London Sights


Somerset House Review

In recent years this huge complex—the work of Sir William Chambers (1723–96), and built during the reign of George III to house offices of the Navy—has completed its transformation from dusty government offices to one of the capital's most buzzing centers of culture and the arts, hosting several interesting exhibitions at any one time. The cobblestone Italianate courtyard, where Admiral Nelson used to walk, makes a great setting for 55 playful fountains and is transformed into a romantic ice rink in winter; the grand space is the venue for music and outdoor movie screenings in summer. The Courtauld Gallery occupies most of the north building, facing the busy Strand. Across the courtyard are the Embankment Galleries, with a vibrant calendar of design, fashion, architecture, and photography exhibitions. Creative activities for children are a regular feature (the website has details). The East Wing has another fine exhibition space and events are sometimes also held in the atmospherically gloomy cellars below the Fountain Court. Tom's Kitchen offers fine dining and the Deli has mouthwatering cakes and pastries. In summer eating and drinking spills out onto the large terrace next to the Thames.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Strand, Covent Garden, London, WC2R 1LA | Map It
  • Phone: 020/7845–4600
  • Cost: Embankment Galleries price varies, Courtauld Gallery £6, other areas free
  • Hours: Daily 10–6; last admission times vary
  • Website:
  • Subway: Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars
  • Location: Soho and Covent Garden
Updated: 02-27-2014

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