Lonely Planet review
Built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514 but coaxed from him by Henry VIII just before Wolsey (as chancellor) fell from favour, Hampton Court Palace is England's largest and grandest Tudor structure. It was already one of the most sophisticated palaces in Europe when, in the 17th century, Wren was commissioned to build an extension. The result is a beautiful blend of Tudor and 'restrained baroque' architecture.
Take a themed tour led by costumed historians or, if you're in a rush, visit the highlights: Henry VIII's State Apartments , including the Great Hall with its spectacular hammer-beamed roof; the Tudor Kitchens , staffed by 'servants'; and the Wolsey Rooms . You could easily spend a day exploring the palace and its 60 acres of riverside gardens, especially if you get lost in the 300-year-old maze .
Hampton Court is 13 miles southwest of central London and is easily reached by train from Waterloo. Alternatively, the riverboats that head from Westminster to Kew continue here (return adult/child £22.50/11.25, three hours).