‘Tis The Season To Explore Tower Bridge

February 17, 2023

Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in London, if not the world. At its inception, the idea was to create a bridge without disrupting river traffic activities. The high levelled walkways were designed so that the public could still cross the bridge when it was raised. When it was completed in 1894, Tower Bridge was the largest and most state-of-the-art bascule (French for ‘seesaw’) bridge ever constructed at the time.

Today, the bridge’s late Victorian high tech is looking beautifully antique, and the bridge’s Gothic towers, amazing high-level walkways and combined bascule and suspension design have over time become a much-loved symbol of London. Its stalwart presence in more than 125 years of continuous use has earned it the right to simply be Tower Bridge, the one and only.

Indeed today it still fulfils its original function. As a key part of London’s Inner Ring Road, it supports 40,000 vehicle crossings per day, as well as countless pedestrian crossings. Occasionally traffic is stopped and the bridge’s bascules are raised to allow the passage of ships. By night, 1,800 LED units bathe the bridge in colour and light, accentuating its intricate architecture and often serving as a massive commemorative display. Recently, the bridge was awash in purple light to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

As it happens, along with the even-more famous Tower of London, Tower Bridge is also one of the two iconic landmarks that put the ‘Tower’ into the name of Tower Suites, one of the trio of Blue Orchid Hotels London. Proximity is the reason why: the bridge and the Tower are not only easily viewed from many of the hotel’s luxurious suites (and even more impressively, from its Skyline London terrace), but easily reached with a few minutes walking. That kind of proximity makes Tower Suites a true ‘Tower hotel London’ – and for many guests, a gateway to exploring the two icons up close.



Five-star starting point

As powerful an incentive that is to stay, it’s far from the only reason Tower Suites is regarded as one of the best hotels in central London. Sleek and contemporary in style, the suites can accommodate from two to four guests in complete comfort – supported by an impressive array of high-quality amenities such as Wi-Fi, smart TV, and 24-hour room and concierge services. 


The five-star experience extends to the fabulous Skyline London, an outdoor terrace with sweeping views across London and a tempting menu of food and drink options. The perfect venue for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve celebration. For a fuller dining experience, Cento Alla Torre awaits a sumptuous menu of classic Italian dishes. And for a quiet cocktail to cap off the day, the expert bar staff and sophisticated, hushed décor of the hotel’s Sapphire Bar is a natural choice.


The ways for Tower Suites to cosset guests are nearly endless. Another highlight is its Adamo Spa, which offers a full range of massages and treatments designed to relax or invigorate – and have you feeling your best. It is complemented by London Fitness Studio, whose staff of award-winning instructors are on hand to offer all the mentoring and encouragement you need for a healthy lifestyle.


For the holiday season, the allure of Tower Suites – and its sister hotels, The Rochester and The Wellington – is even more powerful thanks to some of the most irresistible London hotel offers. Together, the three hotels offer 21 versatile spaces (10 of them at Tower Suites alone) capable of hosting parties of virtually any size up to 250. Served by a professional in-house staff, each can be trimmed and outfitted to your precise party needs – including catering. Special Christmas packages include room hire, dining options and discounted guestroom rates. Email events@blueorchid.com for more information.


Another special deal, Shop and Stay in Style, includes a one-night stay for two at Tower Suites, dinner for two at Cento Alla Torre, 20% off spa treatments at Adamo Spa, and – last but certainly not least – a range of exclusive offers and discounts from world-class brands at Covent Garden. This alluring special offer starts at just £179. Visit this link for more information and bookings.


Exploring Tower Bridge London

For guests wishing to explore Tower Bridge from closer quarters than the Skyline London terrace, the process could hardly be easier or more rewarding. First, book ahead at this link. Tickets range from £5.70 for children to £11.40 for adults – or £19.38 for a family (combination adult and child ticket). These allow access to otherwise restricted features of the bridge such as its towers, walkways, glass floor and engine rooms.


For the full experience, however, it may be best to take a guided tour (around £20). This way, you’ll learn fascinating facts about the design, construction and history of the bridge – from how its massive foundations were sunk into the riverbed, to its inner workings, its royal connections, and to such strange and spectacular incidents as the time a London bus had to jump the gap between its rising bascules. 


You may also learn some of the intriguing legends that have grown up around the bridge. One arises from the common tendency to confuse Tower Bridge with another, much less impressive Thames crossing: London Bridge. It is said that when an American property developer agreed to purchase the old London Bridge in 1968 for its relocation to Arizona, he believed he was buying Tower Bridge. Though it has been conclusively debunked, the sheer deliciousness of the urban legend still keeps it alive to this day.


and the Tower of London

Both Tower Bridge and the Tower of London are in such proximity to Tower Suites that it is quite feasible for guests to tour both in a single day. And what a day it will be, for in historical terms, even the bridge pales in comparison to what awaits at the Tower.


If one counts the fragment of the London Wall found in Tower Hill Garden, the Tower of London can be said to date back to the Roman-era town of Londinium. But more properly, the Tower in its present fortress-like form began construction in or around the year 1066. Over the centuries, buildings and features were added, modified or demolished to suit the site’s changing purposes. It’s served variously as a fortress, a palace and a prison – the latter as recently as the 1940s. 


Today, this walled village still functions as the Royal Armoury, a repository of the Crown Jewels of England, and home to the world-famous Yeoman Warders (‘Beefeaters’).  Not surprisingly, history – and legend – fairly drip from its stonework. To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to book a ticket here – they range from £14.90 (children) to £29.90 (adults) and come with a Yeoman Warder tour.


What will you see? The possibilities are nearly endless, but highlights include the spectacular Crown Jewels, the gleaming collection of armour and weapons at the Armoury, the Norman-era White Tower and the infamous Bloody Tower. There’s also the famous – and famously spoilt – ravens, the ‘guardians of the Tower’ upon whom, according to legend, the fate of the Kingdom rests.


Along the way, you’ll be regaled with the frequently horrific history of the Tower and insights into such famous inmates as Elizabeth I, Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh. You might even catch sight of a ghost or two – the Tower is said to be haunted by no less than 13 of them, including spectral celebrities like a (headless) Anne Boleyn, and – strangely enough – a grizzly bear.


Get the timing right and you’re much more likely to enjoy the special Christmas at the Tower of London programme. Held until 3 January, its festive displays include several Christmas trees (one for each of Henry VIII’s wives), a ’12 Days of Christmas’ trail, and lashings of mince pie and hot chocolate. 


During the festive season and beyond, it’s all within minutes of Tower Suites – the lap of luxury and value in central London.