Somerset House
Somerset House
4
Historic SitesArchitectural BuildingsArt Museums
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
About
Somerset House is a spectacular neo-classical building in the heart of London, sitting between the Strand and the River Thames. During summer months 55 fountains dance in the courtyard, and in winter you can skate on London's favourite ice rink. Somerset House also hosts open-air concerts and films, contemporary art, design and fashion exhibitions, family workshops and free guided tours of spaces usually hidden to visitors. The Trust's mission is to conserve and maintain Somerset House to the highest standards and to develop the site as a public space which is universally recognised as a world class visitor attraction and centre of excellence for culture and the arts.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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Tours & experiences
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The area
Address
Neighbourhood: Trafalgar Square / Embankment
With its iconic Nelson’s Column, majestic oversized lions and brightly-lit fountains, Trafalgar Square is not just considered the heart of this bustling London hub, but the very core of the city itself. Beyond this esteemed gathering place are more famous icons, as well as a disproportionate numbers of the city’s most popular cultural attractions including the National Gallery and many West End theaters. Along the way to these major sites are quiet lanes and antiquated pubs to discover, as well as riverside vistas to enjoy on the embankment. With a calendar full of celebratory events, any time of year is a fine time to visit.
How to get there
  • Temple • 3 min walk
  • Covent Garden • 7 min walk
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See what travellers are saying
  • restrapo
    Montevideo, Uruguay420 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    High Expectations, Different Reality - Perhaps Better at Night
    Perhaps I was there on an off day. First of all, I cam around to the building on the backside and was wondering around trying to find someone to direct me. The signs pointing to the two wings did not help given doors on back side of building are security controlled. Made my way to the front and eventually located a worker to direct me. Ok experience. Not much really to see during the day time. Perhaps better at night.
    Visited June 2023
    Travelled on business
    Written 9 July 2023
  • Rachel L
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wonderful Tour
    Went on a wonderful tour of Somerset House. Our tour guide Shoshannah was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the building and she gave us a great sense of history. The tour took just over an hour and was amazing value! We were able to wander around the inside and outside of the building after the tour and also enjoy a lovely cup of coffee. The situation of Somerset House close to the River Thames and the centre of London makes it an ideal location to visit.
    Visited August 2023
    Written 1 August 2023
  • Moira N
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Somerset House
    We had a really enjoyable and informative tour of Somerset House. Our tour guide Shoshannah, made our visit much more interesting , and really engaged with her tour group. I can recommend this tour and it was excellent value for money
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 1 August 2023
  • Steph
    Toronto, Canada217 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lovely place to spend an afternoon grabbing food and looking at art
    My walking tour ended here, so I decided to visit Somerset House. The Watchtower cafe was very busy but had great food and fair prices. The Courtauld Museum was amazing- it was exciting to see famous art including pieces by Van Gogh and Degas.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 5 December 2023
  • AmbridgeGirl
    London, United Kingdom1,037 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fabulous exhibition
    Fabulous exhibition about the Black British experience in fashion. Included sport, music and politics. Short walk from Covent Garden Tube Station. The ice rink was open and busy and lots of other things going on. Worth a visit. Concession rates available.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled solo
    Written 5 January 2024
  • peta
    5 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great way to spend an hour
    Great value 'backstage' tour. We were unlucky that the weather was dreadful as you need to duck in and out of the building but we had a lovely, knowledgeable guide. Shared some great 'fun-facts'. Very enjoyable way to learn about the history of a fascinating building. Highly recommended. One word of warning: there are quite a few stairs to climb!
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled with friends
    Written 6 January 2024
  • Tigerprincess
    Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom530 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Hello Kitty was only worth seeing.
    I went to the Cute exhibition after seeing it on a friends social media. The Hello Kitty exhibition was very good and it’s interesting how the subject cute has been used throughout the years as a marketing concept to lure people into consumerism. The exhibition did get darker and more adult like as you go further upstairs and was very surprised to see kids were allowed in this section as I didn’t think it was appropriate. I don’t think it was worth 18 quid. But Somerset House itself is very beautiful and it is just off the embankment and you have good views of the London Eye and Westminster Abbey.
    Visited February 2024
    Travelled solo
    Written 24 February 2024
  • therichastill
    Stevenage, United Kingdom3,064 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful Architecture
    Somerset House used to be the place where the records of all births, deaths and marriages were kept. I believe if you wanted to know about someone this was the place you went to for this information. With the advent of technology and the internet this data was all digitised and the need for Somerset House was over. Nowadays they have exhibitions here as well as ice skating and I have been to some brilliant gigs there too. It is a beautiful piece of architecture and yoy enter through an archway into a grand forecourt. It's lovely to admire. Somerset House is on the Strand and is close of Covent Garden and Charing Cross Tube stations and plenty of buses serve the area as well.
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled solo
    Written 16 March 2024
  • Wendy L
    68 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Basic
    Somerset house was lovely but the hello kitty cafe wasn't worth the two hour Wait we were very disappointed. Wood benches could of put pink cloths on. Two cakes and brownies to choose From was expecting cup cakes with hello kitty on. Hardly anything to buy to take home and only allowed in for twenty minutes
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled with friends
    Written 3 April 2024
  • Harriet A
    1 contribution
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    It was fine
    I went yesterday and had a pleasant enough time. Much like the exhibition, I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet. First off, as someone not familiar with the area the second entrance to the musuem wasn't brilliantly easy to find. The signposting needed some serious work, at one point I found myself in an area with 0 signage and I had to ask a passerby. The building itself is beautiful and I can see myself coming back for a tour as I'd love to know more about it. My first gripe with the exhibition was the use of AI art, I thought given the push back it receives from artists online that it was a bizarre choice. I enjoyed the exhibition, but honestly didn't get much out of it. I didn't leave feeling like I'd learned anything new or that I wanted to know more about what was displayed. Going through the exhibit, I couldn't help but wonder how much different it would've been if people who were actually passionate about the topic had worked on it. And if they had, that interest didn't come through at all. Some of the displays felt haphazard and flung together with little care shown for the theme of the section. Not to mention the gaps in pop culture knowledge. The accessibility wasn't great either, trying to walk a spiral staircase in low lighting with stuff strobing in the background isn't great.There was also a lot of going up and down stairs, which I can't imagine is that handy for wheelchair users or people with buggies. The cafe was fine, it was a regular coffee shop with Hello Kitty decals. Oh yeah, it was the 50th anniversary, I actually forgot to mention that as it was such an afterthought. Honestly,the most memorable thing about the cafe was the poor girl who actually collapsed waiting in line to get in. So there's that. I can't really remember the gift shop, just that there was a very poor selection and range of items. I was hoping to keep this brief, but the more I thought about it the more stuff kept bubbling to the surface. I'm glad it was successful and I hope that the exhibitions continue to get better.
    Visited April 2024
    Travelled solo
    Written 14 April 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles1,090 reviews
Excellent
550
Very good
362
Average
87
Poor
35
Terrible
56

