London's Most Opulent Buildings

Buildings with bling

London sure has its fair share of opulence, whether this is because it's the UK's capital city or because of our imperial past we're not sure; but one thing's for certain: we're not embarrassed about a bit of architectural bling.

From gob-smacking facades to rich, sumptuous interiors: London has it all.

So whether you're a fan of architecture or just opulence and excess in general, take a look at our list...




Old Royal Naval College
2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich

AIL Says: Too time and cash poor to nip over to the Vatican City? Pop to Greenwich instead, where the Old Royal Naval College has London’s very own answer to the Sistine Chapel. The riverside building is instantly recognisable because of its imposing twin towers, one of whichcontains the domed Painted Hall, withmagnificent frescoes on the walls and ceiling created by Sir James Thornhill - it took him 19 years to complete them. Designed by Christopher Wren, this used to be the ostentatious lodgings for the navy before becoming a college two centuries later.

  • LANDMARK
  • USERS 8/10
Drapers Hall
Throgmorton Avenue The City EC2N 2DQ
Region: The City
Nearest Station: Bank (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: To give you an idea of just how grand Drapers Hall is, it’s had the honour of doubling as Buckingham Palace in feature films. The site was once inhabited by Thomas Cromwell, and in 1543 it was purchased by the Drapers Company - one of the City’s livery companies -to be used astheir meeting place. No expense was spared with the furnishings, as rooms contain silk woven tapestries and crystal chandeliers as well as a fine collection of silverware. The main hall’s 28 marble columns prop up portraits of aristocrats who peer suspiciously at visitors.

  • LIVERY COMPANIES
  • EMAIL
  • USERS 10/10
Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore

AIL Says: When Prince Albert came up with the idea for this concert hall he had in mind a lavish, world-class venue inspired by Roman amphitheatres that could seat 30,000. Aside from the capacity (which had to be reduced to a mere 8,000) he got his wishes, albeit posthumously, and when the Royal Albert Hall opened in 1871 it was the biggest structure of its kind in the world.A terracotta frieze that goes all the way round the building shows figures building, dancing, and engaging in other worthy activities; most spectacular is the domed glass ceiling, not the most conducive to good acoustics but a stunning example of typically Victorian iron and glass architecture.

  • VENUE
  • EVENTS
The Palace of Westminster
House of Commons

AIL Says: They don’t come much more iconic than this neo-gothic creation which includes the Houses of Parliament and the Big Ben. It spans an impressive 4.8 km, and while we’re all familiar with the staid Houses of Lords and Commons, it’s the many chambers and galleries the public don’t usually get to see that are the most visually stunning. However MPs may be about to be dealt a mighty blow – apparently the building is falling apart and if a hefty sum isn’t ploughed into its reparation they may be forced to up sticks and move out of the M25. On the plus side there have been calls to turn the whole thing into affordable housing.

  • LANDMARK
  • EMAIL
  • EVENTS
Neasden Temple (BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir)
105-119 Brentfield Road

AIL Says: It’s the biggest Hindu temple outside of India as well as one London’s most ornate constructions. Over 1,500 people worked on this building, which necessitated more than 2,000 tonnes of marble to be shipped over from Italy. Intricate carvings of gods and striking pillars feature inside the temple; from the outside, the breath-taking archways, domes and the surrounding gardens look like something out of an eastern myth. It certainly adds some pizzazz to relatively humdrum Neasden.

  • LANDMARK
Booking Office Bar and Restaurant
Euston Road NW1 2AR
Region: King's Cross
Nearest Station: King's Cross St. Pancras (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: It took over ten years to restore the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel including it's famous Booking Office Bar & Restaurant back to its original Victorian splendour, as envisioned by architect George Gilbert Scott. The exterior is pure gothic fairytale, while inside it’s all high ceilings, grand staircases anddrooping chandeliers; some of the suites even have views over the station forecourt. The more luxurious rooms are upwards of £1000 per night, but you can also take a tour of the hotel for just £20.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 8/10
Sketch Lecture Room & Library
9 Conduit Street W1S 2XG
Region: Mayfair
Nearest Station: Oxford Circus (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: That Swarovski-studded bathroom, those egg-shaped cubicles, the idiosyncratic restaurants…Each area of Sketch is so lavishly decorated they’re practically immersive experiences, but it’s only fitting for what was once Christian Dior’s London atelier. Look out for little details like the toilet door handles shaped like women’s legs.

  • FRENCH
  • 8/100
  • USERS 9/10
The Ritz Restaurant
150 Piccadilly W1J 9BS
Region: Mayfair
Nearest Station: Green Park

AIL Says: The world’s most famous hotel pays homage to the court of Louis XVI, so there’s no scrimping on gold and chintz. The theme extends to the rooms, where antique furniture, dramatic curtains and ornamented mirrors are the norm; in short, it’s more Prince Phillip than Ryan Phillippe. A perfect example of Ritz extravagance is The Palm Court, where the hotel’s popular afternoon tea is served, complete with skylight, a fountain, a birdcage and gilt statues.

  • BRITISH
  • 26/100
  • USERS 7/10
Criterion Restaurant
224 Piccadilly W1J 9HP
Region: Mayfair
Nearest Station: Piccadilly Circus

AIL Says: As well as serving meals to the well-heeled since 1874, in more recent years Criterion has become a favourite for fashion shows and film premiere after-parties. It owes its A-list popularity to its neo-Byzantine décor – think towering marble columns and ceilings adorned with mosaics. This is old school dining at its best.

  • BRITISH
  • OUR REVIEW 9/10


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