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The Vault
150 Old Park Lane
W1K1QZ
Telephone number: +44 (0) 2075141700

Closest station: Hyde Park Corner

Opening times: All week 11:00 – 22:30

Tours leave every 20 minutes

Price: Free

A rocking vault near Hyde Park

Most people are familiar with the concept of the Hard Rock Café. Rock music meets solid food in a place decorated with guitar necks and other Rock'n'Roll related memorabilia.

But tucked underneath the Hard Rock Café in London, there is something a little special that is definitely worth checking out.

It's called The Vault: a collection of real rock treasures used by icons like The Beatles, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

The Descent

Entering the Hard Rock store, I was intrigued by a large red neon sign that pointed down some stairs, labelled The Vault.

Visits to The Vault are part of a free-guided tour and leave every 20 minutes, so I didn't have to wait long.

The tour starts at the top of the stairs before you dive into rock's best-kept secrets, pictures of famous musicians on one wall and a big bank vault door on the other.

This particular vault has an interesting history of its own. It belonged to Coutts Bank at one point and used to guard the Queen's jewels.

It looks impressive from the outside but once the inner grill gate is unlocked and open for visitors to enter, the first thing you will notice is that it is pretty small. It probably didn't hold all of her Majesty's jewellery.

A window to the past

This is not the only curiosity. Next, we enter a room, elaborately decorated with Indian and Nepalese style statues and wall hangings. It is packed with old guitars, photographs and clothes from some of the world's greatest musicians.

Not a single piece of wall has been left bare: song lyrics and even a harpsichord used by the Beatles make up the amazing display.

For me, the highlights of the collection were definitely the Fender Stratocaster on which Eric Clapton recorded Layla and the Gibson Les Paul, previously owned and signed by B.B. King.

The tour itself was entertaining and very interesting, thanks to the vast musical knowledge of our guide who wasn't afraid to air guitar a few riffs to his favourite songs. Hard to blame him when he spends so much time surrounded by musical history.

Maybe he also just wants to inspire visitors having their photos taken while holding one of the signed guitars. It costs £10 but considering the free entry and the cost of everything down here, it's a bargain!

So if you want to surround yourself with Rock'n'Roll history or if you are interested in finding out what Paul McCartney's real first name is, head down to the Vault.

Patrick McCaul