The borough encompasses a lot of exciting smaller areas including Soho and most of the West End. You can spend your time taking tours of historical landmarks, shopping in Oxford Street, take a walk through a park and eat some great food, all without leaving the borough. In British media the word is increasingly used to denote the government and other political institutions. We shall focus on more pleasant things within Victoria and the core of Westminster’s borough.
Without a doubt, Westminster is best known for its tourist attractions. The Houses of Parliament (officially the Palace of Westminster), Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and St. James’s Park are all within the boundaries of the borough. Unfortunately, Big Ben is still being refurbished, so you cannot hear it bellow, the other attractions are usually overcrowded with tourists, especially in the summer and on the weekend. If you want to take good pictures or just want to appreciate the houses of Parliament in their fully glory, I would strongly advise a walk across the bridge and on the other side of the river. It’s a nice route and the views are stunning! You can take a historic tour of the Parliament, just make sure you use the official parliament website! You can choose from an audio or live guide tour, you can also book a tour followed by an afternoon tea in one of the riverside rooms in the House of Commons. Surely, an opportunity not to be missed. For something even more niche and historical take a tour of the The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries or the Churchill War Rooms.
A walk through St. James’s Park with all of its ponds and ducks, or through Green Park is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, or even a whole day when the summer heat in London is unbearable. You can also extend your river walk in the other direction and visit Tate Britain. The museum holds mainly British Art since 1500s, and entry to the main exhibitions is free. Their temporary exhibitions have a wider breadth and are well worth thinking about.
I personally despise Victoria train station with all of my might. If I can travel to London and avoid it, I do. Never mind the fact that the crowds and sheer vastness of the station make finding your train or the way out difficult. The fact that one of the main transportation hubs of a global city does not have escalators or accessibility provisions between the train station and the tube station is just hilarious… But, that is not the point. The area around Victoria has been experiencing a lot of refurbishment and rebuilding recently with some exciting new architecture, not just for office buildings. More entertainment spaces like the Nova Food court, Victoria is finally becoming a more social space. You can get a doughnut at Crosstown, play darts at Flight Club (hipsters and puns in Victoria, who would have thought?!) or opt for one of the many cafes and restaurants popping up in the area. Across the street, there is a traditional British pub called Bag o Nails, where you can get a pint before heading down to the Buckingham Palace. The Victoria Palace theatre, which has a stunning interior is also nearby if you feel like catching a performance after your busy day.
The Historical atmosphere of the borough, together with its green spaces and the improvements to the area around Victoria station have made Westminster an even more desirable place to live. The area is also well connected through transport, meaning properties are rising, and I would not be surprised if soon Westminster would catch up to Kensington or Chelsea in average house price. The atmosphere of the borough really varies, but due to its association with the hub of the government lies more in the suited and booted range. Think well kept parks, clean streets and white marble. The only thing disturbing this image are the masses of tourists!