Hugh Bonneville's Perfect Day in London

The star of the new film "Paddington 2" tells us his favourite things to do in the capital.

Hugh Bonneville stars in the film Paddington 2, having previously appeared in films including Notting Hill, and the acclaimed TV series Downton Abbey, W1A and 2012. Born in Paddington, he now lives in West Sussex.

What is your favourite building in London?
It’s probably the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I grew up in Blackheath, so visiting the museum, the Royal Observatory and the Royal Naval College is always a treat.

Royal Observatory, London, UK
Greenwich boasts many sparkling sights, including the Royal Observatory. (©Visit Greenwich)

Is there a place in London that holds a special memory?
All of the places around Primrose Hill, as we filmed both of the Paddington movies around there. It’s a particularly elegant and beautiful part of the capital—like a village in a bustling place.

What about a museum or gallery?
My favourite museum is Sir John Soane’s Museum, which is a real treasure in the centre of London. Also, Tate Modern is a real delight.

Sir John Soane's Museum, London, UK
Sir John Soane's Museum is a treasure trove of art and antiques, Soane's personal collection. (©Gareth Gardner)

What's your favourite green space in the city?
It has to be Regent’s Park. I did my first job there—understudying Ralph Fiennes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Open Air Theatre. I spent a lot of time in that area, and it’s beautiful.

Where do you like to shop?
If you are visiting London for the first time, you obviously have to go to Carnaby Street. But I also recommend Borough Market and Camden Lock. If you like your shops more upmarket, I’d also recommend Burlington Arcade—that’s certainly very posh!

Burlington Arcade, London, UK
Burlington Arcade offers a luxury shopping experience. (©Ultraforma/iStock)

What’s your favourite way of travelling?
My favourite way to travel through the heart of London is by boat. It’s the best way to see the sights and lets you get a sense of the breadth of London, all the way from west to east.

Where are your favourite places to film?
In Paddington 2, the area of London that has a new light shone on it is the beautiful canal in Maida Vale, which is the scene of a very important part of the film.

Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins in Paddington 2, UK
Hugh Bonneville stars alongside Sally Hawkins as Mr and Mrs Brown in the new film Paddington 2. (©Paddington film)

How is London portrayed in Paddington 2?
Paddington 2—much like the first film—is a love letter to London. In this particular film, it is more of an important character than it was in the first one; it's literally part of the plot. Some of the famous landmarks are key to our story evolving.

Why do filmmakers come to London?
London is beautiful. It has architecture from across the centuries, from hilarious mobile phone-looking buildings to ancient turrets at the Tower of London.

Tower of London, London, UK
The Tower of London is one of the immensely varied architectural and historic landmarks that make is such a hit with filmmakers. (©Historic Royal Palaces)

What is your ideal entertainment?
I would love to see a four o’clock screening of a fantastic movie on a huge screen, and then watch a really good, funny play.

What does London mean to you?
London is the beating heart of a mighty body known as Great Britain. It has open arms, a warm heart, a load of contradictions, fantastic architecture, a really frustrating transport system—sometimes—and amazing views.