London's must-see hidden gems
This autumn, wander off the beaten track and explore London's tucked-away treasures, including under-the-radar attractions and hip art galleries.
Hidden away a few streets behind the Tower of London, the atmospheric Wilton's Music Hall is an Instagrammer's dream with its air of faded grandeur. This traditional Victorian music hall has been fully restored to its former glory in recent years. Showing at the intimate venue November 3-14 is Peter Brook's radical reworking of Georges Bizet's opera La Tragedie de Carmen. You can also take a tour of the historic venue or enjoy a drink in its shabby-chic Mahogany Bar.
Union Chapel in Islington is one of London's architectural marvels that's home to an award-winning live entertainment venue, a church and a unique organ. On October 14, the venue will host the three-day festival, Organ Reframed, featuring solo sets and improvisations based on its 1877 organ.
Another under-the-radar delight is Sir John Soane's Museum near Holborn's Covent Garden, crammed full of more than 20,000 architectural drawings and antiquities collected by Soane, the architect for the Bank of England. This autumn, visitors can see new sculptures by a leading contemporary artist with Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life, a major exhibition in the spirit of Soane through September 23.
Many festivals taking place in London this autumn will give you the chance to get under the skin of the capital's famous and lesser-known venues. At Open House London — for one weekend only — you can snoop around some of the city's quirkiest and grandest buildings, many of which are normally closed to the public.
You can also soak up some culture after dark at Museums at Night, a three-day festival encompassing late-night exhibitions, candlelit tours and sleepovers from October 25-27. Got a passion for film? Then check out the 12-day Raindance Film Festival, presenting a packed program of screenings, parties, seminars and workshops.
If you really want to experience London like a local, escape the hustle and bustle of central London and make a beeline for gems in the city's friendly neighborhoods. Head over to Southwest London to soak up the dazzling autumn colors at Kew Gardens' Shades of Nature Autumn Festival, until October 29 where you can see 16 sculptures showcasing the beauty of the season. A highlight is British artist Rebecca Louise Law's giant hanging installation of flower garlands on display at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery.
Anyone with a passion for art should go to the Whitechapel Gallery in east London. Championing contemporary art, the gallery has premiered artists such as Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollock. The gallery's temporary Thomas Ruff photography exhibition, featuring cosmology and utopianism, is a must-see and is open until January, 21 of next year.
Other intriguing exhibitions that merit exploration this season include Poster Girls at the London Transport Museum, highlighting female artists who have designed posters for London Transport, and Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine at the fascinating Wellcome Collection, which offers a glimpse into ancient practices of sustaining health in India.
Autumn in London is open. Book your London hidden gems adventure by visiting united.com or through the United app. And while you're there, share your experience on social media with the hashtag #LondonIsOpen and #AutumnSeason.