On Old Park Lane in Mayfair, London's Hard Rock Cafe is the place to head for beers, burgers, fries and a side order of rock memorabilia.
But you don't even need to book a table to get a flavor of rock and roll history. Down in the basement, the Vault is accessed via the cafe's shop and is home to some incredible rock memorabilia. And the best bit is that's it's free to visit.
What to Expect
Go into the busy Hard Rock Cafe shop and look for the stairs down to The Vault. Free guided tours run every 20 minutes so you may need to wait, but a member of staff will advise you.
The building used to be a Coutts & Co Bank so the vault was previously used as a bank vault. It's a small room and you can only go in with a member of staff.
Your tour guide will point out all the key memorabilia in the room then you are allowed to take photos. Yes, you can take photos!
For a small fee, you can pose for a souvenir photo holding one of the rare guitars (staff can advise which ones are available to touch).
What You Will See
- Beatles memorabilia: Piano, lyrics, John Lennon's glasses
- Glen Matlock's first ever guitar (apparently he wept when he saw it here)
- Elvis Presley's coat
- Bob Dylan's guitar in the shape of a USA map
- The guitar Jimi Hendrix played at the Isle of Wight Festival (it's insured for £4 million!)
- Jeff Beck's guitar, also played by Jimmy Page
- David Bowie's guitar
- Madonna's JPG Bustier worn on the Blond Ambition Tour
- Kurt Cobain's guitar
- An antique chair owned by Freddie Mercury
- The Who memorabilia: Lyrics, stage outfits, instruments
- Eric Clapton's 1969 silver suit
- Slash's guitar and outfit from Guns N' Roses's November Rain video
- Many more pieces of rock'n'roll memorabilia
About London's Hard Rock Cafe
Founded by Issac Tigrett and Peter Morton, two American guys who wanted a decent burger while living in London, the Hard Rock Cafe opened in 1971. British rock legend Eric Clapton asked the owners to hang his guitar above his favorite bar stool to mark his spot. A week later, The Who's Pete Townshend asked for his guitar to be displayed too and the rock memorabilia collection started. There are now close to 200 Hard Rock cafes, hotels, and casinos throughout the world and the company is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
- Address: 150 Old Park Lane, (Corner of Park Lane), London W1K 1QZ
- Nearest tube stations: Green Park or Hyde Park Corner. Use Journey Planner to plan your route via public transport.
- Admission: Free, including a guided tour from a member of staff.
- Bonus fact: Apparently, when this was a bank, the vault belonged to The Queen, and many say this is where Princess Diana tried on her wedding dress!