As one of London’s most iconic venues, the Royal Albert Hall is known worldwide for its internationally renowned concerts performed to audiences of over 5,000, including the prestigious annual concert series, The Proms. Situated on the edge of South Kensington, the Royal Albert Hall is just moments from The Milestone Hotel, making this Grade I listed site a welcome addition to a day’s exploration. Once inside, visitors are led on insightful guided tours revealing the venue’s rich history. We caught up with Tour Manager Anthony Lynch to find out what it is that makes this venue so special.
What drew you to work at the Royal Albert Hall?
“It’s the greatest concert venue in the world – bar none. It’s a majestic site. The Hall is significant in music history for a whole host of reasons, including being the first place where The Beatles and The Rolling Stones played on the same bill. Aretha Franklin also played here, as well as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd; Muhammad Ali boxed here; and Guiseppe Verdi has conducted at the venue as well.”
What is it you like most about being there?
“I really like the people. Not just the people who work their socks off to put on over 380 shows per year, but also the people who visit. Such a wide variety of people make up our audiences, and every night you meet someone new. The people who come here are always excited, nostalgic, and expectant, which makes for great company.”
Tell us what makes the venue so unique.
“There is simply nowhere else like the Royal Albert Hall. It’s a beautiful building and that sensation you feel going into the auditorium never really goes away; it is utterly unique. Nowhere else has the variety of programming that we have here or the frequency of shows. One day could have a concert, and the next could be a film premiere, then an opera, a ballet, the circus, a tennis tournament – it changes all the time. Then there’s the history. Did you know, for instance, that there was once a concert here in which all the music was played on a gramophone? Nearly 5,000 people turned up to listen. We were also the venue for the world’s first indoor marathon.”
Have there been any outstanding moments during your time there?
“One big highlight for me was the world premier of Spectre, the James Bond movie. I got to walk the red carpet, and stand next to Naomie Harris and Daniel Craig. Every year the BBC Proms throws up something amazing, too, like the John Wilson Orchestra or the Ibiza Prom; it always feels like I’m discovering classical music for the first time.”
Which past events have made the biggest impression on you?
“I’m most impressed by the number of Soul artists who have performed here. The Hall is sometimes painted solely as a Classical venue, but there’s so much more on offer; Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown and Gregory Porter have all played here.”
Are there any future events that you’re particularly looking forward to?
“The Olivier Awards next year will be amazing, and Björk will be performing here soon. I’m looking forward to the production of Jurassic Park, which is going to have a live orchestra, as well as the Fashion Awards, and David Gilmour.”
What do you like most about the area surrounding the Royal Albert Hall?
“It’s a truly awesome part of London. Three of the greatest museums in the capital are right on our doorstep, Hyde Park is just over the road, and Kensington Palace is one of our neighbours. You could come to South Kensington for a week and still not see everything; I still haven’t.”
One-hour guided tours of the Royal Albert Hall give visitors an insight into the history of this 150-year-old institution. Discover its grandeur for yourself during a stay at the sumptuous Milestone Hotel.
Image credits: Cover photo © iStock / icenando. A view of the Royal Albert Hall © iStock / Simon Bradfield. A performance inside the Royal Albert Hall © Flickr / Paul Hudson. The audience at the Royal Albert Hall © Flickr / Paul Hudson. The Royal Albert Hall at night © iStock / Tony Baggett.