If you’d describe yourself as somewhat of an art fiend and are paying London a visit, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to cool and quirky art galleries as well as major museums and cutting-edge street art.
Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite spots to see the best-of-the-best in the capital city. Get your cameras at the ready as you head to Shoreditch to check out the vibrant street art murals, ideally located just a stone’s throw from the chic M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City hotel.
If you’re staying in a central London hotel, there are numerous galleries and exhibitions spread throughout the city showcasing the work of both up-and-coming and established artists. Whether you’re looking to admire the work of the greats like Mozart and Van Gogh or to discover cool, new contemporary artists, there’s something for everyone in our 2-day London itinerary for art fans.
Once you’re all checked into your luxury hotel with a big of breakfast in you, it’s time to begin your tour of London’s art scene.
Avoid the hipster crowds and head straight to Shoreditch to take in some of the city’s most imaginative and colourful street art and murals, especially ideal if you’re staying nearby. Redchurch Street and Rivington Street are particularly good spots, with an original Banksy near Cargo bar situated on the latter. Whilst in the area, there are a number of quirky little boutique galleries like the Brick Lane Gallery that are well worth poking your head into, offering something a little different to some of the city’s main gallery giants. This gallery often showcases fresh young talent you may not have heard of – which means you’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting up-and-coming artists.
Next up, another lesser-known, but rather excellent art gallery in the city – acclaimed artist Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. Hop on the tube and head south to this fun and slightly surreal gallery housing the personal collection of the revered British artist. Housed within an ex-Victorian scenery painting studio, the gallery is immediately distinguishable by its exaggerated, jagged brick roof. What’s more, entry is totally free. Expect to see the works of some of his favourite artists, alongside some of his own pieces like the crystal-encrusted skull and a cow suspended in blue Perspex.
Afterwards, make your way back into the city and over to St Paul’s. You can then walk straight over the Millennium Bridge, taking in views of the city skyline along the way, straight into Tate Modern which sits on the river the other side. A personal favourite, London’s Tate Modern is one of the world’s most revered art galleries, housing a permanent international collection of contemporary art as well as must-see temporary exhibitions. Try and dedicate a few hours to exploring this huge gem as it’s spread over several levels, with plenty of sculpture, drawing, painting, and video works to take in. Current exhibitions include Olafur Eliasson and Jenny Holzer. Our top tip? After browsing the art grab a coffee or a glass of wine in the Tate cafe for incredible skyline views.
On your second day, start with a hearty breakfast and prepare to be dazzled by more of London’s dynamic art scene. If you’re staying at one of the Montcalm Luxury Hotels in central London, you can easily reach most of the city’s key art sites, including the V&A – or, Victoria & Albert Museum, in London’s Kensington. Another one of London’s museum greats, the V&A houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of decorative arts, as well as sculpture, textiles, photography and more, spanning over 2.27 million objects, and 145 galleries. You could easily while away an entire day here, but it would be advised to grab a map, pinpoint the galleries you really want to visit and dedicate the time to visiting those.
Next up, just a 10-minute walk away, is the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler. Enjoy the walk through the leafy Hyde Park until you reach the gallery and its outside pavilion whereby every summer a new artist/architect is commissioned to design a unique building or structure. Both galleries house both temporary and permanent contemporary art collections from thought-provoking artists and are well worth a visit while you’re in the area.
Once you’ve had a good browse at the Serpentine, make your way over to nearby Chelsea and take a jaunt down the King’s Road. Here you’ll find another free, but excellent museum situated just off Duke of York’s Square; The Saatchi Gallery.
This excellent, free gallery houses the private collection of Charles Saatchi, established in the swinging ’60s and still going strong today. Showcasing numerous contemporary works of art over a spacious 70,000 sq ft, the gallery tends to focus on young and international artists rarely seen in the UK. It also offers a number of regularly changing temporary exhibitions, a book shop and a café, so you can make the most of its pretty location with a spot of lunch afterwards.
This summer, the gallery is hosting Fair for Saatchi, spanning the ground and first floors of the gallery. 25 galleries will present works for sale, from paintings and sculpture to mixed media, in an event that combines museum style viewing with a traditional art fair. So, if you’re looking to add to your own personal collection, why not have a browse.
London’s arts and culture is vibrant, diverse, and ever-changing, so no matter what time of the year you plan to visit, you’ll never be left short of things to see and do.