With over 200 locations in 68 different countries, the Hard Rock Cafe is more than just a place to dine on Americana cuisine and drool over music memorabilia. It's also a highly-popular brand that has been expanded to include cafes, hotels, casinos and even live concert venues, and many music fanatics visit a Hard Rock Cafe in several different cities just for sheer bragging rights.
But believe it or not, London's Hard Rock Cafe is actually the original of all the Hard Rock Cafes around the world, and for that reason alone any visitor in London should check out the Hard Rock Cafe at some point or another – even if it's just to snap a photo of it.
London's Hard Rock Cafe has been located in Old Park Lane since opening in 1971, and is housed in an old Coutts Bank, the same building which was once used to protect the Queen's coffers – and even rumoured to be where Princess Diana kept her wedding dress and jewellery as well!
The building also has three different bars where visitors can sip on specialty cocktails. One of the bars (the purpley-decorated Rock Room Bar) is lined with all types of rock 'n roll memorabilia any music fan will certainly appreciate, and the Cafe Bar has televisions showing classic rock music performances .
The Hard Rock Cafe also has its own shop, and in its basement tourists can check out The Vault which is decorated with even more music memorabilia from some of the most famous artists in the world.
Hard Rock Café Highlights
Besides munching down on Americana cuisine and sipping on belly-warming cocktails, some people visit London's Hard Rock Cafe just to marvel over its massive music memorabilia displays. With instruments donated by the likes of Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend of The Who, to even personal items once used by Madonna, Janis Joplin and John Lennon, one could easily spend hours upon hours glancing over all the memorabilia lining its walls.
Some of the many fascinating memorabilia items you can expect to see during your visit to London's Hard Rock Cafe and its Vault include:
- Slash's costume and guitar from the classic “November Rain” music video (circa 1991)
- Guitars once used, owned or played by Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Steve Vai, John Entwistle and Joe Satriani
- One of Keith Moon's shirts (circa 1970)
- Eric Clapton's Fender Lead II red axe guitar
- Chris Daughtry's stage outfit (of American Idol fame)
- Elvis Presley's red coat and cape (circa mid-1970s)
- John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "War Is Over!" postcards
- Pete Townshend's modified Gibson Les Paul (which he used while performing onstage)
- One of Janis Joplin's stage outfits
- Jimi Hendrix's Flying V Gibson guitar
- The same harpsichord used by The Beatles to record “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” and “All You Need Is Love” (circa 1967)
- The first guitar ever owned by Glen Matlock (the original Sex Pistols' bassist) which he used to write the riff for “Anarchy In The UK”
- John Lennon's piano, glasses and hand-written lyrics
- An antique chair once owned by Freddie Mercury
- Madonna's bustier which she wore on her 1990 Blond Ambition tour
- A guitar once owned by Jeff Beck (which was also played by Jimmy Page)
- A variety of Who memorabilia including stage outfits, instruments and hand-written lyrics
- A Bob Dylan guitar in the shape of a USA map
- One of Madonna's old credit cards (circa 1980s)
- Sting's Fender Precision bass (which he used in his “After The Rain Has Fallen” music video (circa 1999)
- If you want to avoid the crowds, then try to visit before 4 p.m. on a weekday, or around mid-day on a weekend.
- If you're visiting with kids, you may want to book online beforehand so you don't have to wait in line on the pavement next to Piccadilly which is a very busy road anytime of the day or night.
- If you order a drink in a mason jar, make sure you take it home as a souvenir!