When you step from a busy Strand into the courtyard of Somerset House it is like discovering a secret place. In the winter the surprise is the ice rink and in the summer it is the fountain used by children as a beach. The historic place is filled with art collections, artist studios, restaurants and inspiring exhibitions.
We start by visiting the neoclassical buildings of Gothenburg born, 18C architect Sir William Chambers’ and then see the new Miles Stairs by architect Eva Jiricna (designed V&A’s Jewellery Gallery). We end in the Courtauld Gallery, the original site of the Royal Academy and the first Summer Exhibition. The gallery has a superb paintings collection, including famous works such as Manet’s Bar at Folies Bergère (see photo). This is an opportunity to see the gallery before it closes for a few years.
If you feel extravagant maybe finish with lunch in Spring the elegant restaurant run by the well-known chef Skye Gyngell. Make sure you don’t miss the enchanting porcelain wall decoration by Brazilian architect and ceramicist Valéria Nascimento.