Six picks: What to see at Open House London

The weekend that celebrates London's best buildings is back in September, with over 800 properties to see

Cultural landmarks, icons of the London skyline, offices and private homes are once again opening their doors to the public for London's 25th annual Open House weekend. Whether you're a sucker for an exclusive view, an architecture buff or just fancy a nose around an interesting home, there are over 800 participating venues to discover, all free of charge. For the best results, it pays to plan ahead.

Here are six not to miss:

BT Tower

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Designed by architects Eric Bedford & GR Yeats, this unmistakable Grade II-listed landmark – formerly known as the London Telecom Tower – has stood above the capital for the last 52 years, and was London's tallest building until 1980. It is no longer open to the public, but Open House ballot winners can enjoy panoramic views from the revolving 34th floor, a restaurant venue before access was restricted.

45 Maple Street, W1T 4BG. Enter by 1 September at Open House London


The View from The Shard

Brave the elements 800ft above ground on the open-air tip of The Shard. A tourist favourite, on a clear day Level 72 offers breathtaking views stretching far across the city, and is well worth the security checks upon entry. The glass-heavy building has been a fixture of the London skyline since 2012, the work of Italian architect firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop (who also designed The News Building next door).

Joiner Street, SE1 9EX. Enter by 1 September at Open House London


No 10 Downing Street

Open Housers are in with a chance to see behind the famous black door of the Prime Minister's official residence, office and entertaining spot for world leaders. No 10 has provided backdrop to key political decisions since 1735.

10 Downing Street, SW1A 2AA. Enter by 1 September at Open House London

(Image credit: ©VIEW Pictures)

30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin)

Voted this year's No 1 Open House building by fans of the organisation, architect Norman Foster's 40-storey office building (and home to Searcys restaurant, bar and private members club on the 39th and 40th floors) was completed in 2003, and has become a world-renowned landmark of the City. Tours start at 8am, but demand will be high, so hold out till brunch and join the queue early.

30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP

Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate

This Grade II-listed Brutalist housing estate in St Johns Wood has a long list of guest appearances in films, music videos and album covers. Designed by architect and artist Neave Brown in 1968, the 520 concrete units on the estate are designed to reduce noise from the neighbouring railway, and enjoy cleverly designed communal gardens. Five residential apartments will be open to visitors, with some retaining original features such as built-in ventilation.

Rowley Way, NW8 0SF

Hidden House

Visitors to this Grand Designs four-floor, 2,600 sq ft mews house can expect to find serious party inspiration hidden beneath the back garden, as the large basement boasts a light-up dance floor, DJ booth, cinema screen with colourful sunken seating, spa and sauna – and a waterfall. It's not just about fun though, the property has a sustainable focus that includes an air source heat pump, photovoltaics, super-insulation and water recycling.

39 Russell Garden Mews, W14 8EU

Open House runs from 16-17 September 2017. Some events need to be pre-booked. Public ballots close at 11.59pm, September 1;

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