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 overstimulation 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, Rubens and Van Dyck will capture the interests of fans of paintings, while the large collections of porcelain will entertain ceramics connoisseurs.
Although the art pieces are a joy to behold, 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 richly decorated wallpaper and delicately crafted fireplaces as much as the art on the walls. For those who love the French bling, the new exhibition on replicating French furniture will please your inner-Marie Antoinette.
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.