5 of London’s most underrated contemporary art galleries

Even those who have solely business justifications for their overnight stays at London Heathrow hotels like the Atrium may often find themselves with time to burn in the capital due to a cancelled meeting, missed flight or other last-minute changes in plan. Alternatively, you may reserve a room with us for a recreational visit to London – in which case, why not take in an art gallery or two?

There is simply no superior place in the world to London when you wish to visit multiple hugely stimulating and interesting contemporary art galleries as part of your trip. Here are some of the most unsung of those that the British capital has to offer.

South London Gallery

Established in 1891, the one-time South London Art Gallery may have been destined to remain ‘just another’ staid art gallery in the capital, until – in 1992 – it changed its name to simply ‘South London Gallery’ and embraced the then-emerging era of rebellious ‘Britart’. The Peckham Road institution continues to hold all manner of sophisticated exhibitions.


Formerly helmed by the renowned academic Professor Stuart Hall, Iniva – also known as the Institute of International Visual Arts – is an especially intellectually rigorous place to appreciate art, particularly given its emphasis on reflecting the diversity of British culture since it was launched in 1994. You’ll find it at the Rivington Place arts centre in Shoreditch, near Old Street and Liverpool Street tube stations.

Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art

Parasol Unit, located at 14 Wharf Road, is among the many new contemporary art galleries to have opened in the capital in the 21st century, having been instrumental in the careers of such artists as Charles Avery, Yang Fudong and Cecily Brown. It is important to note that the gallery is presently closed for the summer, but will reopen in late September for the exhibition Heidi Bucher.

White Cube  

White Cube is owned and run by the Old Etonian art dealer Jay Jopling, and has operated at a variety of sites in London and beyond down the years, including Hoxton Square, which closed in 2012. Today, the gallery has two London sites, at Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard, which are together currently hosting the exhibition Memory Palace until 2nd September.

Camden Arts Centre

It may not exactly resemble a cutting-edge contemporary art gallery from the outside – its building having housed Hampstead Central Library for many years – but Camden Arts Centre is definitely a rewarding place to look at art, thanks to its light and airy gallery spaces and a superb restaurant and bookshop. It has been hosting a wealth of thought-provoking exhibitions since opening in 1965.

If there’s one city in the world that knows how to ‘do’ contemporary art, it is London – so when you book a room in any of the many comfortable and well-situated London Heathrow hotels such as the Atrium, which not take the chance to explore some of the capital’s artistic gems?

Heathrow wasn’t always about its airport

One thing that likely doesn’t come to the minds of many of those searching for accommodation near Heathrow, London is the surprisingly rich history of this part of the capital prior to one of the world’s busiest airports being sited there.

Indeed, until the 20th century, Heathrow was effectively a semi-rural, very lightly built-up lane. The first known mention of the Heathrow name – then spelt La Hetherewe – dates back to about 1410, and the area consisted of both farmland and heath until the early 19th century, when the heath was also converted into farmland.

A little-known, but intriguing hamlet

A cursory perusal of the history of Heathrow in its former capacity as a wayside hamlet tells you much about how large swathes of Britain used to be. The area saw little change between the laying-out of the lane – which is thought to have occurred in the 15th century at the latest – and the 1910s.

The hamlet of Heathrow in the first years of the 20th century was certainly a drastically different sight to what subsequent generations of travellers and Londoners came to know. It was formerly a place of farms, market gardens and orchards, with landmarks including a ‘Heathrow Farm’ – situated in about the same place as today’s Terminal 1 – and ‘Heathrow Hall’.

By the 1930s, however, land south-east of the hamlet was being used as a small airfield, known as the Great West Aerodrome, Harmondsworth Aerodrome or Heathrow Aerodrome, and owned and operated by the Fairey Aviation Company.

From 1944, the development of the wider Heathrow area as a much larger airport began in earnest, with what was then known as London Airport opening two years later. Heathrow would never again be the same.

Up-to-the-minute accommodation for those passing through Heathrow

The decades since the airport’s emergence have been eventful ones for Heathrow, an area that continues to develop at a seemingly relentless pace to this day. We’re very proud to be part of that exciting development here at the Atrium hotel, providing vital cutting-edge accommodation near Heathrow, London for those travelling to, from and through the locality.

Ours is an unashamedly contemporary hotel in the finest sense, including in its iconic design as well as facilities that encompass comfortable rooms, flexible and innovative meeting rooms, a serene underground leisure complex, sophisticated restaurant and so much more.

Enquire today about booking a room at the Atrium, which sets new standards for accommodation near Heathrow, London and shows that the coming years for the area may be its best yet.