Your Guide to London St James's
Where is St James's?
Stay in the same district that the Queen lives in in Buckingham Palace, and book yourself into a hotel in St James’s. It’s one of the most exclusive residential areas in London, steeped in history and an extremely fashionable part of the capital. It’s located in the heart of the City of Westminster, surrounded by equally enthralling districts such as Strand, Mayfair, Westminster and Knightsbridge. You’ll find two tube stations in the district to help you get around London (St James’s and Green Park), with tube stations like Piccadilly Circus sitting just outside it. You will also find that two of London’s most important train stations, Victoria and Charing Cross, are just a short walk away, meaning that you can get around the UK with ease too! As the transport links are so great, it doesn’t matter one iota that St James’s is situated inside the congestion charging zone.
History of St James's
St James's was a part of London that became the centre of fashion in the 1530s when Henry VIII built St James's Palace on the site of St James's Hospital, a former leper hospital. The palace was one of the principal royal residencies for more than 300 years and continues to be the Court's official headquarters. It is still a working palace today. In the 1660s, Charles II began to transform the area into an aristocratic residential area, with St James's Palace, Clarence House and three royal palaces.
Nowadays, St James's is predominantly a commercial area and it is the HQ of companies such as BP and the Rio Tinto Group. The area's historic streets have remained virtually unchanged for centuries, so you can still see much of the beauty. There is also a selection of gentlemen's clubs there, as St James's formed and shaped the British upper class and their society for decades. The oldest club is 'Whites', at number 37 St James's Street, which was founded in 1693 and you can go and see where today's gentry spend their spare time. It’s a truly fascinating district that any visitor to London can’t afford to miss.
The Positives of St James's
If you go to St James's you can visit three Royal Palaces, which are all within easy walking distance of each other! The most ancient palace is Westminster, now known as the Houses of Parliament. St James's Palace still holds the title of the Court of St James, while the most prestigious palace is Buckingham Palace, which is where the Queen lives. As well as having plenty of different attractions in close proximity, another positive is the ease of transportation. The area is extremely well connected via tube, and just a short walk away from train stations like Victoria and Charing Cross. Plus, despite the regal and official side to St James's, it is also a tranquil place to visit. St James's Park covers 58 acres and has a lake harbouring ducks, geese and pelicans. It is a beautiful place to spend a day and you could easily forget that you are in the middle of London!
Need to Know St James's
As with any exclusive area, things are pricey around here. Unless you are splashing out, any significant fashion purchase is likely to hurt the budget, while food and drink also cost more here than in surrounding areas. Some of the palaces and famous buildings are open to the public, especially in the summer, but again, are expensive in relation to other attractions in the city. For instance, a ticket to an organised tour around Clarence House would cost about £60.00. Despite this, if you do not wish to go into the buildings, much of the beauty of these landmarks lie in the architecture and a camera can capture everything you need for nothing. Plus, there are plenty of things in the area you can do for free, such as enjoying the delights of St James's Park.