Get under the skin of London, from club-wielding Neanderthals to the Carnaby Street fashionistas of the sixties. The museum details the various transformations and tribulations thrown at London over the centuries. Perfectly positioned alongside the old city wall, it’s full of surprises and artefacts that will surprise even the most clued-up of Cockneys. The museum offers full accessibility for those with mobility impairments, with full physical access to all public areas as well as services for those with sight loss.
Housing one of the finest art collections in the world, the National Gallery draws over five million visitors a year all eager to spend a few reflective moments gazing at masterpieces by Monet, Turner and the other world-class artists. Alongside this barrage of priceless landscapes sit more contemporary collections and temporary exhibitions in the adjoining National Portrait Gallery. The galleries provide British Sign Language-interpreted talks on paintings, art sessions for visitors who are blind and partially sighted as well as wheelchair access.
London is home to a glittering family of iconic theatres, many of which are more than 100 years old and have dazzling interiors that are just as show-stopping as the musicals, dramas and comedies on stage. In recent years many theatres in the West End have gone to great lengths to address the needs of wheelchair users. Remember to buy your tickets a good six to eight weeks before your trip though, as accessible seating is limited.
Ordinarily we wouldn’t include a hotel as an attraction, but this is no ordinary hotel. With its glorious Sir George Gilbert Scott-designed clock tower piercing the sky, it’s definitely a spectacle in its own right. The Victorian Gothic splendour continues inside at the Booking Office Bar, while its five-star accessible rooms are effortlessly elegant and come complete with all the modern comforts you need.
With its bulbous dome making a proud mark on the London skyline, St Paul’s is one of London’s most-loved icons. Sitting alongside Notre Dame and Basilica Di San Marco in the cathedral hall of fame, Sir Christopher Wren’s glorious masterpiece dazzles with its sculptures, mosaics, chapels and dizzying dome above. There’s also ‘Touch and Feel’ tours for visually-impaired visitors, orders of service in Braille and lift access to the crypt where you can admire Lord Nelson’s tomb.
Drink up the sights of London bobbing along its life blood on a river cruise. For the very best views, head to the top deck to snap Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and many more from a unique angle. The boat ride takes around 40 minutes, passing plenty of modern and ancient treasures along the way. The cruise departs from just outside the London Eye, another accessible attraction offering panoramic views from its glass capsules and a discounted rate with one carer free of charge. Wheelchair access and disabled toilets are provided.
7. South Bank
For all things shiny and new, check out the various attractions along neon-soaked South Bank. There’s Shakespeare’s Globe, an exact replica of the original that puts on a whole host of the playwright’s work; the imposing Tate Modern art gallery with its signature industrial chimney; the cubic Southbank Centre; and the London Eye, the tallest observation wheel in the UK. Accessibility has been much improved for 2012 with better lighting and signage, more seating, access ramps and handrails all being introduced.
Take a snoop around one of the only inhabited royal palaces in the world at the summer opening of Buckingham Palace’s state rooms. Touring around just a few of the palace’s 775 rooms gives you a glimpse into the fascinating lives of our royal family and may well have you madly gesticulating at the grand interiors too, especially if you’re a fan of rococo furniture and masterpieces by Rubens and the likes. Visitors requiring step-free access can enter in true royal fashion style via the front gates of the palace (the main visitor entrance is at the side) while wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be hired free of charge.
The neoclassical façade gives you an idea of what lies inside this mammoth museum in Holborn. It’s home to thousands of the world’s most precious artefacts spanning the Ice Age all the way through to the present day. So whatever period of history floats your boat, there’ll be a room or two for you to explore. Not sure where to start? The collection of Egyptian mummies and the infamous Elgin Marbles are must-sees. The museum offers full accessibility for those with mobility, visual and hearing impairments.
This luscious paradise in the southwest of London gives you the chance to escape the bustle of the city yet is just a short trip on the tube. Weird and wonderful plants from all across the globe thrive in 10 different climates set in the handsome glasshouses – hubs for important scientific research and conservation. If the heat gets too much, explore the Japanese Landscape and various other formal gardens blooming with roses and Azalea hybrids. The footpaths and the majority of buildings are suitable for wheelchair users, with Kew offering walking and bus tours for groups and individuals with particular needs.
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