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
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
Top ways to experience Somerset House
The area
Address
Neighborhood: 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
Reach out directly
See what travelers 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
    Traveled on business
    Written July 9, 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 August 1, 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
    Traveled with friends
    Written August 1, 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
    Traveled solo
    Written December 5, 2023
  • AmbridgeGirl
    London, United Kingdom1,030 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
    Traveled solo
    Written January 5, 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
    Traveled with friends
    Written January 6, 2024
  • Tigerprincess
    Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom532 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
    Traveled solo
    Written February 24, 2024
  • therichastill
    Stevenage, United Kingdom3,012 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
    Traveled solo
    Written March 16, 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
    Traveled with friends
    Written April 3, 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
    Traveled solo
    Written April 14, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait 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

Londoner
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Family
Dodge: Don’t waste your money. We visited on Saturday 14th August, the event was established by then and any teething problems should have been ironed out.

Queues for 40 minutes for our first ride on the dodgems and 50 minutes for our second ride. By the time we’d had a drink and been to the loo, our time was up.

There was only two members of staff on the dodgems, sanitising between rides. And then one of those members of staff approached the queue to work out who would be riding alone or in pairs. There needed to be more staff sanitising and someone going through the queue at the same time as the sanitising was happening. The turnaround would then have been quicker. Having four staff at the meet and greet (where there were no queues) is pointless when there is demand for the dodgems.

I can only think that too many tickets delete sold in this slot.

Very poor value for money indeed. Paid £70 for four cans of soft drink and two goes on the dodgems and the experience of 90 minutes of a two hour slot in a queue.

Feedback from Somerset House when I complained:

“The Dodgems ride takes three minutes, and the cleaning times should be approx. three minutes as well. I will investigate what happened during your visit, I am not aware of any issue but can only apologise for the delay. In theory there should be ample opportunity to ride more than twice. I am sorry that you experienced longer than anticipated wait times. We will review our operating procedures and make any changes possible to ensure that the queues move in a timely manner.”
Written August 16, 2021
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.

Paul H
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
We went to Dodge to celebrate our son's 14th birthday with a party of 6, as this was supposed to be a new open-air dodgem experience, with quality sound and light show. It was £50 per person, which included food, drinks and rides. It was supposed to be a thrilling new experience, they said. When we arrived, the staff (although really nice) didn't have a clue of the type of ticket we had purchased. To be honest they seemed pretty clueless, and we had to repeat 3 times that we had food included. Eventually, we sat down at our table. Well, if you can call that a table. The “dine” side of the event was very far from dining. You were sat down in a booth made out of plastic and scaffolds, in which you can’t even talk to each other. The booths were boiling in the sunshine with clear plastic roofs that act like greenhouses and offer no shade. Included was only 1 drink per person, which you had to order at the moment because the staff wouldn’t serve you after (or that’s what they told us). The boys ordered sodas, but I had the red wine. That wine was less than your average Tesco wine, I could not even have a full sip and ended up drinking the boys' refreshments. Next, the food arrived. Another big disappointment. I don’t know where to start with this. Perhaps with the fact that they don’t even have proper cutlery or they don’t even bring you plates. Drinks are served in plastic cups. The food was ok, the meat was dry, the vegetables were nice, but if you are charging £50 per person, at the very least serve food in proper conditions.

After eating, we decided to use our tokens to go for a ride. Disappointment again, we only had one ride per person, but then we understood. The dodgems themselves were nothing else than a normal fairground track. As there is only 1 track in the whole installation, the queue was long. Expect to queue for at least 20 minutes. To top things up, on the hour there’s supposed to be a performance, another big disappointment. I won’t go into this, as there was not any performance of any kind.

The advert states to expect a “a bold installation, with delicious selection of food and drinks. The perfect setting to celebrate quality time with family”… I can’t believe how Somerset House has pulled out a non-event like this. Utterly disappointed and feeling like we have been ripped off. I will be asking half my money back!
Written August 16, 2021
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.