Metin M
Cyprus199 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Solo
Very impressive building and views of the river Thames however not much was on today by way of exhibit or show , seems they do things at certain dates rather than on a constant basıs
Written 6 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jointheaa
Felixstowe, UK81 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
Just been to the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition. Apart from the Salgado section (which was amazing), the rest of the exhibition was awful. The captions and narrative were generally by doorways making them difficult to read without getting the way of people, the order of the captions was hard to follow, depressing subject after depressing subject with nothing hopeful to break the themes up, the projector room has very few seats and the room is impossible for people to move around without creating large silhouettes against the images, very large photographs in narrow corridors and no way of standing back, one wall with so many portraits you couldn’t look at them, the heating was on (on a hot sunny day), in the Salgado section there were no window blinds to block out the sun making it difficult to see the photos, and wall after wall of shock stories, it was too deliberate …. I’m a photographer myself, of course I understand the role of documentary photography, but at least break it up a bit. I’ve been to a few Sony exhibitions but I’m afraid this one was not well hung and I don’t think I would go back after this experience.
Written 4 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

James C
33 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
The Sony world photography awards exhibition is inspiring if somewhat depressing due to a lot of the subject matter about the parlous state of the world
Written 21 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bon viveur
London, UK2,346 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
We were surprised and delighted to find the area outside Somerset House is now pedestrianised and it feels much more welcoming as a destination. We came to visit the Frank Auerbach exhibit at the Courtauld but enjoyed a wander around the beautiful building and the temporary central courtyard bamboo display. The riverside alfresco bar looked so inviting. We will definitely keep a closer eye on what’s going on here and be back soon.
Written 21 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eleanor
London, UK111 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
Overall an okay experience. Easy to navigate around the grounds thanks to maps, as well as being close to Temple tube station. But the queue for food was over two hours long so we had to find lunch else where and too many people had been let into the exhibition at once as it was so crowded I couldn't see anything!
Written 17 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tom N
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Friends
Sadly I have to mirror others negative feelings around the Cute exhibition.

