The arrival of autumn means darker, colder nights and the coming of Halloween. Although traditionally just one night, there tends to be days, or sometimes weeks, of spooky celebrations. over the October period, sometimes creeping into early November. As it coincides with half-term, there’s some Halloween themed daytime fun on offer for children. However, when it comes to the nights, there a range of activities for those who want to celebrate – from simple film screenings or immersive, fancy dress parties.
For a guide to what’s else is on in London in October, click here.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best Halloween events and parties on around London this October:
- 1 – 31 October : Screamfest @ London Dungeon
Special Halloween event at the London Dungeon, featuring 20 spooky tales, two rides and a Jack the Ripper show. Tickets from £27 (online), £31 (on the door). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 20 – 27 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50 (10% discount for children’s in Halloween costume). London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 20 – 28 October : Gruesome Nature Live @ London Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring interactive musical show. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 22 – 30 October : Wizard and Witch Woodland Walk @ Strawberry Hill
A spooky walk for little wizards and witches and their families, then cast a spell in the ‘cauldron room’ and hear a spooky story. Times: 4pm-5pm (4-6yrs), 5.30pm-6.30pm (7-10yrs). Tickets: £8. Strawberry Hill, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST. Nearest station: Strawberry Hill. For more information, visit the Strawberry Hill website. For Metro Girl’s review of Strawberry Hill, click here.
- 23 October : Family Day: Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 24 – 28 October : Halloween Horrors @ Sutton House
Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor designed by Tea Break Theatre. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are with normal entry. 12pm-5pm. Tickets (general admission): Adults £7, Children £3.50. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 27 – 28 October : Horniman Halloween Fair
Meet creepy crawlies, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts markets and food stalls. Halloween costume encouraged. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free entry. Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.
Things that go bump in the night
- 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival
Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.
- 12, 16-19 and 30-31 October : The Silhouette in the Smoke
An immersive theatrical experience with a murder mystery written especially for the London Museum of Water and Steam. Victorian high tea included. You must solve the mystery in groups of six. Over 16s only. 7.15pm. Tickets: £28. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website. Read the rest of this entry
Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.
From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.
The menu is as follows:
- Sophie’s Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.
- Tiger Scones
Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
- Treats with the Tiger
Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).
Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.
- The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in October, click here.
The City of London is full of old buildings originally designed to be banks. In the 21st century, there are significantly less banks and building societies due to various takeovers and mergers and the growing popularity of online banking. While many brand names have died out, some former Victorian and Edwardian bank buildings still survive today. Back in the 18th and 19th century, the sheer volume of banks meant they had to stand out amongst the competition. As their directors attempted to attract rich customers, their buildings needed to exude luxury and stability so many hired top architects to make sure their HQs and branches really looked the part. With considerably less banking names existing today, their former buildings have been repurposed for new businesses, restaurants and bars, with many keeping their original features.
One such former bank no longer offering financial services is the former Ludgate Hill branch of the City Bank. Now a wine bar, this Victorian building certainly stands out as one of the most attractive buildings on Ludgate Hill. Known by many as the road leading toward St Paul’s Cathedral, Ludgate Hill is one of two London hills where the original Roman settlement of Londinium was founded in the 1st century. Around 200AD, Lud Gate was constructed – one of seven gates into the walled city. The Lud Gate was rebuilt in 1215, with its upper rooms used as a prison by the 14th century. After being rebuilt again in 1586, it lasted nearly two centuries before Ludgate and the remaining city gates were all demolished in 1760. A plaque on St-Martin-within-Ludgate church marks the location of the Ludgate, although a stone remainder of the gate is thought to survive on the eastern corner of Pilgrim Street just 100ft away. Although the gate is long gone, its name lives on in Ludgate Hill.
With the City being the commercial heart of the capital, there were a host of banks to cater for the multiple businesses nearby and the booming population in the 19th century. One such financial institution was City Bank Ltd, which was founded in 1855 by stockbroker and future Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Walter Carden (1801-1888). Its stunning palazzo-style headquarters at 5-6 Threadneedle Street were built in 1856 by architect W Moseley and still remain today as the 5-star Threadneedles Hotel. By 1863, the bank had deposits to £3.5million and was acting as a London correspondent for 40 foreign banks, so they could provide finance for international trade. It became a limited company in 1880 and by 1894, it had 14 branches across London, including suburban outposts in Croydon and Bromley. One of its original branch buildings (built 1889) can still be seen today at 138 Shaftesbury Avenue at Cambridge Circus.
