Open House is one of my favourite events in London. For one weekend, members of the public can visit over 800 buildings in the capital for free. It’s a fantastic opportunity to have a snoop inside places which are not normally accessible.
Here are the places I was able to visit during this year’s event:
One Canada Square
This skyscraper in Canary Wharf used to be the tallest building the UK, until it was surpassed by the Shard. For Open House it is accessible only by guided tour, during which you get to visit the Marketing Suite and Level 39. I found the tour incredibly interesting, they tell you all about the history of Canary Wharf and how the business and shopping district has been formed. I loved seeing the space on Level 39 as well, and the vision they have for the future of Canary Wharf as a technology hub was intriguing to me as someone who works in that industry.
But best of all are the panoramic views across London.
The guided tours of One Canada Square need to be pre-booked so if you’re looking to add this to your Open House itinerary for 2018, make sure you get in early to book your place.
Situated on Trafalgar Square, Canada House is home to the Canadian High Commission to the United Kingdom. It’s a Grade II* Listed Building and the interiors have been purposely set up to showcase the very best of Canadian art and design, including custom-made carpets, furniture, sculptures and paintings.
As it is a diplomatic facility, guests have to register in advance to attend a tour. On arrival you have to show photo ID and pass through an airport-style security screening.
Lancaster House was once part of the St. James’s Palace complex and is now managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is used as a venue for meetings, conferences and entertaining, and has also been used extensively for filming. Many of the Buckingham Palace scenes in the Netflix series The Crown were filmed at Lancaster House.
Visits to Lancaster House were by pre-booked guided tour only. You can take photos inside the house but due to the location of the building you can’t take photos outside. As you can see from the photos below, I took full advantage of this as the rooms inside the house are incredible.
Methodist Central Hall, Westminster
I wanted to visit Methodist Central Hall because I’d heard it had some amazing views over London from the rooftop. My advice is to get there for opening time and head straight to the roof. There’s not a lot of space up there so they only let a few people up at a time. You want to try and beat the crowd because as more people turn up, the queue to get to the roof just gets longer and longer. Once you’ve been up to the roof then you can take your time exploring the rest of the building.
Access to the roof is by a rather intimidating spiral staircase. They won’t let you go up if you’re wearing high heels so make sure you wear suitable footwear.
If you’re looking for more Open House inspiration check out my posts from 2015 and 2014. If you made it to Open House this year, please let me know what your favourite places to visit were. I’d love to get some ideas for next year’s event!