Jennycf20
Benenden, UK3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
Though the actual Old Palaces of our tour are no longer standing, in fact almost nothing of them to see, our tour guide was so knowledgeable and interesting in her talk that it was easy to imagine them and the people involved in their creation. We were fascinated with her vision of the changing times and personal ambitions of the grand characters who ordered the building of Palaces suitable to their exalted status. Somerset House as it is now is a wonderful building between The Strand and the River Thames, and the tour includes an animation of the various incarnations of the Palaces. Marjorie, on reception, couldn't have been more informative and helpful, the Mushrooms exhibition which was on at the time of our visit was fascinating, though some of the exhibits were hard to see in the Adsense of a ladder or binoculars, but our group of 7 ladies no longer in the first flush of youth was very much appreciated. Thank you.
Written February 13, 2020
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.

Molly
1 contribution
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Friends
I booked a Dodgems duo for my birthday with Sundae Fundae package. But I was expecting something far more unique and exciting. When we arrived, the staff were very nice and friendly and showed us to our table so I can’t fault them. But I was quite underwhelmed when I found that our two seater pod was a slab of wood underneath what looked like part of a scaffolding site. I appreciate that the look was supposed to be artistic and different but it wasn’t pulled off very well and ended up looking quite cheap. When the ice cream arrived I can’t lie, it was really nice and there was a good selection of toppings and a bit of attempt to present it in a nice picnic basket/tray thing. But it was nothing your average Joe couldn’t have put together. We were also disappointed to find that there was only one mock tail choice - as part of our included drink package. So elderflower mocktail it was. Lovely, only that there was too much ice in it and so it quickly turned to water and lost flavour. On top of that we then had a member of staff take it away before we were finished drinking. They seemed eager to hurry us up for some reason. Then we went on our dodgems ride. We timed it so that we would go on for the Bumps Per Minute piece by Anna Meredith. I was baffled by this - after reading the intriguing description about this novel “composition” that would be influenced by our bumper cars, I was disappointed by the fact that nothing special seemed to happen apart from a few beeps when we bumped cars and a hazy background of EDM. I did not understand the concept at all but perhaps I was not paying proper attention while on the ride. Overall it is strange that the main event is the dodgems and it is advertised as this thrilling open air experience but yet it only lasts two minutes in our two hour stay and is really quite ordinary. It feels unfair for what we paid (which was £55 in total for two people). Maybe it would have been better on a sunnier day or maybe in the evening, so the rain possibly ruined it slightly.
Written August 7, 2021
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.

JeanneBath
Bath, UK8 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Family
We booked Drinks and Dodgem for four and paid £60 plus and extra £10 for unlimited dodgems. Complete tourist trap. You baked in the sun in a poorly constructed booth and then had to wait more than 30 minutes in a queue for a 3 minute dodgem ride. The unlimited ride was a rip off as we only used it once. Everyone left grumpy and annoyed.
Written August 15, 2021
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.

Adrian P
London, UK418 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021 • Couples
We had a booking for Dodge at 8.30pm but passed through earlier for a quick look at No Comply, the skateboarding exhibition. Obviously the torrential rain didn’t help but Dodge looked miserable! A tiny fairground dodgem track, some plastic pods and the usual variety of brain dead bouncer guarding an empty square. At one point leaving No Comply I strayed a little too close to the cordon and one uniformed goon raced to defend the entrance. They really don’t hire them for their intelligence!
As it happened anyway, Dodge was later cancelled because of the rain. I enquired about a refund and was told as a ‘special exception’ (I.E not able to provide a service I’d paid for!) they would rearrange the booking. Refund out of the question!
Written July 26, 2021
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.

S B
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021 • Friends
Email below was sent to Somerset house…..

