Things of beauty: Chandos House and Westminster Hall

As part of the wonderful Open House weekend which swept across London recently, we braved the queues and decided to go and visit a couple of the open venues. But first, a gripe… Although the Open House concept is amazing, and the execution good too – friendly staff, efficient queuing and a huge number of open places – the app is genuinely terrible [so frustrating]. Without opening times and days despite them being on the website, entire venues going AWOL, and with an impossible map, we had problems planning where we wanted to go and started the Sunday heading to Portcullis House which was in fact closed. (Annoyed, we ventured on to Westminster Hall, which looked fairly uninspiring in the Open House listing; fortunately for us, it was actually one of the highlights of the whole project.)

But first, Chandos House. Rather random, and again not portrayed favourably on the Open House publicity, we chose it for the Adam brothers’ name and the fact that it was just behind Oxford Street, which was on our way elsewhere. However, it was possibly one of the most exquisitely gorgeous gems I’ve seen in London.

A confection of sparkle and pastel colours:

Chandos chandelier

It was designed by the Adam brothers as a showcase of their design talent, and is now owned by the Royal Society of Medicine. You can in fact stay here, and it’s a remarkably reasonably priced hotel for such a central location – recommended for a special and secret stay in London!

Chandos chandelier mirror

We could have included tens of gorgeous pictures of Chandos House, so have been remarkably restrained!

Chandos House

We then ventured on to the Houses of Parliament. I genuinely don’t know how they found such an underwhelming picture of Westminster Hall with which to advertise it, but fortunately it was infinitely more interesting and stunning than it looked!

Elizabeth Tower

We really made it into the inner sections of Parliament, from historical monuments to rooms still used for broadcasted debates today.

Houses of Parliament

Westminster Hall itself (a small part of the tour, as it happened) was historically fascinating – indeed, visitors walked across plaques telling us of Charles I’s execution in that very room.

Westminster Hall

Finally, inside Parliament itself there was some incredible symmetry going on:

Parliamentary chandelier

It really was a fantastic day, and our thanks and praise go to the Open House initiative for their wonderful work. Just get a better app designer next time!

Scooter through fountain

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