Lancaster Hall Hotel: Guide to the best family cycle route in London.
Updated: Mar 21
Our favourite cycle route takes in some of the most famous sights of London and is suitable for families with younger children given that it can be completed almost entirely on segregated cycle lanes with just a 200m section in the middle where you can either walk or use the regular cycle lane.
You will see the best of the Royal Parks of Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and St James’s Park along with Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Horse Guards Parade, the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill. The route is 7 miles long in total and can be done at a leisurely pace in about 2 hours depending on stoppages. We recommend taking a lunch or coffee stop on Victoria Embankment where there are benches overlooking the river. There are very few shops so it might be wise to take some refreshments with you - perhaps from one of the many cafes local to the Hotel or alternatively there is a Grab-and-go kiosk by Hyde Park Corner in the park.
Locating a tfl bike
There are 4 Transport for London rental bike docking stations near the Lancaster Hall Hotel. On sunny days there may be long queues for these bikes so it pays to seek out the more hidden ones.
Firstly try opposite the Hotel entrance on Devonshire Terrace. Failing that, turn left out of the hotel reception and right onto Lancaster Gate. Halfway up there is a docking station on the left hand side. If you are successful in picking up a bike here you turn right onto the Bayswater Road and use the cycle lane or, if you are not confident on the roads walk up to Queensway tube station which takes less than 5 minutes.
Here you will find 2 docking stations, one outside the tube station and the other just inside the park as you go through the main gates.
Queensway to Kensington Palace
Opposite Queensway tube station there is a large entrance to Kensington Palace and a wide path known as the Board Walk. It is wise to stick to the designated cycle paths in the Royal Parks otherwise you could be issued with an £80 fine. Stay on the Boardwalk for a couple of minutes until you see Kensington Palace on your right. You can dismount and walk into grounds of the Palace.
Kensington Palace to Carraige Drive, Hyde Park
From here stay on the Boardwalk but keep a lookout for a drinking water fountain on the left-hand side upon which take an immediate left hand turn onto the main cycle path through the park. You will see the Round Pond on your left and soon after a Victorian bandstand on your right. Other highlights include the spectacular Albert Memorial to the right and the Serpentine Gallery on your left. During the summer a temporary Serpentine Pavilion is constructed and is host to a number of events.
Carriage Drive to Hyde Park Corner
When you reach the gates out of the park there is a road which divides Kensington Gardens from Hyde Park. You have a choice of two routes.
The most obvious route is a slight left and right followed by a straight cycle lane that runs parallel with a sandy horse track known as Rotten Row. This was historically the route between Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
The most interesting route is to turn left onto the bicycle lane. After crossing the bridge over the Serpentine, the road takes a ninety degree right turn and from here you can go straight on through a wide path through the park. Along your right is the Serpentine lake and on a weekend you will see roller skaters and all kinds of Londoners on wheels. Both routes take you to Hyde Park Corner which is a long row of 3 arches and gates.
Hyde Park Corner to Buckingham Palace
From Hyde Park Corner cross the road at the lights and cycle through the Wellington Arch.
The Arch commemorates one of Britain’s most celebrated military heros but has had a checkered history on account of its location being a very busy traffic intersection. It has been moved once and the four horse and chariot statue replaced an earlier equestrian statue of Wellington himself.
The arch was intended to mark the outer entrance to Buckingham palace and as you cross the road you come to Constitution hill leading in a straight line to the Palace. On Sundays the road is closed, alternatively there is a segregated cycle path running parallel. St James’s park is to the left and it is well worth stopping to view the spectacular RAF memorial to the left at the corner of the park.
Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London royal residence since 1837; the Queen has appeared on the central balcony many times for national celebrations and commemorations. Whilst a picture in front of the palace is a must for any visitor, we would urge you to take a closer look at the gates which are adorned with some interesting little characters!
Changing the Guard is a traditional London spectacle which involves a marching band emerging from the Palace. Details of timings can be found here.
From the palace you can cycle up the Mall or on the path to the left-hand side which will take you towards Admiralty Arch which is a large historic building over the road. If you walk to the left-hand side of the Arch you can make a detour to Trafalgar Square in a few moments but this is best negotiated on foot given that this is a major traffic intersection.
Before Admiralty Arch you might be best crossing the road; after 100m you come to a large gravel parade ground known as Horse Guards Parade. Cycle across the parade ground towards the central Arch. On the right you will be able to see the back of 10 Downing Street the official residence of the Prime Minister. You will have to walk through the arch upon which you will be able to get close to the mounted Horse Guards who are on guard every day.
Horse Guards Parade to Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
From Horse Guards, cross the road go down Horse Guards Avenue. This is usually a fairly quiet road which is about 200m long. If you are with young children we recommend walking on the pavement until you get to Victoria Embankment whereupon you will see the London Eye and a grand vista of the Thames River. With plenty of benches, this is an ideal place to stop and take in the sights.
From here you can turn right and join the segregated cycle path all the way up to Big Ben. As you reach Westminster Bridge it is a good opportunity to walk onto the bridge and photograph the iconic views.
The dedicated cycle lane traffic lights will allow you to cross the road safely to the adjoining cycle lane running past the Houses of Parliament. Why not stop at Parliament Square Garden in front of the Statue of Winston Churchill to take in the sights.
Houses of Parliament to Buckingham Palace
From here you can either pick up the cycle line running to the side of the Winston Churchill Statue or cross the road on foot up towards Parliament Street where you will find the entrance to Downing Street and back to Horse Guards where you came from originally.
The view into Downing Street is somewhat limited these days so you might be best sticking to the cycle lane to the side of Winston Churchill and following it in a straight line back to Buckingham Palace along Birdcage Walk. This will take you past St. James’s park on the right and Wellington Barracks on your left.
Buckingham Palace to Lancaster Hall Hotel.
After cycling back up Constitution Hill and across Hyde Park Corner back into Hyde Park you can either retrace your steps back or just take the cycle path to the right just past the large statue of Achilles.
In summer you will cycle past the rock concerts to your left and towards the end of the year Winter Wonderland. As the road bends to the left you pass a very London institution known as Speaker’s Corner. On a Sunday between 2pm and 5pm crowds gather to watch and join in with speeches and debates. This has been taking place since the mid 1800’s. From here you can cycle along North Carriage Drive and find a docking station to leave your hire bicycle. The closest is just behind the cottage in the park as you re-enter Kensington Gardens on the Bayswater Road.