My partner and I visited Somerset house on the 13/08/21 for the Drink, Dodge and Dine event as we were spending the day and night in London for our anniversary. When we arrived at Somerset House we were advised by the staff member that the dodgems were closed due to a malfunction and may take up to 40 minutes to repair. We were very upset by this seeing as it was our anniversary and had paid £170 to enjoy our evening with you. We were checked in and told to wait to the side for a staff member to take us to our table….10 minutes later we were still waiting and the staff member that had checked us in had to shout from their station over to the bar as the staff member who was supposed to seat us was chatting to another member of staff at the bar.
We were finally seated and the staff member that seated us asked if we wanted a free drink as that comes with the package, we advised him that we had paid for Champagne plus the meat platter, he said that he wasn’t sure and we had to wait for his manager to finish her break which was around 20 minutes in order to check, we showed him our receipt and he confirmed it was okay, he then asked us if we wanted meat or veg platter we said we had already booked for the meat surely when booking us in it would show up what sort of ticket we had purchased?....
The food came out and we were given a plate with fish on, now a meat platter to me consists of meat such as chicken, beef etc not fish. We do not eat fish so that was a waste. You should also make sure that people are not allergic to fish before bringing fish over to our table.
Whilst eating our food but not the fish of course we waited and waited for the dodgems to be repaired, not once did any member of staff come over and apologise or give us any updates on what was going on
The service we received by the staff at this event was very very poor and that it cost us £170….. 1 hour later, we were finally told that the dodgems were working and we could go on, now this wouldn’t be a problem however everyone else who also waited wanted to go on so now there was a big queue. We got one go then went back to finish our food and hoped we would get one more go before we needed to leave for our next reservation, we queued again and at this point it was now six o’clock and we needed to leave, I managed to ring and delay our reservation by 20 minutes and we got one more go on the dodgems…so basically in 2 hours and 20 minutes we had two goes on the dodgems which to us is very unacceptable for £170. The lack of communication and all the above was not worth what we paid far from it…please advise us what you plan to do about such a bad experience?
We were not the only people treated very badly by the staff at this event when a man with his 2 children was also complaining about his lack of time spent on the dodgems the staff member just walked away from him without dealing with his complaint

The response we got was a £10 Refund. Avoid this place and spend your money on somewhere else where your money will not be wasted
Written August 18, 2021
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.

Vasileios Sigalas
Elliniko, Greece1,180 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021 • Family
At £20 a head, the Scratch menu (available between 5.30pm and 6.30pm daily) is a happy way to experience Gyngell's enchanting set-up.The three-course set menu changes daily, depending on surplus from service the night before. Expect delicious, simple food (without any frills) conjured from the best organic and seasonal ingredients. Beetroot tops and potato skins might be turned into soup, served with warm bread made from yesterday's boiled porridge oats. There could be a colourful shredded salad with buttermilk dressing, or labneh made from milk heated for coffee which would usually go to waste. A main might be a roasted saddle of rabbit on a pillowy bed of white polenta, or homemade pasta baked and oozing with leftover cheese. Puddings include bread sponge with tangy Fern Verrow gooseberry jam or a gooey meringue with blackcurrant ice cream and twinkly, sugar-coated berries.
Written November 5, 2021
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.

Linda B
London, UK19 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
Similar to most people paid £60 plus extra for unlimited rides which obviously was impossible to use in time allocated. To make things worse the dodgem owner refused to allow my disabled godson the privilege of going to the front of the queue although the Somerset House staff were extremely helpful to convince him to allow at least three rides which he did reluctantly an the other one we had to queue…..so a total of 4 rides, not actual value for money….rather hit an miss organisation.
Written August 16, 2021
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.

violet339
London, UK407 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022
I'm sorry to say that I think the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition is really poor this year. It's an exhibition that I've been to a number of times before and it's just unrecognisable to me now. The standard is really low. The presentation isn't very good either. There isn't much information and a lot of the photos are just pinned to the wall. There weren't many visitors when I visited and there was just no buzz or atmosphere at all. Most people I saw were just kind of walking through like I was, not particularly stopping to look at anything very closely. It was just so boring and uninspiring. Of course I understand that people haven't been able to travel and get great photos because of COVID and in a way it is nice to carry on regardless but this isn't a competition. Obviously I'm no expert and this is just my personal opinion but I don't believe that these photographers would win anything in non-COVID years. I felt thoroughly ripped off paying £15. I remember a time when a ticket was £5 or 6 and the level was infinitely higher. I recognise that I've written a really negative review but there's just such a massive drop in quality this year.
Written April 19, 2022
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.

Showing results 1-10 of 931
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

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

All London HotelsLondon Hotel DealsLast Minute Hotels in London
All things to do in London
RestaurantsFlightsVacation RentalsTravel StoriesCruisesRental Cars