Read the rest of this entry
Autumn is officially arrived so the nights are longer and the temperatures are dropping. With winter fast approaching, wouldn’t it be lovely to jet off to warmer climes… in somewhere like Cuba for example? Well, if you can’t afford the time or airfare, this autumn and winter, a slice of Cuba is coming to London.
The distinctive tastes, sound and spirit of pre-revolution Cuba will be popping up at Tobacco Dock for a limited period. Launching at the re-imaginated Quayside Bar, Last Nights Of Havana will be an evening of tropical rum, food, jazz and dance. Running from 19 October 2018 until May 2019, this new experience will evoke memories of Cuba’s opulent heyday in the 1940s and 1950s. Imagine the glamour, Cadillacs, cigars and rum cocktails.
Upon arrival, guests will be toasted with a complimentary rum cocktail before entering the warm palm-filled tropical bar. Inside, the mixologists will create Cuba’s iconic drinks, such as Mojitos, Daiquiris and Cuba Libre at the large island bar. Andy Mil and Elliot Ball from the Cocktail Trading Company have devised the cocktail menu featuring contemporary twists on the Cuban classics featuring the full Bacardi portfolio. There will also be a full bar for those who fancy a drink other than rum. Meanwhile, when you’re feeling peckish, you can feast on Cuban street food and snacks.
Throughout the evening, you’ll be entertained with Cuban music and dancing with Cuban-born Musical Director Oreste ‘Sambroso’ Noda leading the nightly band. Expect sounds inspired by Cuban music combined with a contemporary London soundtrack. The band will play homage to the iconic melody of the Buena Vista Social Club. At the night progresses, the DJs take over with Latin-influenced beats and dancefloor classics.
Last Nights Of Havana aims to offer an alternative night out for Londoners, combining food, drink, music and dance. It’s suitable for couples’ date nights to birthday celebrations to work socials. There will also be rum-tasting masterclasses available every Saturday for those who want to expand their knowledge into the sugar cane spirit. Last Nights Of Havana will also be hosting a New Year’s Party for those who want to kick off 2019 with some Latin flavour.
- Last Nights Of Havana, Quayside Bar, Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane (Gate Entrance), Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Runs from 8 October 2018 – May 2019. Open 5pm-12am. Tickets: £20 in 2018, £25 in 2019 (inc complimentary arrival cocktail). Masterclass: £60pp (include rum flight, special cocktail and discount towards evening event). For more information and tickets, visit lastnightsofhavana.com.
For a guide to what’s on in London in October, click here.
The winners of the World’s 50 Best Bars 2018 have been revealed. Unsurprisingly, London has taken the crown and features an impressive 10 establishments on the list. Five hundred drink experts from around the world debated the annual ranking of bars, with the 2018 list unveiled on 3 October.
This year, the best place in the world to get a cocktail is Dandelyan at the Mondrian hotel on London’s South Bank. The bar opened in 2014, but creator Ryan Chetiyawardana announced this week it’s set to close. Meanwhile last year’s winner is at a respectable No.2 this year; The American Bar at The Savoy, with its long history dating back over 100 years.
Looking at the London establishments, I’ve been to a few of them, but my ‘to drink at’ list just got a bit longer! Here’s details of the capital’s top drinking destinations and their placing, according to the World’s 50 Best Bars 2018.
- 1) Dandelyan
Swanky bar on the ground floor of the Mondrian hotel on the banks of the River Thames. Dandelyan is the brainchild of award-winning bartender Chetiyawardana, the man behind White Lyan and Super Lyan. British designer Tom Dixon curated the interiors with baby pink seating and a green marble bar.
Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD. Nearest station: Waterloo, Southwark or Blackfriars.
