Rock London – A guide to London for rock lovers

London is one of the most legendary cities in the world for being the cradle of some of the greatest musical legends of our times. As a rock chick myself over the years I have discovered many iconic locations and venues. Here is my first guide to London for rock lovers. It’s far from being complete but it’s a good starting point.

1. K West Hotel & Spa

First of all, if you have to choose a hotel to stay while to take the rock tour of London, there can only be one venue:  the K West Hotel & Spa. It is special in so many ways but I love it so much because it is cool, super comfortable and rock-themed.

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In the 60s it was known as the BBC Building Kensington House, and famous for hosting an endless list of Rock ‘N’ Roll royalty, who played and misbehaved there including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bowie, The Kinks and Roxy Music to name a few. Since becoming a hotel, the venue has continued to strike a chord with musicians, who often stay whilst playing at nearby music venues O2 Shepherds Bush Empire and the Apollo. So if you are lucky you might end up sipping your drink next to Mick Jagger at The Studio Bar which has a moody, music-infused atmosphere in the evenings. Industrial style pendant lamps hang low over raised tables, and textured silver wallpaper by Dixon & Turner gives the bar a modern edge. Even the drinks menu has been injected with some Rock ‘N’ Roll swagger, with six signature Bourbon Whiskey Cocktails available, plus the quirky K West special ‘Pickleback’ shot of Jack Daniels whiskey accompanied with a shot of pickle juice. Every Friday and Saturday, top DJs play from 10pm until 2am, while the hotel’s expert mixologists create exotic cocktails for a distinctly cool crowd.

You breathe rock as you enter the lobby: the walls are covered in statement Andy Warhol style artwork depicting rocks stars such as Amy Winehouse, as well as other tributes to other music legends who loved the hotel such as David Bowie.

london-for-rock-lovers-k-west-hotel-spa-picture-bowie

You can even have a Glam Rock Afternoon Tea in The Library Room which offers a relaxed, informal and creative atmosphere and lots of books about rock music and musicians’ biographies.

If you are staying here with children the good news is that the rooms are really big: the smallest are just under 300 sq ft and have luxurious oversized beds, LCD flat screen TVs, and original rock-themed artwork that gives the rooms a distinctive K West stamp.

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Shopping lovers will love the fact that the K West Hotel & Spa is located on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush, which is one of the largest retail destinations in Europe with over 240 shops. Fashionable areas such as Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Kensington are also just a short walk away.

The best feature of the hotel has to be the Spa, though. I am not surprised at all that it was awarded ‘Best Spa in London’ at the Good Spa Guide Awards 2015 and was winner of a World Luxury Spa Award. Honestly it is truly unbelievable. You could even visit for a day.

london-for-rock-lovers-k-west-hotel-spa-saunas

The various Scandinavian saunas (with different temperatures) and aromatic herbal steam room are really new and clean as well as comfortable. But my favourite room has to be the ‘Snow Paradise’, which mimics the Finnish experience of alternating between freezing and steamy environments. After a few sessions in the sauna you can catapult yourself at the top of a mountain with temperatures below zero (-15*C). It feels amazing, trust me. The spa also features a twinkling hydrotherapy pool and a sanarium.

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Even as a non resident a Spa day, including use of Chill Area, gym and light lunch, can be booked for £65 per person. Children under 18 are not allowed in. You can actually ‘park’ the younger kids at Kidzania (at Westfield) for four hours to have a long me-time session at the spa. Totally worth it.

