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Tin House Open House 2022
Photograph: Gavriil Papadiotis

Open House London 2023: highlights and best buildings to see

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

Alex Sims
Lucy Sarret
Written by
Alex Sims
Written by
Lucy Sarret

If you’re as nosy as we are, chances are you’ll be looking forward to the annual Open House festival – which gives curious Londoners the chance to pull out their best Loyd Grossman impression and go through the keyhole (and doors) of some of the capital’s biggest, most renowned and most secretive addresses for free.

For two weekends in September, a whole load of top-grade London real estate will be open for snooping across nearly ever London borough. Here is everything you need to know about Open House London, 2023. 

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 2023 edition will take place over two weekends, September 9-10 and 16-17.

Where is Open House London? 

Hundreds of buildings across all of London’s 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 the programme for Open House London? 

Highlights of this year’s programme include a guided tour of 1923 Northern Line Extension stations near Golders Green, a chance to explore Theodore Komisarjevsky’s Gothic interior of the former Granada Cinema in Tooting, and an opportunity to discover a masterpiece of Victorian engineering, the Markfield Beam Engine in Tottenham. Find out more here.

Find out more about Open House London 2023 here

Find more brilliant London events taking place in September.

The best buildings to see at Open House London 2023

  • Attractions
  • Brixton

Get to know a piece of London’s rural history right in the heart of south London. This Grade II*-listed beauty was built back in 1816 and got a shiny restoration in 2011. It’s the last surviving windmill in inner London, and it’s got stories to tell. From grinding grains to turning water power, this windmill has seen it all. Take a guided tour and catch a glimpse of those magnificent sails. Oh, and did we mention the killer views?

100 Blenheim Gardens, SW2 5DA. Drop in Sep 9-10 between 1pm and 5pm, or book for BSL guided tours from 2pm to 3.30pm on 9 September.

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. Drop in Sep 9, 10am to 1pm. 


A hop, skip, and a jump from Walthamstow Wetlands, this gem of an Edwardian terrace is not your typical London home. A cosy cocoon designed by Artefact Studio and inspired by Indian Modernism, inside, you’ll find a triptych of interconnected spaces and the warming palette inside is like a hug for your eyeballs, perfectly contrasting the unassuming exterior. 

4 Lydford Road, N15 5PX. Drop in Sep 9, 1pm to 5.30pm

Crystal Palace Subway
James Balston

Crystal Palace Subway

This is not your average subway; it's a time machine with cool ceramic ceilings. 

Nestled beneath the A212 at Crystal Palace Parade originally opened in 1865 to link the now-closed High-Level station to the Crystal Palace itself, which was destroyed by a fire in 1936. It remains a reminder of the great Victorian structure, welcoming visits from the public every once in a while. 

Crystal Palace Parade, SE19 1LG. Book a self-guided tour Sep 15, 10.30am to 3pm


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 9, 11am to 4pm.

Turning Earth E10
  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Leyton

Turning Earth’s second and largest studio sits in the Argall Avenue industrial estate bordering the Lee Valley and is a real hive of creativity. Spend an afternoon nosing around the serene space watching budding potters craft their wares and sign up to become a member if you catch the ceramics bug. On your way out, pop into the Lighthaus Café for a slice of ridiculously good banana bread. 

11 Argall Avenue, E10 7QE. Drop in Sep 10, 11am to 5pm 


This little Edwardian shop in South Norwood has been impeccably restored with a sparkling original wooden frontage and fascia. Nowadays it’s also an artisan cheesemonger, so you can have a slice of the good stuff with your slice of London history. 

212A Selhurst Rd, SE25 6XU. Drop in 9-10 and 16-17 September between 10am to 4pm. 

Nestled on the Tideway, just below the majestic Tower Bridge, Garden Barge Square is a collection of floating gardens created in 1983 and home to a community of over 100 barge dwellers. It’s a little slice of tranquillity in the heart of the city and a testament to London’s eclectic charm. 

Access through Reeds Wharf, 33 Mill St, SE1 2AX. Drop in 10 September, 2pm to 6pm 


Hackney Wick’s Fish Island is an area synonymous with renegade artist creativity. Get a behind-the-scenes look at this vibrant art scene by exploring these working art studios usually off-limits to the public. It’s a chance to see work of some of the UK’s top artists, from internationally acclaimed maestros to the freshest emerging talents and get a little glimpse into what goes into to the making of them. 

56 Dacre Rd, E3 2NQ. Drop in 16-17 September, 11am to 6pm. 

Built in 1858 by George Pritchett, the Chapel in Tottenham Cemetery harks back to an era when space in London’s churchyards and burial grounds was running critically low. The space is actually two chapels connected by a charming carriage arch crafted from Kentish Ragstone. Inside you’ll find beautiful light-flooded spaces adorned with stained glass. 

Church Lane, N17 8AS. Drop in 17 September, 11am to 4.20pm, hourly talks and walks at 11am, 12noon, 2pm and 3pm.

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.

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