, or perhaps a dark-windowed Maybach driving by.
BMW’s Park Lane showroom
This shop had many different cars plus an especial rarity- a Pagani Zonda!
Park Lane Aston Martin
Although not on Park Lane, this Knightsbridge McLaren dealer is close- and it was a dream to see, since McLaren is my favourite F1 team and my favourite supercar manufacturer!
Park Lane is an unmissable destination for me. It’s a beautiful, bustling street full of both jaw-dropping displays of wealth and poignant reminders of the past. I love it (although my income hardly belongs in such an elite area), and it’s a wonderful place that makes one marvel and dream.