Situated just minutes from the hectic shopping hordes of Oxford Street, the serene atmosphere of the Wallace Collection in Hertford House offers a gentle breather from the over-stimulation of last-minute sales.
The art collection itself covers such a wide range that most visitors will find something to please them. Art from Turner, Canaletto, Reubens and Van Dyck will capture the interests of fans of paintings, while the large collections of porcelain will entertain ceramics connoisseurs. The house is currently undergoing renovations, and the results should be spectacular.
Although the art pieces are a joy, I think it’s the rooms themselves that are the big draw to the museum – each room gives a taste of Versailles: sumptuous, decadent and occasionally over-the-top. Often I find I stare as much at the rich wallpaper and delicately crafted fireplaces as much as the art on the walls.
The room I find I spend the most time is on the ground floor just beyond the gift shop. The European and Oriental Armoury collection includes every shape of sword and every size of armour. The real draw is the equestrian armour displayed in the centre of the room. Spending a few minutes here will tap into the inner-knight in all of us.