Open House London is coming… you know, the annual festival where you get to have a peek inside some of London’s fascinating buildings.
This year the festival is running between the 6th and 17th September, with events popping up all across the capital.
In recent years, Open House has seen around 250,000 people use the festival to explore London’s hidden treasures – it’s a brilliant chance for everyone to have a nose around places that are normally closed to the public.
Don’t think it’s all about old historic mansions either, the eclectic programme sees appearances from newly renovated apartments, Gothic chapels, and even a mausoleum! Spooky.
This looks set to be the best Open House London yet – here are a few of our favourite picks from this year’s lineup.
Open House 2023 Highlights
While it’s been announced that these locations will be open to the public, it’s not been announced on what dates. Check back on the webpages of each spot to find out more.
Royal Opera House
Delve behind the scenes of the Royal Opera House’s historic building in a series of guided tours during the Open House weekend.
Tours allow you to step back in time and enjoy the regality of the palace from the Crush Room, before letting you peek inside a ballet studio.
Walter Segal’s Houses
Explore architect Walter Segal’s suburb of 13 self-built houses, crafted using a method which he developed in the 1980s.
A number of different events and tours will be taking place, including films of Walter building the houses, open tours of the innovative properties.
1 Halliwick Road
1 Halliwick Road is a modern refurbishment of an Edwardian property in North London.
The architect, who will actually be on site to answer any questions you may have, used low-energy alternatives to create this swanky home. Think marbled counters, light-wood accents, and earthy tones – in other words, a Japandi dream.
The open house will run from 10am until 5pm, but be prepared to queue as the house can only accommodate 10 visitors at a time.
Explore a slice of mediaeval London at the Guildhall and you’ll get to see the Old Library and the Great Hall in all their glory.
The Guildhall is still in use today – state and civic banquets, meetings with the City of London’s assembly, and the Court of Common Council are all held here.
The Bazalgette Mausoleum
One of the most unique places to visit this Open House London 2022 is The Bazalgette Mausoleum. This is a mausoleum made from Portland stone that was built for Sir Joseph Bazalgette – A.K.A, the creator of the London sewer system.
With a striking obelisk perched above a square base, you’ll notice that there are steps leading down towards the entrance of the vault. Head inside if you’re feeling brave.
Just around the corner from the British Museum, Fitzrovia Chapel is a Grade II listed chapel that might not look like too much from the outside, but the inside is beautiful.
The Gothic Revival design features impressive golden mosaics and stained glass windows – it makes for a dreamy wedding venue.
The famous and prestigious school will be opening its doors for the festival. You can stroll the Grade II listed buildings that make up the schoolhouses and check out the New Science Building.
The latter may sound like a place of Scientological worship but it’s actually a set of educational facilities that was given a RIBA award for the design by Grimshaw Architects.
This work by the esteemed architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas is now used as the home for a not-for-profit artists collective, and not a bad set of digs either. The building is over a hundred years old, Grade II listed and previously the home of Dulwich Library.
The facade is grand but not imposing like some of the more monumental buildings of its era. It’s flared with baroque revival which created a nice balance between the grand an the humble.
80 Mallard Place
Mallard Place was completed in 1982 and won both the RIBA and Civic Trust awards. It’s the brainchild of Eric Lyons and Ivor Cunningham, who worked under the company SPAN, building a reputation for designs that prize communal living and a landscaped backdrop.
The Scandi design looks unusual (some might argue its aged badly) but the work is considered one of the best examples of this philosophy you can still see today.
You’ll be able to explore the apartments and stroll the communal lawns that leads right down to the Thames and the property’s’ shared pontoon.
Maxwell house is a fantastic redesign of a Victorian town house. Situated in Hammersmith, it used to belong to merchants in the neighbourhood’s buzzing textile industry. Over the years the property was divided into flats and left to fall into disrepair.
The whole property was bought by a couple about 20 years ago who hired London-based architects Patrick Lewis to do the place up.
They completely tore the place apart, even removing some of the floors, and revamped it entirely. The result is hailed as a masterpiece of creative thinking and design.
Two-up Two-down House
If Victorian buildings getting refurbished sounds a lot like your kind of thing then you’ll probably get a kick out of the Two-up Two-down house.
It’s a really creative touch up job on the kind of terraced housing that you see all over London – you may even live in something much like the property’s original structure.
Onto this Khan Bonshek have tacked a few extra structures, expanding the space without compromising the original flavour of the building. It’s all incredibly tasteful and imaginative. Perhaps it could be the inspiration for your next extension.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
We’ve written about this place before. It’s really pretty amazing. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, apart from being a mouthful to pronounce, is Europe’s first traditional hindu temple.
It’s designed in the same way that hindu temples in India are, and made of stone that had to be shipped half way round the world to the hindu stone carvers that are the only people with the knowledge to shape the brickwork the way the temple demands.
The structure is grand to say the least and we highly recommend anyone interested to go and check it out for yourselves.
Shoreditch Town Hall
You’ve partied there, you’ve dined there, you may well have even perched on this building’s steps to roll a ciggy while you wait for the bus home. But have you ever actually visited Shoreditch’s town hall?
When the building opened in 1866 it was said to be the “the grandest Vestry Hall in London” and sports a grand mix of neo-classical design and beautiful stained glass windows.
That’s not all. Shoreditch town hall packs in some history too. The highlight (if you can call it that) was that this was the site of the inquest into Jack the Ripper’s last victim.
It’s hard to miss the striking Art Deco exterior of Freemasons’ Hall. Inside is even more opulent – as opulent as you’ll have a chance to see during Open House weekend.
It’s spread over two acres with the highlight being the grand temple at the centre. The ceiling of which we have little reason to doubt will take your breath away.
Open House London 2023: Practical Tips
- Though these are our favourite spots there are plenty of other places you might want to check out. You can see the full list of open houses here.
- Remember to book if it’s required. This will be especially important if you’re planning to visit one of the more famous locations on offer.
- Open City is a charity and they rely, in part, on donations from fine folk like you. If you like what they do you can donate to the cause here.