The Savoy’s bar is London’s oldest surviving bar, having opened in 1904. Expect art deco interiors, top class customer service and a live pianist on many evenings. The current menu (including First Impressions cocktail pictured) has been inspired by the photography of Terry O’Neill. Over the decades, it has quenched the thirst of Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, and many more.
The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Temple or Embankment.
Plush Mayfair hotel bar with a 1920s vibe, featuring Cubist-inspired wood panelling, dark leather, candlelight and huge mirrors. Bar snacks and evening canapes also available.
Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street.
- 6) Bar Termini
Inspired by the bar at the Termini station in Rome, this cafe-cum-bar will particularly appeal to fans of coffee. Expect exposed brickwork, chequerboard tiles and wood interiors for a continental feel.
7 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JE. Nearest station: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus.
- 17) Oriole
Hidden in the depths of Smithfield Market is a cosy, subterranean drinking den. Featuring explorer-style décor of teal and bamboo, there is also a decent food menu and live music in addition to the extensive cocktail menu, themed on different parts of the world.
East Poultry Avenue, Clerkenwell, EC1A 9LH. Nearest station: Farringdon.
- 18) Coupette
A neighbourhood bar inspired by France. Cocktails inspired by French avant garde cultural icons sit alongside a selection of contemporary French dishes, including weekend brunch offerings.
423 Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, E2 0AN. Nearest station: Bethnal Green.
- 28) Scout
This cosy Hackney bar has a simple premise and aims to be ecologically responsible. The menu is split into five sections: Tree, Overground, Plant-Bush, Underground and Sea, which feature pairing taster snacks.
224 Graham Street, Hackney, E8 1BP. Nearest station: Hackney Central.
- 29) Three Sheets
This slimline Dalston bar changes its menu weekly. As well as cocktails, wine and beer, it also serves a range of cheese and wines.
510b Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AB. Nearest station: Dalston Junction.
Hip speakeasy basement bar in the heart of Hoxton. Expect low lighting, exposed brick and a ‘no wallies’ policy. Although they keep seats for walk-ins, it’s very popular so getting a seat can be difficult.
8-9 Hoxton Square, Hoxton, N1 6NU. Nearest station: Old Street or Hoxton.
- 46) Swift
Swift bar covers two floors with each one having a different feel. Drinking aficionados should head to the basement bar for the best Swift experience, with the bar offering a strong focus on whisky and an extensive menu.
12 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TQ. Nearest station: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus.
For Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the mostly highly anticipated films this year. Named after the iconic hit single, the movie tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen in the lead up to Live Aid in 1985. Ahead of its release, the Carnaby district of London has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to create an immersive exhibition and light installation inspired by the rock legends.
For the art installation, fans of the band will see Freddie’s lyrics for one of the greatest rock songs of all time shining brightly over the pedestrianised shopping hub. Giant neon words will bring Queen’s 1975 song to life, including the opening: ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’, along with the iconic ‘Galileo’ and ‘Figaro’. The Queen crest – designed by Mercury – will also appear on Carnaby’s famous arches.
Meanwhile, a pop-up shop and exhibition will open on 18 October so fans can get even closer to the rock gods. There will be a showcase of photographs, prints, footage and costumes from the band. Official film merchandise and Queen-inspired products will also be available to buy. Visitors can also pose for a selfie with the official Madame Tussaud’s Freddie waxwork. Meanwhile, the shops, bars and restaurants of Carnaby will also be joining in with Queen inspired products and menus.
The light display, shop and exhibition are launching to coincide with the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie on 24 October. It stars Rami Malek as Freddie, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Gwilym Lee as Brian May and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon.
- Bohemian Rhapsody Pop Up Shop & Exhibition, 3 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Open from 18 October 2018 – January 2019. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
Autumn is finally here after a super long summer. Some may be welcoming the cooler temperatures, while others may be lamenting the fast approach of winter. However, lets live in the moment and focus on October. There’s plenty going on around town with many events creeping into the warmer indoor settings. Of course, there’s Halloween at the end of the month and half-term holidays so expect plenty of ghoulish and family events – or both – going on. October is a good month for booze fans with lots of beer and cocktail festivals. The nights may be getting darker, but you could brighten up your home with a purchase from one of the many art fairs on this month.