I should have guessed I was in trouble the moment I walked through the entrance and was met with a terrible painting of a cat that wasn't remotely cute. Followed by 300 ugly porcelain cats that were left to some guy by his gran. An hour later, I my friend and I left angry after being subjected to an incoherent mess of "art" that desperately tried to make some kind of statement with it's accompanying non-sensical written descriptions. I'm all for the concept for cuteness being subversive and being used for darker agendas, but the language used was so high-brow and completely unapproachable. It read like somebody had eaten a thesaurus, vomited it back out and stuck it on the wall. What a load of nonsense.

I feel sorry for anyone else who went, expecting to enjoy any sense of nostalgia or cuteness. I'd be chasing a refund if I knew I stood a hope in hell of getting one.
Written 14 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Harriet A
1 contribution
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Solo
I went yesterday and had a pleasant enough time. Much like the exhibition, I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet.
First off, as someone not familiar with the area the second entrance to the musuem wasn't brilliantly easy to find. The signposting needed some serious work, at one point I found myself in an area with 0 signage and I had to ask a passerby.

The building itself is beautiful and I can see myself coming back for a tour as I'd love to know more about it.

My first gripe with the exhibition was the use of AI art, I thought given the push back it receives from artists online that it was a bizarre choice. I enjoyed the exhibition, but honestly didn't get much out of it. I didn't leave feeling like I'd learned anything new or that I wanted to know more about what was displayed.
Going through the exhibit, I couldn't help but wonder how much different it would've been if people who were actually passionate about the topic had worked on it. And if they had, that interest didn't come through at all.
Some of the displays felt haphazard and flung together with little care shown for the theme of the section. Not to mention the gaps in pop culture knowledge.

The accessibility wasn't great either, trying to walk a spiral staircase in low lighting with stuff strobing in the background isn't great.There was also a lot of going up and down stairs, which I can't imagine is that handy for wheelchair users or people with buggies.

The cafe was fine, it was a regular coffee shop with Hello Kitty decals. Oh yeah, it was the 50th anniversary, I actually forgot to mention that as it was such an afterthought. Honestly,the most memorable thing about the cafe was the poor girl who actually collapsed waiting in line to get in. So there's that.

I can't really remember the gift shop, just that there was a very poor selection and range of items.

I was hoping to keep this brief, but the more I thought about it the more stuff kept bubbling to the surface.

I'm glad it was successful and I hope that the exhibitions continue to get better.
Written 14 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

J H
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
A complete and utter waster of money and time. The only things worth seeing were in the very first room. The rest - forget it! This could have been so lovely and truly cute - it certainly was neither of those!
Who curated this exhibition? They need to re-consider their career choice as this was an embarrassment! Completely failed on every front. The shop had nothing but rubbish and the queue to the Cute cafe meant a waiting time of 2 HOURS! Come on! Let’s get real. That’s simply bad planning and bad management. Shocking!
Tourists must think London can’t even provide a cup of tea in a reasonable manner. Ridiculous and awful!
Written 12 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Clare K
4 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
Cute expo is a complete rip off. Unsuitable for families, sparse exhibits and overpriced tickets. I wish I had saved my money. Massively disappointing. The team setting this up should be ashamed of themselves.
Written 12 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ayesha C
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
I had seen adverts for this everywhere from posters to influences posting about it on social media.

Firstly the price is absolutely extortionate. £18.50 per person is a complete rip off, a tenner is the absolute most this could be worth.

The whole thing felt disjointed, like each area was a final project by a student. Which if it was would be fine, but this was sold as a professional exhibit. Each area felt like the introduction to a section rather than being the whole section. The hello kitty section was great, but it was mostly full of things that were found at a car boot sale, I say this as I own a lot of it and none of it was rare or hard to come by.

The advertised hello kitty disco was something you would have seen at the famous Wonka experience.

The upstairs of the exhibition was just crap, no organisation, weird "art" pieces that added nothing to the actual theme. A whale plushie on a chair and another plush? The gaming section didn't even have any even well known indie games, half the machines were down. The 'sleepover experience" room felt like they didn't know what to do with the space and this was the result.

The sailor moon transformation is again lackluster. Terrible instructions and really pointless.

The gift shop was a charity shop meets car boot sale at museum prices. The Catalogue is not worth £20, it is at free Catalogue level.

This has made me make the decision to never got to an exhibit here again because if they can sign this off, god knows what other scam they will allow to operate on their premises.

Also the cafe tie in, what an absolute mess. For the price paid for tickets, how do you not have a separate line for exhibition ticket holders?

Everything about this feels like scam, from start to finish I feel completely ripped off.
Written 10 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Somerset House - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024) - Tripadvisor

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