18 September 2014

Peeking behind doors at Open House London

Each year London flings open wide its vaulted, secured, members only, entry fee required, home owner only doors to the public. Icons, monuments, museums, galleries, private homes, government buildings allow the public a glimpse inside what they may not freely see on an average day. Ive tried to see something each of the past two years and learnt a thing or two in the process. Let me share my tips for making the most of the Open House London weekend, this weekend ;)

Tips for making the most of Open House London

1 - See what you cant normally see. Makes sense right? Unless there is a special talk, event, or its free compared to hefty entry price, or the like, don't waste your time on places that are normally open to the public anyway. I'm talking museums, libraries etc. Try livery halls and guilds. They are usually closed to the public but are home to some beautiful buildings and halls. Photos in the post are from the Apothecaries Hall and Middle Temple Hall.

2 - Plan an early start. A lot of place close early afternoon so if you want to see a couple of places start early. Bear in mind that there may be a wait to get in to popular sites. All the information you need to plan can be found on the Open House London website here.

3 - Plan your route. Its far easier to see places that are physically located closer to each other than be criss-crossing London. Plus it'll save you loads of time.

4 - Unless you are totally in love with the Gherkin, avoid it. The line is massive and wraps around the block. You can easily be waiting hours. Yes, hours. I tried once and even during the rain and wind people were still queueing!

5 - Probably too late for this year but a good tip for next time - book early! A lot of places require you to book your place to visit or enter a ballot. For example, you can visit 10 Downing Street, if you are lucky enough to have your name drawn from a ballot.

6 - Enjoy yourself! This is a sneak peak into whats behind London's closed doors. Its like slipping into London Below for a day where no one notices that you are not really supposed to be there. Oh, and take an umbrella!

This weekend I'll be visiting the Drapers Hall and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and maybe one or two others. Unfortunately I missed out on 10 Downing St and the rooftop walk of Victoria Station. Next year ;)

Where will you go? Or, if you aren't in London, what would you go see? 


  1. I love Open House, but I confess I tend to avoid many of the iconic buildings and instead visit the private homes that have something remarkable about them; the ones with impressive retrofitting or the ones tucked into tiny corners of the city. It's wonderful sneaking a look inside the places you would walk past on a normal day!

    1. It is hard to enjoy them when you line up for ages and are jostling for space in some. Which places would you recommed for private homes?

  2. Never done it! And it's been 4 years since I've been in London. Needs to happen!

    1. Put it in your calendar now for next year, thats what I do so I dont forget. There really are some amazing places to visit. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.