What I Got Up To On London Open House Weekend 2016

London is blessed with incredible and iconic buildings. Unfortunately, most of these buildings are out of bounds to the public.

So when an event like Open House comes round, it’s a pretty big deal. Why? Because for one weekend only, these buildings open up their doors for the public to snoop around.

Open House London is an annual event that takes places once a year typically around September time.

You might feel a little deflated when I tell you some of these are offices. But in London, it’s different. Offices can be cool AF with so much emphasis quite rightly placed on architecture and design.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually plan on taking part. I tried before in previous years but baulked at the length of queues. I only planned on visiting the pretty amazing Guildhall Art Gallery when I found out that the adjacent Guildhall Town Hall, was part of Open House – and there were zero queues. Zilch.

So, here’s what I saw on London’s Open House Weekend 2016:

My first stop was Guildhall, a beautiful and historic Town Hall in the City, established more than 700 years ago.

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Front of Guildhall

Inside, you’ll see splendid interiors like this:

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Interior of Guildhall – ridiculously pretty, amirite?

And this:

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The Crypt of Guildhall

 

Next stop was The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a government building in Whitehall. The FCO “promotes the United Kingdom’s interests overseas, supporting our citizens and businesses around the globe”.

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Front of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Despite an orderly queue as long as Hadrian’s wall, I was told that it moved pretty quickly and I’d be inside within an hour:

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yes, it really did take just 52 minutes to get in…👍

The volunteers weren’t lying,: I was inside within 52 minutes. Tip: if you’re on your own, bring a book.

The waiting was worth it. You get to see rooms like this:

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The Locarno Conference Room 😍

 

A court like this:

 

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The Dubar Court

And staircases like this:

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The Grand Staircase.

Final stop was the HM Treasury next door. Not quite as impressive, but cool nonetheless to be granted access into a building normally out of bounds.

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Front of HM Treasury

At least the staircase was pretty cool:

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As was the courtyard:

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HM Treasury Courtyard

Sadly, that was all I had time for. I reiterate I never even planned on joining the queue at all and so I was a bit all over the place as to where I wanted to go next. I did have City Hall and the Royal Albert Hall next in case you were wondering.

Next year, I might actually do the whole “wake up at 5.30am to queue for the Gherkin/Leadenhall Building” gig.

I really want to see Lloyd’s Building, again in the City and so close to the other high-rise buildings. My background in law, maritime and insurance makes it particularly attractive. But genuinely, the building interiors ranks as one of the prettiest in London. See for yourself.

Open House was sweet AF. It’s easy to point to the GherkinLeadenhall Building ect. and forget everything else. Don’t forget the other little gems like I have at ground-level like churches, offices, and even parks. I’ll be revolving my Open House 2017 plans around these than the obvious ones in the City.

To see more of my images from London Open House 2016, check out my gallery here.

Which buildings did you visit? Where do you want to visit next year?

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