Next to Tower Bridge and opposite one of the most popular tourist destinations is the London City Hall. The offices are home to the Mayor of London and is the headquarters of the Greater London Authority.
Designed by Norman Foster and opened in 2002, the City Hall probably won’t feature on many tourists’ lists of places to see but it is open most weekdays and is free to the public. Pop inside and enjoy some fantastic views both inside and out.
One of the Few Free Things to Do on a London Vacation
Asides from some museums, there are few attractions in Central London that are free to tourists. London City Hall is conveniently positioned close to many top attractions, including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Borough Market and HMS Belfast so making a trip to the City Hall part of a day out isn’t hard to do. The park beside the building is one of the few green areas that can be enjoyed on the South Bank and is understandably busy during the summer months.
Fortunately for tourists, visiting City Hall doesn’t entail having to learn about London politics. Approaching the building, visitors will notice the unique slanting shape largely made of glass panels. While there were ecological reasons for doing this, it also means that ascending or descending the spiral staircase within the building affords some wonderful panoramic views of the city.
Inside City Hall and Passing by Boris Johnson’s Office
On entering, visitors need to turn out pockets and put bags through for security screening. This is a fairly quick and easy procedure and once completed, it is probably best to head downstairs before heading to the top.
On the ground floor is a sprawling satellite photograph of London where locals and tourists can jostle to locate their house or hotel and it seems to be as much fun for adults as it is for children. There is also a café and toilets on this level, good to make use of before heading upwards.
Normally visitors have to take the lift up to the top floor but anyone able to dodge security (who will insist on taking the lift) can walk up instead. The wide, circling ramp rises from the purple Assembly Chamber and spirals to the summit of the building. All the while views within the building are as impressive within as they are to the outside.
On the top floor guests can venture into what it known as “London’s Living Room”. The room is essentially an open space, which gives access to a balcony that follows the perimeter of the building almost full circle and from here there are exceptional views of Tower Bridge, the Thames and the gardens directly below.
City Hall is open to the public from 8.30am to 6pm Mondays to Thursdays, and on Fridays from 8.30am to 5.30pm. It is also opens for the London Open House Weekend, which takes place in September.
London City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA
Tel: 020 7983 4100