For a guide to what’s on in London this Halloween, click here.
- 1 – 7 October : London Cocktail Week
Over 300 bars, restaurants and other surprising venues are celebrating London Cocktail Week with a variety of offers and events around the capital. To get the most out of it, buy a £10 digital pass so you can enjoy cocktails at participating venues for as little as £6. For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website. Find out about the Broken Shaker pop-up bar at Madison.
- 1 – 31 October : London Restaurant Festival
Restaurants all over the capital are taking place in this festival, offering special menus, discounts and events celebrating the capital’s culinary culture. Highlights include Gourmet Odysseys, Eat Film, Restaurant Hopping Tours, Eat Art @ Saatchi Gallery and more. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.
- 2 – 3 October : RHS Harvest Festival Show
Horticultural show including fruit and vegetable competition, pumpkin display, nursery and harvest displays, harvest games, cocktails and live music. Open 10am-5pm. Free entry. Lindley Hall, RHS Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PE. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the RHS website.
- 2 October – 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future
Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.
- 4 October : Young Marketeers’ Harvest Sale @ Borough Market
Local schoolchildren will be trading their homegrown fruit and vegetables at Borough Market. Proceeds go to the FareShare charity. 11am-1.30pm. Free entry. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
- 4 – 7 October : The Other Art Fair
The bi-annual fair is a great place to buy art from 130 emerging and undiscovered artists. There will also be guest artists, immersive theatre, live music, bar and restaurant. Opening times vary. Tickets: £8.96-£22.40. Victoria House, Southampton Row, Holborn, WC1A 2QP. Nearest station: Holborn. For tickets, visit The Other Art Fair website.
- 4 – 7 October : Frieze Art Fair
Contemporary art event in Regent’s Park, featuring over 150 galleries from around the world. Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £38.50. Regents Park (Art Fair near the Outer Circle in SE corner of the park). Nearest stations: Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street, Baker Street or Camden Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Frieze London website.
- 4 – 14 October : Oktoberfest London
Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. Opening hours vary. General admission starts from free to £10 (depending on day). Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.
- 4 – 14 October : Wimbledon Bookfest
Festival featuring readings, children’s events, storytelling, comedy, courses, screenings, walks and interviews from a wide range of authors, including Graham Norton, Alan Davies, Lionel Shriver, Sebastian Faulks, Cathy Newman, Michael Rosen, Max Hastings, Billy Bragg and more. Tickets prices vary. A majority of events take place in tents on Wimbledon Common, but also other venues nearby. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information and tickets, visit the BookFest website.
- 5 – 7 October : Cake And Bake Show
Event celebrating all things baking and decorating, featuring celebrity experts, stalls selling baking equipment, cake competitions and more. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £13. ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House. For tickets, visit the Cake And Bake Show website.
- 5 – 7 October : Tequila And Mezcal Fest
A weekend celebration of Tequila and Mezcal, including Mexican food, live Mariachi bands, Mexican art and artisan products on sale. Open Sat 12pm-9.30pm, Sun 8 1-9pm. Tickets start from £20 (early bird tickets include Tequila or Mezcal samples and free entry to seminars and master classes). Oxo Tower Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Tequila Fest website.
- 5 – 14 October : Herne Hill Music Festival
Music festival in Herne Hill, south London at various venues across SE24 and neighbouring areas including The Half Moon, Off The Cuff, Canopy Bar, St Faith’s Church, Brockwell Hall and Herne Hill School. Tickets range from free to £50. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more information, visit the Herne Hill Music Festival website.
- 5 October – 18 November : Poppies – Weeping Window
The Weeping Window from artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper’s famous 2014 poppy installation at the Tower of London has been touring the UK and returns to the capital. Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ. Nearest station: Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Imperial War Museum website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on the installation, click here.
- 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival
Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website. Read the rest of this entry
The London district of Kensington is world renowned for its palace, famous museums and having some of the most expensive property in the UK. From the grand museums of South Kensington to the greenery of Kensington Gardens, each district has its own different character. With its location and tube stations providing easy access to the capital’s attractions, Kensington is a popular base for many visitors.
