Get us in your inbox

Search
Tin House Open House 2022
Photograph: Gavriil Papadiotis

Open House London 2022: highlights and best buildings to see

Peek behind the doors of some of London’s most famous buildings at Open House festival this September

Written by
Things To Do Editors
Advertising

The annual Open House festival gives curious Londoners the chance to pull out their best Loyd Grossman impression and go through the keyhole (and through the doors) of some of the capital’s biggest, most renowned and most secretive addresses for free. Normally, it takes place over a single weekend and involves some very long queues, but in 2022, as the fest turns 30, the organisers are stretching it out over two weeks and planning lots of extra-special surprises for the occasion. That’s a whole lot of top-grade snooping. 

What is Open House London?

A huge festival dedicated to making the capital’s architectural spaces accessible to all. It allows entry to private homes, government buildings and historic sites that are normally closed to the public and just waiting to be explored. Some of the buildings offer free half-hourly tours, others are simply open to walk-in visitors. It’s the largest event of its kind in the world and features walks, talks and tours as well as the chance to nose around intriguing London places you’d never usually get to enter.

When is Open House London?

The 2022 edition will take place over two weeks, September 8-21.

Where is Open House London? 

Hundreds of buildings across all London’s 32 boroughs, plus the City of London, will be taking part. It’s a vast sprawl, so you’ll need to dedicate some time to planning what you’d like to see. If you want to visit multiple locations, check the Open House website in advance for details. Open House is extremely popular, so even if the sites you have in mind are apparently obscure, you can expect to queue. 

How much does Open House London cost?

Brilliantly, it’s all free. Check each listing carefully on the Open House website before you set off, as some require advanced booking. Entry to very famous sites like 10 Downing Street and New Scotland Yard are allocated via a ballot. For others, just wear your most comfortable shoes and turn up on the day.

What’s new for Open House London’s thirtieth anniversary? 

To mark three decades of the festival, Open House is putting on some special surprises for its big anniversary this year. There’ll be tours of buildings never opened to the public before, gigs in unique, hidden spaces and the publication of a new book looking at the city’s food culture, ‘London Feeds Itself’. For the first time, there’ll be specially curated programmes of free events in nine headline neighbourhoods: Aldgate, East Ham, Greenwich Peninsula, South Tottenham, Somers Town, Battersea, Walworth, Shepherd’s Bush and Cambridge Heath. Sofar Sounds will be curating performances at the Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross and DJ sets in Bexley’s Old Library. 

There’ll also be an exciting number of private homes that will be part of the thirtieth anniversary festival from multi-million-pound houses designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects to council estates.

Explore the full Open House London 2022 programme here

Find more brilliant London events taking place in September.

The best buildings to see at Open House London 2022

Trellick Tower
  • Attractions
  • Ladbroke Grove
Completed in 1972, Ernö Goldfinger’s 31-storey Trellick Tower, built as social housing in the style of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation, is perhaps London’s most famous brutalist building, and has gained iconic status among architecture fans. The Grade II-listed tower is a desirable address, with flats in the upper storeys boasting views as far as the South Downs. The entry lobby and a couple of flats are often open for tours as part of Open House London weekend, held in September, but be warned: Trellick Tower is one of the hottest tickets at this annual event.

If one of your guilty pleasures is spying into people’s houses, make a beeline for this gorgeous private home which is opening its doors to the public for one day only. A maze of utilitarian russet tin walls and sloping glass roofs, this is all your ‘Grand Designs’ dreams come true and more.

Smugglers Yard, Devenport Rd. W12 8PB. More info here.

Advertising

Usually reserved for the eyes of bookish University of London staff and students, this bombastic building in the heart of the city is an Art Deco masterpiece, and supposedly George Orwell’s inspiration for The Ministry of Truth in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Get lost in its marble-lined corridors and towering book stack on an in-person or virtual tour.

Malet St, WC1E 7HU. Sep 10-11. More info here.

Find more fun things to do in September

London events in September
  • Things to do

Say goodbye to summer in style – get out and get stuck into the last of the capital’s festivals, pop-ups and outdoor shindigs this month.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Bestselling Time Out offers
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!