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15 January 2010

Relax in Paddington's Royal Waiting Rooms

Now operating as a lounge for first class passengers, the Royal Waiting Rooms, beside platform one at Paddington Station, were included in the original station in order to try to encourage the royal family to use the station. This was a key PR aim for the GWR developers and was thought especially likely as Paddington is positioned well for the commute between Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The rooms are still known as the Royal Waiting Rooms, but this purpose became largely redundant after the death of Queen Victoria. However, we are told that they were used by the Royal Family until World War Two when they were comandeered for war service.

In 1985 they were restored for the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway, and they reopened to passengers in 1995. Nowadays, they are divided between the older waiting rooms, which retain the original quieter listed-building-with-leather-sofa style, and the newer waiting rooms with rolling Sky News and ample complimentary snacks, juices, teas and coffees.

You do have to have a first class ticket to gain entry, but if you can get a cheap advance one it is well worth paying a few extra pounds to have a poke round, and take advantage of the hospitality.

For more information, see a fascinating leaflet on Paddington's architecture at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/documents/3053_PaddingtonArchitecturalMiniGuide.pdf

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