Last but not least, at breakfast you can eat the best Eggs Royale in London (without exaggeration).

london-for-rock-lovers-k-west-hotel-spa-eggs-royale

K West Hotel & Spa, Richmond Way, London W14 0AX – Tel: 020 8008 6600 or www.k-west.co.uk

 

2- Hard Rock Café & the Vault

elvis coat the vault hard rock cafe

As cheesy as it may sound, if you are a rock lover you really need to pay a visit to the Hard Rock cafe’ in Mayfair in the heart of London. Believe it or not, the original Hard Rock Café was opened in 1971 and the collection of memorabilia hosted in the Capital is like a museum, including belongings of John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and inside the Vault even the original hand written Beatles songs as well as one of the most iconic red coat used by Elvis Presley.

hard rock cafe london 3

While there, you can eat at the restaurant which is probably London’s best kept secrets. People who think that such a rock place cannot offer a decent restaurant would be totally surprised as the food is excellent. Read my review here.

hard rock cafe london 1

If you visit the Hard Rock Cafe’ you cannot miss seeing Vault, located in the basement of the shop because it has incredible pieces of rock memorabilia and is free to visit. The room is a bit claustrophobic as it was originally a bank vault where the Queen used to keep her possessions safe including Lady Diana’s wedding.

The Vault is still housing the first ever piece of memorabilia donated to the Hard Rock Cafe, Eric Clapton’s Lead II Fender, originally donated to reserve a space at the busy bar, the London Cafe is as charming and authentic now as it was 40 years ago. You will find many of the original serving staff still work the floor here today too! The Cafe is also as famous as ever around town for attracting the best rock stars down for a burger and the occasional “jamming session”. The Vault is often used for interviews with rocks stars when they come to London for concerts. The Vault is open 7 days a week from 11:30am til 9pm with no admission charge – be sure to drop by!!! Unmissable!!!

Another great there is the Back Room Bar also part of the Hard Rock Cafe’, in fact it used to be the old shop that has now turned into a bar where you can eat the best pizza in London. Honestly, this is the best kept secret in town! The pizza is crispy and the ingredients are so fresh that if you close your eyes you might for a moment think you are in Italy. The bar looks a bit scruffy at first, but the more you stay there the more you come to appreciate the posters and hard rock memorabilia which hang from the walls.

 

3- Denmark Street (near Tottenham Court Road)

Creative Commons / Trecca

image by Creative Commons / Trecca

Not far from Soho Square, you will find this jewel of a road which is iconic for all rock lovers, Denmark Street aka British Tin Pan Alley aka the London Guitar Strip. It is famous for having hosted and inspired several historical bands and musicians in British rock history. london-for-rock-lovers-denmark-street-1

The Rolling Stones recorded here their début album in 1964. Jimi Hendrix recorded is first songs at the Regent Sounds Studios on this street.

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These days, Denmark Street is full of guitar specialist dealers but for rock lovers still holds on to its rock ‘n’ roll spirit.

London Borough of Camden, London WC2H 8LS

 

4- The Beatles Tour

I highly recommend the guided Beatles tour as it is a truly quintessentially London attraction. Read my full review here. 

beatles tour ldn 2

Beatles fans in particular should stop at the iconic Abbey Road and walk on the zebra crossings from the famous Beatles’ album cover Abbey Road (1969), in front of Abbey Road Studios, the undisputed rock landmark.

© Rock 'n' roll travel / William David Wilson

© Rock ‘n’ roll travel / William David Wilson

3 Abbey Road, London, England NW8 9AY www.abbeyroad.com

 

5 – Marc Bolan memorial

Creative Commons / Britmax

image by Creative Commons / Britmax

This is an easy one for me as I see it every day. Fresh flowers are laid every day by fans of legendary glam rocker Marc Bolan (T.Rex) who was tragically killed on 16 September 1977, when his Mini crashed against a tree.

Queens Ride, Barnes, London, SW15 5RG

 

 

6- Battersea Power Station aka as cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals (1977)

Creative Commons / Alberto Pascual

image by Creative Commons / Alberto Pascual

The iconic Battersea Power Station is featured on the cover of the album Animals by rock legends Pink Floyd.

Battersea Power Station is one of London’s most famous landmarks. It used to be a electricity provider but is now a Grade II listed building currently being redeveloped.

188 Kirtling Street, London, England SW8 5BN

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