With the borough boasting an array of museums, it’s no surprise that three of its attractions appear in the top 10 list of most visited free attractions in London. The Natural History Museum had over 4 million visitors in 2017, while its neighbours the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum had over 3 million. Meanwhile, Kensington Palace is No.11 on the list of paid London attractions, with over 645,000 visitors in 2017.
While all three of the big museums are brilliant places to go, there’s a lot more to visit in Kensington. I’ve worked a large chunk of my career in Kensington and have stumbled upon the lesser-known attractions of the area when I’ve not been working. For this blog post, I spent the day exploring some of Kensington’s hidden gems. One particular destination off the beaten path is the stunning Leighton House Museum. Located near Holland Park and Kensington High Street, it was built in stages from 1866 to 1895 as a home and studio for painter Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). From the outside, it looks like a classical, red Victorian home. However, upon stepping inside, it’s like entering a Moorish palace. The main attraction is the beautiful Arab Hall, with its mosaics, Islamic tiles and golden dome. As well as its stunning interiors and expansive garden (by London standards at least!), there is also an extensive art collection, featuring paintings and sculptures by Leighton and his Victorian contemporaries. If you’re a fan of architecture and/or art – particularly pre-Raphaelite paintings – I recommend checking it out. You’re not allowed photos inside, although you can get some good shots in the lovely garden.
A short walk away is the Design Museum on Kensington High Street. It was previously located in Bermondsey, but moved to the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 2016. The spacious 1960s building is worth a visit in itself for architecture fans. It is home to a permanent free exhibition; ‘Designer, Maker, User’, as well as various changing exhibitions and events throughout the year. On my particular visit, I bought tickets for the Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition, which is on until 7 October 2018. Curated with the designer shortly before his death last year, the exhibition features a collection of his fashions from the early 1980s to his last collection in 2017. The museum is an interesting space and the way the team have presented Alaia’s creations on transparent models on mirrored platforms was brilliant and really showcased the layers and angles of each design.
When you’re in this end of High Street Kensington, there’s a great little café down a quiet side street if you’re feeling peckish. Located on Phillimore Gardens with a small outdoor terrace is Café Phillies. It’s an independent café and wine bar, popular with locals and serves an all-day breakfast. It’s a cosy venue with contemporary art on the walls and friendly staff. I took advantage of the unlimited brunch hours and ordered an Eggs Benedict Royale for a late lunch. Served on toasted English muffins, there was a very generous serving of smoked salmon and the poached eggs were perfectly runny. A great spot for lunch or breakfast.
If you’re looking for some fresh air, consider walking down to Kensington Gardens. The large park covers 207 acres, with Kensington Palace located in the western end of the Gardens. Known for being the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, parts of the palace are open to the public, including the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments. On this particular visit, I remained outside the palace walls and enjoyed the many free attractions of the gardens. As the palace was the last home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, there are several memorials to the royal, including a children’s playground and a memorial walk. Throughout the Gardens are many buildings and sculptures to check out, including the 18th century Queen Caroline’s Temple, Henry Moore’s arch and the ornate Albert Memorial. The north side of the park features the 150-year-old Italian ornamental garden, built as a gift to Queen Victoria from her husband Prince Albert. Nearby is Queen Anne’s Alcove, a small structure built in 1705 by Sir Christopher Wren. Meanwhile, deeper in the Gardens is Queen Caroline’s Temple, a quaint 18th century summer house with views towards the Long Water. Read the rest of this entry
It’s that time of year again – when Londoners get the chance to peek inside buildings that are normally off-limits. Taking place on 22-23 September 2018, Open House London is essentially a festival of architecture and design, where a huge range of buildings from homes to Government buildings to skyscrapers allow the public to step inside. Many museums which usually cost to enter are also taking part so you can visit for free. While it’s probably too late by now to enter some of the ballots or ticketed entry slots, there are tons of other places just waiting to be explored. This year marks the 26th year of Open House London, with over 800 properties taking place. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have long queues. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists a selection of reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, as well as tips and advice for making the most of the weekend.
Tips on making the most of Open House London
- Comprise a list of places you hope to visit and also a few back-ups if the queues are too long by searching Open House’s official website, buy a hard copy of the guide here or download the free app available on Apple or Google Play.
- Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
- Wear comfortable shoes and check the weather forecast to inspire suitable clothing. You will be walking and standing a lot.
- Start early – many of the sites open around 10am or 11am, but some even earlier. If you get there before they open, you could beat the queues.
- Make sure your phone and/or camera are fully charged and bring a portable charger if you have one so you can search online maps and share photos on social media.
- Bring ID – some official buildings or skyscrapers may want to check you out before letting you enter.
- Go the toilet whenever you find one. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities or you could end up desperate while waiting in a very long queue.
- Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, as security searches are expected.
- Bring your lunch with you – you’ll have plenty of time to eat it if you end up queuing.
- Share your discoveries on social media under the hashtag #openhouselondon. This is also handy for checking out where the long queues are.
- Follow Open House London on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Metro Girl’s reviews and photos of Open House buildings
Banqueting House. Only surviving building from Whitehall Palace, built in 1619. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Banqueting House, Whitehall, SW1A 2ER. Nearest stations: Westminster, Charing Cross or Embankment.
Billingsgate bath house. Roman home and bath ruins in the basement of a modern office building, dating back to 2nd-3rd century and discovered in the 19th century. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm (queues likely). 101 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6DL. Nearest station: Monument.
Caroline Gardens Chapel. Partially-derelict Georgian chapel used as an arts and event space, built 1827. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Asylum Road, Peckham, SE15 2SQ. Nearest station: Queens Road Peckham.
Charlton House. London’s only surviving Jacobean mansion, built in 1607. Open Sunday 10am-4pm (tours at 11am and 2pm). Charlton House, Charlton Road, Charlton, SE7 8RE. Nearest station: Charlton.
Crystal Palace Subway. Victorian subway connecting what used to be a train station to the site of the Crystal Palace, built 1865. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (queues likely). Crystal Palace Parade, Crystal Palace, SE19 1LG. Nearest station: Crystal Palace.
Dennis Severs House. Georgian townhouse and unique setting for a historic ‘still-life drama’, built in 1724. Open Saturday 12-4pm (queues expected). 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street.
Emery Walker’s House. Georgian terrace styled in authentic arts and crafts interiors. Open Sunday 2pm-5pm (queues likely). 7 Hammersmith Terrace, Hammersmith, W6 9TS. Nearest station: Stamford Brook.
Fitzrovia Chapel. Victorian designed chapel, designed 1891, completed 1929. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, W1T 3BF. Nearest station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road.
Granada Tooting (Gala Bingo Hall). Former Art Deco cinema with neo-renaissance interiors, now used as a bingo hall, built in 1931. Open Sunday 9am-12pm. 50-60 Mitcham Road, Tooting, SW17 9NA. Nearest station: Tooting Broadway. Read the rest of this entry
Returning to Paddington for the second year running is the Heist Bank Beer Festival. Following their launch in 2017, the Heist Bank crew are putting on a bigger and better celebration.
Over the 12 – 14 October weekend, over 60 beers from UK and international breweries will be on tap. Heist Bank’s beer experts have curated a list of their favourite brews. From fruity ales to unusual stouts, beer lovers will find plenty to whet their appetite. Taking part are top breweries Fourpure, Siren and Wild Beer Co, who will showcasing special seasonal releases and collaborative brews at the bar’s 12 taps.
Among the entertainment and activities will be hands-on workshops in Heist Bank’s games room, such as beer games, non-alcoholic beer sampling, beer and cheese pairings and beer yoga. Every evening of the festival, DJs will be taking to the decks.
As well as plenty of drinking options, the Heist Bank wood-fired oven will be working overtime, baking a wide range of sourdough pizzas, with invented toppings such as wild boar sausage, Bath chaps and yellow courgette.
- The Heist Bank Beer Festival takes place from 12-14 October 2018. Heist Bank, 5 North Wharf Road, Paddington, W2 1LA. Nearest station: Paddington or Edgware Road. Sessions: Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-5pm and 6pm-11pm and Sun 12pm-5pm. Tickets: £15 (inc beer glass and 2 free beers). For more information, visit the Heist Bank Beer Festival website.
To find out what’s on in London in October, click here.